Editor: Batsheva Pomerantz
Israeli society has inevitably changed over the past three decades. Politics are bitter and tarnished; the religious polarization, which labels and pigeon-holes every Jew, is tragic. Yet, many of the things I loved have endured. I still find it a great privilege to live in the beautiful city of Jerusalem - it still inspires my poems and dreams. I still feel part of a family - even though it's often a squabbling, divisive one. I never consider leaving - to do so, would be for me an amputation.
So, with these modifications, I present again my Ethical Will as it was first published by the World Zionist Press Service. I did not want to upgrade it, because I can still become misty-eyed at my love affair with Israel.
As I write this, I am sitting on my Jerusalem balcony, looking through a tracery of pine trees at the view along Rehov Ruppin. I can see the Knesset, the Israel Museum, and the Shrine of the Book - that architectural marvel that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I am at an age where I should write a will, but the disposition of my material possessions would take just a few lines. They do not amount to much... had we stayed in Australia, where you - my four children - were born, they would be much more. I hope you won't blame me for this.
For now you are Israelis, and I have
different things to leave you. I hope you will understand that they are more
valuable than money in the bank, stocks and bonds, and plots of land, for no
one can ever take them away from you.
I am leaving you an extended family - the whole house of Israel. They are your people. They will celebrate with you in joy, grieve with you in sorrow.
You will argue with them, criticize them, and sometimes reject them (that's the way it is with families!) But underneath you will be proud of them and love them. More important, when you need them - they will be there!
I am leaving you the faith of your forefathers. Here no one will ever laugh at your beliefs, call you "Jew" as an insult. You, my sons, can wear kippot and tzitzit; you, my daughters, can modestly cover your hair after marriage. No one will ridicule you. You have your heritage... written with the blood of your people through countless generations. Guard it well and cherish it - it is priceless!
I am leaving you pride. Hold your head high. This is your country, your birthright. Try to do your share to enhance its image. It may call for sacrifice, but it will be worth it. Your children, their children, and all who come after, will thank you for it.
I am leaving you memories. Some are sad... the early struggles to adapt to a new culture, a new language, a new culture. But remember, too, the triumphs... the feeling of achievement when you were accepted, when "they" became "us". That is worth more than silver trophies and gold medals. You did it alone - you "made" it.
And so, my children, I have only one last
bequest. I leave you my love and my blessing. I hope you will never again
need to say: "Next year in Jerusalem." You are already here - how rich you
Janet Kasten Friedman of Kochav HaShachar presents the inverse relation between age and success to having a successful Aliyah, based on her experience and talks with olim.
In 1970, I came as a teenager on a Jewish
Agency "Summer in Kibbutz" program. Serious and idealistic, I had already
decided I wanted to make Aliyah from my suburb of NYC, possibly to feel less
like a square peg in a round hole in secular, assimilated America. My
father, a Holocaust survivor, and my mother both agreed that I was much too
soft to survive in Israel.
Overcoming my shyness, I talked to dozens of people willing to share their Aliyah story. I really listened to the stories and tried to identify with these people's lives. I met those who came as teens in the 1920's and 30's, escaping an increasingly dangerous Europe. I met others who came after the war attempting to rebuild a life here. The stories I liked the best, though, were the American olim from after the Six-Day War. These were the people whose lives were like mine. I heard tales of woe: "I've been had!" "I love it here; but my wife is home all day without a car. She can't learn Hebrew. We're returning", "My husband has to work for a living, earning a fraction of what we had in America. We can't live like this, so we're going back home." The older and more settled they were, the more likely they were to have to go "home". If they had a doctorate and made a good salary back in America and had teenaged kids… Aliyah would be very difficult for them. But the people who had come as teens themselves with no expectations… they learned Hebrew easily and found some kind of livelihood.
My parents were not happy about my going to Israel right after high school. They were concerned that I would deprive myself of college in order to go to Israel. Clearly I should heed the voice of my more experienced parents. In an emotion-charged interaction, I explained to them what my many summer talks with olim had proven. I explained the inverse relationship between age and socio-economic status and the ability to successfully make Aliyah.
Contrary to good sense, the older you are
and the more successful you were in the old country, the harder it is to
make Aliyah. This paradox is because your expectations are higher; you are
less willing to take emotional and actual risks, to learn new things without
preconceived notions about the proper way to do them. Youth and flexibility
were my best tools.
If you are considering Aliyah and are
already past your teens, do not despair! Plenty of people successfully come
on Aliyah as adults, with professions and kids. The most important thing is
to be very firm in your commitment.
The name (which translates "morning star") was suggested by Rehavam Zeevi, based upon the Arabic name of the nearby tel, Kubat a Najma ("dome of the star"). The tel holds the remains of an Israelite community from the First Temple Period. While the ancient name of the site has not been determined, the archeological remains clearly indicate that it was an agricultural community. Kochav HaShachar's land is fertile farming land. As in ancient times, agriculture is an important part of the local economy.
Kochav HaShachar is located along the Alon Road. Yigal Alon was a minister in Israel's government during the Six Day War. Shortly after the war, he proposed a peace plan, according to which Israel would give approximately 90% of Yehuda and Shomron to Jordan in exchange for a peace treaty. The remaining 10% would be kept by Israel for security reasons. The Alon Road was originally a dirt road, prepared to facilitate ZaHaL's patrols through the small area to be kept under Israel's control.
Since, at the time, Jordan was not ready
to negotiate with Israel, nothing practical came of the Alon plan. At times,
the Alon Road was referred to as the New York Times Road, since although
there was a news blackout concerning the preparation of the road, the New
York Times reported it.