Thursday, September 14, 2017

German Consulate Demonstration, 1962

Here is the Herut newspaper report on the October 1962 demonstration outside the West German consulate in New York protesting the country's involvement in the Egyptian missile project

Would appreciate nay input of details.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Any Betarim in This Picture?

A group of Palestinian Jews aboard the American export liner Marine Carp wave goodbye prior to sailing from New York, May 4, 1948, for their native land to fight the Arabs.          (AP Photo/Joe Caneva)
Ref #: PA.5737223
Date: 04/05/1948


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Visiting with Moshe Brodetsky

From Aaron Bashani:-

Dear Chevreh,

I've just returned home to French Hill from a very nice visit with Moshe Brodetzky in East Talpiot.

He's doing well but, as usual, very tired.  Moshe now has a 24/7 caregiver from India named, appropriately so, Aaron. He's a big fellow and surely up to any chore.

Before  I arrived, he also had the visit of two of his grandchildren.  

I brought him an extra copy of the Catalogue for the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, August 6-10, in which I had participated.  I related to Moshe a few of the highlights from the Congress.

The whole visit with Moshe lasted about an hour.

Attached are also two pictures from my last visit with Moshe a week ago

Tel Hai



Friday, July 14, 2017

Neversink Forever

For over two decades, Camp Betar of North American Betar was located near the Sullivan County's Town of Neversink in New York State.

The derivation of the word Neversink remains uncertain. Present research says the word Neversink came from the Indian name Mahackamack. The name also appears with a fictional USS Neversink that appears in Herman Melville's White Jacket, an 1850 novel that was instrumental in abolishing flogging in the U.S. Navy.

Neversink's population in the 2010 census was  3,557.

It used to look like this about a century ago:

The camp was located in the general area of the blue circle:

And here is a satellite aerial view:

And it was deep in the Catskills:

The camp grounds were purchased in 1950 and the location served as Camp Betar until 1975 and a year or so later was sold.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Salute to Israel Parade Pictures

Courtesy of Chuck (Shachna) Waxman [see at end for additional identifications]:

L-R: Aaron Goldberg, Chuck (Haim) Hornstein, Risa Rich (Tzohar),
Chaim Fischgrund, Dov Skolnik, Shachna Waxman, Danny Epstein, Jerry (Yosef) Kandel

R-L: Reuven Genn, Myron Buchman, 

Reuven Genn, Avi Udler, Aaron Goldberg. To left of Danny Epstein (neckerchief) is Alan Berg

Chuck (Shachna) Waxman, 1965

Center: Aaron Goldberg (with flag), Myron Buchman (standing),  
(in the kerchief) Dora Kiczales

Foreground: Mel Laytner, Mella Pollachek, Myron Buchman,
Second row, left: Reuven Miller,

Center: Tzvi Briks, far right: Moshe Kiczales, first on right with
back to camera: Benji Roth (?). On left, sideview: Danny Schultz, and 
with back to camera with kippah, Yaakov Sklar.

More pictures here.

At the Bandshell after the Parade:

L-R: Chaim Fischgrund, Marty Rein, Yisrael (Winkie) Medad

Winkie and daughter She'era, 1977


UPDATE from Chuck:

Pic 1:
To Aharon's right is Mel Laytner; behind Risa is Mella; between me and Jerry is Danny Epstein

Pic 2:
Behind Reuven's left shoulder is Avi Udler to his right is Aaron Broges; in front of Aaron is Nirit; to Bucky's right is Ellen Zwick and to her right is Jeff Maas, with Mark Steiman on the trumpet and Johnny Braun at the far right behind Alan Berg. 

Pic 3:
Benny Rosen between Avi and Reuven; Baruch Kraus to the right of Avi with the glasses with Chaim Fishgrund behind him; Aharon Goldberg "behind" Reuven - looking down and Danny Epstein to the left side of the circle wearing the hat and "kerchief"

Pic 4::
Aaron Broges on the left; Mella Pollacheck in from of him and Marcie Rosen to Mella's left.


Monday, May 15, 2017

My Six Days War

My 1967 Israel war experience started off, literally, with a bang.

Since the end of January, or the very beginning of February that year, I had been living and working at Amatzia, a moshav shitufi affiliated with the Betar movement.  

Amatzia today (top left) with three new communities
of those who were expelled from Gush Katif

Founded as a Nahal outpost in 1955, it was abandoned by its garin and Betar took it over in 1956.  My madrichim in Betar, who, like me, participated in the Jewish Agency’s Youth and Hechalutz Department Machon L’Madrichei Chutz La’Aretz program, had also done their agricultural hachshara period at Amatzia for the previous few years.

At Amatzia we were five Betarim, two members of ZOA Youth and one other Belgian who somehow ended up with us later on.  The location was right on the border with Jordan, opposite the villages of Beit-Awa and Idna. Amatzia had always been a target, first for the Fedayeen who operated from Egypt and Jordan in the early 1950s (the distance from Gaza to Amatzia was not that long) 

and starting in 1965, for the Fatah.  Several times we were alerted to infiltration actions, some more successful than others.

During my stay at Amatzia, we had several incidents.  Here's a newspaper clip from Davar in February on the discovery of land mines:

In mid-April we were informed we would be leaving for the onion fields later than usual as the IDF had to defuse a bomb planted under a culvert just outside the moshav entrance. Another time, an explosive was placed on the gate (which was locked at night).  The newspaper clip:

On the evening of Yom Haatzmaut, we listened on the radio to Shuli Natan singing  Naomi Shemer’s “Jerusalem of Gold” and after we had finally gone to bed, an explosion was heard.  In a new area with houses under construction, we were informed, an infiltrator had placed an explosive under the building (all the houses were built raised off the ground). Here's the front-page item the day after Yom Haatzmaut:

The next morning I traveled to Jerusalem to watch the parade and to participate in the Betar demonstration planned for the parade.

Due to pressure from various countries, foremost the United States and Great Britain, and the claim that the armistice agreements prohibited the presence of heavy military vehicles in Jerusalem a city they asserted that Israel was not really the sovereign power over the area, no tanks were to be included in the parade that would come from the area of Binyanei HaUmmah, down Jaffa Road and then turn right up King George Street. That was a demeaning demand and, as Betarim, that wasn’t going to pass without a protest but, since the Israel government had yielded, the demonstration was to be directed at their authority.

I made my way to the local Jerusalem clubhouse, what we called the Maoz, which was located on King George Street in a 19th century building called Talitha Kumi (it was taken down in 1980 for the project of the Rejwan Building and the Lev Yerushalayim hotel. The Maoz was under the Bank HaPoalim offices).  There, inside, some two dozen Betarim were finishing off three or four “tanks” cut out of plywood and painted as a tank on one side and on the back, the slogan ‘We Are Here!’.

At the appropriate time, we walked out, trying to keep ourselves as unobtrusive as possible.  In this picture, the building to the right of the red line was one side of a driveway which led into the forecourt in front of the former school and now a place of youth clubhouses and lawyers’ offices and where, in the dark corners outside, prostitutes would engage in their occupation. On the other side was also a building and so we did manage to sneak out to the sidewalk without problems.

The signal was given and we broke into the parade.  I was in charge of photographing the event (as far as I know, no one else took pictures).  Below are the “tanks” breaking in, some of us marching along, an altercation and the remains of the “tanks” after the police halted our protest.

Some of us then linked up with the “Chugim Leumiim” (Nationalist Cells).  Dr. Israel Eldad, a member of the Lechi command council had launched, at the end of 1966, a monthly called HeHazit (The Front) and in the basement of the Ezry Gallery on the corner of Hess and King David Streets conducted weekly seminars and lectures which I attended during my Jerusalem period on the Machon.

In preparation for the parade, Eldad had thousands of small leaflets printed up with a picture of the Kotel and the caption of “The Wall Is Still in Captivity!”.  While Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook was speaking to the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva about the territories of Eretz-Yisrael we had lost in 1948, Eldad was doing the same.  We spent the next two hours handing out the leaflets.

I returned eventually to Amatzia (in truth, I can’t recall if I slept over that evening in Jerusalem) and we continued our schedule of work which included: collecting eggs, weeding the onion fields (those were closer to Kiryat Gat) and riding herd for Amatzia had beef cattle. 

If you look closely, you'll notice a holster for my Uzi on the saddle.  And that day we were informed that Nasser had begun moving troops into Sinai.

Life, at first, went on without too much of an immediate change but slowly, our lives were altered.  Reservists started to arrive and their equipment came along.  Foxholes were dug.  We spent several evenings at Little Ben’s house at the end of May loading up ammunition for the semi-heavy machine guns (the MAGs).  The atmosphere was just like back in New York at the Betar office on Nassau Street when I worked to get out the monthly newsletter and included chatting, coffee and, instead of paper to be folded and placed into envelopes, bullets were slipped into feed-belts.

With the increase in the level of security concerns, the windows came off to be replaced by blankets.  Foxholes were dug between the homes. The boys were supplied with World War II ‘Czech’ rifles and we joined guard duty responsibilities. We were given World War II British army helmets which had only one strap.  That being the case, more than often, the helmet was not tightly held in place, at least mine wasn’t, and would slip a bit when I walked.  Once, at about 2 AM, after taking one step in my patrol near the fence, with the next one, the helmet would slip and, striking my glasses, would make a metallic sound which, at that time of the night, would carry for a bit.

I passed by one house, in fact, someone who knew me quite well, and I heard his wife loudly whisper, “I hear a strange sound outside. Maybe it’s a terrorist?” But her husband reassured her, saying “don’t worry, it’s only Winkie”.

On June 4, I took off to visit the group of Betarim, and some other youth movement members, you had been the first group of volunteers who flew in the previous week to assist Israel and its work force caught up in the third week of mobilized reservists.  As it developed, they were the vanguard of thousands who came prior and during the summer.  They were in Bar Giora (or Mevo Betar), a Betar moshav in the Jerusalem Corridor.

I made my way there and even got to participate in a first-aid course lecture.  A bit ominously, it dealt with severe shrapnel wounds to the stomach that would cause heavy bleeding. That meant that everybody had to practice picking up another and carry him/her on one’s back to help stem the bleeding in addition to any bandaging we applied. After ten months without meeting close friends and some of my own madrichim, we spent time afterward catching up.

The next morning, I left for Jerusalem on my way to Tel Aviv to pick up I am 99% positive Chaim (Chuck) Hornstein who arrived to volunteer and who was waiting for me at the Metzudat Ze’ev movement headquarters on King George Street. Just as the bus was approaching Jerusalem, coming up the hill from Motza, the 8 AM radio news report came on and we all learned the intense fighting had broken out in the South.  I alighted and reversed direction towards Tel Aviv. There I picked up Chuck and proceeded to the old Egged bus station.

The normal bustling atmosphere was significantly subdued and as it was, we caught the last bus headed for Kiryat Gat.  After more than nine months in the country I was quite at ease with the fellow passengers, one of whom had a few chickens with him, live ones that is. Another was an Arab dressed traditionally and that seemed to unnerve Chuck a bit but after 90 minutes or so, he managed to overcome the fact that the reality of life in Israel is different from what one conceived in New York.

We made our way to Amatzia and were received accordingly which perhaps for the volunteer, was perhaps less than he expected. The routine of work and guard-duty continued. I recall one evening when we were given a lecture by an Army office explaining that if Jordanian tanks did manage to penetrate Amatzia’s perimeter, we should not lose courage but, with a blanket and Molotov cocktail in hand, we should carefully approach the vehicle, stuff its treads with the blanket and ignite it with the firebomb. I thought to myself, ‘am I in a Hollywood World War II movie?”

At another self-defense lecture, one of the wives and a mother as well, upon being told that if, indeed, there was a collapse of the perimeter defense, all the women and children were to go to the one underground shelter, piped up.  “I demand we be supplied with Uzis.” She continued in a demanding tone, “we all served in the Nahal and we know how to use the gun and that’s what’s it for.”

The war came and we went into emergency procedures which were heightened awareness, extra guard-duty, windows covered with blankets after the panes removed and such. Some of the dried-up grass was purposely set aflame so that a clear view of the approach from the border was afforded as well as removing possible hiding protection for infiltrators.

We spent many hours in or near a fox-hole.

Me (left) and Yonel Charbit (right)

On the second, or perhaps, third day, our soldiers spotted tanks and an air force attack was called in.  And, that was it. It really didn’t even last the full six days on our front. The war was over except for one incident a few days later when it was discovered that several score Egyptian commandos, believing that Jordan was still in control of the “West Bank”, had attempted to escape by crossing from Gaza and had been caught in the fields just west of Amatzia.

The day after Shavuot, we drove up to Jerusalem to participate in a ceremony honoring the Betar and Irgun members who, since 1930 and until 1947, had blown the shofar at the Western Wall as Yom Kippur finished. Giving in to the Muslim Waqf demand that the act of the shofar being blown was a violation of the status quo, a British White Paper in November 1928 proscribed it and it was made official in a recommendation of an International Commission in early 1930.

And the mandatory (no pun intended) Kotel picture:

From there, we traveled to Bethlehem and then on to Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Later on, there was an additional hike, led by Dr. Eldad, to Battir, site of the fortress Betar.

L-R: Chaim Fischgrund, Nissan Teman, Eli Solomon הי"ד, and me

Another trip was to the Women's Prison in Bethlehem where Geula Cohen, Rabbi Aryeh Levine and Dr. Eldad, among others, addressed dozens of former 'residents' of the jail.

A third trip I remember was to Tzur Natan and a walk east and drinking warm goat's milk from the udder via a canteen

I finished my service at Amatzia and returned to Jerusalem for the summation seminar of the Machon.  There we were informed that the Jewish Agency had told our parents during the war that all was well with us as we had been placed “in the center of the country”.

I came back on Aliyah with my wife Batya in 1970, arriving by boat after a 12-day trip, and we moved into the Betar Students Hostel in the renewed Jewish Quarter on Plugat HaKotel Street.


Monday, May 8, 2017

USA Betar Delegates to 7th Kinnus Olami

According to the report in the Herut newspaper of June 14, 1957, the following members of Betar USA were elected to various committees:

Yitz Heimowitz, Composition Committee
Izzy Herman, Absorption, Sherut and Aliyah
Mordechai Kreiner (representing Israel), Finance Committee


Friday, May 5, 2017

The 1958 Jabotinsky Graveside Memorial

It was reported in the Herut newspaper that in 1958, the cemetery memorial for Rosh Betar on Long Island was particularly impressive with a large turnout and even the New York Times noted that:


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Moshe Brodetsky in the Jerusalem Post

(see update with film clip below)



 APRIL 27, 2017 

“I was really ‘born’ in Jerusalem,” Brodetzky insists. “My soul has always been intertwined there.”


Lt. Moshe Brodetzky during his service in the US Army, 1944. (photo credit:BRODETZKY FAMILY)

Among millennials, the term “existential threat” is kicked around a lot, but in truth, none really feel it in their bones – certainly not in the way that those who lived through the founding of Israel can.

For those who witnessed the labor pains of the Jewish state’s uneasy birth, it was not at all self-evident that the Zionist project would succeed. Indeed, on the eve of David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of independence, the Yishuv was already embroiled in a bloody war with local Arab gangs, and the following morning brought five invading Arab armies into the fray. Betting on Israel’s survival at the time was far from a safe wager.

The incredible story of how a fledgling Israel managed, against all odds, to foil a pan-Arab attempt to kill it in its infancy, is still recounted with a certain air of legend and even the miraculous among Israelis. But a remarkable part very often left out from the tale is the role played by hundreds of Jewish veterans of the Second World War who stepped up to defend Israel at the moment of truth.

The story of Col. David “Mickey” Marcus is perhaps the most celebrated of these, as enshrined in the film Cast a Giant Shadow, starring Kirk Douglas. But alongside Marcus were scores of other Jewish American veterans who had barely dusted off their US Army uniforms from the front lines of Europe and the Pacific, before changing into the stitched-up khakis of the various Jewish undergrounds and later, the nascent Israel Defense Forces.

Lt. Moshe Brodetzky of the US Army had fought as an infantryman in France before arriving in Mandate Palestine. He came with dreams of making the desert bloom and building a new nation with his own hands, but instead, found himself fighting yet another war – and far sooner than he had expected.

Back in the European theater in the spring of 1945, shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, Brodetzky was serving as a platoon officer in the US 71st Infantry Division in eastern France. His unit was among many to race toward the Rhine River in the final months of the war, and was engaged in combat in the hill-country of the Alsace-Lorraine region. Caught in a German ambush on the foothills near the Rhine, Brodetzky managed to lead his men to safety under heavy fire, even taking a Wehrmacht platoon prisoner during the fighting.

Unfortunately, Brodetzky was hit and seriously wounded by enemy fire. Miraculously, a single bullet penetrated his helmet, barely grazing his head, before coming out the opposite end of the helmet. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery and resourcefulness during battle, while recovering in a British hospital, and later served the final days of the war as a training officer for new recruits.

When he landed on the shore of Jaffa in 1946, Brodetzky may have been, on paper, an immigrant fresh off the boat, but at heart, he was a true-born Sabra, returning to his native homeland. Both his parents had been active pioneers of the Second Aliya, and were expelled from the country by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War along with thousands of other Jews on suspicion of assisting the British. It thus came to pass that their first-born son, Moshe, was born in Michigan City instead of Eretz Yisrael.

In a recent shot, a bearded Brodetzky takes a stroll in Jerusalem (credit: Brodetzky Family)

Even growing up in America, first in Michigan City and later in New York City, he was inextricably involved in the Zionist cause. As a student before the war, he formed his own branch of Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Betar movement, alongside another dedicated American Jew, who would later become defense minister of Israel – Moshe Arens.

Years later, coming to British Mandate Palestine as a recent veteran of the Second World War, Brodetzky chose to study agronomy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the GI Bill scholarship. His lifelong dream of “becoming a halutz and tilling the soil of Eretz Israel with [his] own hands” brought him to the orange groves of Moshav Kfar Malal, in central Israel, where he worked under the supervision of none other than Shmuel Scheinerman, father of Ariel (Arik) Sharon.

It was back at the Hebrew University that the breakout of the War of Independence caught Brodetzky. 

In the months before the approval of the UN partition plan in November 1947, he and three other American veterans studying on Mount Scopus had been recruited by Menachem Begin’s Irgun Zva’i Leumi underground group, also known as the Irgun; dozens of other American veteran students had opted for the Hagana. For weeks, Brodetzky trained to fire small arms in the secrecy of a Rehavia apartment, away from the eyes of the British colonial authorities.

When local Arab gangs began their bloody guerrilla war against the Yishuv, and all underground groups mobilized to fend off the incessant raids on Jewish towns and settlements, Brodetzky was called to duty and helped train young Irgun warriors to maneuver in the field.

When the full-scale Arab invasion of Israel began on the first day of its independence, and Egyptian forces were soon marching on Jerusalem from the South, Brodetzky had joined up with a company-sized force to help defend Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, already besieged by forces of the Jordanian Legion and nearby Arab irregulars.

When the first shots were exchanged between the surrounding Arab task force and the defending Irgun warriors, Brodetzky was in a high position on the roof of the dining hall, overlooking the foothills of the kibbutz. A single smuggled machine gun had managed to take out an Egyptian armored car before finally jamming, but miraculously stopping the Egyptian advance in its tracks. This was followed by a massive concentrated shelling of the kibbutz from three directions, to “soften us and break us down before finally advancing on the kibbutz,” as he attests.

Soon enough, over half of the defending Irgun force was wounded by shrapnel, some incapacitated and some killed. In this darkest of hours, Brodetzky recalls himself speaking to his downtrodden comrades, trying to embolden them with a rallying speech. “I told them that if we should die, then at least we ought to die fighting. ‘Tamut nafshi im plishtim’ [‘and Samson said,] Let me die with the Philistines’ [Judges 16:30].”

The Irgun managed to hold off the attack for many nerve-racking hours, and was planning to make its last stand at the entrance of the kibbutz when a Palmah reinforcement joined them and helped turned the tide. The surrounding Arab forces were eventually repelled, saving not only Ramat Rahel but also Jerusalem itself.

To this day, Brodetzky considers the events of that fateful day as nothing short of a miracle and a testament to the fortitude of the Jewish heart.

Looking back on his own experience, within the broader context of Jewish history, what most concerns Brodetzky is the question of Israel’s unity as its ultimate source of strength.

“The Jewish people have always been factious, even when their existence has hung by a thread,” he explains. “The Second Temple was destroyed because of internal bickering; even during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising the Jews were split into two political wings and couldn’t set their differences aside!

“Only by uniting will we be able to survive. Our existence is not yet ensured; we have to be vigilant and loyal to each other,” emphasizes Brodetzky.

Crossing paths with history at two of its most fateful junctions, the Nazi war machine and the Arab invasion of an infant Israel, we may well profit from the wisdom of this hero of two armies.


A previous profile.


"Lt Moshe Brodetzky: From Battle of the Rhine to the Battle for Jerusalem",
Moderator:  Betari Aaron Braunstein (1950s), Rotary Program Chair
Occasion:    Jerusalem Day -- a Jubilee Celebration
Video Production:  Sponsored by Les Glassman with Larry Pfeffer at the camera
Promotion:   Jewish Covenant Alliance



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jacob J. Gross' Six Day's War Experience

I was only 18 and had to  get notarized permission from both my parents to go as a volunteer. Plus I needed to get a passport as I had never been anywhere before then. My rush passport was issued on May 25th. I got my Israeli visa at the Consulate in NYC on May 30th and landed in Israel on the second or 3rd of June aboard an El Al 707 that was half Israelis returning to fight and half loaded with military gear.

We landed for refueling in Orly and were concerned that the war may have started and  we might be stranded there. Thank G-d we were allowed to continue to Lod.

Lod was a madhouse – hundreds of volunteers and returning soldiers landing to join the war effort, and hundreds of Haredi yeshivah bochurs waiting to leave.   I was the only Betari on that flight. A group of us were assigned to Kibbutz Lavi in the lower Galilee and were put on a sherut with blacked out headlamps – one of those ancient De Sotos.  The driver stopped at his sister’s apartment in Afula and she fed the lot of us.

Our time at Lavi was unforgettable even though the Kibbutz itself treated the volunteers horribly (there were nice people among the members, but the administration was disgusting and treated us as if we were hired laborers from Sudan).

None of the mitnadvim were particularly religious, yet they forced us to attend services on Shabbat. At the same time we were not allowed to eat in the Kibbutz dining hall, or use the kibbutz moadon.  Our work was in ‘falha’(hay) and/or in picking mishmash (apricots). I have not eaten a single apricot since then. There was a platoon of Nahal girls on the kibbutz and the administration made us work separately in order to discourage fraternizing and maximize output.

Nevertheless we did fraternize and, lo and behold, I (alone) was presented on Friday night with a kippah srugah by one of the girl soldiers. Her name was Ruti and she made the war days unforgettable for me. G-d bless her wherever she is today.

From the kibbutz we could view much of the air combat with Syria. More than one enemy jet fell rather close to where we were watching. On Friday night the big assault on the Golan began and I will never forget the endless column of tanks and half tracks with soldiers singing Kabbalat Shabbat on their way to battle.

The day after the war I visited my first Israeli ‘city’ – Tiberias, then a acient and sleepy town – where we enjoyed a peaceful day at the Kineret. The next day we were taken up to the Golan for a tour. And a day or two after that we went on our own to Jerusalem, a journey that took many hours of ‘trempim’ and a very long Egged bus ride from Tel Aviv.  The Kotel plaza had already been cleared somewhat and the atmosphere at the Kotel – remember this way before it was turned into an Orthodox shul – was one of free wheeling, unfettered joy, total kinship with whoever was there regardless of gender or religious observance.

Around that time all the volunteers on Lavi decided to quit en masse without so much as a goodbye. I didn’t go back there for 45 years, until my parents were visiting in 2012 and wanted to stay at their hotel.

Now it was time to move to the Jabotinsky Youth Village which many of the volunteer Betarim remember. It was a glorious time. Finally I was among my own, and it just felt great to be there.  I volunteered to take care of the hen house. My work consisted of collecting the eggs and throwing out the hens that had bled to death while laying oversize eggs (sorry, not all eggs fit perfectly into an egg carton).  The stench was intense, but at least it was out of the sun.  When I would finish my work I would go the shower still dressed in my shorts, T shirt and sandals in order to wash the stink out of my hair.

After work we would all hang out or go to Tel Aviv for the beach and whatever.  I recall that a few days after I started, a new girl came. Her name was Doris Dronski and she assisted me in the ‘lool’. There was some more history after that between us; bittersweet memories from a half century ago.

Having been a volunteer I was eligible for admission to Hebrew University. I moved to Jerusalem in August. At first we were housed in Bet Avigdori right off Rehov Strauss which was then a totally secular street where one could go to concerts of movies at the Histadrut Building on Friday nights. From there were we relocated to a brand new shikun building in Shmuel Hanavi which, prior to the War, was the very frontier with Jordanian no-man’s land. Today it is a slum at the center of Jerusalem in the heart of harediland The others in the building were quite a mixed multitude – communists from Argentina, Moroccans from France, right-wingers from New York and Johannesburg, religious, ex religious, starting to be religious, atheist…, the lot. The music ranged from Guantanamera to Re’I Rachel Re’I, to Aznavour to Das Lied von der Erde. It was an unprecedented and unforgettable mélange, yet we somehow all got along and made lifelong friends.

Jerusalem was an amazing city back then – only one traffic light (Yaffo corner King George/Strauss), much more cosmopolitan and secular, and one of the world capitals of the free flowing hippy migration along the route between Afghanistan and Europe. No one had a phone.  We were much less connected to parents and families back home. We had no one to answer to. We had so much less and we enjoyed so much more.

I feel sorry for our children and grandchildren who will never get to experience a time like that, a time of both courage and innocence, a time when we knew how to appreciate the little we had and it never occurred to us to cover the much that we lacked.  I’m just so ever-grateful to have been part of all that, and it is such an integral part of who I am to this day.

Amazingly enough, I actually got my BA from Hebrew University.

JJ Gross