Chapter 20: The Reunion

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Chapter 20: The Reunion

It was the 5th Discus Throw at the 1960 Olympic Trials in Israel that made everything happened. Without this record throw I would not write this book. However, it was the eight years in Hadassim, that made me throw the discus so far. These were my close friends that I have grown with that allow that to happen.

After 55 years I was looking back and remember all my friends. However I did not know much about them. In Hadassim we were not talking with each other on the past. We were one family but no one knew about the life history of the others. We had present and future, but not past.

The holocaust survivors would not talk about how they had to see their parents killed. They did not tell about the survival time in horrible conditions.

The children with family problems did not want to discuss their problems at home and discuss their parents.

The children that put in Hadassim because their parents were in the government or belong to leaders that could not make them grow normal life at their home, did not want and understand why they were let out of their family to live in Hadassim.

The Hadassim Family for years live and grow together

One thing we knew: Who are we:

Our story is the story of the Generation of the State, the generation forged during

the founding of the State of Israel. Two generations of Zionist life in the land of

Palestine had preceded ours: the Founding Generation, led by Ben-Gurion, and the

Palmach Generation, led by Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon. The iconic generals Yitzhak

Rabin and Ariel Sharon were also groomed in the Palmach days.

We are the Third Generation, born in the thirties and forties. One after another,

the pieces of our adolescent landscape unfolded with WWII and the Holocaust, the influx

of illegal refugees from occupied Europe, the struggle against the British, the War of

Independence, a still more earth-shaking wave of Mizrachi and Ashkenzi immigrants and

still further Arab attacks on the newborn state. After the Suez War, in the fifties, our

leaders claimed that the era of war had given way to the era of peace. We, of course,

took these claims seriously, though they had no basis in reality, so we never considered

the army our highest calling – as the Palmach generation had. We pursued other

interests, namely: science, business, sports and art. Beyond the communal life of the

nation, each of us delved into our own personal experience, and these individual

narratives will be presented in full, unvarnished and whole, as without them none of us

can truly be known. While the Hadassim tale deals in a miracle, the tales of its students

are sometimes quite difficult to bear. Some of our parents were murdered in the

Holocaust, while still others fell in the War of Independence. The remainder survived to

build the state, handing their flag down to us at the twilight of their days.

Part Two tells the story of that youthful lot, hailing from all over the world, which

first gathered together in Hadassim under one banner, and then charged toward their

futures with an energy that no other place could have given them.

In order to create the conditions for true dialogue among Hadassim students, in

order to stir in them a life of creativity, Jeremiah and Rachel Shapirah determined that

students would be selected in equal numbers from three groups: Holocaust survivors,

children of broken or troubled homes, and lastly those children of a comparatively

privileged status – heirs of comfortable hearths and homes whose parents were simply

too busy to tend to them, for a variety of reasons. The three groups integrated well: the

rich kids grappled with new realities; the troubled kids were introduced to better realities,

and learned in their guts that they could succeed if they would only make the effort; and

the holocaust survivors encountered the new, versatile world of a versatile Israeli identity.

In the end, these children of the Holocaust became Israelis, while the troubled kids

ascended to the elite and the elite learned to live uncorrupted by their privileges.

Many of the kids in Hadassim who’d lived through the Holocaust were, in fact, the moral

and intellectual elite of our generation. Not only had they been better cultivated in the European

Diaspora, but their hard-won battles for survival had endowed them with moral and psychological virtues of far greater reach. In order to harness their latent strength, however, they first needed a warm and understanding home; they needed friends who would keep close to them rather than labeling them “soaps” -- a cruel jibe at their near-immolation at the concentration camps – as was so

much the custom in the cities and Kibbutzim. They needed teachers who would also be friends.

The children of the Holocaust were given all of these things in Hadassim. The

following are some of their stories, starting with Ephraim Shtinkler-Gat and ending with

Avigdor Shachan. The majority of their age group hadn’t survived, and those who did carried scars in their souls that compromised their full development. But in Hadassim,

Ephraim, Avigdor and their friends did the seemingly impossible.

After 60 years we did not know the story of the past of our Hadassim Family. Ann and I were now Married and one day she asked me about the history of some of the kids in Hadsassim who she met in some of our trips to Israel. I did not know the answer. However, as usual the “Kid with the dreams” was dreaming another event. How about to organize a big Reunion? Invite all the “kids” that I grew with to the best event I can offer. Would they come? I did not know. I called my friend Hillel (known as Chile) and asked him. He thought it is a good idea but was doubt that anyone of us will tell their stories.

I was thinking about my friends. I remembered one of my classmates his name is Uri Milstein. In the 10th grade we had to prepare in the literature class a composition each weekend on selected subject. On Sunday class the teacher would at random ask two of the pupils to read their composition in front of the whole class. I would usually calculate the probability of the teacher calling me, and few weeks I would take the chance of not writing the composition but having more time to throw the discus. Luckily I was never caught and when I was called I had the composition prepare.

However with Uri it is another story. One week we were assigned to write a composition regarding the independent War of Israel in 1948. I decided to take a chance and not write anything. But was happy to hear others. Uri was selected at that Sunday to read his composition. It was a fabulous presentation. Detail and dates and amazing stories from the War which we learned throughout the course. Uri’s composition was so good that the teacher asked him to give him the notebook so we will published it to everyone in Hadassim to have a copy. The teacher insist and actually approached Uri and extend his hand to receive the notebook. Uri, handed the notebook. The teacher Shalom Dotan, thank him and open the notebook. It was empty. Needless to say that Uri got in trouble and had require to write the whole speech again or to suffer F grade in the class.

I have never forgot this event. It fascinated me for years. I had in mind that we must find the information about the “kids” and no one could be better to write it than Uri Milstein. I did not have any connection with Uri for 50 years. I did not know anything about him all these years. But I have remembered the event in Class.

I called Hillel on day and asked him if he knows where I can get hold of Uri. He did not know but told me that Uri is a very famous writer by then and infect wrote over 20 books very popular in Israel. I told Hillel that he must find him. And, he did.

I called Uri from the US: “Hello Uri, how are you?” “who is that?” He answer. “This is Gideon”.

Uri got very excited and we had long conversation about the past and present where suddenly I told him: “Uri, we must write a book about the kids in Hadassim. No one know the past. We only knew the present and we now know the future, but we do not know the past, we must write it and give to each of the “kids” the book in the Reunion that I am planning.”

At first, Uri thought it is impossible task but told me that he will try. We agreed on the price and I told him that I want a hard copy first class book with photos. He told me that this will cost allot. I told him that I do not care and just to let me know where to send the checks.

After a week of research, Uri told me that it will take 8 months to do the job and he will have to interview each one of the “Kids” that were with us in class and some that were above us and below us since it was significant for the content. I agreed and the job started. We called the book: “Oasis of Dreams”. Of course the scope of this book does not allow to include allot of material from this research that we did and published but I will include only some especially for the kids of the Holocaust We found their past from them after we lived with them for 10 years, and they told us the events after 60 years. They never told these events to anyone since. These are few Interviews that my friend and classmate in Elementary School and High School conducted with the “kids”.

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