Saturday, December 21, 2002

A word from Karen

Karen has some stuff to add to the blog! Yay!


Old and New History

We drive to Lev HaSharon, the heart of the Sharon, rolling meadows and farmland. This is the place of the kibbutz and moshav. I'm here to visit an emergency supportive community for the elderly -- if you really want to know, ask me later or if you know me and my work pretty well, think of it as an enormous, horizontal NORC program. Anyway, we are in an area lived in for thousands of years, a great grainbelt for those upstarts, the Romans, as well as others. And I get the chance to meet a sprightly 73 year old woman I'll call Ofra. Ofra moved to Israel in 1948 from France (by way of Tunisia, I think, considering the food she served us for lunch) and immediately joined a kibbutz. She and her compatriots were looking for a place on the border -- to live, farm and protect their new country. After a few years, the kibbutz she was on had some internal political differences and Ofra and her faction left to join a moshav -- still on the border. And in fact, she lives about 200 meters from a fence differentiating Israeli and Palestinian territory. Ofra has lived here for 50 years now. Always using herself, her land and her ideology for the benefit of her country, and in defense. It is a romantic story for Americans to hear about -- but for me, it's different to look at this calm grandmother of 16, sipping tea in her kitchen, with a border fence visible across her back yard. This is also history. Ofra is an essential member of contemporary history, of country-building, and I am sitting in her kitchen eating almond-stuffed dates hearing about it first hand.

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