Monday, July 7, 2008

Livnot ulehibanot

This was the action in our little village yesterday. The old public building, long abandoned and roof caving in, has been fixed up in order to become a home for handicapped people.
I stopped to greet the gardeners and thank them for making the place beautiful and to ask permission for a photo. (Of course they found this rather strange.) This is where my little bit of Arabic comes in handy.

Yes, it is the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs and the foreign Gastarbeiter who build the State these days. They build our houses, operate the earthmoving bulldozers, landscape the gardens, dig in archaeological excavations, plant and pick our crops, shepherd our sheep and goats, etc. etc. etc.

I walked on, thinking how sad it is that so many Israeli Jews no longer know the joy of physical labor, of getting the hands dirty, of sweating.

A.D. Gordon, who died in 1922 in Kibbutz Degania, must be turning over in his grave at the situation today. He was a Zionist ideologue who believed that physical effort on the land would bring about the redemption of the Jewish people. He attributed pioneer work a semi-religious status, arguing that it created an organic interrelationship between man, the land and culture.

A. D. Gordon: "Tolstoy in Palestine" - Poem - by Steven P. Schneider . .

Like Tolstoy, you longed to connect your life
to the soil.
You turned your back
on property, family, the high culture of Russia-
to live with peasants,
to work the vineyards and orange groves of Rishon Le-Zion.
Your stamina stunned the younger men
and women who worked beside you.
Your labor connected you to the land of your people.
It made you free.
Turning your back on the occupations of the Pale--
Talmudic scholar, money lender,
peddler, victim of pogroms--
You wanted to remake the Jew into a farmer.
Your weapon against history was the hoe--
Your work in the fields a new kind of worship.
With each digging of the hoe--
you discovered a new rung upon which to climb to heaven.
The sweat bathed your white beard.
Your eyes burned with the fire of holiness.
Tolstoy in Palestine,
you scribbled "Some Observations"
by candlelight in the predawn hours--
"our people," you wrote, "can be rejuvenated
through labor and a life close to nature."
At night, under the moon of Zion,
beside the campfire,
you preached your religion of labor
to all who would listen.
And when the dreamers of Israel
sang and danced,
you joined them
in the hora of the body reborn.


Louise said...

Nice thoughts and poem. I especially liked this part:

"our people," you wrote, "can be rejuvenated
through labor and a life close to nature."

So true for everyone.

kjpweb said...

It seems you have the same take on ideology as I have. Go around it!
Cheers, Klaus

Michelle said...

Nice that something was built for handicapped people...nobody wants to do the hard, physical labor anymore, but many people like to garden. There must be something in "us" that wants to connect to the soil..just not when it's our "job"...

Gretchen said...

I'm really enjoying getting to know you through your travels and photos.

Steven and Aisha said...

I enjoyed reading this post. :)

Kris McCracken said...

I had assumed that the Kibbutz culture would be alive and well in Israel. Is there any reason for this other than the obvious (people have got lazy)?


in my town, physical labour is associated with foreigners too

JC said...

Beautiful posting. Very thought provoking. Have a blessed day. JC

Shimmy Mom said...

I think work keeps us all humble. There is something about working in the dirt that reminds us of all of God's miracles of nature. Lovely post.

Reader Wil said...

In the early days of the State of Israel every Jewish citizen worked hard to cultivate the desert land, and the swamps, which became dry by means of eucalyptus trees from Australia. We all admired the brave and industrious people of Israel at that time. I read this in Exodus ( I forgot the name of the author). Tell me if I am wrong please.

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Hello Dina, Not uncommon attitude, esp. referring to Mexican immigrants. But as you may know, in the U.S., due to wildfires in California or flooding of Mississippi or elsewhere, unbelievable how people can pull together in their communities when necessary. There is a spirit that has been placed on hold until necessary. I believe we all have the ability to care. A thought- provoking blog, Dina. Petra

Tipper said...

Such a good post-so interesting!