Nostalgia Sunday – Young Judaea Year Course 1978-9
Here’s where I’m not. I am not in New York City this weekend, at the big Young Judaea Year Course 1978-9 reunion. As much as I reconciled myself to that fact months ago, I still feel a pang of regret at not meeting up with people from that first, most formative and important year of my post-high school life.
Here’s the end-of-year photo of Year Course Section 3. What you see is a group of hormone-addled teens relieved to have made it to the end without killing one another, and bewildered by the thought of starting college after a year of “real life in Israel”.
Whereas the other Year Course groups, Sections 1 and 2, spent most of the year studying in Jerusalem and toga-partying on kibbutz, Section 3 had a unique module that placed us for four months as para-social workers in development towns, in our case, Dimona and Mizpe Ramon. And so, while living in these “Turn Left at the End Of the World” places gave us a more than slightly skewed notion of “real life in Israel” — and our contributions to the field of social work were minimal– we did have our own apartments! Which is pretty heady stuff when you are 18 years old and just out of the house. No wonder I felt compelled to document the Dimona digs. Here’s our kitchen, complete with the ubiquitous Armenian pottery mugs from the Old City…
Prior to development town, we lived on Kibbutz Neot Mordechai, on moshavim (agricultural towns) and in Jerusalem. Like all other groups, we toured the Golan and Galil. Here’s the Good Fence between Israel and Lebanon — probably a lot smaller than you imagined.
Like all other groups of young people in Israel at that time, Israeli and non, we happily wrecked our tailbones for life on that mode of transportation known as a “Tiyulit”, a sort of tin box on wheels, the interior lined with long hard wooden benches.
What can I say? We were a geeky bunch. Plus, we didn’t get haircuts for months at a time. (Yes, that is me in that image below, on the far right, under that mop).
One place our section didn’t get to spend much time, regrettably, was the youth movement’s Kibbutz Ketura. The Spielberg Jewish Film Archive has an amazing movie from 1976 , called Arava, that documents the founding of the kibbutz — an inspiring miracle in the sand that is still making the desert bloom to this very day with algae farming, exotic plants and solar power.
Kids, there were no cell phones (I probably spoke to my family three times that year, mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to wait in line for the public phone), we barely had any cash (certainly no credit cards), parental visits were not encouraged and you only flew home to the States if you were kicked off the program. Ah, those were the days…
A good number of the members of Young Judaea Year Course 1978-9, from all sections, live in Israel and while few of us could be at the real-life reunion, Facebook has provided a platform for a virtual one. Feel free to take a peek.