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December 17, 1976 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-12-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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Israeli Military Prisoners Have
Dedicated Friend in 'Aunt Lea'

By MOSHE RON

The Jewish News
Special Israel Correspondent

TEL AVIV — In the Is-
raeli Army, as in all ar-
mies, are soldiers who
break army discipline and
military rules, and corn-
mit minor crimes. In
many camps there are
military prisons. A
soldier-convict has spe-
cial problems.
Psychologists and social

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workers try to solve the
problems of the prisoners.
But the work of experts
and officials are not
enough in such cases.
Voluntary work is of
great importance to help
to raise the morale of the
prisoner. The prisoners of
the military prison in
Megido (in the Emek Yiz-
reel) have the luck to
have such a volunteer.
She is 73 years old and a
member of Kibutz
Ginegar.
She visits the prisoners
very often. She is very
popular and is called
"Aunt Lea".
The prisoners are tense
and often quarrel among
themselves. Once a pris-
oner got a newspaper; he
hid it and wanted to read it
alone. His fellow-
prisoners detected the
hidden newspaper. A
brawl broke out.
The paper was torn
when Aunt Lea arrived.
"What is the use of it?"
she asked quietly. "Now
no one can read the news-
paper. Would it not have
been better, if one of you
would have read the
newspaper aloud for all
of you?"
The advice of the old
woman was accepted. The
torn newspaper was put
together and one of the
prisoners read its con-
tents aloud. Everybody
was satisfied. The next
day she appeared again
and taught the prisoners
how to help each other
under their severe condi-
tions. They saw that Aunt
Lea was able to relieve
their prison life.
Aunt Lea organizes
amateur actors on her
kibutz who perform in
other kibutzim, and in
Haifa and Nazareth. She
has eight grandchildren
and seven great grand-
children.
In the course of time
Aunt Lea started to or-
ganize theatrical per-
formances for the prison-
ers. In the beginning of
her activity, Aunt Lea con-
sulted psychiatrists. She
spoke with the prisoners
about anger and hatred, to
help free them of such feel-
ings. She started to meet
the prisoners twice a
week.
The talks are held in
the form of games, with
the prisoners initiating
mock conflicts among
themselves. Aunt Lea in-
tervenes and tries to per-
suade them to find a solu-
tion for their problems. In
another game the prison-
ers play roles of their
wardens or military
police officers, in order to
understand the mental-
ity of their "enemies".
They reach an un-
derstanding that these
men are only fulfilling
their d-uties towards the
society and the state.
Aunt Lea told us how
she first met strong
hatred against the war-
dens and the state. She
talked about love and
pride for Israel, the suc-
cessful commando action

For the
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Bar Mitzva
Suits in Town
with the

in Entebbe, the choice of
an Israeli girl as Miss
Universe and the good
performance of Israeli
hurdler Ester Roth in the
Olympic games.
Gradually, mutual con-
fidence and close relations
developed. The prisoners
started to open their
hearts and tell Aunt Lea
about their personal prob-
lems. Aunt Lea turned into
an emissary for the pris
oners with the prison au-
thorities to relieve their
hard conditions.
In time, the circle of
prisoners associated with
Aunt Lea performed the-
ater pieces. Prisoners
started to read books for
the first time in their
lives. Aunt Lea chose
theater pieces suited to
educate the prisoners
about discipline and so-
cial interaction.
Chief of Staff General
Mordechai Gur came to
the prisoners' first per-
formance. Many parents
had the chance to see
their children for the first
time since they had been
arrested. Many prisoners
played their roles as well
as professional artists.
The Chief of Staff asked
Aunt Lea to continue her
constructive work in mili-
tary prisons. He stressed
that her activity did
much to turn prisoners
into good soldiers.





Friday, December 17, 1976 19

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