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June 26, 1987 - Image 55

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-06-26

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

through the kibbutz's state-of-
the-art contact lens factory, and
to the doorstep of Ronit, her
kibbutz "mother," the former
soldier who had taken an
American "daughter" to her
heart.
That connection, at first
fragile, ultimately nourished
our Amy as surely as the hear-
ty, simple food in Hanita's din-
ing room.
At the school where Amy had
fallen in love with youngsters
who ranged from angelic-
looking cherubs to semi-
menacing teen toughs, our
daughter was greeted with
cries of "Ahmy's back! Ahmy's
back!" And our hearts lurched
as we watched our uncreden-
tialed teacher reunite with her
troubled charges.
On a hazy afternoon, we stood
with Amy on a desert moshav
as she proudly pointed to the
rows of tomato plants and to the
grape vineyards she had come
to know intimately. It was odd-
ly touching to watch our farmer
in her fields, cherishing each
new burst of life.
Later, we drank rich, hot cof-
fee with her moshav family, lov-
ing, simple, good folk who had
taught our daughter the mean-
ing of nature's bounty — and
belligerence. Again, Otzma had
provided a set of parents to
replace the ones several con-
tinents away.
Early one morning, we visited
Ramat Eliahu, the renewal
town near Tel Aviv where the
final chOpter of Otzma was
about to unfold for Amy. This
was no metropolis, no mecca for
Yuppies. There wasn't a fine
French restaurant in sight, nor
a trendy little boutique or art
gallery.
But our ivy league expatriate
rejoiced in small pleasures: a
tiny apartment to be shared
with three Otzma colleagues
also assigned to Ramat Eliahu;
a sparkling new community
center recently dedicated
through the fund-raising efforts
of Metro West; the renewal
town's American "sister" com-
munity in New Jersey; and the
adventure ahead.
Clearly, our suburban daugh-

ter, given to occasional splurges
at malls and theatres, was feel-
ing no pangs of self-denial in a
remote Israeli town. What she
was feeling was the spirit of
Otzma, a spirit of bonding
among the 56 participants from
the U.S. and Canada.
As we wandered the trail
blazed by Amy, we listened to
her new insights about the Mid-
dle East, about Israeli politics,
about the history of a part of
the world that was once
mysterious to an American girl
from New Jersey.
Obviously, the stuff of
Otzma's lectures "took." The
words of scholars and historians
and soldiers and statesmen
have not missed their mark.
Our daughter knows far more
than her parents do about in-
credibly complex issues, and
that knowledge, we suspect,
will translate into
commitment.
On our last night in Israel, we
treated Amy to the kind of din-
ner she hadn't had in seven
months. Cloth napkins. Soft
music and candlelight. The
works.
Later, in the hotel room, Amy
stuffed her worldly goods into
a bulging duffle bag, while we
crammed ours into an embar-
rassing number of suitcases.
That night, long after we
should have been sleeping, an
American mother and daugh-
ter talked about the inevitable
terrors of coming home to "real
life," as Amy calls it.
This experience has unalter-
ably altered her, and we both
know it. She is not the same
young woman who left us last
summer. She has lost some of
her college innocence; she has
gained dimensions that are not
yet clear.
At dawn, we glided down on
a hotel elevator to the taxi and
the jet plane that we there
waiting. Amy would proceed by
bus, alone, to Ramat Eliar, and
the last stage of Otzma.
It was no easy parting. After
twelve frantic days, we hadn't
had nearly enough of a daugh-
ter whose face we tried to
memorize as the sun rose over
thepink
hills of Jerusalem.
. _

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