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Monday, December 14, 2009


I was visiting Acre recently and although I went mainly to see the renovated Old City and the Knight’s Halls, I decided to also take in, once again, the section of the fortress which had served as a prison for our underground fighters, during the time of the British Mandate, before the founding of the State.

While I was there a group of students, girls in their late teens, arrived.
Throughout their visit they were chattering amongst themselves, sometimes listening to their guide, often not. There were many Ethiopian girls for whom I understood that this was their first taste of pre-State history.

They were on a special two day tour entitled “ From the Holocaust to the State” taking in a variety of sites commemorating the Holocaust ( Yad Vashem, Hannah Senesh’s home, Lochamei HaGetaot,) and sites and memorials connected to the War of Independence ( Atlit transit cap, the Yechiam Convoy, Acre )

From talking to their teachers I understood that despite all the preparations and studying, they hadn’t really succeeded in making the Ethiopian students feel that this was part of their history, and not just ours .

We reached the stark gallows room where several Jewish freedom fighters were hung and the woman guiding the group asked three Ethiopian girls to stand next to the gallows.

Handing them a sheet of paper, she asked them to read the last words of Avshalom Haviv, Yaacov Weiss and Meir Nakar, three fighters who were sentenced to death and hung in this room, after the break-out in 1947.

The courageous and inspiring last words of these brave fighters had a profound effect on the girls. One by one the girls broke down and started to sob as they tried to finish reading the words in front of them.

It was an ingenious idea of the guide . Watching and listening are totally passive activities and can only have a limited effect on making you feel a part of something . But when you step into the role and ‘become’ a part of history – then the effect is much stronger.

I would guess that these girls continued their tour with a far greater feeling of identification with their new home’s history.


Reb Mordechai said...

A very moving piece. I enjoyed it. BTW, if I am not mistaken, items are hung but people are hanged!

Ann said...

If I had used the active verb, I would have said hanged, but in the passive, the past participle, is was / were hung.
Glad you enjoyed it.

Reb Mordechai said...

I'm afraid you've lost me. When I was at school, grammer was what you called any lady over 60.

Ann said...

Aha, there's a moral to be learnt there.
Don't discuss grammar ( or grandma) with English Teachers. We just befuddle you with long words and you'll never know if we made them up on the spur of the moment.