From a letter by Dvora Shechner z”l to her family in Argentine,
on her arrival to the Machon Lemadrichei Chul in 1949
Dear Mother, Father and Zeev (that is your name in Hebrew),
I received your letter and your complaints against me are justified. I can only find one factor in my favour: I really didn’t have the time, because I am really busy with the ‘movement’ and haven’t written a word yet to anybody.
From what the others have written you already know quite a bit about our lives here. We live in Katamon which is an Arab area abandoned by its residents at the outset of the fighting here – houses that are real mansions. The building where the girls live, is very modern. Three stories with large balconies from where there is a great view. In every room there are three girls with all conveniences (they fixed the problem that we had with the water!)
The boys have their own small Arab mansion three blocks from us in which there is a hall which is decorated in pure Arab style. Next door to our building there are the classes where we study, large spacious rooms in what was once a hotel called Claridges. All this was quite a surprise for us when we arrived.
A group photo at the entrance to the Machon
Hizkiyahu Hamelech St - 1950
Jerusalem is quite a city, but the standard of live for the local population is considerably lower than that of lif in the kibbutz. Where there is no lack of food.
Our daily schedule is such:
6:00 We wake up and have some exercises.
6:30 Arrange our rooms
07:30 – 09:00 Lesson
11:00 – 12:30 Break
12:30 Lunch, break, and homework until 15:30
15:30 – 16:30 Lesson
16:30 – 18:00 Lesson
Then evening activities until 22:00
We have classes on the following subjests:
Ivrit – 5 hours a day
Bible and Aggada in Hebrew.
History (in Spanish)
Yidiat Ha’Aretz (In Spanish)
Sociology of the Jewish People (in Spanish)
Between lessons we have chores to do:
Homework, committee meetings, preparations for ‘messibot’ (parties).
The evening activities are: Choir of which there is one that everyone takes part in and another for ‘specialists’, decoration and painting. Israeli dancing (we have already learnt a lot), recorder, and how to organize messibot
At 11:00 there is ‘lights out’ and in every building there is a teacher and a student who are responsible for ‘quiet and order’ during the night and to wake everyone in the morning.
The Staff of the Machon at the beginning of 1950
We have started to really get to know the country through our trips in Jerusalem and the countryside. Jerusalem is an amazing city. Thousands of Jews who lived in the Old City now live here. Jews with long beards, Payot, Shtraimels and well worn, torn and dirty kapotas (gowns). Children with side curls and long black socks mingle with hundreds of soldiers
We were only a few steps away from the wall on which we could see the red ‘kefiyot’ of the soldiers of the Arab Legion. Everywhere you go in Jerusalem you are aware of the recent fighting and the border is very close to us...
We were on a two day hike in the hills of Jerusalem – 40 kilometre of up and down hills!
On another occasion we spent 6 nights on the coast – each night we slept at a different place and each of the places left an impression on us.
We also managed to ake contact with the local Israeli youth, with the “Sabarim”, as they are called. We are already capable of talking with them ... we have visited a Gadna Camp, which is an army camp youngster of 14/15 to 17/18 train as cadets. We watched their parade and in the evening there was a party in the huge dining hall, where we saw the Israeli youth at its prime – they danced Israeli dances without a break for four hours.
The country is large and amazing, here they don’t measure distances in kilometres but in the time that it takes to get from one settlement to another. Transportation is a real problem, one can wait in a line at an a bus stop for as much as three hours The easiest and cheapest way to travel is by hitching a lift. We manage with our kibbutz looking outfits to get around quite easily that way. Most of the trucks that stop for us are either army or Histadrut. The drivers are quite popular here and are referred to as “chaver hanahag” – “Our Friend the driver”
We are in a land where the whole country is in protecting itself from an enemy but at the same time is working its hardest to create a new state, and we are trying to adapt ourselves to these conditions and to give you our impressions and emotions in what we feel is our country too.
That’s it, I think that I have written enough now, I do have lots more to tell, but our daily schedule is so packed that this letter could never be large enough to contain it all.
With all my affection,
Taken from the book "A Political Girl", by Dvora Shechter, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Israel, 2002
The 50th Reunion of Machzor Hey (5)
Dvora died in 2011