The story of Shmuel Rubinstein, who particpated in the first Machzor (Aleph) - 1946
The voyage on the Stratheden, that was returning Italian prisoners of war to Europe, was an experience in itself. We stopped for two days in Mombasa in Kenya and were hosted by the local Jewish community there. …
Following a long journey by train which included travelling through the desert we finally arrived in Rehovot, where we were received by Avraham Harman who worked for the department of Youth and Pioneers of the Jewish Agency (and later became the Israeli ambassador to the USA and the deacon of the Faculty of Education of the University of Haifa) together with Moshe Reinhold the main teacher of the course. We continued on to Jerusalem and were put up at the old Atlantic hotel. We got to know Jerusalem, here we came into real contact with the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) with all its new additions, its antiquity, its history and its holiness…
They were the first!
We were then transferred to Ayanot, under the directorship of Ada Maimon, where we settled in for all of six months. We were divided into three classes by our grades.of Hebrew, literature and Taanach. I, together with Shulamit was in the highest class and I must admit at first the standard was above my capabilities. But somehow I managed, I must say, with the help of my wife and the patience of Moshe Hayut, our teacher, a Hapoel Mizrachi man, a member of Kibbutz Yavneh and a former secretary of the Kibbutz Dati Movement. Ruth Birak was the third teacher and madricha (she went on to work later with Aliyat Hano’ar). All three teachers who taught us Hebrew and all the other subjects were very capable and kept a high standard and thanks to them the stay at Ayyanot was a great success.
We came together for all the other classes which included the History of Zionism and the modern settlement of Israel, and the Arab society in Israel and the Middle East. Lecturers were brought in from the Jewish Agency and public figures, who managed even in those days of pre-State activity, to find the time to give us lectures. Amongst those who I remember were Abba Eben on Relationship with the Arab Community and the Middle East, Eliahu Dobkin, Avraham, Harman and Dr BenZion Katz.
There were also dance lessons with Gert Kaufman, Israeli songs, choir and other subjects and together with that we also worked part time in the various agricultural branches of Ayanot. Zev Vilnai z”l (who later became a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) would take as out every two weeks on a field trip that would last either three or five days.
Machzor Aleph on a tiyul at Birya, 1946
It seems to me that there wasn’t a single place of importance in Israel that we didn’t visit, or if not, that we didn’t hear about from Zev Vilnai. He enthralled us with his enthusiasm and his character and his knowledge of what seemed to us, every pathway in the country. He tried with all his might to pass on his own feelings to those who were listening. I remember in particular the tiyul we had to the three new settlements in the Negev – Revivim, Gvulot and Bet Eshel. And straight after the establishment of another eleven settlements in the Negev, we went to one of them – Hatzerim.
The trips to the old City of Jerusalem were unforgettable, the Western Wall in its narrow ally, the Jewish quarter with its ancient synagogues, its history and religious significance. We also went to the Jewish Quarter by ourselves together with Moshe Hayut, who introduced us to several of the families that lived there that he knew, and so we had encounters that were special and were different from the formal tours that we took.
From the book by Shmuel Rubinstein, ביתו בגליל [His House in Galilee], 2000