Another Langsam Family
From: The Atlantic Monthly; October 1949; "Israel: Young Blood and Old"; Volume 184, No. 4; pages 19-25. by George Biddle ...which can be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/israel/biddle1.htm Isreal: Young Blood and Old (Oct. 1949) May 10. -- I reached the Nvey Eitan Kibbutz about six o'clock in the evening, on the bus from Afula. The Khamsin had been blowing for two days from the desert. The temperature touched 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Rachel Kolin Langsam met me and led me to her "home." She and her husband are one of four families, each owning a single room in the small, low, tin-roofed cottage. In the little white-plastered room were a narrow bed, two chairs, a table, and a combination bureau and wardrobe, with a few bits of glass on the shelves. There were a few snapshots of their three small children, pinned to the walls; and a graphophone, plugged into a corner. On the porch outside were stacked two or three canvas-backed chairs. There were electric lights but no running water. The children sleep and attend their classes in separate dormitories and study rooms. Rachel took me to the men's showers and somewhat rudimentary toilets in an outbuilding. When I had washed, she introduced me to her husband and brought in supper from the communal dining room. We ate black bread and fresh butter, canned sardines and canned herring, cream cheesy jam, stewed apples, and tea. Later we sat out on the mosquito-infested lawn with friends of the family, and chatted in broken German and Hebrew until eleven o'clock. Rachel served hot tea and cognac. I was drugged with fatigue. Too tired to sleep. The next morning we breakfasted in the communal dining quarters. She then walked me about the Kibbutz, showing me the new air-conditioned dining hall, the motor pool, cow sheds, chicken coops, and children's quarters. I made drawings of some of the babies sleeping in the out-of-door nursery. I left for Ein Harod, the large processing Kibbutz and artist rest-house, before lunch. At Nvey Eitan are about ninety families. The 180 adults live in some thirty-five small houses. The hundred children are housed in their own dormitories and nurseries. Most of these Jews come from Cracow and have been living here eighteen years. The children go to nursery schools until six years old, when they begin their serious studies. The adults work from six till eight, when they breakfast; from nine till twelve, when they dine and rest; and again from three until six, when they bathe and have supper. Each member gets a ten-day holiday a year. Rachel works in the hospital; her husband drives a tractor. Perhaps 60 per cent of the farming in Israel is worked by Kibbutzim. One reason is that agriculture here is more highly mechanized than in any other country except the United States. Private owners on small farms could not successfully compete with them. I asked Rachel about the immigrants. One is apt to forget that about 200,000 of them -- that is, one person in every four -- came here during the war year, the first year of Israel's national life; and that perhaps 400,000 -- one person out of two -- have come here during the past fifteen years. She said, "Of course they raise serious problems. Most of them have lived in cities and are not inclined to make over their life in the country. Others are not sympathetic to communal ownership and would prefer working for their own profit. Still others are physically unfit and ignorant as farmers. Those who are inclined to try the experiment are given a year's training, when a final decision is made." Rachel told me that when they first came to Ein Harod the country was wild and had never been under cultivation. The tall Palestine thistle grew eight feet high and choked out vegetation. The Arabs had never seen motors and ran in fear from automobiles. For years they shot at and ambushed the Jews. Those were hard times. Now the Jews get on well with the Arabs, who very slowly adapt themselves to Western standards. I asked Rachel what they most needed. She answered -- as has everyone -- "More settlers and more capital. With borrowed money and more workers this country could support twice the population. Of course the immigrants are a grave problem. But we shall meet it. We must offer asylum to all the Jews of the world who would come here. And quickly. Before the next war. For then it will be too late." The Kibbutzim are to me the most interesting thing in Israel. They supplied the core of the crack fighting troops, which saved the nation. Here you see the faces -- lean, hard, tanned, self-reliant, intelligent, sober; yet full of faith, hope, and confidence -- that are the promise of the future of the country and explain the success with which to date the young state has met its prodigious challenge. Many farmers in America could not stand the austerity of Rachel's life. In certain ways it is as creative and satisfying as that of her aunt, Helena Rubenstein.
I would be very interested to hear from anyone with knowledge or an interest in the Miller family.
My home address is
1374 East 28th Street Brooklyn NY 11210-5311 USA
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