Another Langsam Family


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			

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

                    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.

Moishe Miller

My home address is
           1374 East 28th Street
           Brooklyn NY 11210-5311

Last updated 1/26/00