“What’s that noise mummy?”
“It’s a bird, it really is a bird!”
Eleven families, that is all we had managed to muster, despite our rousing newsletters sent to the garin members who met yearly at Simcha-By-The-Sea. The eleven families who had braved the months of initiation at our foster moshav, Mevo Choron. The umbilical cord had been cut, this was it. We had arrived to take possession of a little bunch of thirty pre-fab houses dropped on the scar tissue of a blown off mountain top with not a blade of grass nor a bird in sight. We came with our lifts filled with over-sized furniture and pampers stuffed wherever they would fit.
“Spoiled Americans,” that’s what the Jewish Agency called us. How could we talk of hardships when we were given houses? Real pioneers start their settlements with tents and wells. We had houses and electricity – even though it was from a generator that needed its afternoon rest.
We had houses, cute little houses with red roofs. We had electricity, though only enough for lights, three fridges between us, and a rotation for using any other electrical equipment. We claimed our houses opening our front door and finding whitewashed walls, stone floors carpeted with dust and builders’ rubble, and a substantial population of every sort of creepy crawly known to man.
If inside the house it was somewhat chaotic, outside was pure havoc. By day the sun relentlessly bleached and boiled our “work in progress” building site. By night our torches tried to save us from the bigger pit-falls as we picked our way along unprepared, never trodden paths.
Our first Shabbos was coming. How would we prepare it without electric ovens and very limited space to store things in the fridge a few houses away? Then we all realized we had no food. No food; no shop for miles around and no private cars. Our chosen shopkeeper collected our “wish list,” took the moshav car back to Mevo Choron and purchased everything at its shop. Who knows if and how we paid them. It was an honors system. You were trusted to ask for only what you needed. Eventually we were handed the keys to the shop building and our tzorchania opened its doors.
Summer gave way to winter after a hard-fought battle known as autumn. The sand piles and rubble turned into quagmires as the rain thrashed down as mercilessly as the sun on the newly exposed land which had been hidden since maasei Bereishis.
Where to start? This was our home. We had to make it habitable and presentable if we were ever to fill the nineteen empty houses and then build some more. The Jewish Agency wanted numbers. Eleven families was a start to make a Jewish presence but to get more resources we had to be big enough to deserve it. We needed resources to attract people and we needed numbers to deserve the resources.
Our paths were paved, streetlights went up and we started looking like a place and not just some scattered houses. What would you expect to find if you blasted off the top layer of a mountain? Rocks, of course. Rocks might grow moss and colored molds but flowers, bushes, grass or trees? We needed gardens; we needed plant life for our houses to snuggle in.
So one evening, after our hard worked men-folk finally finished their toil, we planted grass by a house that had been commandeered for use as the office. We all came: adults, children and babes in arms and applauded as the grass roots gleaned from Mevo Choron’s lawns were spread and sprinkled on. Finally some color.