Our conversation turns to Israel’s accomplishments in the past 62 years in using the environment in a more friendly manner. Today Israel recycles about 70% of its water for agricultural use.
The conversation continues as we drive through Rehovot, the city known as the City of Science and Culture, Israel’s tech center as well as its citrus center. We see citrus groves all along the road north to one of Israel’s National Historic Sites, the Ayalon Institute, for a bit of modern Israeli history of the period just before Israel’s creation as a state in 1948. After the War of Independence this site became the kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, and The Ayalon Institute’s goal is education.
Remember that the British restricted Jewish immigration in 1939, effectively sealing off escape routes for European Jews, and they outlawed weapons even as the Arabs refused to accept the 1947 partition of the land into an Arab and a Jewish state. No one doubted that a war would ensue. The Jews would have to protect themselves.
At this site, originally a training camp for agricultural workers, the Haganah opened a bullet factory that produced more than 2 million bullets between 1946 and 1948. The machinery was smuggled in from Poland beginning around 1938. The Haganah arranged for delivery, but it took seven years to get the machines in, assembled and ready for use. The site was the camp’s laundry and bakery, and the factory was below the laundry in an area 100’ long, 35’ wide and 35’ deep. This area was completed in a mere three weeks. There was an underground connection to the bakery.
Locating the factory beneath the laundry was a stroke of brilliance. The noise of the laundry muffled the noise of the factory. Fresh air was channeled into the factory through the laundry’s chimney. The bakery’s chimney was used to exhaust stale air from the factory. The heavy laundry machines had to be moved in order to gain access to the steep stairway leading to the factory.
The soap on the floors of the laundry as well as the odors covered the smell of gunpowder. The bullets made here were important in the early stages of the War of Independence—the war that commenced almost as soon as Israel was declared an independent state.
Our day is not over after this eye-opener. We head to Tel Aviv University for lunch (yes, everything in my last post and up until now occurs in the AM) and then to their on-site Diaspora Museum (no photos allowed) where we look at art, models, artifacts, and displays of Jewish communities throughout the world dating back 2,500 years when the Jewish tribes were exiled from the land of Israel. There are stunning exhibits of Jewish communities in different countries of the world. Very often there are models of synagogues created by Jews reflecting the cultures, architectural styles, and fashions they absorbed in their new countries while still retaining their religion and identity. It’s a stirring museum one should not miss.
As we drive back to our hotel, we have a great deal to ponder. We’d seen sites dating to the Bronze Age; we’d seen homes with solar powered water heaters. We’d seen evidence of exile, self-determination and struggle. Yes, a great deal to ponder…but no time to worry.
This evening is an opening dinner dance and we meet Wendy Morse, owner of our tour company and learn that there is a member of the family on every tour the company offers. She’s personable and friendly, and we understand that her presence means everything the company says will happen will meet her high standards and our expectations! Our dinner dance in a ballroom of the Dan Panorama Hotel is strictly for our tour. The music is fine, and we are up and ready to dance the night away!
travel trips vacations destinations tours "Third Age Traveler" "third age" photography "travel photos" "travel trips" "Margaret Morse Tours" world "middle East" Israel "Tel Aviv" Rehovoth fruits citrus science solar "solar hot water" recycling kibbutz agriculture weaponry bullets factory war education "Tel Aviv University" "Diaspora Museum" synagogues culture architecture dancing