Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Ze'ev liked to tease me"

Dear Penina and all the family,

I have been thinking of how you and Ze'ev have been part of my life since I was six years old. I have many memories of that year, and much of what comes up is actually mixed up with Helga and Stan's recollections. I was thinking of what Helga would be saying now about Ze'ev and it would be that July 1961 - July 1962 was the best year of her life. She would talk about reuniting with her brave cousin who she so admired as she said goodbye to him at the Berlin train station in 1935 as he set off for Palestine. She would say how wonderful it was to have found her family in Israel on beautiful kibbutz Afeq. She would talk of the seder in the Heder Ochel as being very, very meaningful. She would say how happy she was for her three children to run around the kibbutz and splash in the pool with their three Israeli cousins. Stan, for his part, would be talking about how much Ze'ev taught him about the Irgun, and the Palmach and 1948 and Ben Gurion and Golda Meir and the kibbutz movement. He would probably talk about the carp ponds and how envious he was of the kibbutz lifestyle.

Despite their decision to return to the US, you -- our Sharon family -- stayed very dear to them. The year that Avinoam came to visit us in Glen Ellyn/Chicago was wonderful for Helga especially, but I know we were all influenced, in various ways. He was the first Israeli out-of-the-army that I knew, on his journey, and so happy and excited. I'm just thinking now, that his visit must have influenced me to come to Israel many years later.

When I came to Israel in 1974, you and Ze'ev were there - right there -- at Lod as I got off the plane and you swept me up into your family, with such love and warmth. I remember how intense it was at the hospital visiting Raya a day after Ahikam was born, but you both kept making sure I was okay while you had so much going on as a family. And then you both drove me all the way to Jerusalem, and made sure I was okay in the dorm on Har HaTzofim.

I will always remember how caring Ze'ev was and that he liked to tease me. I think he he enjoyed my visits in part because he could practice his English. He loved asking me endless questions, and always wanted to talk about Stanley and Helga. But he also pushed me to speak Hebrew with you, Penina, because he really wanted me to love Israel. It was the first year after Avinoam's death and while you both grieved, you shared it with me. You were remarkable Penina -- that you found a way for me to be comfortable and help me understand your experience, and teach me about death. I will always cherish that about you both.

I am so happy that Lani made it to Israel last summer, and has wonderful memories of her own. I wish we could be with you all tomorrow at the Shivah to hear all your stories and memories of your dear husband, father, grandfather, greatgrandfather, friend. But do know that we have you in our hearts, and know that we are celebrating his life right here in Piedmont, California.

Until soon / l'hitra'ot, all my love to everyone of you,

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