- Kibbutz Reshafim, 10905, Israel -

Laying a cornerstone

    Everything was a bit larger than life in the early days of the newly founded state. A simple act of a few individuals in a remote corner took on a significance (at least in the eyes of those involved) far beyond the every-day importance of the act itself. Building a home meant building the homeland.

Laying a cornerstone

Foundation Scroll

(With the laying of the cornerstone of the first house at Ashrafieh)
 
    Today, on the 19th of the month of Sivan in the year 5709, one year after our settling on the land we lay this cornerstone in this place.
    On the eve of the invasion by the Arab countries we broke the ground of this land with a Hebrew plough and on the anniversary of Israel's victories we build a home which will not fall for a Hebrew village of liberated labour.
    From the towns and woods of Roumania, from the diaspora of Bulgaria, from Israel's towns and settlements we united fired by the pioneering vision of making this earth fertile.
    Ashrafieh! When the invasion threatened and the pressure of the enemy grew you were a shelter for us. We found a hiding-place in your trenches and when the thunder of the guns on Mount Gilboa increased we breathed the smell of your soil.
    You yielded to the Hebrew ploughman, the farmer praying for produce, you watched the march of the rifle accompanying the plough, you became aware that we thirsted for you and you responded.
    Peace hasn't come yet, enmity around rules but through our love for you and this country, through the strength of the arms and the Hebrew labourer relief will come and we will leave the dug-outs and shelters and safely dwell on your foundations, we and our children after us.
    This house that we are building will be a place of absorption for the masses of Israel's diaspora coming together in the homeland.
    This foundation shall be witness, your fruitful fields shall be witness to the true pact we have concluded with you.
As there is hope to labour.
 
    Ashrafieh, 19th Sivan 5709, in the second year of the State of Israel, 16.6.1949
    The clichés and hyperboles sound rather funny nowadays and have to be read in the context of the general mobilisation at the time, of people engaged both nationally and socially, trying to make sense of their history and build a future.
    Reading this one gets a feeling similar to the one elicited by the memories one has of a little child trying on his parent's shoes: Like the words in this scroll they were too big for the occasion but they leave a sweet taste of love and adventure and make us smile.

 

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August 2000