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    Chapter 3

David Izzard settled into the soft seat. His long lean frame began to relax. The aeroplane rose smoothly into a clear blue sky above Tel Aviv. David watched the sunlight sparkling on the waters of the Mediterranean. He would miss this precious part of his world. History was stamped on the very stones that had seen many wars, famines and droughts, but also times of harvest and plenty. His thoughts soon changed as he anticipated his reunion with old friends in Athens. David was sure his partner Sol could run the food processing plant in his absence.

The plant was located near the Sea of Galilee, the source of a seemingly endless supply of water so necessary to irrigate the fields and help in the running of the plant. A new high protein food had been successfully produced by their company, Granright. It would be released for sale when David returned in a few weeks time. The products, made from a combination of locally grown grains and oils, would be marketed in a variety of easily prepared staple foods.

David relaxed as the soothing melody from his headphones washed over him. He began to recall pleasant times spent with his boyhood friend Reuben, and later, their university days with Ari. There were times when the trio felt they were incapable of taking in one iota more of new information, almost as if they were on overload from this force feeding day in, day out. Ari could always be relied upon to provide the trio with excitement as he told of his latest escapade.

As children, David and Reuben had scrambled bare footed over rocks, splashed in and out of the crystal cool waters of Galilee, or just lazed in the sun, hidden from view amidst the fields of gently waving grain. Their day in the fields began around 6 A.M., after a hurried breakfast of yoghurt and cheese produced on their land. David worked beside his Jewish father Simon, born and bred in his beloved Israel, a land of fertility. Its soil nurtured and welcomed all plants, encouraging them to maturity and fruit bearing. Olive groves, vineyards, nuts and palms flourished. Hills and forests added to the greening of this lush, busy land. David could still picture Reuben working silently alongside him and Simon.

David's family had befriended Reuben when he arrived at the Kibbutz with two travel weary women, one old, the other with an uprightness that had left the older woman many seasons ago. Their faces bore the same mask of helpless inevitability. They came seeking peace and refuge, after days of intense bloody battle between Arabs and Jews. Tanks had rolled and squeezed their way through the narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, as people ran in panic, trying to find a safe shelter in little shops or narrow alleyways.

People born of the same nation now fought each other as intruders. Greed and fear filled hearts that should, by common birthplace, be joined in love and respect for the individual differences that must occur in any race, if they are to survive as a nation. Yes, the wars of 1948(1) and 1967 were grim years for this family. Reuben had told David of his nightmares, where he saw tanks. He felt confusion over the loss of their home, passed from one generation to the next, now taken and destroyed, along with his father who died fighting to save their inheritance. Grandmother, mother and child were suddenly without shelter or food and without hope for the future, innocent victims like so many when war comes unexpectedly like a deadly plague. Reuben was the only reason the two women had for living. He was their one hope for the future, by re-establishing and re-building their family name.

David had sensed the pain in his young friend's heart. It showed from deep within dark eyes dulled by confusion, terror and sudden change. For days Reuben had sat in the Kibbutz kitchen, close by his grandmother as she cleared tables and helped prepare the next meal in the huge communal hall. Reuben's mother and David's mother Ann, cared for Sarah, his sister, along with other babies or pre-school age children, whilst their mothers worked. Some taught in the school and others worked in the laundry or kitchen. Many workers were needed to keep this self sufficient community running effectively.

Ann had met Simon, David's father, here many years ago. As a young woman, she came in search for the meaning of life, with a desire to live fully where all shared what they had, and none ever went without. She loved the beautiful countryside with its stark rocky plains and deserts. They were such a contrast to the lush green valleys and terraced hillsides bursting with plump juicy grapes and fruits sweeter than any ever tasted. She had been homesick for her parents in Australia, but here in the Kibbutz, she soon found another much larger family. When she first saw Simon he was pounding nails into the hard timber frame. This would become a simple small home for one of the soon to be married couples who had grown up in this Kibbutz at the edge of the Sea of Galilee.

Ann watched, as Simon's strong, brown arms and muscled shoulders worked urgently. His strong singing voice rose in the cool air, a lone voice piercing the early morning quiet. When he stopped to rest for his midday meal, his eyes met Ann's across many rows of hungry, thirsty people waiting to eat together. In that first moment it was as if there were no others nearby, as if they were destined to meet and gradually come to know, that never again would either of their lives be the same. They smiled, and some nights later sat silently with others in the hush and quiet that follows a busy day. A blood red moon rose slowly out of cool rippling waters, as tiny twinkling lights of Syria winked out across the great expanse of water. The simple yet grand splendour of this picture lingered many days, as Ann's thoughts returned to relive this precious moment. This followed many silent hours and yet hours when they both knew their romance had begun. They often walked hand in hand beneath silver green olive trees laden with fruit about to fall or be picked. How could they ever forget that special harvest.

The fields and valleys echoed with the sounds of reverent music as people gathered the harvest, and later sat as one, to share their simple baskets of food and flasks of cool water. Even today, at harvest time, women still gather fallen grain, or sheaves, from the edges of each field, just as widows centuries ago gleaned to find some precious grain for bread. Of such were the memories of Simon and Ann. It was a time when all nature in its fullness, gently led them closer toward each other until suddenly their Springtime arrived and they were wed.

David's father Simon, encouraged him at an early age to wield a hammer and use other tools, as he had. When it was too wet for David and Reuben to play outdoors, they would sit happily for hours carving animals or boats out of scrap timber or pieces of wood, washed up on the sea's edge. They both loved to roam the open spaces looking for nature's cast-offs to mould and shape into something special. As the boys grew older, Reuben's wild energy changed to restlessness and he began to rebel. Simon knew the boy still grieved and was angry because he had been left fatherless. He often took the boys camping. They fished or walked as Simon told them of his boyhood days.

Raised a Jew, Simon attended the Synagogue with his father and joined in the many festivals that were part of daily life. The discipline and instruction was difficult. Learning to read and write Hebrew seemed almost impossible to a young boy. The Law, as taught by the Rabbi, was so hard to live by, but love and concern for their fellow Jew was always taught. Simon told the boys he had noticed that many of the old ways were changing. Today people were fast becoming selfish and hard-hearted.

Reuben and David listened, as one must when elders reminisce, but in their hearts they harboured a secret desire. They both longed to attend University in Athens when they were of age. They had been taught so much about the Greeks, their culture, knowledge and poetry, that they determined to go.

The NovelNotes Feature.

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel. Some chapters do not have NovelNotes.

Chapter 3 NovelNotes

1. The 1948 war between Israel and surrounding Arab nations began soon after Israel was declared a separate autonomous nation on May 14th 1948. Seven months later, on January 1949, there was a cease-fire, with an armistice being signed in July 1949. Some Arab countries however, considered themselves to be in a permanent state of war with Israel.

2. The 1967 war was one of the quickest in history, being over in just six days. Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. Israel gained possession of the Golan Heights, Gaza and most importantly, the Old City of Jerusalem.

Continue to Chapter Four