A Second Chance to Make Palestine Green

by Art Serotoff

I feel a special connection with Israel, it and I are exactly the same age. I was born in 1948. My household, composed of parents, grandparents and my family was committed to “turning the desert into a lush paradise”. I remember the blue and white “pushke” box. It seemed ubiquitous, every place I looked there was one. My grandma solicited funds for trees in Israel. At funerals, family members and friends wanted a donation of trees rather than money or anything else in memory of our departed relative. Kibbutzim were described in idyllic phrases with images of young strong kibbutzniks tilling the land. We, as Jews were bound to support this. In fact, we felt honored to support this. Another tenet of “faith” was that the Arabs hated us and they were always ready to “push us into the sea”. We needed to be strong and defend our “Jewish Homeland”. The Six-Day War proved how strong we were.
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My JNF ‘Epiphany’

by George Hudes

I too put my nickels and dimes in the little blue pushke which was a fixture in almost all Jewish homes in my ‘growing up’ world of the 40s and 50s. As a youngster I carried the little blue box door to door in my largely non-Jewish New Jersey neighborhood, thoroughly believing in the JNF cause (my entire family was one of refugee survivors) for which I solicited small contributions.

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Trees at Death

by Sue Goldstein

Poised at the precipice where life looks at the hole that death creates; where my mother’s body is suspended in the polished casket held by a lowering device, primed for the slow descent. The rabbi intones, declares, prays, and then produces a small plastic packet. Snips off a corner: “it’s from ‘the land of Israel,’” he says, pouring a small amount into my palm. I hold the stolen soil of Palestine and stare into the grave. Through tear-blocked eyes I watch as my hand slowly releases the dirt to fall onto the box.

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