Day 161 Of The War: Visiting Yeruham Again

A lake in the desert: Yeruham Lake
A lake in the desert: Yeruham Lake

In Israel, it is very common for people to have a group of old friends with whom, if they are lucky, they meet regularly throughout the years. My husband and I got married young, and soon after, we moved to the US where we attended graduate school and stayed there for quite a while.  Besides, my husband wasn’t very sociable, a typical introvert who claimed that, unlike me, being with people drained his energy, so we never had a group like that. But a few years after he died, his high school class held a reunion and I was invited too. It was in 2010 and marked 40 years since graduation. At that reunion, it transpired that many people really wished to meet regularly, so suddenly I and my life partner became part of a group. Boyer, my husband’s high school, comprised an interesting blend of a boarding school for  gifted students from outlying areas and day students from Jerusalem. There was minimal interaction between the two factions. However, as the alumni approached their sixties, a longing for the camaraderie of old friendships began to emerge.Many of our meetings are centered around social causes.

Eight years ago, we visited Yeruham, a town in the Negev near Dimona and not far from Be’er Sheva. met with a philanthropist, Jimmy Pinto, who decided to invest in Yeruham and met with the energetic mayor, Michael Biton, who told us a little bit about the town. Yesterday, we returned to Yeruham again, and as we drove on the main street, it was clear that the town has changed and developed a lot. There are many more new buildings, houses, shops, and coffee houses. And now there are also vineyards and a winery that Pinto, the philanthropist whom we met 8 years ago, has brought into town. This time we met David Pinto, his son, who runs his father’s different enterprises. 

In the 1960s, Boyer School was founded in Jerusalem. The philosophy was to bring together the best and the brightest students from peripheral areas in Israel, potential leader, and to give them not only a good education but also humanistic values and a sense of duty to give back to the community. It worked. It was always clear from the choice of professions that the graduates chose. And during the war each week several friends from our group drove south to the nursery of one of us who lives very close to the border with Gaza to help out. Last night at the hotel in Yeruham, we attended a presentation by one of our friends, an architect, who shortly after October 7th started developing a plan to assist in constructing safe rooms for buildings in the periphery near the border that currently lack adequate protection.It was the first time since the beginning of the war that we gathered for an overnight retreat, and from the conversations I overheard, it was clear that everyone present had found a way to contribute. I felt that the Boyer School could take great pride in its alumni. It cultivated a generation of compassionate, engaged, and highly responsible individuals, both as citizens and as human beings. It’s regrettable that Boyer didn’t consider encouraging those gifted and talented students from the periphery to pursue political roles and become politicians. We truly need individuals of their caliber as our leaders.




About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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