Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
In Memory: To Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Duker, z"l h"yd
February 28, 1996
As I write this, the time is midnight - the daily news summary is being
broadcast on Kol Yisrael, and once again I find myself sitting here with tears
in my eyes. The first story is a report of the funeral and burial of Matt
Eisenfeld and Sara Duker in West Hartford Connecticut, USA. On both sides
their parents were quoted, saying that they would continue to send their
children to Israel, where they belong.
I first came to Israel over 20 years ago, in the summer of 1974, as a student
on the one-year program, at Hebrew University. I studied in Cleveland at CWRU
and was thrilled with the idea of spending a year in Israel. I wasn't
religious, nor did I have any intentions of making Aliyah. My life was all
planned out - my major goal was law school and later, some kind of civil
liberties legal job.
I also had no illusions about Israel. A good friend had spend a summer
touring the country with tremendous expectations. He came back to the US so
disappointed: it wasn't the way he thought it would be. I don't think he ever
came back. But, I decided that it would be whatever it is - I wanted to learn
about it and absorb it, and then go back home to the the US.
So, Israel it was - one year after the Yom Kippur War - and the environment
was still of war shock. There was much tension on the Syrian border and a new
outbreak of hostilities was considered very possible. But that didn't overly
concern me. I was getting acquainted with my Homeland, touring, learning
Hebrew, meeting people and feeling at one with the city of Gold, Jerusalem. As
the year evolved I grew closer and closer, both spiritually and physically, to
Israel, Jerusalem, and slowly, to religion. It was an extremely powerful year,
in almost all aspects of life. Even though I still had no intentions of living
here, I used to get upset with people who said, "I could never live here - I
don't like the way it is, socially, religiously, etc. etc." I would answer
them, "If you want to live in the US, fine, but if you want, you can come here
and change the way things are - you don't have to accept everything the way it
is today. Israel is a small country. You can have an influence. You can come
back and change it."
By the end of the year I realized that I had to come back - not necessarily to
stay, but to give it a chance, to be here again. And so, while back in
Cleveland for my senior year, I did everything possible to prepare myself to
return, immediately following graduation. I had help from Above - and less
than a month after graduation, on Entebbe Day - July 4, 1976, I was back. And
as it turned, with the exception of a brief interlude in NJ for needed dental
work, I as here to stay.
Looking back 22 years, I can see, in some kind of perspective, where I was
then, and where I am now - where Israel was then and where Israel is today. I
have been blessed with a beautiful family, a loving wife, wonderful children,
understanding and generous parents and parents-in-law. I live that way I want
to live, according to the values and ideals that I thing are important. I
raise my children according to these ideals -the ideals of true Zionism, the
ideals of true Judaism as I understand it - the ideals that I preached to my
friends 22 years ago - "if you want to, come back and change it - don't just
say, 'I don't like it.' " I try, the best I can to do what I can for the
Jewish People, in Israel and in the Diaspora, from Kiryat Arba - from Hebron.
I don't know what my personal future will be, and that holds little importance
in my life's philosophy. I know that I am living the way I think I should,
where I think I should - not just for me, but for Jews everywhere. Hebron,
city of the Patriarchs, reflects the values and ideals of eternal Judaism, and
so I am here, trying to insure that we will all be able to be here, forever. I
have managed to live my dream - not necessarily easy, not always pleasant, but
this is it - this is what it's all about. Sometimes you have to pay a price to
for what you believe in, if you really want it and believe in it.
And then I think of Matt Eisenfeld, having lived where my father's brother
lives, and Sara Duker, who lived a few miles from where I went to high school,
and I see two people similar to me - who came to Israel because of similar
reasons, with similar goals, with similar values and ideologies - not
necessarily exactly the same- politically, socially or religiously - but the
ideal was pure - for the good, not of 'me', but for the good of the Jewish People. They
came here, found each other, and together, wanted to continue in the footsteps
of their Forefathers, in the land of Israel.
Until Sunday morning, at 6:40 am, in Jerusalem bus #18, on Yaffo Street, 3
minutes from the Central Bus Station
And I ask myself, where would they be, what could they have done
22 years from now?