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Elliot Leven

 
HISTORIC LETTER FROM ELLIOT LEVEN TO THE EDITOR RECEIVED MAY 1982 ON EDITOR’S ARRIVAL TO KIBBUTZ EIN HANATZIV ISRAEL

Rhonda Spivak, Jan 2, 2012

 The following is a letter from Elliot Leven that I received in May 1982 after arriving with h my grade 12 graduating class form Joseph Wolinsky clollegiate on Kiibbutz Ein Hanatziv. Elliot had been the editor for the JWC Eye , the now defunct school newspaper. The letter arrived to kibbutz before I did.  Leven called me Bubbles because of my alleged bubbly personality.
 
Dear Bubbles,
 
Knowing how much I enjoyed receiving mail when I was first in Israel, I am sending you what I'm sure will be the first letter to reach you on Ein Hanatziv.  As to how this letter has made such good time in getting to you, I sent it through the teletype in the EYE newsroom to the EYE Tel Aviv desk, from where it was whisked via the EYE Learjet to the Kibbutz.
 
By now I'm sure you've discovered that:
 
-the same sun which rises at 8:00 in Winnipeg seems to get up several hours earlier in Israel.
 
-only one out of every 6000 kibbutzniks tends to be overweight
 
-the air conditioners in your rooms seem to have more in common with water picks than with air-conditioners.
 
-Israeli birds are about 400 times Noisier than their North American cousins.
 
-Plastic-factory workers have a higher suicide rate than the population at large.
 
-although you spent 14 years learning Hebrew, your 6 year old adoptive brothers and sisters still know lots of words that you don't.
 
-the average Israeli thinks Winnipeg is about a mile and a half from Toronto.
 
- there is almost as much to do in Beit Shean as Winkler or Plum Coulee.
 
-when Mr. Binnenfeld used to say "ze loh kmoh ba'aretz," he was more accurate than he ever realized.
most Israelis was their floors like we wash our car windshields.
 
-if you don't like cucumbers, tomatoes and green peppers in April, you certainly will by the end of June (whether you like it or not!)
 
-there is a limit to a number of witty remarks which even I can come up with in the space of one letter.
 
Send my best to Irwin {Lipnowski who was our madrich at age 32] and all the gang. Write if you can spare the time (during the course of your 18 free hours each day).
  
Editor's note:  There are a few items that Mr. Leven failed to warn me about in this historic correspondence.
 
They are as follows:
 
1. How the boys in my class who were working in the chicken coop would come to our dorm like accommodations and enter them at about 4 in the morning swinging live chickens over their heads. Live chickens are certainly very efficient alarm clocks. Nothing like waking up to the smell of chickens.
 
2. How I would wake up to have to pick cotton in the fields at 4 in the morning (those were the days when Israelis still grew the water thirsty cotton, which they have stopped doing since it consumes too much water for a water scarce region).  In order to ensure that I didn't have to engage in this high labour intensive job, it was simpler to start dating the Italian Israeli who was the "tractor man". He spoke no English and I no Italian. Hebrew was the only language we spoke and my Hebrew was pretty limited. But the benefit of dating the tractor man was that I could sit on the tractor with him and spray the cotton, as opposed to having to break my back spending 8 hours a day picking it by hand.
 
3. How I would spend most of Shabbat (this was a religious kibbutz) trying to take a (prohibited) shower without any of the kibbutzniks knowing the shower water was running {I learned that it isn't the showering itself that technically breaks Shabbat but the act of drying yourself off with a towel that does. I did my best to go toweless]
 
4. Be selective in how you choose the many white cheese like items served on kibbutz--they range from cottage cheese like consistency to drippy to very wet and drippy and have no corresponding products in North America.
 
5. Be selective in how you decide to prank your madriach, keeping in mind the need to capitalize on existing natural phenomena in the nearby environment. My most successful prank on Dr. Irwin Lipnowsky was to remove the screens form his kibbutz room and leave the lights on after dark. Kibbutz had an array of the biggest fattest creepiest looking moths I had ever encountered that came out at night. The moths were exceedingly attracted to Irwin, as I recall. I'm not sure that the attraction was mutual.
 
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.