Yakov is my cousin’s son. He lives at this place called Moshav Tirosh. It’s a little out of the way Moshav sort of in between Tel Aviv and Ashkelon in Israel. Most Israelis have never heard of Tirosh (Tirosh is a brand of really bad wine – nothing to do with the Moshav) – there is also no bus service to the Moshav. My Mom’s family moved there from Morocco in 1956 and many of them still live there. I can go visit any time, unannounced and they will always greet me with joy and an impossible amount of food. In the past we’d be in contact infrequently but now that everyone has Internet access I see and talk to them every day. Yakov is like, the resident Internet dude there – often the whole family will gather around his computer to say hi to me. Today he saw this blog — TechLoris.com — for the first time and he demanded that I include him in it. I agreed cuz Yakov is cool and it gives me a chance to talk about Moshav Tirosh.
The story of Moshav Tirosh is a very typical one. It started off as a sort of quasi-communal farming community peopled by new olim from Morocco. At the time of their immigration, Tirosh was close to the pre-1967 border with the Jordanian controlled West Bank. Consequently, setting up a community there served a strategic purpose.
My aunts told me about how, upon their arrival to Israel, they were loaded onto trucks and brought to Tirosh and told that they were now farmers. My grandfather had wanted to live in Jerusalem and none of them had any clue about farming but they settled in and worked the land.
It didn’t really work out. Despite hard work and tireless effort, agriculture eventually faded away from moshav life (except for a briefly profitable foray into uh… hemp) and today hardly anyone farms commercially any more. Most moshavnikim work at jobs outside of the moshav. Despite this they are still deliciously isolated, for instance echoing the old Israeli attitude to domestic pets, amazed that anyone would allow their dogs into the house.
Whenever I get all cynical about the direction of Israeli society and its evolution towards a more stratified consumer oriented culture, I go to the moshav. People here are still unabashedly Zionist. They complain about the government but they are also fiercely loyal to it. People here still regularly go to the synagogue – and it’s a spiritual experience, not polluted by political considerations. Observant and non-observant Jews live side by side without any problems. Neighbours pop by and visit, everyone knows everyone else, kids play freely on the street. It’s great.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still problems there. But in its isolation, the moshav reminds me of a kinder, gentler Israel, one I sometimes think has disappeared. Thankfully, it hasn’t. And Dodah (Aunt) Chanah (both of them) is always ready to greet me with a cup of Mint infused tea and home made cookies.