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My Warrior Grandmother

Joe Dimino has a podcast called Famous Interviews, where he talks to people from all over the world. I was a guest the other day, and I’ll be sharing the links to my interview soon.

One of the questions I answered was: 

Who was your role model or hero when growing up?

It made me dig deep within myself - did I even have a role model?


 

Yes, I did, and it was my grandmother on my father's side. She was called Hava (the Hebrew version of Eve), I called her Savta Hava (Grandma Hava), and I adored her. She was quite short, brimming with energy, and always cycling everywhere. Being her eldest grandchild, I felt we had a special bond.


 

I've mentioned in previous newsletters that I was born and raised in a kibbutz, a unique Israeli settlement influenced heavily by socialist ideals. In kibbutzim, children were not supposed to live with their parents - we were meant to eat, sleep, and spend most of our time with other children our age. We stayed in what was called "a home," while our parents lived in "a room." Every day at four o'clock, we would go to our parents' room, spend a few hours with them, and then return "home" to sleep.


 

My grandmother was a beautiful soul and a true character. Despite being one of the kibbutz founders and a staunch socialist, she always prioritized her family above everything. She opposed the idea of children growing up away from their parents with all her heart. Despite intense peer pressure she fought for "family sleeping" (as opposed to "communal sleeping") her entire life.


 

A side note: Batya Gur, a renowned Israeli crime fiction writer, wrote a book about this very subject, Murder on a Kibbutz.​ Her most famous creation, Michael Ohayon, is a somber police inspector whose investigations delve into the psychological and social dynamics of Israeli life. 


 

Back to our story: I hated sleeping in the communal children's home. So much so that I constantly ran away. I’d prepare a small bundle of clothes, very neatly, and walk at night, half a mile, through the kibbutz to my grandmother’s house.

Remember, I was only five or six years old. I didn't go to my parents because they would have brought me back. My grandmother, who lived a little closer, would make my bed on the sofa in her living room and take me back “home” before breakfast. This continued for a couple of years, me running away to Savta Hava, until my parents finally took me and my sister in to live with them.


 

Several years later, my grandmother won her fight.

At the general assembly of the kibbutz, she spoke vehemently for children sleeping within their parents’ homes, and the majority voted with her. The kibbutz abandoned communal sleeping.

She passed away years ago, and I still miss her dearly.

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