Robin Sharma has a beautiful saying: “Till the age of 50 a man builds himself a ‘name’, from his fifties and on, he creates his personal heritage.”
Last year I celebrated my 50th birthday and throughout the year, I invited people to join me in traveling to the places we shared back in the day. It was my own Personal Tour.
I met Ruthy at the age of 17, as we began our service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). We served in the army together, we went folk-dancing together, and even traveled to South America on a long trip after the army. Our children are now friends as our own friendship has lasted for more than 35 years.
When we began planning our jubilee tour, our memories took both of us to the same place: Tzalmon. This small hill in the lower Galilee is a meaningful and nostalgic location. In 1979, at only nineteen-years-old, we lived, worked, loved and enjoyed our youth on this beautiful hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
The goal of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) back then was to turn this military base into a new kibbutz at the heart of a region that was predominately Arab. We spent 6 months in Tzalmon. I worked as the chief gardener and Ruthy as a social worker in the city of Tiberias.
Shabbat was always a time of leisure and on one particularly beautiful Saturday, we decided to hike 5 miles to a new “He’achzut”(a military camp that would eventually be a civilian community).
Three weeks ago and 32 years later, we returned to the same place and together, once again, we ventured off on a hike. The remote “he’achzut” now known as Ashcha has become a flourishing community of secular and orthodox Jewish families, peacefully co-existing. Our beloved Tzalmon never made the transition into a kibbutz and it is still a working military base where high school students are prepared for their approaching army service.
We were hoping to be able to get into the base but the guards at the main gates did not allow two random older civilians (us) entrance. At least until Ruthy pulled out the magic key. It was an album of our life in Tzalmon 32 years ago.
Aviad, the guard, upon seeing the pictures, volunteered to show the old photos to the base commander. The photos opened her heart and the gates of Tzalmon opened for us.
It doesn’t look the same any more. It is gray and very army-esque but we felt as if we were walking in a different time…The time of our youth.