Thursday, 17 August 2017

Falling over a reminiscence: A Dirty English Jew

A Swiss hotel put up a notice telling their “Jewish guests” to use the (cold) showers before and after swimming in the pool. This created some consternation.
It also triggered a few old memories of mine.

When I was seventeen I decided to go to Israel and live on a kibbutz.
I had two major problems: No money and nowhere to go in Israel.
I solved both problems by tagging on to a Hashomer Hatzair youth group ("garin") from continental Europe that was going to kibbutz Magen. I was the only member from the British Isles.
Hashomer Hatzair paid my train and ship fare and I even received some pocket money.

I had to spend a few weeks on a “training” farm near Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire. The caretakers of the farm were a young Israeli couple who had a baby daughter.
All I can remember about them is that they were nondescript and short. He had a moustache and she was plumpish and wore tight jeans.
Hashomer Hatzair had few members in England so I was the only trainee there. I slept in a dormitory near the chickens. The caretakers had a small house.

All I did was shovel chicken shit.
Sometimes there were visitors. One who turned up for a few days, was a Dutch member of my European group. He was the first person I met from the group. We later became good friends in Israel and worked together with the sheep.
He was tall and blond. The Israeli wife used to get all bleary-eyed in his presence. Coquettish grins and constantly stroking her hair.
He confided in me that he was banging her up on the side, which was the real reason he was passing through.

Sometimes the couple would invite me around to watch television in the evening. The wife had one rule that I had to comply with: I was not allowed to use their toilet. She thought that the English were very dirty, especially teenage English males. 
She was worried about getting diseases from the dirty English, who wallowed in befouled water when taking a bath and never took showers.

For this Israeli woman I was a dirty English Jew.

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