A Christian Zionist!

Yemin Orde… and Orde Charles Wingate

When we arrived at the religious school for youth at risk, Yemin Orde, on the Carmel south of Haifa, I explained to the Director, Dr. Chaim Peri, that I was not Jewish, but that I had a Jewish heart and would be happy to wear a yarmulka, kipa, during my stay at the school.

He said, “You came to the right place!”  and began to explain that the school was named after Orde Charles Wingate, a British General in Palestine during the 1930’s and who, because of his Christian faith, having been raised Scottish Presbyterian, had decidedly understood the land of Palestine to belong to the Jewish people.  He asked London for permission to start a Jewish army but they refused.  He then asked for permission to form the Special Night Squads to catch the Arab terrorists who were blowing up the British oil pipelines.   Oil?  Did somebody say oil?  The answer was definitive!   

Soon Orde Wingate was training the early settlers of the Yishuv, Moshe Dayan among them, to go into the Arab villages at night by foot to catch those who were blowing up the pipelines.  Some thought him a bit crazy, with the Bible in one hand and his pistol in the other.  He taught these atheist Jews from Russia, who had not clue as the Hebrew history, exactly where Joshua, Gideon, Kings Saul and David had fought, and soon became known as HaYadid (the friend), and later as the father of the modern Israeli army, because he taught them to go on the offensive and take the fight to the enemy, leading them as they went.

A Christian Zionist!

Imagine!  Peri explained to me that Wingate had been a “Christian Zionist.”

So now for the first time I understood what I was:  a Christian Zionist as well!  And here I was, in the very school that had been donated in honor of a Christian Zionist who had helped with the founding of the Jewish State.  Yemin Orde had actually been donated by the widow of Wingate after the British relocated him to Burma and he died in a plane accident.  Sadly, he never got to see the establishment of the State he had fought for.

Is God’s timing perfect?  Even when we don’t think so and lose our patience.

So what do you do when you are in charge of 33 sixteen-year-olds during four months in Israel?

You take pictures.  Write reports.  Send official pictures for the parents.  Take fun pictures for the kids.  Mail reports for the school board back in Bogota. 

Here is the official picture (for the parents) of the Class of ’88, at Yemin Orde on the Carmel in Israel.  Some other pictures, the parents shouldn’t see until after the students returned to Bogota.

Mail.  Everybody depended on mail.  You know, the kind when you actually have to wait for a physical letter from home.  Monica Goldstein, and most others, would be at the post office of Yemin Orde every day at noon, waiting for the postal truck to arrive.  One week she received nothing.  She was a bit disappointed and sad about that, so I wrote her a letter myself and put it in the post office addressed to her.  That helped.

I was also in charge of giving these kids their weekly allowance.  I don’t know who thought of it but that was the best strategy for me to survive. Now I was the good guy.

Studying?

How about studying?  Do you think they studied?  When a sixteen year-old is thousands of miles away from home, there is not a huge chance that he will spend a lot of time studying.  Maybe the ladies yes.  The boys, not much. How could I possibility get a decent picture of a chem or math class when only half of the kids were there, and most were standing up or milling around?  Solution:  I waited until exam day when everybody had to be sitting down taking their exam.  Even then, my picture (you know, the kind that comes out after taking the roll of film downtown Haifa to get it developed) showed Luis Shapiro looking over somebody’s shoulder to copy the answer.

So if they didn’t study much, what did they do?

A Woman needs a man, like a fish needs a……..

I remember some of the ladies had a poster in their room that said:  A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.  OK.  To be honest, I think Evelyn Cusnir and Carol Strelec were part of the foursome in that room. (I am open to correction).  Whether or not Evelyn and Carol believed in that philosophy, they soon threw the advice to the wind, and before you could say “Whistling Dixie” both of them were seen in the company of certain suitors who found them to be quite attractive.  We will never know who attracted him, but Harry Guberek was head over heals with Carol, and Steven Rausch had fallen deeply in love with Evelyn. That was the beginning of serious romances.

I am proud to say that thirty-three years later, both couples are happily married with kids, and Carol and Harry have just celebrated the wedding of their oldest!  These are my grand-students!  Would that make me a grand teacher?!

I would have you know that I have some very famous grand students. More on that later.

The good thing was that the kids didn’t tell me about most of their “escapadas” until AFTER the trip.  But the best “escapada” took place during our two weeks in Jerusalem the first week of January, 1987.