MARCH 22, 1955
DEGANIA, Israel—On Friday morning after our arrival here we visited the Malben Home for the Aged, which accommodates old couples as well as elderly single persons. The single people live four in a room, while the couples each have a room of their own wherein they are allowed any little personal touches, such as pictures, rugs and bed covers. All the basic furniture, however, is provided.
Everyone who is physically able at Malben gives a few hours a day toward running the houses and keeping the grounds looking neat and tidy. We saw one old lady, an ardent gardener, who seemed to be working hard and we were told there are competitions on the different plots for the best flowers and the prettiest arrangements.
For several hours a day the men and women are allowed to work in a large and pleasant workroom where a young director helps them with various suggestions for ways in which they can use their skills at knitting or needlework or any other talent they may have. What they make is sold and they are allowed to keep the money so that they may have some pocket money.
There also is a well-organized program of lectures and entertainment. They welcome professors who can talk on different subjects, and visiting musicians, and at times when the home talent runs out there is a movie.
I asked if the different levels of culture represented might not create some difficulty and was told that they had occasional difficulty in this regard but on the whole people in the home were happy and contented.
From Malben we went to the Cort Vocational School in nearby Nathanya. This school is run in cooperation with the state school system. A great effort is being made to educate young people for a farm life, and many of the courses given at Cort tend toward helping them to be useful in a farm community. Most of the youngsters pay their way, in part at least, but there are a good many scholarships for the needy children.
Our next visit was to the Vitkin Youth Aliyah training center. I had seen this undertaking at the very start three years ago, but it has since increased enormously in size. There now is a village of children in connection with the center and some children live there all the time. Others come to the center for shorter periods of time for concentrated training in one skill or another. I was interested in watching a young man from Chicago teaching some of the boys how to run tractors. These boys came from a number of villages and, after becoming proficient, they will return home to run the village tractor.
At lunch we were delighted to see our old friend, Doctor Sheba, and his wife. Doctor Sheba had traveled with us when last we were in Israel. He now is in charge of a hospital in Tel Aviv, and it was interesting to hear of his work and his efforts to make the hospital a part of the community.
In the afternoon we drove to Jerusalem, arriving at sunset. The light on the old city was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was astonished to see how much tree-planting had been done and how the trees thrive so well in this soil.
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