Kibbutz Ginegar at 100: All About My Admirable Cousin, Ilana Shamir

The fondest, most cherished memories of my childhood are all related to the Passover holidays and summer vacations I had spent at Kibbutz Ginegar for nearly a decade, which constitutes the most formative experience of my early life.

Some personal and socio-political contexts are in order:

I grew up in the 195os in utmost austerity in Hassan Beck, a poor neighborhood on the border of Tel-Aviv Jaffa. It was mostly populated by immigrant 9like my Bulgarian parents) from various countries.

I was a product of divorce, which was unusual at time, to say the least. It was actually a stigma, which my older sister Aviva and I went though, when we attended the elementary school, named Geula (on Hayarkon street and Allenby, now a museum).

My family was dominated by women, especially my two aunts, Tika Pardo and Retti Panigel. Tika was a young widow, who was forced by her second husband to put her daughters, the elder Lina (Ilana) and the younger Erna (Esthera) in two separate kibbutzim; the former in Ginegar, the latter in Bet Zera.

For about a decade, we were invited to Ginegar for the Passover (Pessach) celebrations. It was a big family reunion, which also included my aunt Retti (still single) in Tel Aviv, and my aunt Tika, her husband and his children.

We would stay in the kibbutz for four or five days. The highlight each day was going to the communal dining room, a huge hall that contained hundreds of seats, in which the members and their guests had three meals a day.

I was also during that time that I experienced my exposure to art cinema, particularly the films of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, who was then in vogue with such classic films, such as The Seventh Seal and The Virgin Spring.