Nechama Zer Zion
Seder of the public workers in Kinneret
During World War I
“The days of Passover were coming closer and I was then working on the female workers farm in Tiberias. Our vegetable garden was on a hill, next to three isolated farmers’ houses. One finer day Hannah Chizik came to the garden together with members from Kinneret – and I was hoeing the onion field with the girls. Hannah came up to me and said: “The members have come to ask that you go to Kinneret and organize for the “public workers” [workers of public works who were not part of the group] the Passover Seder.”
Eliyahu Glicksman said: “If you don’t like it with us you can return immediately after Passover. The members of Degania and Kinneret who work with us will celebrate in their homes. However what will be with us? Ira Canmon then added: “Don’t think about it a lot just come, because there are only a few days left until the festival and we have nothing. Yitzhak Cohen [a farmer from the Kinneret colony] whose fruit had died, agreed to give us his cowshed for a kitchen and dining room, and you can have the storeroom as a home”.
At Kinneret I found seventeen lonely members, wandering around the colony and longing for a corner of home and dreaming of the excitement of the festival. The members fulfilled all my requests and instructions immediately, and each one of them asked what they should do. We selected the kitchen committee and the products committee, and all the rest volunteered to bring small stones from the Sea of Galilee to smooth the floor of the cowshed, which was full of numerous holes, and some of the courtyard, in order that they would be able to dance after the Seder. Two members whitewashed the cowshed. The kitchen committee collected various utensils from the women of the Kinneret colony and the farm, and the work went well. On the last day prior to the festival I said to the guys: “It is impossible without flowers!”. Then the men dispersed into the mountains and the marshland and brought back an abundance of flowers in a variety of colours., and decorated the thick beams that supported the cowshed with them – each beam in another colour, until the cowshed became a flowering field of red poppies and blue star thistles and white-yellow chamomile. The tables were covered with white tablecloths and the aroma of the fish cooking covered the entire area – gefilte fish like in mother’s home. And I was standing next to all the pots and pans, holding a small notebook, in which I was studying a song to read out on the Seder Night.
“A narrow room, full of darkness, on the floor a baby....”
I added salt to the pan, stirred it, and went back to memorizing the song.
Evening comes. The members are gathering, washed and dressed in their festival clothes. And in their hearts great happiness because they themselves arranged the ambiance of the festival. They sit on benches made of planks placed on boxes. Eliyahu Glicksman opened and said: “This festival has a double joy for us, because we could by our own work create this corner, and that we are sitting at tables and not as unwanted guests in the homes of others.” Afterwards he spoke about the value of this festival of our freedom and about the great hopes for those that would follow. I couldn’t listen to his words because my heart was beating strongly in awe of the public before the reading.
At the end of the Seder the dancing started and our voices rang out to the heavens. And farmers from the Kinneret colony started to come and join the circle as well as the members of the Kinneret and Degania group. And the courtyard of Leah Cohen was one unified chain, hand on shoulder, the entire colony danced”.