Baruch Ben Yehuda
The eve of Passover in Degania
“It didn’t occur to us to initiate a program for Seder Night, although this first night of Passover revealed all the social achievements of the group, and served for me as conclusive testimony of the depth of the emotional relationship that had been created between myself and everyone. I do not remember now if we read something from the Haggadah or not. However I remember that we sang a lot – and this time all of us. All of us as one big family – everyone loving and everyone being loved. We danced a lot, once accompanied by loud singing, and once accompanied by rhythmic rustling of our feet. Between one dance and another we played various games like children that I brought with me from the students in the high school. And all these: singing, playing, dancing, laughter and wonderment wove a web of comradeship and partnership in a life abundant with love, integrity and joy.
...On that same night we drank a lot of wine and cognac – it was possible to get these products in Israel then. We all got drunk. We were aware and the new psychology confirms this that man is known by his glass. Indeed Degania’s greatness became known to me that evening. As if the people became more noble and pure of soul and their depths were revealed. Tomshuv hugged a tree in the courtyard and lectured it on the vision of the new man in the group. Tanchum jumped on the bench and talked with enthusiasm in praise of the study group and the cultural enterprises in Degania that year. And during his speech he turned to me and suggested that I become a member of Degania forever and asked for my affirmative answer immediately. The atmosphere was tense and enthusiastic. Faith, vision and happiness. I was also in an ecstasy of enthusiasm: this was the only time in my life that I had been drunk, however the feeling of the deep experience that night, which had an effect on the entire tapestry of my life, did not lose its sheen.”
Baruch Ben Yehuda, graduate of the Herzliya Gymnasium, at the start of World War I, lives in Degania and serves as a teacher for the members of the group.