The land that constitutes Kfar Hittim was bought in 1905 and was the first purchase of land by the Jewish National Fund that sought to buy land for Jewish settlement. Although several attempts had been made to settle on the land overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the difficult access and lack of water made the first settlers abandon the site. In 1936, a group of Zionists from Bulgaria finally succeeded in founding a true agricultural community. Life was tough in those early years. Our neighbour, Liza, told us of how the women worked alongside the men to clear the land, plant trees and raise the children. She told us how in the summer they would set the children in the middle of damp sheets that had been hung around them to cool them from the scorching heat of the sun. This was helpful even in our time as the air in summer gets so hot and dry you feel as if you are literally baking in your skin.
The work of Liza and the others paid off as the moshav houses were kept cool under the hundreds of trees that lined the streets and shielded them from the heat. In our time there, the fields behind the moshav were no longer a principle source of income and the campsite-another attempt at branching out-was all but abandoned. There was still the guard at the gate, a daycare, a furniture workshop and the Post Office shack. I say shack because it was really just....a shack. Jacko was the name of our postman. A founding member himself he would, like the others, ride his bike to the shack every morning and afternoon distributing our mail into the minuscule boxes that we would open with even smaller keys.
Life on the moshav was good. A Greyhound style bus would drive us kids to our high school down in the valley early every morning. I wish I could adequately describe the drive down on the road overlooking the mirror-like surface of the Kinneret-just as the sun would be coming up. To this day, the sight takes my breath away.
It was in this idyllic setting that I turned 18. Among the presents and cards one stood out. A necklace.
As far as necklaces go this one wasn't extraordinarily ornate. It was made out of silver and in a style consistent with the region. What made it special at the time was that the person that gave it to me had bought it at the jewelry workshop that had existed in the moshav in the late '60s. I didn't know it then, but we would move that same year and the moshav we knew, most of its elders (including dear Liza), and the hundreds of trees planted by them would be no more.
In their place, McMansions, each one more overdone than the one next to it. The moshav became public. They allotted the aging founders ownership of their houses which were just as quickly transformed by their children. The rest were sold to the highest bidder. The fields were paved and even bigger monstrosities were built to accommodate the affluent families from Tel-Aviv who needed weekend homes with a view over the Kinneret. There are plans in the works for a golf course. The last time I was there the cowshed was still there but no doubt that will make way for a luxury swimming complex. Or already has.
So this necklace is a piece of history. Not only my own, but that of a bygone era of a hilltop village.