Hebrew place names and people’s names often come with stories
By Dov Hartuv
KIBBUTZ NAHAL OZ, Israel — Places and people have their names changed from time to time.
Kibbutz Nahal Oz was originally established as an army outpost in 1951.
At that time the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel was just a ploughed furrow to demark where Egypt ended and Israel began. It was a time of marauding, and the “Fedayeen” caused havoc in the newly established settlements of immigrants all the way to Beersheva.
The Prime Misnister Ben Gurion decided that only a group of army camps that would eventually be civillian settlements would help solve the problem of an unguarded border. The first such army-agricultural outpost was named Nahlaim Aleph ( the number one camp of the Fighting Pioneering Youth) This rather bombastic title was to define youth groups who entered the army together with the intention of developing new Kibbutzim after their army training.
In 1953 a group of such soldiers – men and women in their late teens were “given” this outpost as their future home and it was named Nahal Oz (the strength of the fighting pioneering youth) Now almost 60 years later this thriving kibbutz which has known many tragedies and many joys is the home of three generations of ordinary people who live 800 meters from the border of Gaza.
As it is with places so it is with people. We Wandering Jews have changed our names as we moved from country to country. My great grandfather left Rosein in Lithuania in 1893. Family tradition claims that his surname was Resnik (a man from Rosein) However when he and his large family arrived in New York they were met by someone named Feinberg and so to ease the immigration process they took on the name Feinberg. In 1902 my grandfather and his young family emigrated to Cape Town South Africa. When I came on Aliya to Israel in 1960 I Hebraicized my name from Bernhard Feinberg to Dov Hartuv – a direct translation ……. and so “What’s in a name A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Hartuv is a freelance writer based in Nahal Oz, Israel. part of Jewish Federation of San Diego’s sister region of Sha’ar Hanegev. He may be contacted at email@example.com
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