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My Four-Day March to Jerusalem, 1964

Joy Rosen relaxing with a recorder

People often ask me "What is a beautiful memory in your life?" and of course there are many.I will never forget the Four-Day March to Jerusalem of 1964 that concluded with balconies filled with people cheering and the feeling of fulfilling a dream.

It all started with being selected in 1963 to go on a course called Machon Le Madrichei Chutz L'Aretz (Institute for Youth Leaders from all over the world) to represent Habonim UK, a young Zionist movement. The Machon brought youth from all over the world to Jerusalem to study, see the country and generally have an amazing lifetime Zionist experience, in order to go back to their countries as youth leaders.

After five months in Jerusalem, we were sent to different kibbutzim.I went to Kibbutz Bror Chayil, founded by South Americans, near Ashkelon, where we stayed for four months. We were allocated different jobs and I worked in one of the children's houses. My day involved helping generally, polishing the children's shoes, and in the afternoons getting them dressed to go home to their parents.I loved the job and the children.

An annual activity for the kibbutz was the Four-Day March to Jerusalem.Could I miss out on this experience? Definitely not.I knew it would be a challenge and very few of my group were participating.Every evening, after a working day, I trained for the march with members of the kibbutz who were taking part.The idea was not to be the first in Jerusalem to win, but it was all based on being the team with the best spirit (ruach).

The day arrived and of course I was dressed in appropriate T-shirt, shorts and heavy walking boots 

Machon Dance Group Troupe — Joy Rosen second from right

On the eve of the march we arrived at the starting point. I realized just how many participating groups there were from other kibbutzim, in addition to groups from EL AL, the IDF and many companies, each with their own way of making their group special with musical instruments and a variety of ways to identify themselves. We spent a restless night in a tent.

Day 1: Early the next morning we started the march. We walked for many hours and came back to the same base camp to sleep.One of my feet was so sore with blisters that I immediately went to the First Aid Center to have them treated.

Day 2: Off we went fairly early in the morning and I realized that my foot would not take a whole day of walking.An ambulance went around picking up people who were unable to continue the walk for whatever reason.Of course I was disappointed and again went back to base camp.This time they treated my blisters in a different way and I was "back in the game".

Day 3: I was determined to walk with my team half way up the mountainous route to Jerusalem, where we stopped at another camp to rest for the night.I was so proud of myself for succeeding and looked forward to the next day when we would complete the march by walking up the remaining hills of Jerusalem and achieving our goal.

Day 4: Yes, as we entered Jerusalem, I looked up at the flags and all the people on their balconies and in the streets cheering us on. The feeling of elation was enormous. I knew that I had achieved a major, memorable experience in my life.

Did we win the prize? Of course not, but that really was unimportant. The sense of participating in such an amazing event was something I knew I would never forget. 

 

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Wednesday, 27 October 2021

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