With Ora and Srul in Acco


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The walled city of Acco, sometimes written as "Akko" or "Acre," was a port on the trade route between Egypt and Syria at least 4000 years ago. One legend says that Hercules got sick here and some local herbs cured him, and that the name of the city comes from the "aka," Greek for "cure."

Alexander the Great was here. So was Julius Caesar. So were Francis of Assisi and Marco Polo. (See Archaeology in Israel - Acco, by Jacqueline Schaalje).

Napoleon TRIED to come here, but the Turks and the British fought him off and eventually he ended his siege and went home.

Remember that prison break in Exodus? That was in Acco.

The UN Partition of 1948 put Acco in the Arab section, but in the subsequent war it was conquered by Israel and many of the Arab inhabitants fled. Today it is mixed, Arab and Jewish. We walked through the Arab shuk (market). Vendors sold fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. At some point the call to prayer came from the mosque loudspeakers. (You can hear it on the video.)

We climbed to a wide spot on the old walls (or maybe it is a fort) for a good view of the town. An old cemetery reminded me of something I wanted to ask. I found Ora.

Peter: There's a cemetery over there, and it reminded me that I wanted to ask about the burial customs of the kibbutzim.

Ora: Each kibbutz (usually) has a cemetery, and a lot of non-religious (Jews) ask to be buried on the kibbutzim, because it's without the customs. Your buried in a box.

Peter: You have one on yours?

Ora: Yes. You were near it yesterday. Out behind where the avocados are.

We've had a bad year. We lost about 10 members.

Peter: Old-timers?

Ora: One guy was young. He died of cancer. He suffered terribly the whole time. Most of them were old-timers. There was a bad car accident; two went at the same time; a husband and wife. That's how our year started off.

A lot of people came out of the camps in a very unhealthy state. Not only mentally, but also physically. They carry with them diabetes, high blood pressure, all sorts of other illnesses that maybe wouldn't be so acute if they hadn't gone through what they did in the holocaust.

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Copyright 2003-2009 Peter Rashkin. Material under other bylines is copyright by the authors. All rights reserved.