Justice cannot be done to the following story in just a few words because it contains the history of a whole generation. High school students and volunteers in Migdal Haemek have recently taken part in a unique project called "Tell Your Children" (a reference to the Passover Haggadah), which documents the stories of veteran immigrants in Israel who came from Arab countries.
"Our aliyah was full of turbulence. We moved from place to place until we got to Migdal Haemek, where there were just a few people at the time," said Berta Wizgan, 70. She and her parents settled in the northern town after immigrating from Tunisia following the establishment of the State of Israel. A few days ago, Wizgan was visited by Bar Dubinsky, a 12th-grade student at the ORT Rogozin school who wanted to document her story.
"Apartments back then were built like trains and we had to live with people who had different cultures and came from different places," Wizgan told Dubinsky.
"When I was 12, I decided to go to work on a farm, but this decision was difficult to make because my parents were very traditional," she said, recalling the difficulty she faced when she wanted to work and then join the army.
Nevertheless, at age 18, Wizgan enlisted in the army, becoming Migdal Haemek's first female soldier. "I joined the army with other members of the Nahal group from Kibbutz Givat Oz and Kibbutz Ruhama," she recounted. "I became a soldier in a Nahal unit after completing basic training at Camp 80, and from there I moved to Kibbutz Zikim in the south. We worked in children's homes and the barn to help the kibbutz develop."
Following her meeting with Dubinsky, Wizgan said telling her story was a very emotional experience. "The meeting with Bar took me back to the past. He was really interested in my story. He listened attentively, talked with me, wrote down what I said and overall just enjoyed the meeting. We found out we had many things in common, for example, that he will be starting a year of national service at the end of this year and then plans to join the army."
Eli Barda, the mayor of Migdal Haemek, said of the "Tell Your Children" project, "It is important for us to participate in such a project as it helps Israelis who immigrated from Arab countries to preserve their heritage, their stories and their cultural wealth. In 2013, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Migdal Haemek, we will display some of the documentation collected through the project in an event for the city's veteran citizens. We thank Deputy Minister Dr. Lea Nass and the Senior Citizens Ministry for their efforts in preserving their heritage."