ESRAmagazine

Joy of Tractor Stories

 Tractors have always been a symbol of the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. I became a true juvenile Zionist after reading The Little Tractor who Traveled to Israel, written by Evelyn Levow Greenberg in 1949 and illustrated by Yisrael Levi. A kibbutznick, wearing shorts and a kova tembel hat, sails to America to buy a little green tractor for his kibbutz. The day the tractor arrives by boat and is driven majestically into the kibbutz is a holiday for the entire community .It replaces the horse and plow and raises the level of agriculture to another level. The tractor feels very important, works hard, gets muddy and gritty and after a few months begins to feel that he is being taken for granted.But as Shavuot approaches, (or is it Succot or maybe Yom HaAtzmaut?) the members of the kibbutz wash and polish the tractor, festoon him with flowers and dance a joyful hora around him. They thank him for all the work he has done to help them develop the Land of Israel. I must have been about 5 or 6 years-old when my mother first read me this story. I was ready to jump up, buy a ticket and join my Aunt Chani in Jerusalem. I regret not keeping that book with the illustrated cover of a green tractor being lifted by a large hook onto the port of Haifa, but not for Zionistic reasons. A used copy now sells for $27.95 and a collectible now sells for $149.85.

The cover of ‘The Tractor in the Sandbox’ by Meir Shalev which has illlustrations by Yossi Abulafia

Another wonderful tractor book, in Hebrew, for children is הטרקטור בארגז החול (The Tractor in the Sandbox) by Meir Shalev. An adorable, hard-working kibbutz tractor is "put out to pasture" after many years of service, to be replaced by a large, modern combine. What a comedown. His motor no longer functions; his body begins to rust and weeds infest his insides. He is eventually painted and becomes a piece of playing equipment in the kindergarten which children can "drive". He is humiliated and feels useless until Saba Aryeh fixes the motor and reinvents him, attaching a wagon in which to give children rides around the kibbutz, while regaling them with stories of the old days and "how it was" before they were born.

For an interesting day out with the children or grandchildren, the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv has a building of old wooden and iron farm instruments. Schools take their pupils to see them. www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/90ter your text here ...

 

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Thursday, 26 November 2020

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