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Herman Musikanth 1933-2015

Herman Musikanth ... a man of the mountains

On March 6 in the cemetery of Kibbutz Maagan Michael near the picturesque area of the Carmel mountain range, my very dear friend and soulmate, Herman Musikanth, was laid to rest surrounded by the members of his family, friends and fellow kibbutzniks.

Who was this remarkable man, Herman Musikanth? He was born on January 28, 1933 in Willowmore, a small village on the edge of the vast rolling expanse of the Karoo plains in South Africa, where he spent his school years. He was educated through the medium of the Afrikaans language, the love of which he never lost and in which he and I (as I came from a similar Afrikaans background) conversed at every available opportunity.

His career path next took him to Cape Town where he qualified as a chartered accountant, and in the following years established a successful accountancy practice. This was followed by his joining Stanley Lewis, a leading financier and industrialist. He thereafter became the Financial Director of the Foschini Group, a large commercial organization.

Throughout these years of intense commercial pressures, Herman was driven and motivated by a deep sense of social justice which he felt was not sufficiently contained in his intense financial life style. Moreover, for ideological Zionist leanings, aliyah for him and his family presented a compelling reason for leaving South Africa and coming to Israel.

He considered a kibbutz life to be an ideal way to lead a life of social justice. Hence his decision to become a member of Kibbutz Maagan Michael.

In the ensuing years Herman performed a vital role in the accounting and financial management of the Kibbutz.

In the eulogy delivered by Ofer Borowsky, the treasurer of the kibbutz, at the funeral, he said of Herman:

"Working together with you those first years, I learned so much.

Your principles, knowledge of the money market, risk management, and everything you instilled in me has shaped my vision for Maagan Michael till this day; and will continue to do so in every aspect of future planning. I will miss you very much.̋

Avishai Harari, also a treasurer of the kibbutz, stated in his eulogy: "Herman began to make order, starting at the level of junior accountant. Nothing was beneath him.̋

Daphne, his wife, who was so supportive of Herman in his ventures, tells that "he played a very active part in the kibbutz, working in the financial departments of both the factory, Suron, and the kibbutz management. His dream was to work in agriculture, and on reaching his 60th birthday he decided to leave money matters and work with the pawpaws (papayas) on the kibbutz which gave him much fulfilment and enjoyment.̋

Herman`s involvement in the retirement home - Beth Protea

Herman felt that one of the most fulfilling things he did in his life was to assist in the establishment of Beth Protea in Herzliya as a retirement home for mostly ex-South Africans and other English speakers living in Israel. He also felt particularly fulfilled in participating in the establishment of the Beth Protea Fund which would enable such retirees, who were unable to afford it, to gain admission to Beth Protea.

He laboured unceasingly over many years, investing his accounting, financial and managerial skills in the functioning and development of Beth Protea. What a well-deserved reward for Herman to see the outstanding success Beth Protea had become in providing legendary warmth and care for its residents.

Hiking on the mountains and trails of Israel

His love for mountains and open spaces away from the bustling crowds was for him something of the essence of his being.

Whilst still in Cape Town it was the regular hiking on Table Mountain.

In Israel it was hiking on the Carmel.

His dream was to hike the Israel National Trail, walking from the northernmost point of the land to its southernmost point. He, with the ever-present assistance and support of Daphne, organized and inspired a group of hikers of advanced years , ranging from 55 to over 70 years of age, (one participant actually celebrated his 81st birthday during the trail) to undertake the daunting challenge of embarking on this trail. The hike was completed in stages over a two-year period.

After this achievement, with the organizational skills of Daphne, he inspired and arranged various other hikes on trails all over the country which included the Golan trail and the Jesus trail in the area of the Sea of Galilee.

He continued hiking with his dog, Choopie, on the Carmel until five months before his death.

His last request to Daphne was that at his funeral I be asked to read in the original Afrikaans, followed by an English translation, the poem ``HEIMWEE` by van Bruggen, a poem he loved so much and which so embodied his yearnings. This I did, having also done so at Herman`s request at his 80th birthday celebration.

Heimwee (first paragraph of the translation)

My heart yearns for the quiet of the wide and swaying grasslands

Far from the city`s hustle and bustle and the clanking chimes of gold

I am tired of the restless city life, of people continuously coming and going

I want to go back to the free open spaces that have a soul that understands.

Farewell my friend. 



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