Lord Balfour visits Israel

28 Jul

Tsur Adar relates a story told to him by his grandma Lea

Photo courtesy of chiourim.com

A story from my grandma (Lea Karelitz – Greenboim, 1915-1992)

During the 1920’s, Lord Balfour came to visit Palestine, which was then under British Mandatory rule. Balfour also visited my hometown of Petah Tikva, and I, along with all the children of the town, went out into the street to welcome him. We decorated the train station in his honor, although as these were quite poor times, our decorations consisted of no more than some Eucalyptus tree branches. We the children were told that this is the man who gave us the Land of Israel.

Since I was short and small, I stood at the front, a position that enabled me to see everything that was going on. I remember that I was deeply impressed by Balfour’s red cloak.

When I returned home I ran to my grandma and exclaimed, “Do you know who I saw today? Today I saw the man who gave us the Land of Israel, and I even almost touched him!” (This was more representative of my wishful thinking, than reality, of course).

My grandma hugged me. She put her hand on my head and said, “Now listen carefully my granddaughter and always remember this: this land was given to us by Him (she pointed up to the sky) many, many years ago! Nevertheless, it is our task to acquire the land and we have to do it by ourselves – with our own hands (במו ידינו) . Then nobody will be able to take it from us.”

Years later, after I left my parents’ home and joined Kibbutz Beit Ha’Shita, which was then no more than an outlying undeveloped cooperative farm, my mother asked me, “Tell me Lea, how did it occur to you to leave and become a member of the Kibbutz? Where did you get the idea from?”

I told my Mom: “Oh, well you know – grandma told me that we have to acquire the Land of Israel with our own hands. So this is exactly what I’m going to do!”


by Tsur Adar

Lea Karelitz-Greenboim, together with her husband Shalom Karelitz, and her daughter Tamar, the mother of Tsur

As for myself, I am part of a large family that my grandma started on the Kibbutz many years ago. After marriage and graduation from college, my wife and I moved to the big city of Tel Aviv, where my two older daughters were born. When my daughter Shira was in first grade I used to accompany her to school. The name of her school was “Balfour,” and it was located on Balfour Street – both, of course, named after Lord Balfour. When we decided to move back home from the center of Tel Aviv to the kibbutz, I had to explain to Shira why we are “leaving Balfour” for the Kibbutz. Although she was just a little girl at the time, I shared Grandma Lea’s story with her.

Tsur Adar lives on Kibbutz Beit Ha’Shita, and can be contacted at tsur.adar@gmail.com


One Response to “Lord Balfour visits Israel”


  1. Video: Lord Balfour Visiting Tiberias in 1925 « Menachem Mendel - February 8, 2013

    […] Lord Balfour visiting Tiberias in 1925. (HT) See here for an newspaper article about the visit and here for a recollection of how his visit affected a little […]

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