Editor’s Wrapup:: Unity and Ingenuity
Outside, the season is chilly, the landscape denuded, but in Israel, Sara K. Eisen writes in “Business is Blooming,” native ingenuity in agrotechnology is providing the world with bouquets of color. Shipping from greenhouse to florist in just days, Israel supplies the world with 5 percent of its flowers and grows the greatest variety of species year-round. Because of its hot, dry climate, Israeli growers have learned to cultivate more flowers with less water and export their know-how to China and India (see story, page 16).
Another Israeli export is post-Army Israeli travelers seeking faraway places. Anyone wanting to learn how to survive on very few shekels can take a page from their book—literally. Writer Patrick Symmes discovered that for years backpacking Israelis have been leaving behind traces of themselves in the “loosely connected, handmade notebooks cached throughout the vagabond meccas of Latin America and Asia.” In “By the Book,” beginning on page 32, he observes that those pages contain a “carnival of ideas, boasts and obsolete phone numbers”—and hotels to avoid. But perhaps more than anything else, the Book shows that the unity of the hevra, forged in the military, remains constant.
One American Jew on another kind of trip—a one-day stopover in Warsaw on the day of a public Mass for the late Pope John Paul II—was offended by what she found in gift shops: figurines with big noses, sidecurls and moneybags. Becky Neiman describes her reaction to them in “Oh, You Unbeautiful Doll” (page 12). In a related story (page 14), Erica Lehrer offers another take on Poland’s fascination with the memory of its eradicated Jewish community.
But this column is being written in early January, and there is more to contemplate than gorgeous blooms and footloose youth. We add our voices to the prayers for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is in a life-and-death struggle after a massive stroke. His bold actions and ability to rally the nation are still sorely needed.