When we sit on our sofas and sip tea in the comfort of our own cozy homes, we rarely imagine the founding of our country, our town – before roads and highways, before farms and factories and gardens and the assurance that we could keep ourselves fed and clean and healthy. “Before” seems like so long ago. But the “Before” that seems so abstract to us feels like yesterday to the people who lived it. To the pioneers of the Jordan Valley, echoes of the Before leap out at them when they walk through streets that they paved, see the houses they built, and work the farms that they cultivated. They see the development of today and they remember the struggle it was back in the beginning, when the Jordan Valley was only arid desert.
The Jordan Valley community of Mechola is one such place. Mechola was established in 1968, the very first community established in the Jordan Valley, after the Six Day War. A group of young, intrepid religious Zionists trucked east into the Jordan Valley, armed with their idealism and their religious convictions. If anyone could re-establish a Jewish presence in the Jordan Valley, these pioneers could. There were no roads back then, only rough and rocky paths that cut and twisted through the Valley. Mechola’s only water source was an abandoned Arab well, which they pumped up into their sprinklers and used to water fields of corn; each kernel was sown by hand, one by one. The early pioneers struggled constantly: with the Arabs, with the unbearable heat, with the water, and with the land itself. But the fruits of their labors – Mechola as it is today – were only made sweeter by their victories.
Today, Mechola is the jewel of the Jordan Valley, bright and green and populated by over 130 families. Most residents of the community work in agriculture today, and their crops include dates, citrus fruits, and fresh green spices. To look at Mechola now, you would never guess the struggles, the battles, the almighty feat of perseverance and faith that went into the establishment of this special community. You would never guess the blood, the sweat, and the tears that were poured into its fields and its houses and its gardens. You would never guess how close the pioneers came to giving up altogether. It was only with God’s help that they were able to accomplish all that they did. The original pioneers are now getting on in years, but even as senior citizens, they take an active interest in the workings and goings-on in Mechola. They are living legends, respected and awed. But the pioneers of Mechola want to pass along their legacy, and the legacy of Mechola, to the future generations.
That was when the residents of Mechola turned to you, the wonderful donors of CFOIC Heartland. Their dream was to build a senior center for the pensioners among them – but what they had in mind was no ordinary senior center. Mechola’s senior center would serve the double purpose of hosting activities and gatherings for the older generation and being the home of the brand-new Mechola Community Archive.
The senior center is comprised of a large and airy room, with tables, chairs and sofas, perfect for social gatherings, and a host of activities for the pensioners of Mechola. The building also includes beautifully remodeled restrooms and a kitchenette, all of this facilitated entirely by you. In a small adjacent room, is the archive, where these same pensioners are recording the story of their community, gathering and organizing photos, written accounts and documents.
Central to the senior center experience is the meeting of old and young. Preschool children visit the senior center and old and young share activities, songs, and crafts. Some of the preschool teachers were themselves children in Mechola and remember the pensioners as their teachers or nannies. But with the archive growing and developing, the center has also become a place where the original pioneers of Mechola can sit with their children and grandchildren and walk them through the story of their community, struggles and victories alike. From one generation to the next, these real tales of struggle and perseverance and triumph will live on, and all the children of Mechola will grow up knowing its story.
You, the wonderful donors of CFOIC Heartland, have ensured this generational remembrance. Because of you, future generations will know exactly how the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham began: with a group of young idealists who were strong in their faith, strong in their convictions, and strong in their hearts. That strength, thanks to you, will be passed down from the pioneers to their children and grandchildren, from generation to generation – and it will keep their legacy alive.