Page 3 - C.A.L.L. #29 - Winter 2007
P. 3

From the SecretaryFrom the Secretary’’s Desks Desk
                                                                                       From the SecretaryFrom the Secretary’’s Desks Desk

             Dear Reader,

             It  is  with  great  sadness  that  I  report  of  the  passing  of  our
             beloved secretary Sol (Shlomo) Etzioni.

             Sol was born in Australia and spent his youth as a member of
             Labour-Zionist Youth Movement Habonim. It was here that he
             began  his  life  as  an  educator,  a  guide,  and  an  inspiration  to   In Memoriam
             Jewish youth.                                                              1929-2007

             His first taste of communal living began in 1951, when Sol went to live on Habonim’s training farm
             in Springvale, Melbourne. The idea was that Sol and his contemporaries would learn what it was to
             live and work on a ‘Kibbutz’, before emigrating to Israel and doing it for real. Sol remembered
             communal life as being very primitive, and described the unlined fibro huts as follows: “[without
             even] electric light to give the illusion of warmth. There’s nothing that casts a cold spell over …
             dreams of sun-scorched Israel more than dressing in pitch-dark in freezing cold - literally freezing,
             for the rain-puddles froze over solid - to learn Hebrew.…[Those two years] enhanced my maturity
             and expanded my horizons.…I found that I could live in close quarters with others whom I didn’t
             necessarily like.”

             Leadership by example is a concept that Sol imbibed from growing up in the youth movement. He
             duly fulfilled the highest goal of Habonim by arriving in Israel in 1954, and joining Kibbutz Tzora.
             There he spent most of his career as a high-school Chemistry teacher, with a hiatus from 1962 –
             1964, when he left the kibbutz to become an emissary of both the Kibbutz, and Israel itself to a
             whole new generation of Habonim Youth in New Zealand. It is no surprise to find many of the
             people that Sol worked with during those years in New Zealand following his example, and can
             today still be found on Kibbutzim in Israel.

             In recent years, as Kibbutz Tzora has undergone many changes, Sol recognized both the need for
             change in today’s modern reality, whilst always retaining his strong belief in communal living and
             shared responsibility. In January of this year he wrote thus: “The problem is that no one wants to
             put more money into the public purse - by means of a progressive ‘income tax' - and this means
             inevitably that there is pressure to reduce communal services even further. The fact that almost
             everything  is  judged  by  its  cost  means  that  there  is  pressure  to  shut  down  ‘unprofitable’

             Similarly, even though Sol described himself as not being political, in this sphere too he saw the
             complexity of issues and never expressed a dogmatic one-sided opinion. He could recognize Israel’s
             imperfections but it always pained him to read over-the-top criticisms, or even being blanked by
             communities outside of Israel. In setting the record straight on his beloved Israel, he always called
             for fairness and even-handedness in any criticism, whilst stressing Israel’s legitimate concerns and
             it’s right to live in peace and security.

             When most pensioners would be taking their foot off the gas, Sol was looking for a new challenge
             and  in  2000  he  became  the  secretary  of  the  International  Communes  Desk.  His  belief  in
             communality and his many years as an educator, combined with his dedication, enabled Sol to
             bring  the  communal  scene  in  Israel  to  the  world  and  the  world  communal  scene  to  Israel.  He
             courteously ran our meetings with patience and humour and worked tirelessly behind the scenes:
             corresponding with communities around the world, hosting visitors that came to Israel to learn
             about Kibbutz, editing the content of the website, attending conferences all over Israel to promote
             the Desk, fundraising, proof-reading this publication, etc etc.

             Sol is survived by his wife Rene, 3 children, 8 grandchildren and the many, many people, all over
             the world, who have learnt from Sol, been inspired by Sol - a true leader by example.

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