(Hagit Lavi is one of the two women who led the long march from Rosh Hanikra to Jerusalem)

These were my words at the opening ceremony of the March of Hope that took place at Rosh Hanikra on October 4th, 2016:

”Hope has many facets. Utopian hope “the wolf will live with the lamb” is always in our heart but it doesn’t change our lives, and practical hope ”don’t say the day will come, bring on the day” which is what Women Wage Peace have chosen. It is in this light that we have been active for two years and with this hope we take the first step in our March of Hope in order to have an impact on the future.”

hagit-lavie-1The cultural background in which I grew up may explain my social and political consciousness and activity. I was born and grew up on Kibbutz Yehiam. I did National Service with the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement in Ashkelon. I did my army service at the Ein Gedi Field School as a Hiking guide. I have a BA in Jewish Thought and Special Education and an MA in creative writing. I worked as a special education teacher in many different facilities; in the last few years I worked with hearing impaired children. Last year I retired.

I was attracted to writing after I found the diaries of my grandfather, Yitchak Levi of blessed memory. My grandfather was born into an assimilated family in Germany; he was exposed to Zionism while studying at the University in Freiburg, and made Aliyah to Israel in 1923. The story that thrilled me most was that after the War of Independence he decided that the State of Israel had to assist all those refugees who were forced to leave their homes due to the war. He saw this as a personal mission, seeking a way to help the children of refugees. After succeeding in raising 10 lira (Israel former currency), he sought a way to send the money to the refugee camps. He wrote to Ben Gurion whose aide replied that Ben Gurion could not help. “Since you decided what to do with the money, you surely will find a way to bring the money directly to the camps.” My “yekke” grandfather took this literally and crossed the border at the Mandelbaum Gate into Jordan. UN soldiers caught him in no man’s land, promised to bring the money to the refugees and brought him back to Israel. The result was his hospitalization in the Talbieh psychiatric hospital.

March of hope opening event

Hagit and Ulfat leading the March of Hope right after its opening ceremony

I remember myself at age 23, reading, crying and asking myself: Who should have been hospitalized – my grandfather or the leadership of the country?

I wrote down my grandfather’s memoirs. Later on I interviewed and wrote other biographies about the founders of the country, in addition to writing prose and leading groups of youth and adults in creative writing. In the last few years I have been writing and editing for the bi-lingual (Hebrew-Arabic) site, Dugrinet, where I have a column for stories and literary criticism. For the last two years I primarily write about topics connected to Women Wage Peace.

From the moment I joined WWP on the train to Sderot (November 2014), I felt that I had come to the right place. I am grateful to all the women who were able to translate the distress they felt during “Protective Edge” into political and social action to promote change.  I am happy that I joined you – Women Wage Peace – so that together we can convert our bad feelings about what is happening to our country into determined activities towards change.

I joined the March of Hope because I felt we must pass on to others the strength we get from our work together and the optimism we feel about our ability to change things together. There is nothing like a journey through the Israeli and Palestinian society to implement this.

Translated from Hebrew by Sue Levinstein