Reuven Zinder was the first child born on Kibbutz Beit Alfa. His life story is worthy of a documentary movie, and in fact Hagit Liron, a filmmaker from the kibbutz, is currently researching his biography. In the process she is searching for people who knew Zinder, including students he tutored in math in Jerusalem, and a girl who sent him her picture and signed it for eternity: "Nechamka." The photograph is dated August 23, 1947. Where is Nechamka?
Zinder was born in 1923, and two years later his parents left Beit Alfa and returned to Poland. Exactly why they did this is unclear. In an article by Liron in the new issue of the Yad Ben-Zvi periodical Et-Mol, she raises the possibility that the Zinders could not take any more pressure from the kibbutz members: Many at the time still considered couples and parenthood to be a threat to the collective togetherness of the kibbutz.
So, the first child born on Kibbutz Beit Alfa was raised in Poland. His mother died of an illness, before World War II, and when the Germans invaded Poland, Zinder and his father fled to Russia. His father died along the way. After the war, Reuven Zinder found himself in a refugee camp in Germany, and recalled his roots: He wrote to Beit Alfa and, after much effort, a permit was secured for him to immigrate. He studied mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where several of his professors considered him a genius. A few of his classmates went on to become professors, and remembered how Zinder could play chess in his head, without a board.
And then the War of Independence broke out. Zinder enlisted, and was killed in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood in Jerusalem. Those who knew him have remarked on his zeal for battle. "He would go a little wild," said one of them, Shmuel Yatziv. "He wanted to scare the Arabs. We'd approach a house, and he would pull the pin on the grenade and hurl it into homes."
Zinder was buried in Beit Alfa. His story was made into a feature film ("Klala Lebracha," or "Out of Evil"), which was shown in local movie theaters in 1951 and aroused little interest. It was produced by Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal and makes no reference to Zinder's death.
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