The Diary of a Secret Feminist Zionist

A pioneer of the early Yishuv, Dora Bader was a dutiful wife and hard-working kibbutznik who confessed her disappointed feminism in a secret diary.

The Galicia sways between the blue water and the azure sky as it plows its way through the sea from Trieste to Jaffa. The year is 1920. By day, groups of young people engage in passionate debates on the deck; by night, their bundles of belongings at their feet, they dream of the Promised Land. In the stern, a young couple stands by the railing and in whispers discuss matters of sublime importance. The dawn light reveals their features: she is tall and casts a penetrating gaze at the young man, whose round horn-rimmed glasses and high-piled tangle of hair give him the appearance of an intellectual.

Dora Dodelson, 23, a third-year medical student, reached the ship by a circuitous route from the city of Lida, in Poland (now in Belarus ). Her courageous spirit was a byword in the city. She had been imprisoned for a year and tortured for her activity in a communist group, but had not betrayed her comrades. Menachem Bader, who was three years older than Dora, had moved with his family from Poland to Germany as an adolescent. His revolutionary experience consisted mostly of discussions late into the night and blowing smoke rings with his pipe. But the past is of no interest to these two young people. They feel they have been hurled into the historic maelstrom of the early 20th century. All around them, empires are falling and new ideologies arising, while they themselves look forward to an auspicious future in a new land.

Dora Bader

As the light of a new day intensifies, they discover that they were both born on September 20. Is it fate? The discovery prompts Dodelson to reveal a secret to her interlocutor: she is on the ship under an assumed name. Her comrades, who organized her escape from prison, furnished her with false papers. Now she has to come up with something in order to avoid entanglement with the law. Bader gallantly offers to marry her and give her his name.

"It will be a fictitious marriage and will remain that way," says Dodelson, to cool the ardor of the unintended intended. She has a fiance in her hometown in Poland, she tells him, and they plan to marry. Bader's friends, who regard him as their leader, do not let this minor inconvenience bother them, and they dance across the ship's deck in an outburst of joy after the marriage ceremony, which is conducted by the captain.

Dora Bader, whose private diary was recently published under the title "Wounded Bird" (Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House; Hebrew ), remembered these images from her voyage to Palestine for many years afterward and related them time and again in memoirs preserved in the archive of Kibbutz Mizra, in the Jezreel Valley, of which she was a founder. The wedding aboard ship was symbolic of a period of youthful innocence. A few years would go by before she discovered what life had in store for her.

All alone

When the passengers left the ship in Jaffa and went their separate ways, Dora and Menachem Bader also parted. But he did not reconcile himself to the separation and walked long distances to meet with Dora. A few months later he gave her an ultimatum: become my full-fledged wife or we part for good. Dora Bader decided to find out what the situation was with her fiance and returned to Lida, even though she was still wanted by the authorities. She discovered that her fiance had died, returned to Palestine and decided to follow Menachem Bader to uncharted territory: a new settlement in the north of the country.

Their only daughter, Tamar, was born in the cold winter of 1923. During labor, Dora once again demonstrated her tough character. She began to have contractions while she was on the slow valley train on the way to Haifa. But she did not let that stop her from attending a lecture at the Technion by an important guest, Albert Einstein, who was in the country at the invitation of a fellow scientist, Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leader. After the talk she checked into the hospital.

She cared for the infant in the harsh conditions of a tent that was drenched with rain in winter and broiling hot in summer. The same year, Bader's group made the journey north and eventually founded Kibbutz Mizra in the Jezreel Valley. In January 1933, after 10 years at the kibbutz, Dora Bader started to keep a diary and looked back nostalgically at those early days:

"I remember that we were still working in the city and dreaming of settling the land and of how we would work in the fields and till the soil ... And I remember all our illnesses, the malaria and the first children, and how we worked on the road ... I have many memories of the small farm that started to develop and our powerful desire to progress. Romance wasn't lacking, either."

The veil of time blurs the memories of the hardships. In the diary, which she kept until 1937, Bader described her life as fraught with hard work, illnesses and crises - hardly a romantic idyll. But she could cope. What truly disturbed her was her inferior place in the new kibbutz world, where women were relegated exclusively to service jobs as nannies or laundry and kitchen workers. Menachem Bader, her husband, became a key figure in the Kibbutz Ha'artzi movement, was sent on missions to Europe by the Jewish Agency and established the economic infrastructure of the state-in-the-making (he was also a member of the First Knesset ). But she lived in his shadow. The inner turmoil she felt erupted into a conflict between her and Mendel/Manyo (her names for Menachem ) and between her and other members of the kibbutz.

The diary was a refuge from her inner distress. She wrote on January 1, 1933: "I decided today to start keeping a diary, which I received from my Manyo. It is impossible to write him everything, because he wants happier letters and I am sometimes very sad and lonely. Well, let's write my thoughts and feelings in the diary - maybe that will make things easier for me." Indeed, the very next day she confesses: "How lonesome I am, no one came to visit me today and no one asks how I am feeling."

The image of a wounded bird was used by Menachem Bader in a letter. She wrote obsessively, every day, and the diary makes for a fascinating study of the period. Dora Bader wrote about the funeral of the national poet Haim Nahman Bialik, the anti-Jewish riots in 1929, the assassination of the Labor Zionist leader Chaim Arlosoroff and the attitude of the Jewish community and the kibbutzim as the skies darkened over European Jewry.

But it is the personal aspect that stands out in the diary. Dora's sister and Menachem's brother were married, and their son, Amnon Bader, nephew of Dora and Menachem, was a frequent visitor to their home as a boy. "It was not convenient to live in the kibbutz as an individual among all the families when her husband was away all the time," he points out. "She was alone on Shabbat, because her daughter attended a boarding school in [Kibbutz] Mishmar Haemek." This, though, is only a partial explanation. Bader often noted how much she missed her daughter, but did not object to the kibbutz's decision to send a little girl to be raised far from her mother. At the same time, she expressed deep frustration that the kibbutz did not give her work commensurate with her education, rejected her request to attend university and complete her medical studies, did not appreciate her work in the cowshed or as a paramedic, and ignored her opinions on various issues. Many passages in the diary address what she regarded as the great missed opportunity of her life: not becoming a physician.

In the meantime, she fought for her status as a worker in the cowshed. The cowshed was of great importance in the kibbutz hierarchy, so women were not usually assigned to work there. Bader loved the work ("The cowshed is me," she wrote ) and gained recognition for her efforts when she was sent to a dairy farming course in Holland. The kibbutzim sent whole delegations abroad at the time to become experts in the dairy industry, but there were only three women among them: Bader; Miriam Bretz from Degania Aleph, who managed to make the cowshed a feminine industry; and one other woman.

In the years that followed, Bader taught other women the secrets of milking. However, despite her professionalism she was required to work in the clinic as well, and in any case the dairy barn and the clinic were not her steady jobs; her work there was temporary and sometimes outside official hours.

In August 1933, her expertise was apparently still belittled: "Again I am sick and weak. But I want to note my anger over the issue of the milk for the calves, which was again not brought from Afula. The calves scream with hunger and I suffer terribly from this. What is going on here - everyone thinks he is doing me a personal favor by bringing milk and no one thinks about how harmful the situation is for the cowshed and the calves. I simply cannot go on like this anymore! I asked to be replaced and for a short time off so I can rest. I am trying to carry on quietly, but sometimes I burst out and afterward I am very sorry. Naturally, the affairs of the kibbutz and the work, and the attitude toward my work have a great effect on my frame of mind and add fuel to my private bonfire. I am afraid to be weak. Inside I am seething but I pretend to be strong for everyone and show a quiet exterior. How much longer is it possible to go on like this?"

Afraid of her

What happened to the provocative young woman who defied her jailers and withstood torture? What became of the enthusiastic pioneer from the ship? For her, immigrating to the Land of Israel was not only an act of pioneering Zionist fulfillment; it was also an intimate interior journey. The high ideals were complemented by a similarly high hope of personal self-realization. In contrast to many of the pioneers, she was not a girl of 17 or 18 when she arrived in Palestine, and she was imbued with a sense of her own capability. She believed she could build the land and be built by it, as the saying went. Those hopes were largely dashed - that, at least, is the impression at the start of the diary. But afterward, writing seems to have liberated her. She reinvented herself and became a dominant figure in the kibbutz.

Despite her suffering and her illnesses, Dora Bader lived a long life: she died in 1996, 11 years after her husband, at the age of 100. Her secret diary was found long ago, by chance, but for a variety of reasons was not published until now. In 1986, when she was 89 and moved to a "health house" (an old-age home ) in the kibbutz, her daughter, Tamar Aloni, found a bundle of yellowing papers deep in a drawer at her mother's house. In an introduction to "Wounded Bird," Aloni (who died of an illness in 2006 ) says she found it oppressive to read her mother's thoughts and reflections. She placed the manuscript in a drawer of her own, without reading it, where it stayed for another decade.

"Maybe it was because I wanted to preserve in my heart the image of my parents as I remembered them: special, great and strong, a generation of giants, beloved and distant," she wrote by way of explanation.

However, Aloni eventually read the diary - before her mother's death - and decided that it was important for it to be published, though not before she excised details that would embarrass members of the kibbutz. The manuscript was entrusted to the historian Eyal Kafkafi, from Kibbutz Maoz Haim, who redacted it and added explanatory notes. After Kafkafi's death in a road accident in 2002, the diary circulated among a number of scholars until it reached Prof. Yaffa Berlowitz of Bar-Ilan University, an expert on women's literature in the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine. Berlowitz, who heads the Israel Association for Feminist and Gender Studies, looked like the right choice, and she was the one who finally edited the diary.

So it is only now, 75 years after it was written, that the diary has been published - and perhaps only now has its time come. The book is part of a wave of works, some personal, some less so, about the kibbutz movement, which deconstruct the remote and immediate history of the collective settlements and reassemble it. Most of the writers are from kibbutzim, so some of the books possess a distant, ironic tone. In some cases, feeling penetrates the deliberate emotional detachment, and the resulting work is stomach-churning. Examples are Assaf Inbari's "Home," Yael Ne'eman's "We Were the Future" and the documentary film "Children of the Sun" by Ran Tal. Along with the television series "The Kibbutz," by Modi Bar-On and Anat Zeltzer, these are ambivalent works that oscillate between admiration and high regard for the unique creation of the kibbutz as a way of life and for its members, and a critical, sometimes unforgiving stance.

Berlowitz initially hesitated about taking charge of the diary's publication. "I had a hard time with that woman, who day after day writes with a kind of misery that makes you want to pity her," she says. She changed her mind after a veteran kibbutz woman told her, "It wasn't appropriate for Dora Bader to keep a diary. After all, she was a tough, opinionated woman. Everyone was afraid of her. Yes, she helped a lot, but she always kept her distance."

It was precisely this contrast between the image of the strong woman and the deep bitterness and frustration expressed in the diary that attracted her, Berlowitz says. She realized that the diary represented a kind of unofficial history that was awaiting exposure. A second reading revealed the story of a pioneer woman, a revolutionary in search of an identity in the wake of failed ideals. She slightly improved the Hebrew of the pioneer, who clung to the language without being fully fluent, and added an introductory essay and biographical notes along with Kafkafi's insightful comments.

Still, it is the diary that is the book's backbone. "Because Bader is writing for herself, she allows herself to confess her most secret feelings and set them down directly, without self-censorship or omission," Berlowitz explains. "The diary is the processing of her identity and an attempt to fashion herself as she wanted."

Tired as an old woman

Bader's diary shows her to have been a complex woman. On the one hand she is a matriarchal figure and ablaze with a passionate belief in the kibbutz idea, but she is also opinionated, does not fall into step with the provincial kibbutz regulations and is unwilling to blend into the kibbutz and diminish her autonomous self accordingly. Her nephew, Amnon Bader, sees the disparity between the person he knew and her personality as it comes across in the diary, in terms of the atmosphere in the kibbutz of that period.

"She was the one they all turned to for help," he says. "When it was necessary to smuggle someone abroad or give someone a slap, they would go to Dora. She was a fighter. She had plenty of her own to give, but the kibbutz was learning how to be a kibbutz at that time. Everything had to be done through a members' committee. The individual was not taken into account. To leave the kibbutz you had to ask the secretariat for pocket money. But she wanted to do her own deciding."

"The groups of pioneers were socialists," Berlowitz says on a broader note. "There were women, among them Dora Bader, who expected Zionism to also generate equality between women and men. For it to be a feminist revolution, not only a national one: a new man and also a new woman. But all in all, Zionism was perceived as a masculine revolution and a masculine project. The men disappointed the women by failing to appreciate them as equal work colleagues and by excluding them on the grounds that they interfered and slowed down the work.

"Women encountered a severe disappointment from the First Aliya," Berlowitz continues, referring to the first wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine (1882-1903 ). "But whereas the women in the moshavot [rural communities where property was privately owned] organized and fought for their rights as women and established women's institutions, the pioneer workers of the Second Aliya and the Third Aliya took the slap in the face quietly. They felt abandoned and betrayed by the members of their groups, but did not want to split the ranks, in order not to harm Zionist fulfillment."

Bader's inner conflict presents a picture that is contrary to the heroics of the immigration waves overall and of the third one (1919-1923 ) in particular. It is the negative of the photographs of bronzed Hebrew workers armed with spades and flashing toothy smiles that appear in the old albums. They spoke in the collective and impersonal first person plural - we came, we built - but Bader's writing is personal, confessional and revealing.

One day, her husband, who had become part of the establishment and was incapable of understanding her inner needs, found the diary on the table and read it. He did not like what he saw, and told her to stop writing "that nonsense." From that day she hid the diary from him. In November 1933 she wrote, "I sleep like a log, a woman of 34 as tired as an old woman." According to the diary, she was sick all the time. Muki Tzur, the historian of the kibbutz movement, says that 15 percent of the people in the kibbutzim were sick.

"Young people got sick, but that was also a bit of a refuge," he says. "There is a tremendous need to be sick, but on the other hand the kibbutz has to protect itself. So the paramedic was a very important person: she decided who could work or not."

Chocolate and pretty words

In the 1930s, following the Nazis' rise to power in Germany, Menachem Bader spent months in Europe and worked feverishly to salvage Jewish property and raise funds for the Jewish community in Palestine, known as the Yishuv. The diary contains many references to the Baders' efforts to get their relatives out of Europe and bring them to Palestine. In April 1933, Dora crisscrossed the country trying to get certificates of entry for family members. However, in terms of understanding of her attitude toward the situation of the Jews overall, she was a bubble in the kibbutz:

"Mendel writes that he regrets that the Jews there have already accustomed themselves to the situation and think things will get better and do not want to believe what he says. I can't even imagine what will happen there - my nerves are on edge from it," she confides to the diary.

The diary also addresses her relations with her husband, which were filled with ups and downs, with fits of anger and jealousy. "Mendel is now already aboard the ship ... and maybe he will again bring a female friend from the trip. Without that it's impossible. It never happened any other way," she wrote in July 1933. And, a year later: "I sometimes think and feel that he is not in the least attracted to me, that I am tired and sick a lot, and outside he sees many other girls who don't work as hard as I do and are always well-dressed and washed, and don't fall into bed like a stone. I too could be like them and even prettier, if I were like them. But I could not be like that. I am a worker."

Menachem Bader kept an apartment in Tel Aviv and was not an ascetic when it came to women. According to his grandson, Arieh Aloni, who lives in Kibbutz Mizra along with the other grandchildren, his grandfather often took him for outings in Tel Aviv with lady friends and he even spent a summer vacation with one of them. Dora Bader considered this her husband's natural right. One of his lovers actually visited Mizra and had a cup of tea with Dora, who in later years simply turned a blind eye. But in the first years, when she was bitter over his absences and his cheating, the desire grew to leave him and the kibbutz, too, where she had not found her place.

She requested a holiday, but was turned down on various pretexts. When the kibbutz raised a scandal - "a tragedy," in her words - after she asked for an extra stamp to send an urgent letter to her husband, she wrote in the diary, "I can't take it anymore, it is impossible to demand only patience and more patience from me" (May 1933 ). Her weakness and her wish to leave everything connect her diary to the secret, marginal history of the hundreds who left the kibbutzim and abandoned the collective idea.

In contrast to the misery and the miserliness of the kibbutz, she longed for the good life, for theater in Haifa, the possibility to dress well and above all the freedom to do as she wished. At first it was only a wish. She lacked the courage to take action. Thus, in May 1934 she wrote, "There is not one dress to wear. And to escape without wearing something other than housedresses is impossible" - because the kibbutz had a clothing depot and the dresses were all in use.

Bader occasionally sent her "chocolada" as compensation, or items of clothing to calm her down. "He sent a package with a slip and wonderful silk stockings. At home there is no opportunity to wear them, because it is not pleasant and the women are envious. But when I travel I like to look my best, in a fine dress and shoes and silk stockings."

On another occasion she wrote, "Manyo came home again with chocolate and said it was for reconciliation and love ... But he can't fix everything just like that, with chocolate and pretty words." The next day: "Manyo told me today that he truly loves me and that I am his best and faithful lady friend, and I have to see that wherever he may be he will come home to me, because home is the best place. There may be other husbands who love their wives and also occasionally cheat on them. But he asked me to be patient and understanding ... Manyo promised not to travel so much and that he will try to arrange things by phone and be at home by night."

Dora Bader thus reconciled herself to unilateral monogamy, as Eyal Kafkafi put it. But gradually she started to revolt, and in the end fled. "I replied that they could help me best by letting me go, so I can do what I want," she wrote in May 1934. "It makes me angry every time afresh that Manyo says that everything is wonderful in the kibbutz and only when it comes to me nothing is good."

Liberated woman

Finally, the inner rumblings erupted into a volcano and she left her home and the kibbutz. At first she lived with her mother and found odd jobs in Haifa: looking after a child, cleaning homes and laundering. Afterward, she moved to Tel Aviv and was hired as a night nurse by Hadassah Hospital. Her husband was furious. The shame of it! Emissaries from the kibbutz started to call and implore her to return. Her husband also insisted that she come home.

When she finally returned, half a year after leaving, it was in triumph. Menachem started to talk to her as an equal. A whole new chapter in her life began: Dora Bader became her husband's partner and confidante on missions to Europe for Kibbutz Ha'artzi and for the Jewish Agency.

Her revolt was the start of a great leap forward. "Her path to the Land of Israel as a young woman, both from the point of view of a career in medicine and from the viewpoint of her revolutionary outlook, is extraordinary," Muki Tzur says. "She is a completely liberated woman. We have to remember that she came from a family of revolutionary activists and was educated in Lida, the place where the greatest revolution in the world of the yeshivas began. It was in the yeshiva of Lida that Rabbi Reines first introduced secular studies along with religion and sparked a tremendous debate with the Jewish nation. All those volatile elements flow through her veins: a secular, feminist Zionist revolution.

"When she discovered that she was being assigned to the kitchen," he continues, "her revolt was confined to her writing. The diary prepared her for the true revolt ... In its last section it is no longer the same diary. Bader and the others in the kibbutz understand whom they are dealing with, and if the diary started off as a record of revolt, it now becomes more of a travel log."

The rest of the period covered by the diary, until 1937, were the peak years of her life. Her husband sent her on missions of various kinds in the country and abroad. Her managerial skills came to the fore and he started to trust her. According to Berlowitz, the phenomenon of female emissaries on the eve of the war was unusual.

Her first mission for the kibbutz was to Europe, from Trieste to Rome, in order to arrange the secret return of a kibbutz member who had been smuggled abroad after he accidentally discharged his rifle and killed a Bedouin. When she got home, her husband sent her to negotiate in his place with the Jewish National Fund in Jerusalem, concerning payment for a water pump the kibbutz had received on loan.

In August 1936, when Bader fully grasped Hitler's intentions, he began to urge the Yishuv's economic institutions to assist the Jews in Europe and try to get their money transferred to Palestine. Because of Dora Bader's "good head for business" (according to the kibbutz committee that authorized the mission ), she was included in the project. She met in Palestine with notaries and representatives of the executive of the Histadrut labor federation and of Hamashbir Hamerkazi, the main wholesale supplier for consumers' cooperatives and labor-movement settlements; drew up contracts and contacted merchants and industrial concerns to persuade them to take goods from Jews in Germany through her husband's mediation. She worked on the project for half a year, part of the time in Europe alongside her husband.

She also took advantage of her stay in Europe to encourage youth immigration. She met with group after group in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria, explained to them the fears of the Yishuv leadership concerning the situation in Europe, told them about the Yishuv and elaborated on the opportunities they would have for study and work.

Amid all this, and on the eve of the horror, the couple met in cafes and went out to eat in restaurants. "How does one live in two worlds at the same time?" Tzur asks. "The world of Europe's wealthy class views him as a miser and her as an oddball, and the kibbutz world views them both as debauched."

Dora Bader stopped keeping a diary in 1937, but continued to be involved in her husband's activity, albeit from afar. During the war years, Menachem Bader was active in the work of the Rescue Committee, mostly in Istanbul. In June 1944, he was on the brink of a meeting with Adolf Eichmann, which in the end did not take place. And all this time, Dora was his support and confidante from the home base. In 1943, she was involved in the arrival in Palestine of the "Tehran children" and was a volunteer in helping with their absorption in a transit camp; a few of them were afterward brought to Kibbutz Mizra.

Blind admiration

Berlowitz thinks that once Dora gave up the diary, she also gave up something essential within her, and her personality shrank and withered. On the other hand, the period may have been too intense and momentous. "The ending of the diary was not a conscious decision," Tzur says. "It is related to the early feelings of an impending disaster. Everyone predicted that some cloud was about to bring down a terrible hailstorm here, but no one knew what the hail would consist of. From her point of view, the moment the cannons fire, the muses must fall silent. And she is silent."

She also understood the terrible helplessness of her husband, whose task was to rescue Jews. "It was a transition to talking," Tzur says. "None of the people who were sent on missions by the Rescue Committee could submit a concrete report about what they felt."

Her missions terminated, Dora Bader returned to the kibbutz and held minor positions. After almost losing her life in a road accident, in which her leg was badly injured, and until she lost her sight at the age of 90-something, she worked in the kibbutz sewing workshop doing patchwork. There is no evidence in the kibbutz that she was active on the dairy farm or as a paramedic, not even of the heroic chapter of her life. In contrast to Menachem Bader, whose records fill crate after crate in the archive and whose name is well known in the kibbutz movement, Dora Bader's public persona was totally erased. But she remains a vivid figure in the memory of her adopted children and her grandchildren.

"Even if she was bitter, she never showed it," says Aliza Wolff, a former dancer who grew up in Mizra and afterward established a branch of the Bat Dor ballet and a dance school in Be'er Sheva. "She behaved as though the important thing in life was to sacrifice everything."

According to Wolff, Dora admired Menachem Bader "blindly." She says "everything revolved around him. When you are a girl you don't see it, but when I got older I thought about how she worried about him and prepared everything for him when he came to the kibbutz on Shabbat." Bader adopted Wolff and her sister. On a kibbutz, this could be a technical matter, but Bader behaved toward her like a mother in every respect, Wolff says. "Whenever I was sick she took me to her room to sleep in her bed. She would bring me food and books in the children's house. I don't think there were other mothers who did that."

Dora's home was European in character, Wolff recalls. "They were worldly people. They went to the theater. They received all the newspapers and there was music in the house. Bader used to buy Haolam Hazeh, which was unusual," she says, referring to a muckraking magazine of the time. Arieh Aloni, the grandson, relates that while the whole kibbutz used square sheets cut from Al Hamishmar - the newspaper of the left-wing Mapam party - as toilet paper, the Baders used the far more delicate paper of the Jerusalem Post for this purpose. "When I was very little, three or four years old, I wanted to bring my friends in the children's house a present, and I brought a package of the papers from home. The caregiver grabbed them from me and threw them away, and said sarcastically, 'You are the Bader family, it's not becoming for you to wipe with Al Hamishmar.'"

This episode, however amusing, attests to the Bader family's problematic status in the kibbutz. According to the grandchildren, the family was a despised aristocracy. "It was known that she hid dresses and furs in the cupboard and that they had chocolate from abroad," Bat Ami Rosenblatt, a granddaughter, says. "They always shared the chocolate with friends, but it was still flagrant behavior." On one occasion, she asked her grandmother to get her pink ballet shoes and walked through the whole kibbutz with them. "My grandmother hid them in the closet and would not allow them to be taken to the general depot."

"Every week, Bader left a note on the bulletin board in the dining hall: 'Gone abroad.' People found that outrageous," Aloni says. But when he got back, he was welcomed with great honor. "There was a lot of hypocrisy," Aloni notes. The kibbutz members knew he was an important functionary, but didn't bother with the details and didn't understand that he was establishing the economic foundation of the kibbutzim and of the future State of Israel.

Dora was the butt of nasty remarks about his not working in the fields. "You go to the cowshed or to the vegetable patch and you see that there is another kibbutz member who isn't there, and you eat your heart out," Muki Tzur explains. "It doesn't matter that he knows the other person is engaged in important matters. Hell, you say to yourself, he has to show up in the dining room every day for the meat patty.

"It was a period of absolute contradiction between people's need to create a routine and a home for themselves, and the fading dream of the ideal," Tzur continues. "They thought the kibbutz would be a place where we could breathe and follow the plow until the last furrow while the wife stayed home. As a woman who worked as a medic, Dora Bader understands that there is an earthquake outside, that the picture of beautiful young people emerging from the field and lifting their eyes to the far horizon is a lie. The tension in the diary is over how to convey this truth to people without doing harm or causing destruction. It happened to many people who were active in the front ranks of the kibbutz movement, such as Meir Ya'ari and Yitzhak Tabenkin and many others. They lived double lives; on the one hand, they were totally decisive, on the other there was grief and confessions - but they did it as men and she did it as a woman."

Behind closed doors

While reading Dora Bader's diary, Prof. Yaffa Berlowitz recalled the story of the 20 women who met at the Kinneret settlement in 1911. It was the period of the Second Aliyah (wave of immigration ), and the women decided to meet to discuss how to cope with the men, who were excluding them from the study of agriculture. The meeting was organized by Yael Gordon, daughter of the legendary Zionist thinker and activist A.D. Gordon. "They decided to lock the doors, and at the start of the meeting, when each of them gave voice to her inner feelings, they simply sat and cried," Berlowitz says. "The men ridiculed them and pounded on the doors. But they decided to establish a women's agricultural school on the shores of Lake Kinneret, and that is what they did."