"Our life together started in Young Judaea"

My wife Debbie grew up in YJ Brooklyn in the "60's". It was a time of intense upheaval in the US. But YJ in this period was probably at its highest membership level with clubs all over. I lived in Union NJ, where our region had hundreds of members and a vast number of clubs. Deb and I both attended Tel Yehudah in the heyday of Mel Reisfeld and other iconic madrichim of that era. We meet in TY on the road by Hill House in July 1966 when she was in Machon, and I worked in the Kitchen. We both spent August in Machane Avodah where our friends thought it would be cute to make us Sadrani Avodah, (work managers). Together we spent our first night on Guard, shared our first kiss, and the rest is history.

"May you live in interesting times" is a curse invoked by history, chance, and luck. Well we have.

In 1967 I had the privilege to attend Year Course in Jerusalem at the old San Remo Hotel.  We arrived three months after the spectacular MIRACLE OF THE 6 DAYS WAR. Only weeks before, the world braced itself for the destruction of the State of Israel. Instead I found myself in a newly reunited city, whose citizens were slowly discovering how much of their world had changed. It was a miraculous time -- Dancing with thousands of white-shirted Israelis at the Kotel on Rosh Hashana; Snow Ball fights in the old city -- Every day was electric and utterly fascinating.

Debbie remained behind in Brooklyn College where she pursued her degree in psychology. We agreed to meet again after I returned from Year Course, as see if we still wanted to be together. She meet me at Kennedy Airport when I returned and we both knew instantly we were each other’s chosen mate (beshert)

Marvin & Debbie in the Golan Heights in 1973 Marvin & Debbie in the Golan Heights in 1973

We married in July 1970 and two months later, made aliyah in Israel. The week we arrived, King Hussien was attacking the PLO in what was to be known as Black September. We stayed at our adopted family on Nahalal, and then proceeded to Kibbutz Mahanyim in the Galil for Ulpan, and to join a Garin in the Nahal.

We became Kibbutz members and I did my Military Service in the Nahal Brigade, where I finished my training in 50th Parachute Batallion. Upon returning to the Kibbutz, I worked in Irrigation and Cotton Farming, Debbie was in charge of a group of babies in the children’s house of the Kibbutz. Our first son Neev was born on Mahanayim in 1972.

We were not fond of having our child in the collective, and seeking a more pioneering life we moved to Moshav Bakaot in the West Bank, near Nablus in 1973. Living in a remote outpost was changeling and exciting, although difficult. Our village raised winter vegetables.

I first heard news of the Yom Kippur war on Arab radio broadcast from Amman while I and a Moshav member were looking for workers for the eggplant harvest. Only on the evening radio and tv broadcast did we confirm the war was raging on two fronts. My IDF unit call up code was announced over and over again on the radio. That night, we all watched Golda tell the nation how severe the crisis was. The next morning (Oct 7th) all the men in the village reported to their units. I kissed Debbie & Neev good bye and drove off to war. I arrived at the Rally Point in Rosh Pina only to find utter chaos. Our Division (Raful) was based on the Golan and was already over run by the Syrians. In a quick reorganization I was attached to the 3rd Brigade -- we kitted up, collected our gear and weapons while observing other units digging in, creating a defensive line to stop the Syrians if they crossed the Jordan. All the while individual squads and platoons made their way to the front to stop the Syrians, while truckloads of dead and wounded streamed in the other direction to the field hospitals in the Hula Valley. I spent the next five months on the Golan Heights and the Lebanese Border as the unit rotated from one position to another.

Bekaot (1975) Bekaot in 1975

What I did not know was that all the families on Bekaot had been evacuated to their parents’ homes. Only Debbie remained on the Moshav with one other woman and their two children, + the dogs. The second week of the War, our village became a divisional HQ tasked to stop the Jordanians who threatened to enter the fighting. My family spent many nights in the shelter. We were very grateful the attack never happened. We had no land line phones in the Mosahav only Army Radio net. It was 3 weeks before I received a 24 hour pass to get home and tell Debbie I was alive. Our second son Yoel was born 9 months later, (after a terrorist attack on the Moshav, but that is a different story).

The war ended, I returned to Bekaot, and we farmed again. The terror war that raged after October 1973 found me in Reserve duty every few months. The manpower in the army had been severely depleted by the thousands killed and wounded in war. I spent most of my service in the North, Lebanon and the Golan. I was in the Army more than I was home.

In 1974 we heard of an Anglo Saxon Moshav being established in the Negev. We purchased our farm there in 1975. It was a new settlement that was pioneering the Glass House production of Tomatoes for export.  Building a new community in the desert was the fulfillment of all our Young Judea dreams. We planted tomatoes, flowers and other winter crops and remained on the Moshav through seven seasons, enjoying the success of building a new settlement. Our third son Ishai was born in Beer Sheva at the end of the picking season in 1978.  During this period Israel suffered from Post War deflation, devaluation and recession. Our last year on Sde Nitzan, we were paying 250% interest on our operating capital. The economics of farming made it impossible to continue.

With a heavy heart we left our farm and Israel, we returned to the States in 1981. Living in Debbie's parents’ basement with our three little boys, we started again. We lived in Brooklyn for a few years and after a series of businesses, found our way to New Jersey.  Over the years, all our boys attended TY. Our youngest was on Year Course in 1996.

Marvin & Debbie on New Years Day 2015 Marvin & Debbie on New Years Day 2015

Today we live in Parsippany NJ. The boys are all married with children of their own. We have five grandchildren in Upstate NY, Texas and California. Debbie and I are still working. She is an executive assistant for a Pharmaceutical Marketing Company. I am a Real Estate Broker in NJ. We have both enjoyed extremely successful careers.  Our lives remain interesting. We are both cancer survivors. We travel often to see the kids. When we take the grandkids on trips, they call it “Sabba and Safta Camp.” I am involved in cycling, often serving as a Ride Marshal in NYC.  Debbie's background in childhood education has her well equipped for a career on the Management team. When she is not shepherding executives to their next appointment she is an amazing "Safta".

Our life together started in Young Judaea. Love of Israel and the Jewish People was the common thread that brought us together. Our core beliefs held us together through so many "interesting times".  The tolerance and acceptance that we found in YJ, TY, Year Course, set the stage for what became the story of our lives.

Crane Family Pic (2014) The Crane Family in 2014

With the spirit, friendship and joy Young Judaea instilled in us we began our life together. We hope to move to our home in Texas this year and spend more time with the grandchildren.

This summer we will celebrate our 45th anniversary together with all our kids -- the next chapters have yet to be written. We are confident they will not be boring.

Hazak Vematz!

Marvin and Debbie Lackowitz Crane

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