Forty years ago on the first day of the Hebrew month of Shvat seven young couples, a group of yeshiva students, and a handful of toddlers set out to make a dream into reality. What was the dream? To return a Jewish presence to Shilo, the one-time capital of Biblical Israel. The dreamers came with tiny trailers, lots of enthusiasm, and the support of many. Within twenty-four hours a water tower was built and the trailers connected to a generator for electricity.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning. One of the early pioneers remembers how miraculous it was to have water and electricity at the same time when it was her turn to do a load of laundry. This was before disposable diapers had made it to Israel and there was always a lot of washing waiting to be done.
In time the visionaries moved from trailers into larger mobile homes and then into prefabs and finally into the houses they‘d built. By the time Shilo was nine years old and I moved here there were seventy families. The water tower was much larger and electrical lines had been brought in. There were still occasional water or power outages but the beautiful view, idealistic neighbors, and vision of building a home in the Land of Israel kept me from being discouraged.
In the ensuing thirty-one years I’ve seen Shilo grow from a small hamlet where everyone knew everyone else to a large enclave numbering in the thousands. The growth is astounding and I’m proud to be able to be part of changing the dream into reality.
How appropriate it is that in the same month as Shilo’s birthday I saw my own private dream come to fruition. My novel, Growing With My Cousin, was finally published. When I first held the book in my hands I had a feeling akin to holding a newborn. My story’s gestation was far longer than nine months, though, and I appreciate the many helpers who supported me along the way.
It is a heady feeling to have a dream come true. Unlike the song it cannot happen by just wishing upon a star. The original Shilo citizens taught me that it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and help from HaShem. My gratitude to Him for allowing my book to come to life has no bounds.