In first person… Close call on 1958 trip in middle of moonless night on Eilat beach

In 1958, I was among 35 BBYO teenagers participating in a seven-week Jewish Agency-organized Israel tour — only the second year of such tours. We saw Israel from Metulla to the Negev.

Among my memories is sleeping on the Eilat beach the night the Baathists assassinated Iraq's King Faisal, Iraq's last king. The next day, British transport planes, with Israel's permission, flew over Israel to reinforce the Jordanian government, lest two Hashemite monarchies be overthrown the same week.

But I had my own problem that night! In the middle of a dark, moonless night, searching for the outhouse, I walked off in the direction I thought was correct. I walked too far, as I sensed when I felt a slight pain in my ankle. After settling for an alternative to the outhouse, I headed back, and eventually found our group. At first light, I saw that I had a torn sock and a slightly cut ankle. Not too far to the east, I saw an Israeli pillbox; beyond it was the barbed wire marking the end of my walk. Lucky me! I could have been killed because of my faulty dead reckoning!

Four months later, as the first Akron teenager to participate in such an Israel tour, I was invited to be the guest speaker at the local Jewish National Fund annual dinner. My grandmother kvelled, my parents beamed, and I was delighted to share my youthful message with 300 very receptive adults.