Year Course The Arad Masketeers – Year Course 1990 Reunion
Written by Dan Greenberg on Behalf of YC 90-91
The Gulf War started for us when the first scud missiles were launched towards Israel in January 1991. When we boarded the plane in September 1990, the last thing we were thinking about was being in sealed rooms with gas masks on. We were veteran chanichim of Sprout Lake, CJ North Carolina, CYJ West, CYJ Midwest and CYJ Texas. We had been in MH together at Tel Yehudah. We were on regional and national Mazkirut. Some of us had known each other through camp since we were 10-years old. In short, we were very excited about spending the best year of our lives together in Israel on Year Course.
Like 1990, 2020 started off just like any other year. We had our kids’ bar mitzvahs to plan, college applications to send, renovations to be done, deals to be made – one might say mundane middle age stuff. It seemed quite ordinary until the first cases of Covid started to trickle into the US at the end of January.
Both of these events, while different in scope, shaped the lives of the participants of Year Course 1990-1991 in significant ways, creating lifelong bonds that last to this day.
When Covid-19 lockdowns started, in March 2020, it seemed like every group held a Zoom reunion or services. There were Zoom calls with friends from elementary school, long lost cousins, high holiday services, and, of course, there had to be a Year Course call too.
We started our Zoom calls one Tuesday night in March 2020. We reconnected. We spoke. We didn’t stop speaking. Sometimes we ‘met’ for three hours or more! And we went on speaking, every week for two years.
Of all the Zoom reunions, this was the only one that lasted. We reminisced about Year Course. We tried to find long lost members of our group. We told stories about shenanigans in Beit Riklis, playing capture the flag in the center of our development town and the crazy times we had on kibbutz.
We remembered how our Year Course was cut short by the Gulf War. We remembered begging our parents to let us stay in Israel. We remembered when some were forced to leave. We remembered the first siren and running to the sealed room. We remembered playing lots of basketball. We called our team the Arad Masketeers, named after the gas masks we had to wear each time there was an attack. Who could have imagined that 30 years later, when we saw each other in person, we would be forced to wear masks again?
After a while we became just like family again. We shared good news and bad. We discussed the state of American and Israeli politics. We talked. We argued. We razzed each other and we laughed. We laughed a lot. It felt like we were back in Young Judaea again. We joked that sometimes it felt like asepha.
Most importantly, just like during the Gulf War, we supported each other through this crazy pandemic. This is a very special group, very smart, very witty, very different personalities, with lots of alphas but the one thing we share is love for each other. This Zoom call became a huge support system for all of us.
We consider ourselves very lucky to still be friends with some of the finest people. While we are no longer 18-years old, while we all live in different places – spread out across the United States – while we all have our ups and downs, one thing remains true: The bond we have from Young Judaea and Year Course is eternal.
We all feel very lucky to have these lifelong friendships and are eternally grateful to Young Judaea for bringing us together once again.
This April, a large contingent of Year Course 1990-1991, were lucky enough to organize a trip and got together in Moab, Utah to celebrate this special friendship and our collective 50th birthdays. Like on Year course, we hiked, we kibitzed, and we laughed. We rafted, we rode UTVs, and we reminisced. We talked about then and now. We created a new chapter for Year Course 1990-1991.
As opposed to the end of Year Course though, there were no tears at the end of the trip, or uncertainty of when we would see each other again. As a few boarded the plane in Moab’s tiny airport, one person yelled from the gate “Don’t forget Tuesday’s zoom. We need to do an official sikkum!”