In Israel, I often come across groups of friends who have known each other since grade school/high school or the army, and have stayed in close touch. This kind of friendship within a group is common in Israel because many people tend to stay in their home town/ land and they meet on a regular basis both formally and informally. I have always thought that it must be reassuring to go through life surrounded by people with whom you could be comfortable because they really know you.
In contrast, since we moved around a lot, and lived 15 years in the US, we wcould not maintain our friendships with school and army friends and thus were never part of such a group.
In the last few years, thanks to social networks, all kinds of events have started to take place and old friends who have lost touch throughout the years have been reunited. Due to an unusual turn of events I have recently gained a high school group which, strangely enough, is not my own.
My late husband attended Boyer high school in Jerusalem; it was a special institute, both a regular high school and a boarding school for gifted and talented students from developing communities in peripheral areas. The boarders, many of them new immigrants, came to that school from areas where educational opportunities were limited. The vision of the school, which was founded by the Society for Advancement of Education, was to bring together promising young people to give them good education and leadership skills and thus to create a pool of future leaders who will eventually either go back to their home towns or contribute to the community as a whole.
My husband’s class graduated in 1970, at that time many of the new immigrants came from north Africa and Eastern Europe. I know of one boy who immigrated to Israel a year earlier, when he was 13; without any help he applied by himself to the school and of course, was accepted. The school was looking for resourceful students like him. In the 4 years that the students attended the school, they learnt values of community service, humanity and pluralism. Boyer high school has been around for almost 50 years and has produced many socially involved leaders
During the high-school years, there was a rivalry between the two groups of students: the day school students from Jerusalem and the boarders from in Israel's periphery. After graduation there was almost no interaction between the two groups.
But in 2010 the 1970 class celebrated 40 years to graduation and soon after the class started to meet on a regular basis. Because of my late husband, I was invited to the reunion, and later my partner and I were invited to join the group and attend its different activities..
Naturally I don’t not have shared memories with the members; in my repertoire there are only stories that I have heard from my husband about his happy years in school. But even without personal experience of "being there” I feel reassured, and happy to finally be part of such a welcoming and inclusive group.
P.S This is the link to the Jerusalem school http://www.kidum-edu.org.il/en/education-campuses/boyer