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Yom Kippur War: An American remembers being 17 in a kibbutz bunker

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Ariel Schalit/AP

(Read caption) Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary: Metal placards in the shape of Israeli soldiers form a memorial of the battle of Tel Saki, one of the first of the 1973 Israeli Yom Kippur War, in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, on the border with Syria.

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In search of adventure and barely 17 years old, in the summer of 1973 I washed up on a kibbutz in Israel’s northern Galilee. I knew precisely what I was fleeing: a dreary Midwestern upbringing, my parents’ messy divorce, a fear of being sucked into their existence. What I sought instead was unclear.

The geography of the place was awe-inspiring. Beyond the kibbutz’s eastern boundary, the terrain snaked steeply down to the now not-so-mighty Jordan River, then up to the Golan Heights, snaggle-toothed against the heat-hazed sky. Mount Hermon, of biblical renown, loomed moodily to the north. Damascus was just over the horizon.


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