Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hi, Lucy! I've been to BYU, Provo!

Hi, Lucy,

Guess what – I went to Provo! I visited Brigham Young University and went looking for Helaman Halls, where you stayed in 1977-78.
Bet you never thought I'd get there, did you? I didn't, either. It's a bit out of the way for me. But thanks to Michael Klein's wedding, which gave us the excuse to travel to that part of the States [Phoenix, AZ], and my Michael's ambitious and detailed planning, there we were.

You'd barely recognize the place, Sis. So many new buildings. And many of the old ones have been renovated. Couldn't find your exact dorm – they all look alike, and none look exactly like the picture you sent me in 1977… The mountain is a good landmark, of course, but in some places it's hidden by trees and tall bushes which weren't there in your days. Still – here I am by Helaman Halls:

I also saw Hinkley Halls, where the guys – Amiram and Gadi – lived, and Wilkinson Center where you lunched frequently. And I saw the Marriot Center with its huge stadium, which you mentioned. Everything you wrote suddenly came alive. I have, in the past, read those three tiny notebooks of yours, containing your notes from August 25, 1977, the day you left Israel on TWA flight 849, until your goodbyes in Provo, April 25, 1978. But so much of it didn't mean anything to me. Couldn't picture it. Now I can – much of it, at least. Now I can re-read those 3 small notebooks and appreciate them more. I admired the same mountain you used to admire from your window. I walked the same paths. I saw the young, clean-faced Mormon students and exchanged a few words with a few of them. I know where University Mall is; I could meet you there for a spot of lunch and shopping…

Here's the Marriot Center, where you went to hear the President of the uni speak. The stadium inside is far more impressive. Our guide, Jake, took us in.

Your favorite Mountain, and the Visitor's Center which didn't exist in your time:

We found the statue of Brigham Young easily enough. Holding your photo in my hand, I had my picture taken next to it. Couldn't reproduce the effect accurately, because they'd gone and moved the statue slightly, and re-did the pedestal, and added a wing to the Administration Building. But the general effect is the same:
 And here's a better pic of the Administration Building and the statue -- both of which were renovated since you were there:

Your letters from BYU were so funny, so perceptive and touching; your notes are more matter-of-fact. You kept careful track of what you did – what you spent, where you ate, who you wrote to, who you still owe a letter. You corresponded with a lot of people, both family and friends, and complained bitterly when we – Mom and I – failed to write. The letters from Israel to Provo took 14 days by airmail!!! Can you imagine? Yes, of course you can. That's one of the things you kept complaining about.

You made the most of your time in Provo; you traveled to Yellowstone Park, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, not to mention places "around the corner" like Orem and Salt Lake City. You got good marks, like 92 on the paper on Moby Dick. I couldn't have done that – never finished reading the darn thing…

At times like this I wish I believed in eternal souls, in some sort of Life after Death. I'd like to think that you saw me there in Provo, walking around Helaman Halls, trying to figure out which was "your" building. But I don't. Oh well – this visit was for me, not for you, dearest Lucy. I'm sure you would understand.


Here is the text of the notice which appeared in the Jm Post on April 1st, 1977 (Clara kept the clipping!), as well as (I believe) on the notice board of Gillman bldg, TAU, and which led to the trip of two guys (Amiram and Gadi) and three girls (Lucy, Ditti, Vivian) to BYU, where they spent an unforgettable year:

Undergraduate Scholarships
are being offered by
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah, U.S.A. (near Salt Lake City)

The scholarships cover one academic year from August 1977 to
April 30, 1978. Interested students may contact the office of the University Academic Secretary in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beersheba or Jerusalem.
Application Deadline is May 15, 1977


  1. I came to Israel in the fall of 1977 after my parents died in the spring--trying to decide whether to emigrate there, or return to Canada (which is what I chose). I'm pretty sure that's when I stayed with you in an apartment in Bat Yam? And that must have been when Lucy was already in Utah because I don't remember seeing her in Israel that trip--and by January 1978 I was a landed immigrant in Canada. I wish I hadn't missed all the news of Lucy's year at BYU--it sounds like it was fascinating and a fine adventure (like my year at TAU in 1970).

    Thank you for making this trip and writing about it. It brings back good memories of Lucy.

  2. Hi Claire,
    By 1977 we were living in Tel Aviv, 11 Arlozorov street, not far from the Hilton Hotel and the beach. I do remember your visit.
    I have one folder with Lucy's letters to me from Provo, in Hebrew; and one folder with Lucy's letters to Clara & Nachum from Provo, in English. All gems :-)