Memories From 1947: A Trip to the Galilee

The National Library of Israel recently launched a project collecting diaries belonging to members of Israel's founding generation. One of those diaries, written by 21-year-old Avraham Dubno, inspired the story found below. Avraham was killed in battle shortly after recording the diary. It was found decades later by his niece, Rina Neiman


Avraham and Shula on their trip to the Galilee in 1947. Photo: Courtesy of the family.

In 2023, in the run-up to Israel’s 75th Independence Day, the National Library launched a project to collect personal diaries from the 1948 period, with the aim of creating a unique historical collection of testimonies from the nation’s founding generation.

Operation Diary” succeeded beyond all expectations with some 90 personal records submitted and incorporated into the Library’s archives. Among these was a small booklet from 1947, written and illustrated by 21-year-old sabra Avraham Dubno for his younger sister Shulamith, about their trek through the Galilee. A year later, Avraham was killed in battle during the War of Independence.

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Brother and sister Avraham and Shulamith Dubno as children in early 1930s Tel Aviv. Photo: Courtesy of the family.
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Avraham Dubno studied architecture at Technion Israel Institute of Technology. Photo: Courtesy of the family.

His sister moved to New York to study, worked in the newly formed Israel Consulate, met her husband, married, had three daughters, and died in 1975. The booklet, Tiyul la Galil (“A Trip to the Galilee”), remained with Shulamith throughout, but was kept stored away, never spoken of, and discovered by her daughter decades after her death.

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Tiyul la Galil – Cover page

Below is an excerpt from Rina Neiman’s book, Born Under Fire. It is a reimagining of a life and that particular trip to the Galilee.


“Coming to the Sea of Galilee was a genius idea,” Shula shouts over the rumble of the truck’s diesel engine. Avraham laughs.

“It was my idea, right?” he shouts back. She tosses an orange in his direction. Peeling it, he hands her half. She bites into the warm citrus, relishing the sweet juice as it soothes her parched throat. After twenty minutes, Avraham bangs on the side of the truck. The driver stops, and they jump off the back. They cut through an olive grove to reach the lakeshore. Fresh water glistens in the sunlight, and Shula catches her breath.

“It’s lovely,” she says.

“I told you,” Avraham replies as he plops his pack down on a patch of grass. “This is the spot where we used to come when I was stationed in Tel Amal.” He takes off his shoes and socks. “The trick is,” he continues, starting toward the rocky shore, “you have to run as fast as you can.” He bolts for the shoreline. Shula laughs as he runs into the water yelling like Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan. 

Shula takes her time. She lays out her towel, folds her clothes, and tucks them in her pack. She ties her hair up with her kerchief. Two girls about her age sit off to the side, staring at Avraham and giggling. Her brother always attracts that kind of attention, especially when he shows off. He spits out a stream of water as he floats on his back. Shula steps towards the water. Rocks jut into the underside of her feet, making each step hurt.

“Avraham! The rocks are cutting me!”

“I told you. The trick is to run,” he yells back.

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Tiyul la Galil Shulamith walking on the beach of Lake Kinneret. The text reads: “Lake Kinneret is still and calm / “The concept is genius / [but] the rocks are too sharp” / whines Shulamith”

“This is crazy! Ouch! What a stupid idea! I’d much rather deal with the crowds at the beach in Tel Aviv than walk over these godforsaken things,” she complains. The girls laugh. She calculates it will take her eight strides to get into the lake. “Watch out! Here I come!” she yells, leaping toward the shimmering water. She dives in headfirst, cleaning the day’s grime from her skin. She flips onto her back and looks up at the blue sky. Fresh water feels so different from the sea water she is used to. Cleaner, clearer. No wonder Jesus washed here. She swims over to Avraham.

“I take it back. Whoever thought of this idea was a genius,” she says.

“And who would that be?”

“You,” she replies. He smiles, glancing over at the girls on the shore.

“I’m getting out,” he says. “You coming?”

She shakes her head. “No, I’m going for a swim.”

On shore, her brother grabs his towel and dries off. He waves at the girls who, of course, wave back.

“Where are you from?” one of the girls asks.

“Tel Aviv,” he replies.

“Oooh! A Tel Avivi,” she teases. “And your girlfriend? Is she from Tel Aviv, too?”

“That’s my sister, not my girlfriend,” he tells them. The two girls look at each other and giggle. Shula has seen enough. She swims away as Avraham sits with the girls. She knows that one day he will get married and have children of his own. That one day she will become Doda Shula and not be his best friend. It will come, and that is fine. She just hopes it doesn’t come too soon.

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Tiyul la Galil Shulamith waiting at the Tel Aviv bus station for her brother Avraham. The text reads: “Already 8 o’clock / and Avraham hasn’t yet arrived / ‘This is an insult, Your Majesty the King / like none before! / If he doesn’t show up this minute / turn up behind me and appear / I’ll set out by myself / to the Kinneret and Ein Vered / to Hanita the sublime’ / With excitement and anticipation / thus says Shulamith”


The booklet, Tiyul la Galil (“A Trip to the Galilee”), written and illustrated by Avraham Dubno in 1947, is preserved today at the National Library of Israel.

Rina Neiman’s book, Born Under Fire, is also available in our collections.