Spotlight on: Ran Eckshtein — Rosh Nagarut (head of wordworking)
Ran Eckshtein (photo above, with Carmit, the Assistant Rosh Nagarut) is a fixture at Ramah Palmer. He has been Rosh Nagarut (head of the woodworking elective) for 16 years. He was born in 1946 at Kibbutz Kedma (now Kfar Hanoar Kedma), and has lived in Israel his entire life. He is an artist and educator, with decades of experience.
He has a deep personal connection with and detailed knowledge of the stories of many Palmach soldiers, officers, and generals. His mother’s brother was killed in 1941 while serving as a commando in the Palmach, during a top-secret operation by sea whose target was blowing up the oil refineries in Tripoli, Lebanon. The French Vichy government controlled Lebanon at that time, and their navy blew up the Palmach boat. His body was never found.
In addition to hearing all the family lore about his beloved uncle over many decades, Ran spent many hours with other Palmach soldiers. He made their acquaintance at the Kibbutz Alonim high school which he attended; coincidentally, many of the Palmach officers lived at this Kibbutz. Ran spent many hours as a teenager in the presence of these Palmach fighters, hearing their detailed accounts and singing their songs, and they served as his mentors. He knew officers in the Arab Unit of the Palmach (now known as the top-secret undercover Duvdevan counter-terrorist unit, subject of the fictional series “Fauda”).
Ran has lived on Kibbutz Magen for the past 8 years, 4 kilometers from the border with Gaza. Ran says that he has taken in stride the recent clashes at the border with Gaza, as he and the other Kibbutz Magen members are very used to living in close proximity to the border clashes, warning sirens, and military maneuvers. That is their normal state of affairs. There have been many instances of going to the bomb shelters, and driving through smoke from nearby clashes.
Ran is currently retired, but remains very engaged and active by volunteering at a school for special education. He teaches all different types of art. He travels 1 1/2 hours each way to the school, Kfar Hanoar Kedma, located near Kiryat Malachi.
He recently exhibited engravings of the images of Palmach (predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces, pre-state Palestine) at the Kitor Gallery located at Kibbutz Magen. They have also been archived digitally at the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv. The engravings are done with a special pencil, and are clearly a labor of love. Four of them are pictured, below.