Former Easton Resident Now Living In Israel
Marti (Barg) Winston Reflects on Her love for Israel, tight security, tense times, and the political problems of the region
Readers of this column know that in keeping it “Easton centric,” I sometimes tether a line from Easton to places far, far away from Easton. Sometimes that tethering from the Shovel Town extends overseas.
So it is that in this day of unrest in the Middle East, I got to thinking about my childhood friend, Marti Robin Barg – now Marti Robin (Barg) Winston – who lived on Howard Street in South Easton from the ages of three until she was 16, and attended Easton Public Schools from elementary grades until Oliver Ames High School.
When Marti was 16 years old, the Bargs moved to Brockton. Marti graduated for Brockton High School in 1981.
Marti has lived in Israel for more than 25 years. She has recently, as you may understand, had a bit of stress and anxiety in her life. That happens when you hear bombs exploding not far off.
Marti lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh, a town which is about a 30 minute drive from Jerusalem and a 45 minute drive from Tel Aviv. As Marti tells it, “Yes, Ramat Bet Shemesh is smack dab in the middle of the stretch between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Yeah, we have a small country.”
Marti's mother lives in Florida. Marti's father died several years ago.
Marti has four siblings. She has a sister who still lives in Easton with her husband and children. Marti has three brothers, two of whom live in Massachusetts – one in Brockton and another in Ipswich. Marti has another brother who recently retired from the U.S. Air Force and is living in Afghanistan.
Marti has six children, ranging in age from junior high to young adult, and all living in Israel.
Let me preface this column – even if I am already in to it a bit – just in case you aren't aware of my domestic and international political leanings: I am an outspoken and steadfast backer of Israel. Just so that is in the open.
I had lost touch of Marti since high school – but within the past few years, thanks to the wonder of the Internet, and social media – and, specifically, Facebook – we got back in touch. I love that Marti reads Easton Patch and “Muscato's Musings” from the other side of the planet.
I sent an email to Marti last night asking her some questions. In response she included this comment: “Tonight is a matter of fact; we heard two booms. Nothing landed; so I guess Iron Dome [the highly effective Israeli anti rocket and missile system] took the missiles out of the air. Thank God.”
Marti told me how in Israel the residents are used to traffic stopping for 15 to 20 minutes while the bomb squad checks out a backpack or suitcase or lunchbox left on the sidewalk Marti says, “Just a normal day for us.”
Marti did not grow up in an overly religious family in Easton. But she did attend temple in Stoughton and she studied the Torah and the Bible and learned Hebrew.
And, Marti says, her parents found it important for the family to know and understand the foundation of Judaism.
“There were not many Jewish families in Easton when I was growing up, but I never felt like I was an outsider,” said Marti. “I do remember that my friends thought it cool that I didn't have to go to school on the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and they were thinking that it would be cool if they didn't have to go to school on those days as well.”
When Marti was in high school, she started to have a religious convergence that brought her deeper and more closely aligned with her faith.
“One day, I decided that I wasn't living the life I should be living – that I was a hypocrite, and I asked God to forgive me, and that I would do what he wanted me to do,” said Marti. “So I started to change the way I lived; for example, I gave up shellfish because shellfish isn't kosher – and then I gave pork, because that isn't kosher. When I went off to college, I got an oven, pots and pans, and did my own shopping, and started keeping kosher.”
Marti attended Westfield State College, and then transferred to Clark University from which she graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1985.
Marti had already resolved to “make aliyah” – the term for a Jewish person immigrating to Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. In Hebrew, aliyah means “ascent” or “going up.”
Marti Barg moved to Israel in October, 1985.
Through the years, Marti and her children have visited her family in the U.S. many times, and her family has visited Marti and her family in Israel.
“It is important for my children to know their extended family in America,” says Marti.
Marti says she misses her family in America, and she misses New England, but that Israel is absolutely the best place on earth for her to live – even with the turmoil and the disruption and sometimes martial nature of things around her.
Marti misses Easton. In fact, she responded to something I posted on Facebook about Hilliards House of Candy on Thursday night. In her response, and I'm paraphrasing, Marti said that she can't remember what she had for lunch yesterday but Hilliards she remembers.
Marti sent me the following commentary last night:
For 12 years the people of Gaza have been sending rockets into Israel – more than 12,000 during this period. I say it is about time we finally responded in kind. The Arabs believe that if they want something and you give it to them, then that means you didn't really deserve it in the first place. If you fight to hold onto it, then they respect your might and may concede what you fought for. Israel has made so many concessions and not retaliated to the suicide bombers and other attacks. We have bomb scares here everyday. In America you don't hear about the bombs that have been diffused. On Thursday there was a fake bomb on the inner city train in Jerusalem. These fake bombs still require bomb men and robots to come out and take them apart. The terrorists set these up so that they can figure out how long it will take the bomb men to come and deal with it. When they have this information figured out, they put a live bomb in a location, and then another bomb nearby timed to go off a few minutes afterward – and this is so the bombs will take out even more civilians. Our bomb teams are always working to prevent explosions.
None of this will shake the will and the love and the devotion of this former Easton woman for Israel.
Marti wrote, “Israel is a spiritual country. It is a feeling you get from just breathing in the air or riding on the bus. It is a feeling you cannot find anywhere else in the world”