By David Ruran
We met Cantor Moshe and Lydia Lanxner in 1976, when I was serving as educational director of Beth El Temple in West Hartford. The Lanxners had come from Brussels to Milwaukee in 1974, and Moshe was hired from there to be Beth El’s cantor in 1976. Our families bonded, and we became “like family” for what is now 38 years plus.
In 1986, the Lanxners decided to make aliyah with their three young children – David, Lior and Talya – who were all born in West Hartford. Their youngest daughter, Shira, was born in Israel in 1992.
They began life in Israel in a Merkaz Klitah – an absorption center for new olim – in a tiny makeshift caravan in Kfar Adumim in the Judean Desert, 4.5 miles east of Jerusalem. The kids began school there (we remember two-year-old Talya skipping in the sand, off to “Gan” – pre-school – with a huge backpack on her little back). Moshe immediately was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served as a special guard in the southern part of the country. For the next nine years, until reaching the age of 45, he served in the IDF’s active reserves one month per year.
After the absorption process the family moved to the seaside community of Netanya, where Lydia’s parents and grandparents had been living. For the first five years, Moshe, who had earned an accounting degree at the University of Hartford, traveled to work daily from his home in Netanya to an accounting firm in Tel Aviv. Then, he established a popular music store in the center of Netanya, which he managed and ran for 19 years. He continued to perform his cantorial duties in local Israeli synagogues and often came to the U.S. to perform at High Holiday services in different communities.
Moshe is retired now, but still performs every so often. He continues his training in cantorial arts, sings in a cantors’ choir, and still gives those bar and bat mitzvah lessons that so many of our West Hartford youngsters enjoyed. He is one of the busiest retirees ever, taking weekly courses in art history, geography, philosophy, Bible and Jewish history. He is diligently studying the Spanish language, which he is mastering amazingly well.
Not to be outdone, Lydia, who holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Hartford and a Masters degree in health administration from Clark University, is a valuable medical resource at Laniado Hospital in Netanya, where she is responsible for triage and emergency mobilization, acting as chief disaster coordinator for the region, and serving as head nurse in the intensive care unit. Life being as it is in Israel, her skills have been called into action more often than she would have liked, a result of several terrorist incidents in the region. (You might recall the suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya during seder night, March 27, 2002, for example.) Lydia is also now a certified midwife, and has delivered many Israeli newborns at Laniado, both Jewish and Arab.
All four of the Lanxner children proudly served in the IDF: David for five years as a captain in the bomb squad; Lior, for three years, as a sergeant and a survival instructor; Talya for two years as an artillery instructor; and Shira, as a cannon fire calculator specialist in the well-known and infamous 8200 intelligence unit.
The Lanxners have six beautiful grandchildren, with number seven well on the way. David and his wife, Gittit, have two-and-a-half children, Lior and his wife, Revital, have three children, and Talya and her husband, Mor, have one little boy. The family is very close, lots of fun to be with, and a great asset to their adopted country.
Moshe and Lydia visited West Hartford in 2005, and plan another visit in the near future; and David, Lior, and Talya visited while traveling through the USA after their stints in the IDF. Shira will be here this fall after a summer at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.
David Ruran and his wife Riva are native New Yorkers who moved to West Hartford from New London in 1974 when he was appointed educational director of Beth El Temple. In 1991, his responsibilties at the Conservative congregation were expanded to include those of executive director and, in 1994, that became his full-time role. He retired in 2013. Riva worked for CIGNA for 17 years, as director of corporate relations in its Investment Division. The Rurans raised their three children – Rishy, Dani and Saritte – in West Hartford. Since retiring they have been leading active lives, babysitting for their grandchildren and visiting friends and family in Israel and Europe.
Are you in touch with former Connecticut residents who have made aliyah? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Email your story to email@example.com.