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Memories of growing up on the Weizmann campus from 1950-60

Jonathan Dostrovsky on a tricycle near his house on the Weizmann Institute campus in 1949/50.

For most of my childhood I was fortunate to have lived on the Weizmann Institute campus, in an area known then as the Shikun, which consisted (in the 1950s) of about 12 houses and five apartment buildings for scientists and the home of the institute’s president, Meyer Weisgal.   

There was a strong sense of community and pretty much everyone knew their neighbours. Across from our house in the centre of the Shikun there was a park, which had a big sandbox, lawn, trees and bushes – perfect for playing games such as hide-and-seek with the other children.    

My first memories of school were being taken to a small private kindergarten, which involved a short drive in an open Jeep out of the Institute (on an unpaved sandy road in the early days) and across the main Tel-Aviv to Rehovot highway.   

Later for grades one to three, I would walk into Rehovot to the public school on Rehov Ya’acov (about 1.5km away) and subsequently I would walk or bicycle to a different school on the west side of the town. 

My father came home for lunch most days, as did my sister and I since the school day ended at lunch time. My mother enjoyed gardening so we were lucky to have a large beautiful garden with many fruit and nut trees (orange, clementine, kumquat, guava, custard apple, peach, plum, mango, avocado, olive and walnut) in addition to a goldfish pond and flower beds.   

The institute campus was a great place for walks (or bicycle rides). In the early days it was surrounded by large orange groves to the east, that we could also further explore.  

There was always construction going on the Institute grounds in those days, and I used to enjoy watching the workers and the progressive stages of construction.  

Our house was only a few minutes’ walk from my father’s lab in the main research building. I used to accompany him sometimes to work and watch the experiments and equipment with great interest as he would explain them to me. 

These early experiences fostered my curiosity about nature’s wonders and workings and no doubt played an important role in my decision to pursue a career as a scientist.   

Jonathan Dostrovsky is a Professor Emeritus in the Physiology Dept. at the University of Toronto and has a B.Sc. in Physics from the Israel Institute of Technology, an M.Sc. in Physiology Univ. College London and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience Univ. of Toronto. 

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