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Bottled Up

Michal Ish Shalom

A British youth tosses a bottle with a note into the sea, to be picked up by an Israeli soldier on the Sinai beach. After four decades, they finally meet face to face. A marine biologist discovers that he’s become part of an experiment that started in the ocean 60 years before. A Japanese fisherman finds a desperate message in a bottle from a shipwrecked crew — 70 years too late. Messages in bottles are still spanning continents and igniting imaginations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

October 2013, Israel Many years and an equal number of adventures passed until November 2011, whenEldadKeinan — today a respected historian and archaeologist — attended his 40th high school reunion inKiryatShemonah. “I met people I hadn’t seen since I was a kid 40 years ago,” Keinan relates. “It was wonderful to see them, and on the way home I thought to myself that if my old school could track me down, then I could start looking forAllan after 40 years also. There were times over the years when I’d tried halfheartedly to find him. This time, I told myself, I would find him. Or at least I’d really give it my best effort. I came home and began to search online. And then I discovered that there are many, manyAllanMatthews in England. It’s like looking for ‘YitzchakMizrachi’ in the Israeli phone book.” On the verge of giving up, Keinan gave it one last try. He contacted someone who helps people locate others in England; but while Keinan provided the scant details he had — and those details were 40 years old — he didn’t give it much hope. “After three weeks he sent me an e-mail with six possibilities. The first connected me to a company whose website had photos of the directors.Allan was the owner and I identified him right away even though in the photo I had of him he had the long hair of a teenager in the ’70s. But the face was exactly the same. And that’s how I found him,” Keinan says. Keinan sent him a message, andAllan, who was taken by surprise, enthusiastically replied. It turned out that not only had he remembered his friend over the years, he also kept all the letters that they’d exchanged, along with the photos and the dog tag. When the letters stopped coming,Allan assumed his friend had been killed in a military operation. Two years after they renewed contact,AllanMatthews was on his way to Israel with his wife and son.

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