Israelis Michael Mankov, left and Eyal Peled, foreground, along with Dave and Diane Reddig, look at the exhibits inside the Land Of Oz exhibit Thursday. The visitors from Israel are fans of the “Wizard of Oz” and the Reddigs were in Liberal for the HOG Rally. Daily Leader photo/Earl Watt
From Harley owners to Israelis from the Holy Land
Israelis want to ‘get close’ to Wizard of Oz
By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
Israel has seen a number of Pilgrims from most major religions come to walk in the steps of a famous religious leader.
But for two Israelis touring the U.S., they wanted to walk in the steps of another world-famous person — Dorothy Gale of Kansas.
Michael Mankov and Eyal Peled, both 27, have been touring America, and a must-see on their journey was Liberal’s Land of Oz exhibit.
The two have been fans of the movie most of their lives. Mankov used to watch the show in his “old country” of Russia before his family moved to Israel.
“We wanted to get as close as we could get to it,” Peled said.
A few days earlier, the two Israelis watched “Wicked” performed live in San Francisco, and they had a few days left and headed to Liberal to see Dorothy’s House.
“It was a good use of our time to come here,” Mankov said.
The two come from the city of Karmeil, and while the media has provided one view of Israel, it is not the same as the real country.
“It’s not really happening,” Mankov chided. “It is only re-runs of the news. You see Israel through two sets of bent mirrors. You only see the bad things. We all have bad things like anywhere. But you never see the good things.”
Mankov described Israel as a place for sight-seeing, fishing and hiking.
While Israel is home to many religious icons, Mankov said not to come with high expectations.
“Many of the sites are more than 2,000 years old,” he said. “They were not very well maintained. Mark Twain toured the Holy Lands in the 1880s I think, and he was very disappointed. Bear that in mind.”
The turmoil that is presented as normal in Israel was not a daily occurrence according to Peled and Mankov.
“Nothing happens in the middle of the country, only near the borders,” Peled said. “And even there, it is rare.”
The two are Jewish, but they live alongside Christians and Muslims. “We live together, side by side,” Peled said. “My close friend is Muslim. By living close together, we know each other, and there is less conflict and violence.”
They did not hide their Jewish background.
“I was born that way,” Peled said with a smile. “I did not ask.”
For Mankov, his journey was different.
He grew up in the Soviet Union and was one of the first families allowed to leave the Communist bloc.
“We had to denounce our Russian citizenship to leave,” Mankov said. “It would be very difficult to ever go back.”
Still Mankov said there was an advantage to being born Russian.
“I was born on the right side of the Iron Curtain,” he said. “In the Soviet Union, you learn not to trust government, don’t trust the news, only yourself.”
That skepticism may be what drew them to get a true sense of Kansas, not from the stage or movie version, but the real thing.
After taking their walk down the Yellow Brick Road, they wanted to have a picture taken with Dorothy. And despite watching the movie and seeing stage performance in major cities, they saw something special in their visit to Dorothy’s House in Kansas.
“Some places take hours to get from one side of the city to the other,” Peled said. “I like this. Other places may be more glamorous, but this is more authentic.”
Bikers glide down Yellow Brick Road
By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
Liberal may have been invaded by an army of Harley Davidson owners this weekend, but don’t let the roar of the engine and the leather chaps provide the wrong impression. The Harley Owners Group state rally attendees have been stand-up visitors, and many have parked their world-famous motorcycles in the parking lots of Liberal’s tourist centers to get an up-close look at the Mid-America Air Museum and Dorothy’s House.
One of those couples, Dave and Diane Reddig, came from Manhattan to spend a few days at the HOG rally.
But they were also able to take in the air museum and the Land of Oz exhibit at Dorothy’s House.
“It was good,” Dave said. “I didn’t expect this much. I was impressed.”
The couple became Harley owners five years ago and have been involved in the HOG organization that brought an estimated 700 bikers to Liberal for the event. This was their first HOG rally.
The Reddigs also visited the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade.
When visiting Dorothy’s House, they went on the same magical journey that Dorothy Gale did in the movie when she met the Lion, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wizard. The Reddigs were joined by a local Dorothy who provided the tour along with local tidbits of history and Wizard of Oz trivia.
“We’ve never been to Liberal,” Dave said. “We have been to the one in Wamego, but they don’t have the ‘real’ Dorothy.”