THE WAY IT WAS
Text and Images, Copyright © 2002-2003
Dr. Vera Kielsky-Greenwood. All Rights Reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE WAY IT WAS:
An Illustrated Autobiography
For a long time I have been contemplating writing about my life. My children have been urging me for years to record all my experiences that have transpired . Now that I am in my seventies I have more leisure and I believe that if I do not get it all down on paper soon it might never be written. I intend to write down everything that I remember, the way I remember the events. Anyone who feels bored by all the details can just skip them.
This chronicle is for my immediate family and a few friends only, as I do not think it would be of interest to anyone else. I am sure that most Jews have tales of great interest; so many of us are wanderers from country to country, a fact that creates an immense upheaval in our personal lives, but also makes our stories more intriguing. As for myself, I have lived, worked, and raised a family in four countries, mingling and identifying with each country while living there. This autobiography can also be seen as a period chronicle of these four regions.
Looking back on my life I feel that I have been extremely lucky and fortunate and except for my early youth and adulthood I have had a very happy and fulfilling existence which I hope will continue for many more years.
I wish to thank all the people who have helped me put this book together: Fred, my present husband, who read and edited the book so meticulously and scanned all my pictures; my friend Helen Kriegsfeld who also edited the book; my daughter Iris, who spent many hours downloading the book and the pictures to integrate them into the final form, and my son-in-law John, who printed the book from the computer making the editing so much easier. A thanks also to my son Michael and his wife Rachel, who also spent many hours producing a final copy. Special thanks also to the architect David Kroyanker, author of "Street of the Prophets," published in Jerusalem in 2000, for giving me the permission "to use any of the material in the book in" my autobiography. Their immense help made the completion of the book in its present form possible.
My father Arnold Landshut was the youngest of ten children born to Lesser Landshut (Lesser being a diminutive of Eliezer) and his wife, Johanna del Rosenberg. Lesser, born on 29 December 1855, was the fifth of nine children of Salomon Seelig Hirsch. Salomon Seelig was born in Strasbourg, West Prussia, on 20 April 1818, and his wife Pauline Silberstein was born in Lobau on 20 October 1821. Salomon Seelig and Pauline were married in 1843 and settled in Neumark on Drewenz . Two years later Salomon went to America during the gold rush and became one of the founders of San Francisco. In 1849 he returned to Germany a rich man having changed his name to Salomon Harris Landshut.
Landshut was the name of the town where our ancestors had settled during the time of the Crusades. With his wealth Salomon bought and built a number of houses and shops, a bank and a hotel. He died in Neumark on 25 September 1895, at the age of 77. The hotel was passed to my grandfather Lesser Landshut, who died in Berlin on 14 June 1922 at the age of 66.
My paternal grandparents Lesser Landshut and Johanna Rosenberg were married in 1884. Johanna was born in Lima, Peru on 30 March 1855 of Marrano parents. Her father was Loeb Joseph Rosenberg who was born in Bromberg, Germany in 1810 of Mallorca parents, his father having been chief rabbi in Bromberg. Johanna's mother was Caroline Schlosstein from Hamburg. They emigrated to Peru in 1840, where he served as the representative of the Dresdner Bank. They had five children. Loeb made a fortune in banking and gold, copper and jewelry. When Caroline died in 1863 Loeb returned to Bromberg with his three daughters. He remarried and settled in Vienna, had three more children and died on 10 January 1885.
Johanna's oldest brother was Jose`. He married Rosita Wallach and became a general in the Peruvian army. He was so successful as a general that he was knighted and was further rewarded by securing the right of Peru's Marranos to live openly as Jews. He died in Meran, Italy in 1912. Johanna's twin sister Amalie married Jose Davidson, settled in San Josè, Costa Rica, and died in 1935.
My grandmother Johanna was a petite, modest person rather childlike in her later years. She had been brought up as a young lady with servants to wait on her and tend to all her wishes. Her only two accomplishments in life were her crochet needlework and giving birth to a brood of children. She had a live-in maid Maria, who raised her children for her. In 1935 Grandma joined us in Palestine and lived the rest of her life with my Uncle Siegfried in Nahalal. We called her "die Kleine Omi" as contrast to my maternal grandmother who was rather tall. Little Grandma died in 1940 at the age of 85, and is buried in the cemetery of Nahalal close by the grave of General Moshe Dayan.
Lesser and Johanna's ten children were all born in Neumark. They and their descendants are the following:
1. The oldest, Herrmann Landshut, was born in 1885, became a distinguished lawyer, and died in August 1916 while serving as a lieutenant in the German army during WW.I.
2. Leo Landshut was born in 1886. He married Sarah Herrmann "Sascha" in 1915 and was a businessman. They had three children all born in Allenstein: Martin, Heinz and Ruth. Ruth, born in 1920 was arrested by the Nazis when she was 17, forced into prostitution and then killed. She was last seen in Vienna in 1944. The others escaped just before WW.II. Martin and Heinz managed to get to Palestine, Leo and Sascha escaped to Yugoslavia and Italy. After the War Leo and Sascha settled in Oceanside, California and later moved to Tivon, Israel where they eventually died. Martin, born in 1916 was a librarian. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California writing a dissertation on Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrucks." He married Kirsten, a Danish woman with whom he had a daughter, who died in a car accident at age 16. Martin also died some years ago. Heinz, born in 1917, changed his name to Henry Stevens, married Ines, an Italian Catholic with whom he has two sons, Steven and Ralph. Both these sons have children and they all live in Southern California.
3. Max Landshut was born in 1887, became an architect, married Elsa Meyer of Kiel and emigrated to Palestine in 1933. Elsa died in Haifa in 1946. They had one daughter, Ilse Krache, born on 19 February 1919. Ilse has one daughter Marion, who is married and has five daughters. They all live in Stevenville, Montana. After Elsa's death Max married Ella Meinhard. They both came to Los Angeles, California where Max died in 1960. Ella returned to Israel and died in Haifa many years later. Ilse liked to tell me about her stay with my parents a few years before my birth. They had a very elegant apartment on Hohenzollerndam and they let her sleep in their bedroom, among beautiful eiderdown comforters. Ilse was not feeling well and threw up on these gorgeous comforters, embarrassing her terribly.
4. Kurt Landshut was born on 27 June, 1890. On 2 December 1919 he married Elsa Mannheim, born 5 June 1893 in Kolberg, with whom he had two children, Herrmann, called Maennlein, born 15 September 1920 and Dorothea, born 26 August 1923. In August 1936 they emigrated to Uruguay, then to Brazil, and settled in Florianopolis. There Kurt and Else died, he in 1966, she in 1975. Dorothea married Antonio de Freytas Moura on 14 August 1946 and they have one son, Julio born on 30 April 1952 . He married Catherine Grillet from Lausanne, Switzerland and they have three children: Thomas, Maria Anna and Pedro, and they now live in Costa Rica.
5. Samuel Landshut was born in 1891 and died in Stettin in November 1914.
6. Julius Landshut was born in 1893 and died in Deutsch-Eylau in 1928. He was married to Margarethe Alexandrowitz "Grete"and had three daughters, all born in Deutsch-Eylau. Grete managed to emigrate to Palestine with her daughters on the eve of WW.II through an arranged marriage with a widowed father of a Jewish dignitary, so they could all come on this one affidavit. Grete died at an advanced age in Haifa. Their oldest daughter, Evi was born in 1924. She married Moshe Levitt of Nahalal, who died in 1998. They have three children. The oldest, Shmuel, was mayor of Nahalal. He is married and has four children and they live near Evi in Nahalal. Daphna, the second, is married to Amos Witzum, a lecturer in economics, and has two children, Allon and Tamar. They live in London. The youngest of Evi's children is Juval, also married with children, all living in Israel. Julius and Grete's second daughter Lore was born in 1926. She was first married to Avri Seidenberg, the infamous "Third Man" in Israel's Lavon Affair. They had a son Harel, who is a doctor and lives in Hamburg, Germany, as does Lore. Lore later married Hans-Friedrich Schuetze, who died a few years ago. Julius and Grete's third and youngest daughter, Juliana, "Uschi", was born in 1928, married Werner Grumach and lives in Melbourne, Australia. They have two sons, Herbie and Malcolm, both married with children living in Israel, and one daughter, Leonie, who is divorced with one son and both live in Auckland, new Zealand.
7. Carola Landshut was born in 1894. She married Paul Herrmann, brother of Leo's wife Sascha. Paul died in the Holocaust in 1942 while Carola managed to escape first to England and later to the USA. There she married Max Cohn Ben Holm. Carola died in 1988, Max in 1986, both in California at an advanced age.
8. Siegfried Landshut was born in 1895, became a veterinary surgeon and married Edith Kosack. They had two children both born in Berlin, Gerhard on 15 March 1923 and Hannah on 18 February 1928. The four of them emigrated to Palestine in 1933 and settled in Nahalal. Siegfried and Edith both died some thirty years ago. Gerhard, who served in the Jewish Brigade in WW.II, married Cilly Marokko and they moved first to Hamburg, where he studied ship engineering, subsequently they moved to the USA. They have two children, Michael, who is married with four children, and lives in Hamburg, and Ilana, who is a tourist guide and lives in Oakland, California. Gerhard lives in San Marcos, California. Hannah married Gad Ball Kaduri with whom she had a daughter Dorit, who lives in Heidelberg. Later Hannah had another daughter Isabella with Ari Fassbinder from a notorious Nazi family. This daughter is married and has a son; they and Hannah all live in Vienna.
9. Charlotte Landshut was born on 14 January 1987. She worked at the Deutsche Bank in Berlin where she met her future husband Ferdinand Rahmer, born in Prague on 29 April 1887. They had two children, both born in Berlin, Erica on 4 August 1921 and Hans, later John, born on 30 May 1924. Charlotte and Ferdinand were both murdered in Germany during the Holocaust; their children managed to escape to England at the very last moment, in August 1939, John in the Kindertransport. Erica became a nurse and midwife, married Max Seidman in December 1949, and had two daughters: Elizabeth, born on 21 August 1952, married Brian Deanne and has two children: Joanna and Eamonn. She is now divorced and lives with her children in Saffron Waldon, Essex. Erica's younger daughter, Jacqueline, born on 21 August 1956, married Dennis Price, and has two boys: Michael and David. They live in Calgary, Canada. Both Max and Erica died some time ago. John became a reform Rabbi in London, gave lectures throughout the country and on BBC, wrote many books mainly on religion, and is now honorary President of the Leo Baeck College. He married Jane Heilbronn of London and has three children all born in London: Jeremy, born in 1957, a computer program designer, Benjamin born in 1959, a telephone engineer, and Susan, born in 1962. Benny and his common law wife have two boys: Lev and Max.
10. Arnold Landshut, my father, was born on 30 May 1900. He became a lawyer and married my mother, Gerda Kosack, sister of Edith Kosack, on 5 September, 1926. We emigrated to Palestine in October 1933.
My mother, born on 26 April 1903, was the youngest daughter of Gustav and Marta Kosack. My grandmother Marta Flatau married Gustav over the objections of her parents, as he was a divorced man with children. He was a traveling salesman and a ladies' man.
They had three daughters, but the middle one died during a flu epidemic at the age of two. Gustav died very young too, and left my grandmother a widow at age 37. She had a good marriage proposal, but her two young daughters threatened to jump out of a window if she accepted, so she remained a widow for the rest of her long life which ended in December 1964 at age 91.
Marta supported herself and her girls by managing an embroidery bonnet shop until she left for Palestine to join her daughters and their families.
I was born in Berlin on 15 November 1928. Father was a successful criminal lawyer and had his own law firm. Mother liked to work for him as his secretary so I had a live-in nanny. I was less than five years old when we emigrated to Palestine, hence my memories of my first years in Berlin are rather sparse. I do remember living in a large apartment overlooking a central street, maybe Hohenzollerndam, Frankfurter Allee or Alexanderplatz, and on weekends going out with my parents to beautiful parks by a lake, probably the Spree.
We had a car, which was a rarity in those days, so we had easy access to the lovely countryside surrounding Berlin. In summer we often spent a few weeks on vacation in Binz or Grossmoelln near the Ostsee or Baltic Sea.
Mother often told me that I was a very pretty little girl. This is corroborated by many pictures of me taken in Germany.
Mother sent a photo of me to "Der Welt Spiegel," a newspaper that promoted a children's beauty contest, and it won me the first prize
Among other awards, I was made a fashion model, and asked to pose for children's clothes, for both boys and girls.
To transform me into a boy, my hair was just combed back tightly. I also posed for Christmas postcards! There I was, a Jewish four year old, posing together with a handsome little boy or girl, singing Christmas carols under a Christmas tree; these cards were sent all over to the gentile population.
One of my most unforgettable memories is a day of great upheaval in our lives, when an enormous boisterous crowd went marching down our street, shouting and cheering. There was a huge military parade headed by a funny-looking chaplinesque man who was standing in a moving car, his right arm stretched out forward. Behind him rows and rows of marching men in brown somber uniforms, faces immobile, filing past in perfect step. Everyone in the street seemed happy, rejoicing and elated, while my family were gloomy and depressed, trying to tear me away from the window. I could not understand why my parents and other relatives had such worried looks. Huddled together, whispering, everyone was attempting to reassure the others, endeavoring to find a solution for the dire situation. Not many days later I comprehended the anxiety of my elders.
Early one morning we were rudely awakened by loud banging on our door; we were ordered to open immediately. A group of five or six uniformed men swept into our house and made their way straight into my father's office. They ordered my father to hand over his attorney diploma, and without a further word, they started to ransack his library. We just stood there, open-mouthed, terror-stricken, watching those men hurl all of Father's precious books out of the windows.
The whole operation lasted maybe five minutes but it marked the turning point in the life of our family. From that moment Father was unemployed, and so was Mother. Although he could still have catered to Jewish clients, as a criminal lawyer there were no Jewish criminals to defend. My nanny, who was not Jewish, was told that she could no longer work for us. . . We became second class citizens, or worse, stateless.
As an only child, I had been the center of our household as long as I can remember. A nanny was constantly around me, and Mother, too, never passed an opportunity to cater to all my wishes. Even Father, a restrained and very busy attorney, used to spend his evenings in my nursery, and our weekends had always been filled with adventures.
Suddenly, my pleasant, comfortable and loving world turned upside down. My parents walked about in a daze. I was almost completely ignored; it seemed as if I was invisible. Strangers, friends, and even relatives were coming and going without as much as a glance at me. My parents, too, left the house more frequently and without explanation, although they made sure I was never left by myself.
Within days my parents started packing. As Zionists they decided to emigrate to Palestine. However, it was not so easy to get visas, as it was a British mandate and the British government would allow people to settle there only if they paid L 1,000, the equivalent of about $ 100,000 today. So my parents tried to sell all their assets to procure the required capital. Daily many unfamiliar faces walked into our apartment, carrying off everything we could not fit into our suitcases. Soon after, we left our house, never to return.
We moved to a village near Friedrichshagen, to await our passports and visas that would allow us to settle in our new homeland. We were joined in the country by my Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith and their two children. Now our jobless and aimless parents spent all their time with us. We went for long walks in the woods, sailed on the lakes, and played games when the weather was bad. To us children it seemed almost like a summer vacation. However, it was already fall, and none of the adults were in a holiday mood. They all had gloomy, worried faces, and never gave us their full attention. Due to all the upheaval and worries, Mother had a miscarriage, depriving me of my only chance of having a sibling, a further victim of Hitler's dictatorship.. Fortunately Mother seemed to recover fairly quickly. Our elders incessantly talked about our impending emigration and forthcoming voyage on a great ocean-liner, which would take us across a vast sea to the Promised Land.
My two grandmothers joined us for a few days. They were more fun. They talked to us about our new lives and the great adventures that lay ahead. While playing with us, they assured us that we would all soon meet again in this strange country where people spoke foreign languages and had peculiar customs and habits. Jokingly they questioned whether by the time they would arrive to join us, we would also be speaking those languages and would no longer be able to understand our own grandmothers.
Finally it was time to leave. Many uncles and aunts came to see us off at the railroad station. We had to travel by train across a few state borders to the port city of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea, where we would embark on the ocean liner "Compienge." Everybody was hugging and kissing, and the adults were crying. Many wished us good luck. Some wished they had their papers so they could join us. Others expressed their conviction that we were making a grave mistake and would soon realize it and return. This was October 1933.
I do not remember the train journey very clearly, but I recall how awestruck I was to see the enormous size of the ship on which we were embarking. It was eight stories high and had many decks. My parents had numerous friends on board; I could not tell if these were old friends or new ones that they had just found. There were a few children too but none my age, so I spent most of the time with the adults. My parents enjoyed the first few days and seemed to forget some of their worries. Their more relaxed disposition affected me and I started to feel secure once again.
On the fourth day I became ill. Mother called the ship doctor who found that I had a serious ear infection. The rest of the voyage I stayed in bed, with terrible pain. Mother sat by my side and read all the children's books we had brought along, but my mind was not on the stories. I was looking forward to getting well quickly so that I could experience our arrival in the new world and also see an ear specialist who could relieve me of my unbearable pain.
At last the news spread around. We were nearing our destination, the port of Haifa; however, the ship was too big to cast anchor at the yet undeveloped harbor. We would all have to be transported by tenders. The ship lay anchor about two miles off shore and the tenders were coming to fetch us.
As we left the ship, they came to meet us
In their small boats; They looked weird:
Dressed in long gray-white nightgowns,
Their heads covered with table-cloths
Held down by thick black interwoven ropes.
Apprehensive, I held my mother's hand,
We climbed down the unsteady dangling stairway
Suspended from a hole in the great big ship.
My father slipped, and almost fell into the brine,
But for those strangers who drew him into the barge.
Arriving safely on shore at last,
We were huddled into a waiting bus
Very ancient, dirty and battered,
Groaning and moaning as on its final trip
Yet making it, taking us through an outlandish bazaar.
I stared at the many shops displaying their goods,
Enormous chunks of meat hung at the open doors...
Halves of cows and sheep, covered by swarms of flies,
Many traders in the streets, screaming, flaunting their wares,
Were almost forcing the spectators to stop and buy.
These were my first impressions of my new country, the land of milk and honey, the Promised Land in which we were going to make our home and start our lives once more. I was just four years old at the time, but this initial encounter with my prospective homeland remains deeply engraved on my mind.
One of my father's brothers, Uncle Max the architect, had arrived a month or so earlier, and was waiting for us on the pier, to take us to our lodgings. These were temporary accommodations in a tiny apartment that was no more than a furnished room. We had to share the kitchen and bathroom with two other families, all newcomers like us. Mother assured me daily that we would move into a comfortable apartment just as soon as it was completed. We had expected our new residence to be ready within two weeks; however, it took more than two months until we could move in.
About four weeks after our arrival I celebrated my fifth birthday. The only grounds for rejoicing were my recovery from my ear infection and a new-found friend. She was my age and had just arrived from Germany. Eva was her name, and she was my sole guest at my birthday party. It was a cold November day and we never got into the mood of a real party. But at least I enjoyed having a companion who was my age.
My parents decided to make their home in Haifa, our port of entry into our new country. When my parents signed the contract renting the new apartment, they had to sign up for two apartments and a shop.
As my Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith and their two children were coming very soon, my parents had no problem disposing of the apartment, but the shop was another matter. Father weighed all options and came up with the idea of opening a delicatessen, a unique and novel enterprise in that city at that time. After moving into our apartment my parents furnished it and the shop and started on their new venture, the delicatessen they called "Tuv Ta'am" (Good Taste). Both of them were completely inexperienced in that kind of operation. Even though Mother was a good cook and not a bad shopper, she had not the slightest idea how to manage a shop. And she was too busy making various tasty salads to be of great help in serving customers. This task was left to Father.
However, Father was in a much worse plight. In the old country he had never even been allowed to set foot in the kitchen. I recall Mother saying that there was no place for a man in the kitchen; that was the sole domain of the female sex. Now Father suddenly found himself standing behind a counter trying his best to serve the customers. One tremendous obstacle was language. He studied Hebrew every night to overcome that barrier. But that was the least of his problems. Unfortunately, he was the personification of a "Yekke," (an acronym for “Yehudi k'she havana”: dense Jew) an extremely pedantic, exacting person. A customer would come in and ask for half a pound of cheese. Father would cut up a piece and weigh it. If it was more than half a pound, off came a piece! If it was somewhat less than requested, he would add another slice. Woe be it if the scales would not show exactly half a pound! He would cut and add, cut and take off, until he finally managed to produce exactly half a pound of cheese. Never mind that the customer would become impatient, and often implore Father just to weigh what he had on the scale and charge accordingly. No! the customer had asked for half a pound, and half a pound is what Father would deliver! Of course, most of the customers did not bother to come back, even though they liked Mother's delicious salads very much and could not get them anywhere else. It was just too time consuming to be waited on by my meticulous father.
About two months after my parents' delicatessen opened, their best customer arrived: my maternal grandmother. She was in her early sixties, a tall, slim, still good-looking very assertive woman. Having no means of her own to support herself, she joined our household and took over the responsibilities of cooking and looking after me. To Father's great vexation, she found it very convenient just to go downstairs to our delicatessen and help herself to anything displayed on the shelves that she thought might come in handy.
"Grosse Omi" ("Big Granny") as we called her, for she was much taller than my paternal grandmother, was very set in her ways, making it often hard to get along with her. She had been a widow since age thirty-seven and had been her own boss all those years. Being transplanted to a new country could not and would not change her attitude toward life in general and toward her new surroundings in particular. Her preconceived idea was not that she would have to adapt to the country, but that the country should adapt to her. Now that all those new immigrants were arriving from Germany, about a quarter of a million, the people in Palestine should learn German. At her age, she believed, she could not be expected to master another language; and why on earth should she of all people start learning Hebrew when it would be much more convenient for her if everyone else would learn German to accommodate all the newcomers?
When she went out, Big Granny always dressed up. Even in the hot summer she wore a hat, gloves and her umbrella, the latter to be used both against the rain and the sun. It also had a third use for her, as she often commented, to ward off mobs and molesters. The umbrella was her weapon, and she really had the occasion to use it. One evening she went out to see some friends. As usual, she was nicely dressed, and looked youthful and attractive when viewed from the rear. As she was walking down the ill-lit street, she sensed a man following her. She quickened her steps, but so did he. She was almost running when she reached a street light. Turning around, she accosted her pursuer with her closed, pointed umbrella. We all believe that it was her aged face that made the man turn on his heels. Big Granny, however, never doubted that it was her pointed umbrella which had saved her.
One day she asked Mother to go shopping with her. She was looking for new bras but could not make herself understood. As always, I trotted along with them. At the shop, Big Granny explained that she wished to buy bras with falsies. Mother was dumbfounded and rather amused, but being the dutiful good daughter, she swallowed hard and tried to make Granny's wishes clear to the saleslady. The saleslady looked at Granny for a moment then went to the back of the store. I could hear her talking excitedly to the other salesgirls, and then a lot of giggling. Soon the girls came forward, one at a time, to look at Granny. They just could not believe that an "old" woman would ask for falsies! Big Granny wore her falsies with dignity and I must say she really looked quite engaging.
A few months after my grandmother's arrival, Uncle Siegfried, Aunt Edith and their children, Gerhard and Hannah, also joined us. They moved into the apartment across the hall and at last I had a playmate close by. My cousin Gerhard was five years older than I was, so my interest in him was very limited. But cousin Hannah was just a few months my senior, making her an ideal playmate. We spent much of our time together. Our parents hired a young girl of about twelve, to take us to nearby Pevsner Park, play with us and talk to us in Hebrew. Often my other friend Eva would join us. We did not have much fun, however, as our sitter was a nasty and cruel girl. She loved to incite us against each other, instigating us to fight. I was the youngest and always got the worst of it. We would return home crying, angry and confused, begging our parents not to send us off with this girl again. But our pleading was to no avail. We were made to go with our "guardian" for many months, until it was time to start school.
Among the possessions I had been allowed to transport to the new country from Germany were my teddy bear, a doll in her pram and a small scooter. I loved to swing about on the pavement in front of our house and became the envy of many of our neighborhood children. One day I leaned the scooter against our shop window to tell Father something. A minute later I came back out and my scooter was gone. We asked everybody if they had seen anyone take it, but no one had any clues. From then on I was deprived of any wheels, as my parents could not afford another one, nor any tricycle or bicycle.
My first day of school is still very clear in my memory. In order to alleviate some of our anxiety, it was a European custom to give first-graders enormous cone-shaped bags filled with all kinds of sweets for their first school day.
With our leather satchels strapped to our backs and our sweet bags in our arms we made our way to school. In the yard all the parents were busy taking pictures. Then a bell rang and we marched off to our designated classroom. Our mothers were allowed to stay with us for just a few minutes, after which we were abandoned to our teacher. She introduced herself and asked each of us to tell her our names. When my turn came, she immediately decided that I needed a Hebrew name. She translated mine into Hebrew and from then on I was called Emuna. For many years there was just one other girl with the same name in all of Palestine, and she was the daughter of Shmuel Josef Agnon, who many years later received the only Nobel Prize ever conferred for Hebrew literature.
School was a pleasant memory. I still had to contend with the language barrier, as at home German remained our language throughout my parents' lives. Even with my friend Eva and my cousin Hannah we still felt more at ease in our mother tongue. The few hours in school provided us with the only exposure to Hebrew, so the learning process was rather slow. I stumbled in my reading and writing which turned into quite an imposing undertaking for me. Arithmetic became my sole pleasure. It seemed fun to play around with figures and an enjoyable pursuit to solve thought-challenging problems.
I had attended school for only a few months when I got another dreadful ear infection. I was often absent from school, lying in bed with terrible pain. The doctors who administered to me all agreed that the climate in Haifa was too humid for me and my only hope of complete recovery would be a move to a much drier climate such as Jerusalem. My parents weighed all our prospects and finally decided that, as our delicatessen was not really profitable, it might be wise to move to Jerusalem and try a new line of business.
So once more we relocated. Again we had to find a new apartment and another unfamiliar occupation for my parents. A man approached Father wanting to go into partnership with him in the field of wholesale business equipment. It sounded feasible and promising, so Father soon invested all his remaining capital in this new enterprise, and the two set up shop together. I was enrolled in a new school and we hoped that life would finally return to normal.
We found a small apartment on the second floor of busy Ben Yehuda Street in the center of Jerusalem. There were many shops on the ground floor: a jeweler, a leather shop, a fish monger and a confectionery, among others. Across the street lived a family with whom we had been friendly in Berlin and who had two daughters, Shula, my age, and Gabi, a year younger. Both our fathers had been lawyers and our mothers had often spent long hours with us girls in the public park in Berlin. I was enrolled in the same school as Shula, so I had at least one familiar face in my new environment.
I remember celebrating my sixth birthday in that apartment. I had invited maybe five or six new-found friends, among them Ruth Goldman, a neighbor, and a classmate named Chaim. All the children brought me little gifts, but Chaim brought me money. My parents refused to let me keep the cash and insisted that I go home with him to return it to his parents. Mother made a beautiful party for us and baked a delicious cake and other goodies. She organized many games, such as filling an umbrella with candy, then opening it so we could gather all that fell out, or blind man's bluff, musical chairs or spinning a bottle on the floor and the child to which it was pointed being given a task to perform. At the end of the party each child, one after the other, was blindfolded and given a wooden spoon with which to strike a pot that was put upside down on the floor and which contained a little present for the child to take home.
From then on my birthday parties became very popular. I had one every year for the next twelve years, and everyone was eager to get invited. Chaim more or less faded out of my life when I transferred to an all girls' school, but years later I was shocked to hear that he was one of the thirty-five young men massacred by the Arabs in Gush Etzion in 1948.
My new school was located in Talpiot, a suburb of town, in a beautiful green neighborhood. It seemed the ideal place for a sickly, recuperating child. Another advantage to the school seemed that the principal was a lady from Germany with a good reputation as an educator.
Most of the children lived in town and were transported to school by special school buses. We had a green, a red and a blue bus. They did not actually have these colors; they just had signs on them saying which color the respective bus was; each bus went to a different area to transport the children. Mine was the green bus and it stopped almost in front of our house. We had to be on the street at half past seven, as there were more children to be picked up on the way. At school we were served a light lunch and the buses took us back home at around three-thirty.
The new school was quite a pleasant experience. Our teacher was a gentle, friendly elderly woman with a lot of patience. She made us read and write all morning and would often tell us stories in the afternoons. I particularly remember some of her stories; one was called "The Monkey's Paw," about a kind of amulet that would bring great wealth to its owner, but with it also terrible misfortune. Another story was about a man who was convicted of a crime he had not committed, and who was sent to a penal prison on a desolate island. These tales scared me to death. As long as I was among my schoolmates I felt halfway safe; but then, when going home, I had to leave the security of the bus and walk to our house. The short way from the bus to the house was frightening enough, however my greatest tribulation was climbing those sets of stairways to our apartment. It was an ill-lit flight of stairs which impressed me as uncanny and spooky. I had to muster all my courage to overcome this terrifying ordeal. I would run all the way up the two flights of stairs, arriving at our door completely out of breath. After ringing the doorbell, I experienced more panicky moments while waiting for Mother to open the door. What if a mysterious stranger was lurking somewhere in the half-light, ready to snatch me up before our door opened?
Once inside our apartment, I would follow Mother wherever she went. I no longer felt safe in a room by myself. My parents sensed my terror and decided to get me a little puppy as a companion. We found a family whose dog had given birth to a brood of cute little mongrels. The dominating feature was that of a fox-terrier. We went to visit the dogs and I was allowed to pick my puppy. All of them were very good looking to me, but one caught my attention from the start. It was black, white and brown. It had black eyebrows and a white nose. Its paws were white except at the bottom where they were black. The cheeks were brown and its body was mainly black and white, with just two spots of brown on either side. That was to be my puppy. It was still too young to be separated from its mother, but I was allowed to visit it every other day.
Three weeks later I was finally allowed to take my puppy home. I was overjoyed. At last I had something I could cuddle, could keep near me constantly. It was a warm, living creature and all my own. I named it Bobby. It became my companion for the rest of my single days, and I considered him as my brother. I was rather horrified with the way Father trained him. He was only a baby, but Father would dip Bobby's nose in every puddle or heap that he made in the house. It was a Spartan way of disciplining Bobby but I must confess, rather effective. Another traumatic experience I had to undergo was the clipping of poor Bobby's ears. The veterinarian who immunized Bobby decided that this breed needed its ears clipped, so this harrowing mutilation was performed. For days I could not look my tormented Bobby in the eyes. My parents assured me that it did not really hurt him, but I knew better. What was worse, the vet had also declared that Bobby's tail needed clipping, so another ordeal lay ahead of us. About two weeks after the ear clipping the tail was cut off; again Bobby and I walked about with pained and doleful looks.
While I was completely engrossed with my Bobby's suffering, Father was exposed to a very different but not less agonizing experience. One day he found himself without his partner, and all their assets gone. His partner had taken whatever he could lay his hands on and had disappeared; the rumor had it that he had gone to France. The upshot of the situation was that Father was left with very little merchandise and considerable debts.
Father was rather a pessimist and became very despondent. He bought some poison, enough to do away with the three of us, in case we would not have enough money for our daily bread. He did not want us to become dependent or indebted to anyone. I can still remember very clearly my parents sitting and crying, weighing all the options. It had a devastating effect on me, a little girl, seeing that the two people on whom I was dependent were crumbling before my eyes. That evening, my cousin Hannah came over, inviting us all for dinner at their house. This must have cheered us up, as we all washed up, dressed and joined my Uncle Heinrich and Aunt Margot, who were more fortunate . Uncle Heinrich had established the Alba Pharmacy in Zion Square in the center of Jerusalem and Aunt Margot had her dentist office adjacent to their spacious apartment situated in the middle of Ben Yehuda Street.
So there was Father, trying to make a living, but so far each new venture had ended in disaster. He decided never to go into partnership again, but would now endeavor to run a cheese wholesale business. Mother found a job as a cook in a restaurant, where we were all allowed to have one hot meal a day as part of her wages. As we had no money left, my parents could no longer afford the apartment in which we were living, so we moved to a mainly Christian missionary neighborhood, to a house that belonged to the Russian church, and was known as Archimandrit Nikita House.
Our new residence looked very attractive to me. It was located at 278 Street of the Prophets, (today number 50) opposite the old Hadassa Hospital. Only recently I found out from a book "The Story of a Place - A Portrait of a City" by the architect David Kroyanker, published in 2000 in Israel, that at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century the Street of the Prophets used to be the most prestigious street in Jerusalem. The majority of the consulates were there and so it also became known as the street of the consulates where the German, Austrian, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Spanish and American consulates were situated. The royalty of Ethiopia had their palace and consulate there and many of the residents included distinguished professors, prominent doctors and famous artists, among them W. Holman Hunt the Pre-Raphaelite, whose house was just one block away and who lived there until his death in 1910. The novelist Arthur Koestler lived in our street in the late nineteen twenties and the American Consulate used to be in the house next to ours. In the Baedeker guide of 1897 this location of the consulate is mentioned. The American Consul Edwin Sherman Wallace in his book "Jerusalem the Holy" describes the eminent status of the street and the house of the consulate as being on the highest point, so that the hoisted American flag could be seen from anywhere in the city. By the time we moved there two well-known doctors from Germany had taken over the consulate building. I remember Dr. Treu, the surgical and orthopedic doctor very well, as we became quite friendly with him and his family. We sometimes consulted him professionally too. The other tenant was the nose, ear and throat specialist Dr. Marcus Salzberger whom I also needed to see occasionally. Other prominent tenants who had lived in our neighborhood were Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the reviver of Hebrew as a spoken language, the Kabbalist Professor Gershom Shalom, Dr. Arthur Rupin, the father of modern Jewish Zionist settlements, the famous archeologist Professor Eliezer Sukenik and the poetess Rachel.
When the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife Augusta Victoria came to Jerusalem in October 1898 they set their tent camp-site up in the Street of the Prophets not far from our house and Theodor Herzl came there to meet him. The street was also known as street of the hospitals, as so many of them had established themselves there. There were Anglican and Protestant missionary hospitals, the Italian, German and English, the French St. Joseph, but also Jewish ones such as Hadassa, Rothschild, and Bikur Cholim as well as a children's hospital.
We were renting a third of a one story house with a nice little garden just for us. The outer walls of the house were more than three feet deep and all the electric wires were attached onto the inside walls years after the house had been constructed. We had two adjoining large rooms, but only a little niche to serve as our kitchen. There were two front doors, the outside one a heavy wooden double door, the inside one a double, mainly glass door, with perhaps one foot between them. That space was Bobby's domain. The only bathroom was across a semi-private yard at the back, and it was to be shared with our neighbors. We had no sink in either the kitchen or the bathroom, so we used big basins in which we carried water to use in the kitchen for cooking and cleaning. Once a week, on Friday afternoons, we heated the big furnace next to the bathtub, using coal and wood, so that we could have warm water for a bath.
In our backyard we had our own well, just for the tenants of our house, with soft, tasty rainwater. We used this water mainly for cooking and washing our hair and clothes. We had to pump up the water from the well by pouring a little water into it to start it off. In those days a refrigerator or washing machine was an unheard of luxury. We just had a little icebox which needed a new block of ice every day. This we bought from a vendor who drove by on his horse and buggy. Our cooking was done on a "Primus," a fairly dangerous contraption. Its main body was filled with gasoline, but it also had a small bowl filled with spiritus. This bowl had to be lit first, to warm up the apparatus, then the gasoline had to be pumped up until it caught the fire. It was not easy to get it going and often it would just extinguish without warning. Once a week a woman came to our yard to do our laundry. She would sit on the ground, with two big receptacles, and scrub the clothes on a washboard in a lot of lather.
All our neighbors were Russian Orthodox people connected with the church. There was an elderly lady and her mature son in another apartment with whom we could converse a little as they spoke some English. Underneath the house was a basement in which an old woman lived by herself. She, like most of the others, spoke only Russian. On Easter she would often give me lovely painted eggs. At the back of the house, in a wooden shack, lived an older woman with her two grown sons, somewhere in their early twenties when we first moved in.
About that time my school went bankrupt and was shut down. The principal had been a good educator but not a good administrator or businesswoman. My parents decided to send me to the Evelina de Rothschild School for girls as it was well-known for its good education and especially for its discipline; it had the added advantage of being bilingual, Hebrew and English, which was very important for the population living in the British Mandate of Palestine. It was also near our new residence so that I would only have a short walk to school.
The Evelina de Rothschild School for Girls, which I was to attend for the next ten years, was an oddity. It was the first girls' school established in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1864 with the sponsorship of Sir Moses Montefiore and the Rothschild family. Named after the wife of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild of Vienna, it was orthodox, anti Zionist and modeled after the British system, very disciplinarian. My parents had probably not realized that its principles were so contrary to their own, as they were Zionists and completely secular. Most of the teachers were old English spinsters, though we also had three older male teachers. Miss Hannah, or Annie Landau, educated in England and Frankfurt, Germany, was the principal or headmistress of the school from 1899 to her death in 1945. Her assistant was Mrs. Moss Levi, who took over the position of headmistress in 1945 and held it until 1960. It was both an elementary and high school and had a commercial class for those who wanted to become secretaries. Beside the academic studies we were also taught cooking, sewing and housekeeping .
At around the turn of the century, the school was relocated to a beautiful two-story large building surrounded by a lovely garden in Musrara, an Arab suburb of Jerusalem. We were never allowed to enjoy the garden except to walk through it on our way into and out of school. The house was built in 1885 for the family of Johannes Frutinger, a Swiss banker, to accommodate his large family of fourteen children. He called it "Mahanaim" (two camps) which is still engraved above the main entrance, as well as the year of its construction, 1885. The name Mahanaim is derived from the passage in Genesis, chapter thirty-two sentence three: "and he ( Jacob) called that place Mahanaim." By 1893 Frutinger and his bank went bankrupt and the property was sold to the Anglo Jewish Association. The Evelina de Rothschild School was relocated there from the Old City in 1896.
Shortly before the end of WW.I., the Turks confiscated the greatly damaged building. After the end of the War the Turks returned the building to the Anglo Jewish Association to be used as a rental until 1931 when the Evelina de Rothschild School returned. During the years 1918 to 1931 some very prominent tenants lived there: Menachem Usishkin, the famous leader of the Zionist organization from 1919 to 1928, Shmuel Joseph Agnon, the only Israeli Nobel Prize winner for literature, the lawyer Dr. Moshe Zmora who later was nominated as first president of the Israeli High Court; from 1927 to 1931 it became the dwelling of two High Commissioners of the British Mandate of Palestine: Lord Plummer, the Second High Commissioner until 1928, and Sir John Chancellor, the third High Commissioner until 1931. Until 1927 the tenants lived on the upper floor while the ground floor served as an agricultural museum, which included a botanical and zoological department. During the years 1918 to 1931 the Evelina de Rothschild School was relocated to a building of the Patt Bakery in Street of the Prophets and corner of Rav Kook Street.
The school schedule was very stringent and rigorous. When we arrived in the morning, we assembled in the playground until the bell rang. Then we had to line up in rows of two, each class separately, and were marched into the building. While a gramophone was playing march music, we had to file past the headmistress or her assistant on our way to our respective classrooms. We had uniforms of blue pinafores over white blouses and long stockings, white in summer and brown in winter. We wore blue blazers with the Rothschild emblem and white hats in summer and blue berets in winter.
After taking roll call, our teacher would escort us to the auditorium where we prayed for almost an hour. For a small fee we received milk during the morning break and lunch at noon, after which we had to pray again. The school-day lasted until four o'clock; then we were assigned homework. We were not allowed to associate with boys or to go out in the evenings, even with our parents.
The school had no first grade so all the children had to go to another school first. During the first year of this school the students received intensive instruction in English, permitting most of the studies to be conducted in English, even Bible studies by the second year. The school was geared toward preparing the students to pass the London Matriculation at the end of senior grade. Some of us had already attended two or three years of school elsewhere; in order to be able to follow the instruction in English in our age group classes, intensive private tutoring was necessary. As my parents could not afford to pay for these special lessons, on top of the yearly fee of five pounds sterling, I was put back into the bottom grade with children one or two years younger.
Not only in English was I an ignoramus, but my religious knowledge, too, was very deficient. I remember very clearly when I was asked one day if we were Kosher at home. I did not understand what Kosher meant, so a classmate tried to explain that it meant, whether we ate meat and milk together. I answered indignantly that we never ate meat and milk together, as this mixture just did not taste well. Then she asked if we ate bread with butter and sausage. Of course we did, how else would one eat a sausage sandwich? Well, this was a step toward being slowly initiated into the world of our religion.
When a teacher entered the classroom, we had to get up and greet her in unison: "Good morning Miss . . ." Only when the teacher gave the command "Sit down" were we permitted to do so. One student, always a studious and well-behaved one, was nominated as a prefect or watchdog, in case the teacher had to leave the classroom. That student wore a special badge and had the honor of maintaining that position for a year. Our teacher would check our fingernails, our ears and our hair to make sure we were well-washed and disinfected. Now and then a nurse came to examine our eyes for trachoma or other diseases, and gave us shots against typhus and many other infections.
To keep the strict discipline in school we were intimidated by the constant threat of the "Black Book." When a student was caught talking in class, she was entered into this "Black Book." Three such listings earned her a "White Card," filled out by the headmistress and requiring the parents to come to school for a consultation. Three more entries into the Black Book resulted in a "Yellow Card," a very dangerous situation, as the parents were warned that the child could be expelled from school should its behavior not greatly improve. Three more entries into the Black Book earned the student the "Gray Card" and expulsion. As it was a private school, there was no possible argument. During all my years in school, I heard of only two or three students who were thus expelled. I must confess that I was not too well-behaved and received the White Card a few times, and once even the Yellow Card.
We were not allowed to join any youth movements outside our school, but had our own Girl Guide organization, based on the British movement. As girl guides we had uniforms of gray dresses with brown or blue neckties and gray hats.
We met after school, often in a wood, where we learned how to cook potatoes on an open fire, how to fasten different fishermen knots, memorized the Morse alphabet and some first aid. This was our only outlet for recreation.
My first grade teacher was a shriveled old spinster named Miss Baruch. Her prominent feature was a black ribbon attached with pins to her almost bald head! She was kind and patient but could get mean if we misbehaved.
About a year after I started attending this school a new teacher arrived. She was young, good looking and very warmhearted. We all fell madly in love with her. We composed a poem about her:
Miss Miller I love you
Miss Miller I do,
Your cheeks are red
And your eyes are blue. . .
Her eyes were really brown, but the blue just fit the rhyme! This teacher inspired us to study and try and behave well, so that we could please her. She was a breath of fresh air in our archaic, musty old school. Unfortunately, the administration did not approve of this novelty and in less than one year we lost her.
Another one of our teachers I remember vividly was Dr. Reader. He was a short, humble person who had recently managed to escape Nazi Germany. He taught us chemistry and biology but he was not a good disciplinarian. We quite enjoyed his classes, as he was too good natured to punish us severely for the outrageous rackets we managed to make.
Mrs. Moed was our Bible teacher. She was younger than the other teachers and got married about two years after I started attending the school. She was very unfair and showed her partiality openly. I was not one of her favorites and was the frequent recipient of unfair punishment. I was often instigated by the girls to ask her questions about the juicy parts in the Bible, to explain them more in detail, which made her rather uncomfortable and more hostile toward me.
Mr. Reis taught us mathematics. He was also younger, I think in his forties, and our only male attraction. I liked his classes both for the subject matter and for his vitality. He, too, was not a good disciplinarian and frequently got into trouble with the headmistress, who came in to see why there was so much noise coming from our classroom.
One of my classmates was a little girl named Zvi'a Perlman. She was a very dainty pretty little girl with long dark braids, a diligent, good student. However, she had heart problem and missed school quite frequently. As her house was on my way home, I often stopped to bring her our homework assignments. Sometimes she was too sick for anyone to see her, so we would leave the assignment with her mother. Her health deteriorated and one day we were told that she had passed away. It was our first confrontation with death and it shocked us to the core. Zvi'a was only twelve years old, a good little girl, and now she was gone.
We were not allowed to go to her funeral, but we all received a large photograph of her so we would not forget her.
During our last three or four years in school Miss Schonberg was our English teacher. She was a typical spinster and very British but a wonderful, dedicated teacher who managed to infect us all with her love for the English language and its literature. She lived to quite an old age. She must have been in her nineties when I visited her in 1992 in her little cozy apartment, where she served me English tea.
As juniors and seniors we were treated to a fascinating experience. Once a week a special teacher came to our school to teach us art appreciation. She was a young, beautiful and charming woman from Italy but had only one leg. The rumor had it that she had lost her leg as a child in an accident. She gave us inspiring lectures on all the great artists of the world and imbued us with a love for art.
A number of girls from Germany, as well as Shula, and her sister Gabi, had also moved to my new school. Shula's mother, Mrs. Braun, who was not working outside her house, wanted to have her children maintain their knowledge of German. So she created a kind of German or "Yekke" club. Shula and Gabi Braun, Naomi Cohen, Chava Erlanger, Aviva Bloch, Miriam Lilienfeld, Inge Futter and I were invited every Friday afternoon to their house, where Mrs. Braun would read to us from German books for teenagers. I remember the "Nestaeckchen" series quite well. It was about a young girl and her adventures, somewhat in the vein of the much later published books of Pippi Longstockings by Astrid Lindgren. After about an hour of reading, Mrs. Braun served us cake and hot chocolate. I was always looking forward to these afternoons. I did not have many friends in those years, partly because we lived rather far from other Jewish families, so here I was part of a group, among my peers.
During my summer holidays my parents sent me to my Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried in Nahalal. They were my double Aunt and Uncle, as she was Mother's sister and he Father's brother. But they were so very different from my parents! Uncle Siegfried was shorter, very robust and easy going but rather stingy, a hard worker who fitted much better into our new homeland. Father was slim, not very strong but extremely honest, to the point of ridiculousness. One day Father came home and found out that he had been given about a nickel too much in change. He had to walk back about two miles to return that money right away, otherwise he would not have been able to sleep that night. Aunt Edith was a little affectatious and had some mean streaks, but she treated me quite well. In contrast, Mother was an extremely warm-hearted, optimistic, good-natured person beloved by all who knew her.
After arriving in Palestine, Uncle Siegfried worked for a year as a laborer in the building industry, very hard physical work but fairly lucrative. Then he was offered the position of veterinarian in Nahalal, the village in which Moshe Dayan was born, one of the earliest settlements of the Jewish pioneers. It had been marshland, infested with malaria, until the pioneers drained the area and made it fertile. Uncle Siegfried's responsibility was to take care of all animals living in the large area between Nazareth and Haifa. All animals were insured with the "Chakla'it", a farmers' health insurance company for animals, and he was their assigned doctor. At first Uncle Siegfried and his family lived as tenants of one of the farmers. They only had two rooms and a shared outhouse. I remember how Aunt Edith embarrassed me in front of the farmers, when she checked how much toilet paper I was taking to the outhouse! She only allowed me about three rectangles, one third of what I had taken.
Approximately two years after they moved to Nahalal they were allotted a piece of land to build their own house. Although Uncle Siegfried had a fairly good income, it was not an easy life. With the turmoil caused by Nazi Germany, more and more Jews somehow managed to get into Palestine. They bought land and built houses founding new settlements where-ever they could. The Arabs felt threatened and started rioting. The British were not very well disposed towards the Jews, and allowed the riots to get out of hand. Arabs roamed the roads, ambushing Jews on buses, in cars and in villages which were not well protected. The Jews built their villages in a special style called "Choma U' Migdal" ("Wall and Tower") somewhat like small fortresses. Often the Arabs came in great numbers, attacking these villages, and when they were able to penetrate, they slaughtered every man, woman and child; 415 Jews were killed by the Arabs in those three years of 1936 to 1939. The British just turned a blind eye on these attacks or even worse, often descended on the Jewish settlements checking them for ammunition, and if they found any, confiscated everything and took all the males to prison.
When Uncle Siegfried first started on his new job, he was given a horse to enable him to get to all the villages under his supervision. During the "Riots of 1936-39" he needed someone to accompany him, usually Aunt Edith, who had hold a loaded gun in her hand, at the ready in case of an attack. Soon he acquired a small two-seater, making it easier and faster to get to all the destinations as well as safer for a getaway. We enjoyed riding in his car and sometimes managed to squeeze in seven or eight of us to go on an outing.
Their son Gerhard, who had to go to high school in Haifa by bus every day, was attacked by Arabs while in the bus, and was fairly seriously wounded. After his recovery, Uncle Siegfried rented a room in Haifa where Gerhard stayed with Big Granny until he graduated from school. On a different occasion, we were luckily ten minutes late, as a bus preceding ours had just driven over a hidden mine and exploded, killing five passengers.
My summer holidays in Nahalal were always pleasant for me. I was treated well by both my Aunt and Uncle. Aunt Edith saw that I had almost nothing to wear, so she would buy me some underwear and shorts which I needed badly. My parents could really not afford to buy me anything in those days, and it was a great hardship for them to supply me with the uniform required by my school. I remember my parents taking me from shoe store to shoe store, trying to get the cheapest pair of brown shoes for my winter uniform. They finally bought me a pair two sizes too big, so that they would last many years. I walked around like Charlie Chaplin and was the laughing stock of my classmates.
Uncle Siegfried often took me on his daily routes. I enjoyed watching him take care of the animals, mostly cows, and admired his prowess. He was the first veterinarian to introduce artificial insemination in Palestine, which saved him and the farmers enormous time and energy. The way he would examine a cow for pregnancy, putting his whole arm in her behind, to remove all her excrements, is still very vivid in my mind. He was extremely popular among the farmers, who often gave him produce to take home, but occasionally he would just help himself without asking.
Then there was my cousin Hannah, only ten months my senior. She was very different from me too, but we had some good times together. She was very outgoing and friendly with everyone, and quite popular. I was much more reticent and studious. We were given a few duties, like washing the dishes or making up our room, and occasionally we were told to go to the only store, but mostly we were free to roam about with the other children and enjoy our vacation.
The summers were very hot and humid in Nahalal and sometimes we climbed into the water tower and swam around inside. One of us always carried a torch to inspect the water before jumping in, to make sure there were no water snakes around. There would always be a boy ready to get them out and kill them before we jumped in. On other occasions we walked to the next village or to some fields beyond, where the Bedouin had put up their tents. At times they invited us in and offered us some of their freshly baked pita bread. Later, during WW.II, we walked to another open field, near Ramat David air base, and watched hundreds of mainly British parachutists sail down from the sky.
In March 1936 cousin Gerhard had his Bar Mitzva. We all went to Nahalal to celebrate the occasion, although it was a very small affair, with only close family members attending. My parents were somewhat taken aback that Gerhard was dressed in simple shorts. They remarked that Gerhard's parents could really have afforded a pair of slacks for their only son's Bar Mitzva. Through the many years that I stayed with Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith I often noticed that Hannah was always favored. Besides, she frequently managed to instigate punishment against Gerhard, who was innocent at least half the time.
One year during the Riots of 1936-39 I could not go to Nahalal for summer vacation, because too many buses were attacked and many passengers killed. As I was an only child and both my parents were working full time, I was sent to a day camp, a rather unpleasant experience. We were supervised, but had little guidance as to how to occupy ourselves. I mostly remember the food we were served, very unsavory, but we were forced to eat it. Although I did not like school with all the harsh discipline, that year I was looking forward to going back to school.
Life was getting more and more strained and soon we were hearing about WW.II. We could not afford a radio, so every day we went to my father's cousin, Max Hirsch, who lived maybe four or five blocks away, to listen to Adolf Hitler's speeches on their radio. Everyone got depressed by the news and worried about our relatives who had stayed behind.
Another adjustment was asked of us. Our landlord, the High Priest of the Russian Church, wanted us to move next door, as he wanted our premises for his mother and young brother who were arriving from Russia. It was not a bad exchange, as we would have two rooms as well as a large room to serve as our kitchen. The front room was our living area where I slept, and the back room was my parents' bedroom. However, we no longer had the garden, but just a large terrace instead. Unfortunately the landlord also raised the rent. My parents decided that they could manage with a tiny closet to serve as our kitchen, and to rent out the big kitchen to pay for part of our rent. However, this configuration left us without an outlet to our back yard and the bathroom. Our back room had two large windows facing the back yard, so Father constructed two three-step wooden stairs, which he put next to the window, one inside and one outside, to enable us to reach the back yard by climbing through the window.
Our kitchen was a fairly large room with a sink and running water. My parents sublet it to a young piano teacher with a piano. I persuaded my parents to allow me to be tutored by her, so now I received piano lessons twice a week and I could practice on her piano every day. My piano teacher was not too friendly and rather strict. Perhaps my talent was not too great either, but although I practiced for two hours daily, she was never satisfied with my performance. I was not really disappointed when she moved away two years later, although this was the end of my music education.
I loved music and dancing very much and I often sang to myself, though I had no voice and was constantly out of tune. I also used to dance for myself when no one was around. I longed to have ballet lessons as some of my classmates had, but I knew that we could not afford them. One day I heard that a ballet teacher was offering a kind of scholarship to two talented girls. I begged Mother to apply on my behalf. I was able to try out at that ballet school, but my talent must have been insufficient, as she would only take me as a paying student. So there ended my ballet ambition.
Jerusalem in those days was a small town with a fairly close Jewish community. When walking along the streets I greeted almost everyone, as we seemed to know all the inhabitants. I remember meeting Henrietta Szold many times on King George Street, and sometimes she ruffled my hair and said a few kind words to me, or Rabbi Kook who often walked along the street now bearing his name. There, too, were Dr. Ticho, the eye doctor and his wife, on their way from or to shopping. At times I met ex-Emperor Haile Selassie and his entourage going for a walk on our street. There was always one man holding a big, black umbrella over the Emperor's head. They lived around the corner from us, in the Abyssinian Palace on Abyssinian Street, (now Ethiopia Street) about a block and a half away from our house. My classmate Margalit Lichtman lived across the street from the palace and occasionally when I went to play with her, we crossed over to the palace garden to play with Haile Selassie's daughters.
One day we had great excitement in school. Our headmistress, Miss Landau, told us of a big upcoming undertaking. She had managed to get permission from the British government to bring sixteen orphaned girls from Germany to Palestine. She was going to set them up in a rented apartment, hire a teacher-educator for them, and have them as students in our school. Each one of us had to knit little squares, which were then sewn together like quilts, to serve the girls as blankets. We were also asked to bring any old clothes we had. We were all waiting impatiently for their arrival. On the fourth of April 1940, while WW.II. was already in full swing, the girls finally arrived. They spoke only German so when one girl was assigned to my class, she was placed next to me, in order that I would help translate for her and help her understand the teacher. The girl's name was Leah Kaufman and she was two weeks younger than I. Her mother had died a few years earlier and her father had placed her in this Jewish orphanage. We became good friends and helped each other in many ways. Leah was very studious but weak in mathematics, while I was rather on the lazy side, but excelled in mathematics, as it did not require much work. Thanks to the good heart of Miss Landau and her connections to the British high command, these girls lives' had been saved in the eleventh hour.
The girls lived in a nice apartment in an Arab neighborhood, a house adjacent to the later infamous Mandelbaum Gate. Their educator was Miss Lange, a wonderful dedicated lady who helped the girls in every way she could. The house was kept Kosher and very strictly in the Jewish tradition. I visited there often and learned a lot about our Jewish customs. Leah visited us frequently, too. She loved my mother who gave her some of the affection she missed as an orphan. I remember many of Leah's visits on Saturday morning, when we were still having breakfast. I always jumped up before Leah entered, to remove all traces of non-Kosher food on our table, as it embarrassed me tremendously.
While Father was selling his wholesale cheeses during the day, he studied British law every night. He wanted to pass the exams and be admitted to the bar in Palestine. Often Mother woke up in the middle of the night and found Father with his head on his books, fast asleep. Mother had meanwhile found a good position as secretary in a German firm that represented Bayer and other pharmaceutical companies in Palestine. Her boss was a Mr. Aberle, a fine man, definitely not a Nazi. Then Mother developed health problems. A growth in her uterus was endangering her life. She needed surgery but could not afford to loose her job. Mr. Aberle was very understanding and agreed to give her leave without pay until she could return. Those were very difficult times for us. Mother was supposed to stay in the hospital for one week and remain in bed for at least three further weeks. Not having any insurance, my parents could not afford this, so Mother came home after three days, too weak to move.
Now it became Father's job to take care of our daily needs. I was eight years old and able to wash dishes and do some shopping, but to cook? Father had to follow Mother's instruction from her sick bed, step by step, to manage to prepare a meal for the three of us. The pedant that he was, it took him almost half a day to prepare the most simple of meals. It really was a catastrophe! After a few days, some of our relatives came to our help by preparing some meals for us that I carried home in a container. Ten days after her surgery Mother decided to go back to work. Her boss paid for a taxi to take her to the office, and supplied her with a deck chair in which she could rest during her lunch break. She was in great pain but somehow she managed to survive this ordeal.
Finally Father was ready to take the bar exams. He passed them very well, also the language exams in both English and Hebrew, but now he needed thirty-five pounds sterling to pay for his diploma. That was a large sum he could not muster. He asked his brother, Uncle Siegfried, for a loan. Uncle Siegfried put so many conditions and objections to granting this money, that Father asked Mother to apply to Mr. Aberle. Without a word, he gave her the money to be deducted from her future salaries. So now Father was again able to practice law. While still selling his cheeses, he used the nights to write a book about some aspects of the British law: " The Fundamental Law In Respect Of War-Time Control Of Goods In Palestine." He planned to send the book to different government offices, as a means to open a door for him to a position as legal advisor . And that is what happened. His book was well received and he was offered a position as legal advisor to the Price Controller, as well as inspector of all hotels and restaurants. Finally Father had a decent position in his field, and could start feeling human and respected again. This was in the first years of WW.II.
Now Mother's job was in jeopardy. All German citizens were interned in a place called Sarona, today the seat of the Kirya or the government offices in Tel Aviv. Mr. Aberle was first detained there, and later deported to Australia. His business became enemy property and had to be liquidated. It was an enormous enterprise with premises in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa, employing over sixty workers with the main office in Tel-Aviv. As Mother had been the right hand of Mr. Aberle for quite a while, she was offered the position of liquidator if she agreed to work in Tel-Aviv for about two years. They allocated some office space for her accommodation and agreed to pay for a taxi to take her back to Jerusalem every weekend.
I was not quite twelve years old, but had to take on the duties of a housewife during the week. We had no school on Fridays, so we could prepare for Shabbat. I would go shopping every Friday, clean the house, and cook a delicious Friday night dinner. I would make chicken soup, clean and prepare a chicken, frying it on the Primus, cook potatoes and vegetables and make pudding or some other dessert. When Mother arrived shortly before Shabbat, she was able to enjoy a peaceful lovely evening with her family. Saturday mornings, Mother always prepared a large tasty breakfast, and then she cooked meals for us for the next four or five days. Often, while Mother was cooking, Father took me on long walks in the Old City. We would walk through the Shuk, the Arab market, or climb to the top of the walls that encircled the Old City.
In 1946 my cousin John came to visit us. He was in the British Army and stationed in Egypt. Once he was granted a longer leave and came to Palestine to visit his family. He liked Father best of all his uncles, possibly for three reasons; their birthdays were on the same day, they both had a passion for long jump, and Father had a more analytical mind than any of his brothers. Anyway, he stayed with us for his vacation and loved walking all over the Old City with us.
Father was the youngest of his siblings as was Mother. So I, too, was the youngest of my cousins. Many of them were enlisted and served in the British army, and cousin Gerhard served in the Jewish Brigade. I admired and envied them, but was much too young for any service. The War was getting closer and closer to us. When Field Marshal Rommel and his German army reached El Alamein in Egypt in June 1942, Father again bought poison for us, as he was determined that we should not fall into German hands in case they advanced and conquered Palestine.
We always looked forward to Mother's arrival as if a great holiday was coming. During the week I warmed up the food and washed the dishes, made the beds and anything else necessary to keep house. Father was a most inefficient person in these matters, so I really had no choice. I learned to cook early in life, and even baked delicious cakes at age twelve. A few times I was able to show off my accomplishment, even in school.
Those were the days of rations for most essential food items. We were issued ration books and were assigned a specific butcher shop for our meat and poultry. The meat tasted worse from week to week no matter how I prepared it, until I could hardly swallow it. One day the butcher was caught selling camel meat as kosher beef. His business was shut down and the fraudulent butcher was heavily fined. We were assigned a different butcher, located in our former apartment house on Ben Yehuda Street. I went there every second Friday morning to buy our allotted rations. One Friday when I was shopping there, Paula Ben Gurion came in and demanded two chickens. She said that they were expecting guests from abroad and needed more than the ration to which they were entitled. The butcher told her that he could only give her as much as her ration books designated, which was one chicken. She started screaming like a fish-wife, saying that she was the wife of David Ben Gurion, and should be treated with more respect. All her arguing did not help her, however; the butcher just gave her the ration to which she had a right.
One fateful day we heard on the radio - by that time we had acquired our own radio - that the Germans had bombed Tel Aviv and that there were many casualties. I was terribly frightened. Mother was in Tel Aviv, and no one could tell me if she was all right. We had no telephone - that was a luxury only doctors had, like Uncle Siegfried, whose number was 19. This shows how few people had telephones in those days. When I heard the news I was alone at home, as Father only came home from work a few hours later. I walked about the house, crying, distraught, not knowing where to turn. I prayed to God to please bring Mother home safely and I promised that in return I would abstain from going to the movies for a whole year. God must have heard my prayer, and I, too, kept my promise.
In those war years food became rather scarce. Meat, fish, eggs and sugar and even bread were rationed. I was not a good eater, rather finicky. The little meat that was our ration was rather distasteful; unbeknown to us we were consuming tough camel meat, assuming that it was beef. I just could not swallow it. Father, who was very strict with me, forced me to finish my portion. I tried very hard but it did not go down. Father got very angry with me, and I was not allowed any other food until I finished that piece of meat. After two days and Mother's intervention, Father relented but punished me by forbidding me to go to any movie for a whole year. Those were the days of Shirley Temple movies, when all the girls saw them as soon as they were released.
From the age of six I received pocket money every Friday. At first I received perhaps five mills (about one penny), but the amount was increased as I grew older. I never spent any of it, and occasionally even managed to augment my savings by not spending all the money I had for eating. When I grew out of toys, like my doll and pram, I sold them, to add to my assets. I gave my money to Father for safekeeping but kept an exact account.
Father must have started a savings account to which my own nest egg was added. Uncle Siegfried approached Father one day, suggesting that they invest together in a house in Tivon, a new garden city developing between Nahalal and Haifa. It seemed a good idea, though Father's share was only one fifth and of this, one fifth was my contribution. So at the early age of about sixteen I became one twenty-fifth owner of a house. A few years later, when Uncle Siegfried's children were getting married, he wanted to sell that house so he could buy two smaller houses for them. Our share enabled us to buy a very small house. I now had a share of one fifth in this new house, and inherited it completely after my parents' death. This house on Hashitim Street number one is still mine to this day. It has one and one half rooms, a kitchen and bathroom and quite a nice piece of land around it. A Swiss nurse has been renting it for over twenty years and is taking good care of it.
In those years I was left very much to myself. Mother was in Tel Aviv and Father came home a few hours after me. I warmed up the food Mother had prepared, ate and washed the dishes and then I was supposed to do my homework before Father came home. However, I had discovered books and read them hungrily. I enrolled in the free Bnei Brith library from which I could borrow the books. Through classmates I had been initiated into the Hebrew translation of the Russian classics. These I read more than anything. Many times Father came home to find me with swollen eyes having cried my head off over some poor protagonist's tragic destiny. I was so completely engrossed in the world of my books, that I frequently forgot all my duties.
Sometimes, when the food Mother had prepared did not last all the way to Thursday, Father gave me some money so that I could go and eat in a very low-priced workers' restaurant. During my year of punishment I very often abstained from eating and used the money to sneak into a Shirley Temple movie.
Although there were no Jewish children close to our house, I did have some Jewish classmates who lived a little further away. One classmate was Barbara Propper, the adopted daughter of Dr. Emanuel Propper, cardiologist, internist and head of the Misgav Ladach Hospital. They lived on our street, about three blocks away. She was a quiet, timid little girl and I sometimes visited her or she came to play with me. She had a terrible ending at a very young age. Soon after the War of Independence she joined the Kibbutz Sdeh Boker in the Negev and was employed as their shepherdess. One day her sheep were found roaming about all over the desert. The people from the Kibbutz went out to look for her and found her mutilated body murdered by Arab terrorists.
Another girlfriend who lived not too far away was Chava Erlanger. Her father was a dentist and they lived only about two blocks away, on the second floor of the Patt Bakery. She was a very good looking girl, with long braids down to her knees, but rather undisciplined. She often got us both into trouble enticing me to immoral, indecent conduct, so my parents did not approve of our friendship too much. I remember her persuading me to join her in removing our underpants and going down to the street and asking the shoeshine man to dust off our shoes. After the War of Independence she became the runner-up of the first Beauty Queen of Israel. She was engaged to a young soldier but left him to go to South Africa where her mother's family lived. She married a wealthy young man but unfortunately she died of cancer at a very young age.
Another friend of mine was Naomi Cohen, a half orphan who lived with her mother at the house of an aunt and uncle on Hillel Street, close to town center. Her mother worked as a cook or housekeeper for one of the consuls, and we sometimes visited her at work. We were never allowed to enter the beautiful, imposing villa, situated in the elegant street of consulates in Talbiye. We would just call her name from the street and she would come down and out into the street to talk to us for a few minutes. Once we played in a heap of sand deposited near the embassy for some construction or repair work. Somehow I lost my house key in that heap and we looked for it for hours, desperately trying to find it. It was rather a large iron key, about four inches long, but we never found it. I was terrified to go home, not only very late but without my key too. Father was livid with anger and that was one of the very few times he really beat me up.
There were a number of friends of Mother's who had also emigrated from Germany and with whom she stayed in contact. Her best friend was Erna Kiewe, a spinster who was a saleslady in a fine jewelry shop. Another friend was Martha Gottlieb. Her daughter Ruth and I became friends. I do not remember the name of a third friend who was in charge of housekeeping in the elegant Kalya Hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea. This friend somehow managed to invite us to the hotel for lunch and high tea one day. I will never forget that experience. We were seated in a beautiful room at a magnificently laid table, where silent, barefoot black waiters in white robes with red sashes served us. I felt like a queen.
As we were growing older, most of us began ignoring our school's prohibition of joining any club outside of school. Most of us "Yekkes" became members of the sports club Hakoach, (The Power) run by Dr. Fraenkel also from Germany. We only paid a nominal fee and were instructed in light athletic disciplines two afternoons a week. After some months we started competing with other sports clubs and even sponsored events in Tel Aviv. These competitions took place on Shabbat, making it an even greater transgression against our school's principles. Somehow we were never found out, although Shula was written up in the sports newspaper having excelled in high jump and become the third best in the country in her age group.
Another club my parents allowed me to join was at the YMCA. There we received swimming lessons and some water ballet, as seen in the Esther Williams movies that were then in vogue. These classes were held Saturday mornings and strangely enough most of us were Jewish, even our instructor. She was a kind and very pleasant lady and added to our enjoyment of these activities.
One day I overheard my classmate Rivka Zuckerman talking about her summer vacation. She was going to work in a Kibbutz with her scouts' company. I inquired about this group, and learned that Rivka, too, had defied school regulations and had joined a coed scouts group which had a project of helping a different Kibbutz every summer from the time they were fourteen. I was very thrilled and enthusiastic about joining these scouts but my parents strongly objected. They believed that Hakoach and the YMCA were enough violations and activities for me during the school year. However, if the scouts would allow me to join them for the summer vacation to help work on the Kibbutz, they would not mind. I had some meetings with the scout leader and was accepted.
From then on I was able to participate in the summer work program of these scouts. For three years we went to different Kibbutzim and worked, mainly in the fields. As we were very young, our workday was only four hours, six days a week. We were housed in tents and took our meals with all the other Kibbutz members in the big dining hall. We had to take turns in cleaning and preparing food for everyone, and occasionally we were also assigned to help in the huge laundry room. The first two years I went with the group to the Kibbutzim Gvat and Ramat David which were near Nahalal and Uncle Siegfried's domain as veterinarian. Thus he was able to check and supervise me from time to time. The last year we went to Gennosar, where Yigal Allon, statesman, military commander and head of the Palmach was a member, and which was situated on the northwest shore of Lake Kinneret. Our tents were right on the beach and we enjoyed our daily swim in the lake. This Kibbutz had large banana plantations in which we were mainly employed.
All three Kibbutzim had vineyards and potato fields so we received quite a variety of experiences.
In those days I slept very soundly. It was not easy to wake me up. One day the scouts played a trick on me. Early one morning they took me with my bed and transferred me into one of the boys' tents while I was fast asleep. When I woke up, I did not know where I was, as everything was turned around. The whole company came in to look and had a good laugh at my confusion.
At the end of our six weeks' work schedule, every Kibbutz put a truck at our disposal for about a week, our reward for our labor, to enable us to travel around the countryside. There was not enough room in the truck for all of us; its purpose was mainly to carry our tents, sleeping bags and food. We hiked all over the north of Palestine, covering about twenty miles every day. Sometimes I was so exhausted that I fell asleep walking. But these were wonderful days filled with adventure. We prepared our food on an open fire, washed our dishes in a river or lake and often slept on the ground under the stars.
Father had a cousin, Julius Hirsch, who had been a millionaire in Germany where he had possessed forests and a lumber industry. Father talked to him about reparations long before anyone even thought of them. Father was practically ridiculed for suggesting such a possibility but cousin Julius humored Father and gave him all his documents and records to audit and investigate. Father spent many nights for two or three years compiling cousin Julius' claims and when finally the chance for a claim against Germany materialized, all the files were ready and were among the first to be processed. Father never received a penny for his strenuous work. All cousin Julius gave him was a floor lamp and a painting of a fisherman pulling his boat ashore. I do not know who painted the picture, but it is quite appealing and is now in my possession and will become part of Iris' inheritance.
After WWI the Treaty of Versailles was signed, establishing the mandate system for former parts of the Turkish Empire, until the respective countries could "stand alone." Palestine and Iraq were assigned to Great Britain and Syria to France. The mandate for Palestine was given to Great Britain at San Remo on 25 April 1920, and was ratified by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 June 1922. The mandates for Iraq a nd Syria ended in 1932 and 1936 respectively.
The mandate for Palestine had the primary purpose of establishing a national home for the Jewish people based on the "Balfour Declaration" of 2. November 1917 made by the British Government, based on the recognition of "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds of reconstituting their national home in that country." (Paragraph 3) In the second article of the mandate Great Britain was given the responsibility of placing "the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home" and they were to aid in establishing "an appropriate Jewish Agency for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine" by facilitating Jewish immigration into Palestine, encouraging close settlements by Jews on the land. (article 6)
When WW.II. ended and the catastrophe of the Holocaust became public, we all expected that finally all the Holocaust survivors from the displaced camps of war-torn Europe would be able to come to Palestine. The British, contrarily, issued another White Paper, restricting immigration further. They increased their patrol on the coast, preventing anyone from entering. Whenever they caught a ship, they would overpower it and take all the passengers to an internment camp in Atlit. After a guerrilla attack which liberated 208 such "illegals," all the new ones were transported to Cyprus.
One day while I was alone at home I came across some photos of Father in a Hagana uniform, marching and training for battle.
The Hagana (Defense) was an illegal underground organization, established in the early 1930 with the aim of defending Palestinian Jews against the Arabs, as there was no reliance on the British. Ultimately its purpose was to liberate our promised homeland and enable all Jews to come and live there. Nearly every youth and adult in the rural locations as well as thousands from the cities became members. Restraint was an important element of the Hagana, in contrast to the other two underground guerrilla fighter groups, the EZL (Irgun Z'vai Le'umi, i.e. National Military Organization) and LEHI or Stern Group, whose policy was revenge on the Arab attackers. The Hagana also organized the "illegal" immigration to counter the decree of the British White Paper. During WW.II. David Ben Gurion, as the leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, propagated an edict which proclaimed that we were "to fight the War as if there was no White Paper, and to fight the White Paper as if there was no War."
After I saw Father's photos I put them back the way I found them without saying a word. I rationalized that as Father had kept his membership in the Hagana secret from me, I could do the same. The following day I approached my classmate Rivka again, this time asking her if she could help me join the Hagana. About two weeks later Rivka told me to go to the Tachkemony Boys School at a specific time to be interrogated.
When I arrived, there were about four or five other people waiting. We were then called up one at a time, and led to an adjoining room. I could not see a thing at first. The room was completely dark except for one burning candle. Three men with masks on (I could hear their voices), questioned me as to why I wanted to join, and what I would do if caught by the British. I suppose my answers satisfied them, as they asked me to go back to the first room and wait. After some time I was called back in, and had to swear allegiance to the Hagana, to be ready to die rather than betray my future comrades. I was told to return two weeks later for a week-end training.
I told my parents that I was going to stay with a girl-friend for the week-end. I had to report at Schneller base, formerly a German hospital and orphanage, now a fledgling Jewish army base. We were housed in tents and received meals in a makeshift mess hall. Our training was mainly in the use of firearms. We were taught how to take different guns apart, such as a Beretta, a Browning, a Mauser or a Czech rifle, how to clean them and put them together again, all this in the dark. We went out on night treks, learning how to orient ourselves by the stars. We had to return almost every second weekend for more training. After about three month we were taken by truck to a desolate desert and given live fire-arms and hand grenades to practice throwing them and ducking. Soon my training was completed and I was commissioned to watch a British army camp two evenings and nights a week. I had to go to the private apartment of a very orthodox family and sit by the window in complete darkness for four straight hours. Every movement I could see, whether of a truck, a car or a soldier, I had to record in a notebook provided. This assignment made me quite an expert in writing and knitting in the dark.
About that time my cousin Hannah came to live in Jerusalem. Her parents apprenticed her to a bacteriologist. At first Hannah lived with us, but she was very wild, going out with young men almost every night. My parents felt that they could no longer take the responsibility for her and also that she was a bad influence on me, so she moved out. This upheaval helped me hide my own involvement in the Hagana.
During our last year of school a terrible occurrence shook us all up. One of my classmates, Zipora Abutbul, lived almost across the street from us in a house that until the early 1930s had served as a school for the blind. I had recently associated with her more closely, often studying with her for our final exams. One weekend she and her mother went to Tel-Aviv on an outing. They went to a festival in a park and later took a boat-ride down the Yarkon River with some other people. Suddenly they were attacked by Arab terrorists. Zipora managed to run away but her mother and three others were murdered. Now Zipora was left all alone. Her father had died a few years earlier and she was an only child. Our teachers and our parents all tried to protect and mother her. While sitting Shiva, the seven days of mourning, a first cousin came to see her. He was some ten years her senior, but they fell in love and very soon, despite the objections of everyone, got married. She was just seventeen years old and never finished school.
Our school wanted to prepare us well for the London Matriculation and make us feel more at ease when we sat for the exams. Most of our senior year was geared toward this goal. We were given Mock Exams on three different occasions, similar to the real ones, but administered by our school. These were two or three hour exams in each subject, administered on three consecutive days each time.
All the exams were in English, even our Bible studies. Though our school was bilingual, the emphasis was on English. Hebrew was regarded more like a foreign language and given very little importance, luckily for me. As we spoke German at home and mostly English at school, my knowledge of Hebrew was rather meager. All the students except for Leah and me were born in Jerusalem and spoke Hebrew at home, so they were much more exposed to the language than I was. Our Hebrew teacher for the last six years had been Mr. Wachman, an old inefficient man with a sickly wife at home and no ambition to teach us anything. His name really described what he was not, as he was rarely awake in class. He would come in, instruct us to open our books, then assign one girl to read, while he took a nap. The girl would have to read until she was saved by the bell. That was the extent of our learning the language of our new homeland.
I was not one of the best students in my class, although I excelled in mathematics, drawing, painting and art appreciation. In English I was also among the best but in Hebrew I actually was the worst. When Mr. Wachman had first been assigned to us as our Hebrew teacher, he let us write an essay. He probably read and evaluated this one essay but from then on graded our work according to that initial piece. Obviously, I always received the lowest grade.
The procedure for taking the Mock Exams was carried out in the same way as the real ones. We were allotted numbers to be used instead of our names so as to remain anonymous. It so happened that during the second set of our Mock Exams the girl with one number before mine, Esther Kukia, was sick and did not take the Hebrew exam. She was a good student in Hebrew and always received top grades. Mr. Wachman knew that the numbers allotted to us were consecutive according to the initial letter of our last names. Not realizing that Esther had been absent, Mr. Wachman assumed that my essay was Esther's, so I received a very high grade!
As was customary with us, every girl told the classmates her grade. Astonished at my excellent marks, one of the girls started reading my essay out aloud. My Hebrew and syntax were so bad that she had difficulty in even reading it properly. Very quickly we all realized what had happened. Of course Mr. Wachman got wind of it and confiscated my paper. That was the last I ever saw it; it just vanished.
During our senior year, life became more and more difficult in Palestine. The British often imposed a curfew on us, prohibiting anyone to leave one's house between six in the evening and six in the morning. Should anyone be caught in the street they would be imprisoned or even shot. I often sat on the wall enclosing our garden, watching the British soldiers guarding the empty streets.
As if all the political upheaval was not enough, we received news from Uncle Siegfried that Big Granny was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The doctors decided that she was too old for surgery - she was seventy-four - and suggested not to do anything. Uncle Siegfried, who was down to earth but not very polished - in Germany, in refined society, he had sometimes suggested to the elegant ladies to try a remedy that helped his cows - insisted on having Big Granny undergo surgery in spite of her advanced age. We were all very upset and worried, but were in no position to visit her or do anything but pray and hope for the best. Fortunately, the surgery went quite well, although three quarters of Granny's stomach had to be removed. From then on she had to eat small but more frequent meals, though otherwise she had seventeen more years of a fairly good life, thanks to Uncle Siegfried's insistence.
It was about that time that my cousin Lore came to stay with us for a while. She and her two sisters had attended the boarding school Ben Shemen since their arrival in Palestine in 1939. Lore wanted to get a position as secretary in the British government. Mother had been working as an employee of the British government, in the office of Custodian of Enemy Property since her job in Tel-Aviv was terminated. We had an old typewriter which was put at Lore's disposal and my parents helped her learn English and typing, to prepare her for her future duties. She was a very beautiful young woman and succeeded in obtaining a job with the central government located at the King David Hotel.
Our underground fighters blew up the railroads and all the bridges connecting Palestine with its neighbors and sank several coastal ships. The British government arrested all the members of the Jewish Agency Executive on June 29, 1946, "Black Saturday." About two weeks later the EZL blew up the central government offices in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, after giving them two hours forewarning. The British ignored the warning and about eighty officials and civilians, British, Jewish and Arab were killed. Luckily my cousin Lore had been sent to the post office when the explosion occurred, so she escaped unharmed.
Tension continued to rise when EZL liberated many of their comrades from Acre prison and the British executed seven EZL and LEHI men. In retaliation EZL caught two British sergeants and hanged them. Then in July 1947 the ship Exodus arrived with 4,500 refugees and the British forced them back to Europe. They took them to Hamburg, the British occupation zone, where they forced the refugees to disembark. This affair had a profound effect on world opinion and finally forced Britain to give up its Mandate of Palestine.
As Mother was a civil servant in the British Government, she was able to procure a five day vacation for us in Tabcha, on the shore of Lake Galilee. The place was run like a hotel in Victorian style. We were assigned a huge room with windows overlooking the lake. At seven in the morning a waiter knocked on the door and served us tea in bed. We had various outings and played all kinds of entertaining games, and one day we were honored by a visit from the High Commissioner of Palestine. On another day we went to El Chama, a natural warm sulfur spring close to the Syrian border. There were two rooms there, one for men and the other for women, with small smelly pools to soak in. Only one Arab woman was there beside Mother and me, and we quite enjoyed the experience. I relished all the pampering and adventures we encountered during our vacation and I was crushed when this delightful holiday came to an end.
As my parents' financial situation had improved, Uncle Siegfried decided that it was time for Big Granny to live with us. We had only two rooms, so Granny and I shared the living room for a while, but she soon became too uncomfortable, so my parents sublet a room for her not too far away, to enable her to come to us for all her meals. She liked living in Jerusalem, which was a little closer to the urban life she had been used to in Berlin. However, when the upheaval of the political situation became too precarious, it was agreed that Granny would be better off in the more peaceful rural Nahalal. Granny was not too keen on leaving, so her move back was postponed for quite a while.
One day my friend Leah asked me if she could come and stay with us overnight. I was delighted to have her but rather surprised at her request, as she had never before stayed at our house overnight. At first she was hesitant, but finally she confided in me that the Hagana had approached them and told them not to be home that night as they were going to blow up a house of an Arab terrorist who lived next door to them. When the Hagana gave them the "all clear" to return home, they found quite a few broken windows, but otherwise no real damage.
After completing our senior year in school, we had a big party. It was held at our house in our front terrace. Only eighteen girls remained from the original forty-some we had been when we entered school. I was able to persuade my parents to go to a movie, in order that we could be by ourselves. The party was held in the evening, so many parents came to bring their daughters to the party and take them home. We had some good food and music from a record player that one of the girls brought. Even though we were only girls dancing with each other we had a great time.
A few days later some of us were allowed to go on our first vacation by ourselves. Four of us, Leah, Naomi Salomon, Rachel Lavsky and I went to an inexpensive hotel in Tel-Aviv. Father had arranged it for us and had asked the managers to supervise us a little. It was close to the beach and we spent most of our time swimming. After a few days Ruth Abulafia and I went to Nahariya. Mother had to go to reassure and persuade Ruth's parents as they did not trust their daughter to be unattended. Therefore Mother promised to supervise us and joined us for about half our stay; for the rest we felt very adventurous being able to do more or less as we pleased. We rented bicycles and visited nearby villages and again spent most of our time on the beach. In the evenings we went to dance cafes and met our first admirers. They were in the civil guard, "K'firim." Subsequently I went to Haifa to stay with Uncle Max and Aunt Elsa for a few days and my young man, I think his name was Joseph, followed me there and even to Jerusalem after I returned home. But by then my interest in him had subsided. Ruth came from a wealthy family. At a young age she was able to travel abroad. Unfortunately she was killed in a motor accident in Paris at age twenty-one.
Father decided that I should study mathematics and statistics at the Hebrew University. Father enrolled me there and talked to the professors and administrators. He found out that statistics was not offered as a subject yet, so I was to study economics instead. I liked the idea of mathematics but not economics. I really wanted to study English, but Father considered it impractical for my future vocation. I did not like Father's making all the decisions about my university studies, but still I was grateful that my parents were letting me get a higher education. Both of them believed that education was extremely important. Mother used to say that one cannot predict the future, but whatever happens, the one thing that cannot be taken away from you is your education. Their experience had taught them that.
As the University considered the London Matriculation an insufficient equivalent to the prerequisite for the entrance exam, I was required to take five exams before I would be considered a full-fledged student. I was permitted to split the exams into two periods, taking two or three exams before entering the university and the remaining exams a year later. Now began my serious studies to prepare for the exams. I was going to take mathematics, German and English first. I needed a lot of help in German and mathematics, so Father asked one of his friends to tutor me, and Uncle Heinrich, the pharmacist, to help me with German. For the rest of summer I kept busy every day reading Goethe's "Ephigenie Auf Taurus," the required text for that year, and solving quite difficult problems in higher mathematics. I managed to pass all three exams but only did well in English.
In September 1947 I started attending classes at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. It was very difficult for me to follow the lectures as they were all in Hebrew whereas I had been used to instruction in English. Another shock awaited me in mathematics. The level of education I had received at my school and the private tutoring in mathematics were about two years short of what was required at the university. I was at a complete loss, but continued to struggle and tried to make the best of it.
On the announcement board for students I read about a hike to the Dead Sea on an upcoming Shabbat which sounded very exciting so I signed up for it. We were to meet in the center of town at six in the morning, and carry with us our food, water for the day and blankets. The distance from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, near Kalia, was about twenty miles, mainly downhill, hence it was estimated that we would arrive at the Dead Sea by six or seven in the evening and a truck would be there to take us back to Jerusalem. So on that specific Shabbat morning we all assembled at the designated spot. We were about twenty students, half males and half females. It was fall and fairly cool. After hiking for a few hours the weather changed. It became dark and started to rain. Our only covers were our blankets, as we were in the middle of the Judean desert. When the storm finally abated, we wanted to continue in our course, but our guide must have become disoriented. A few hours later he realized that we had taken a wrong turn and were now close to Vadi Musa, an Arab village whose inhabitants were predominately terrorists. By this time evening had come and darkness had fallen. We had to walk on in complete silence and darkness, holding on to each other to make sure we would not get lost any further. Luckily the villagers had not heard us so we managed to arrive at the Dead Sea safely, though about eight hours late! The truck was still waiting for us, to bring us back to Jerusalem in time for our lectures. Looking back now it seems quite an adventure though it was very scary at the time.
On November 29, 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations in Flushing Meadows accepted the recommendation of the Palestine Committee to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. The vote was 33 for, 13 against, with 10 abstentions. No one went to sleep during the night the votes were counted. For hours we were glued to the radio; then, when it began to look that there were enough votes, we all took to the streets. Enormous loudspeakers had been installed everywhere, transmitting the event. Every announcement of a vote for partition was hailed with loud cheers and soon dancing commenced in the streets.
The festive activities went on long after daybreak and all through the next day. Even the British soldiers joined in our dancing, maybe more for their own sakes as they would soon be able to return home.
The Arab reaction did not wait long. Immediately our people were attacked from all sides, and the Mamilah Commercial Quarter was set on fire. The British cleared parts of the Jewish sections from its inhabitants and fenced themselves inside, surrounding it with barbed wire. This area became known as "Bevingrad," after the unpopular British foreign secretary.
We could no longer go to Mount Scopus so studies at the university were suspended and all students were recruited into the army. For the first few months I was only needed part-time, therefore I asked Father if he could help me find a job with the British government. There was a position available in the Food Controller's Office, as clerk to a Mr. Marcuse, who many years later became Israel's ambassador to Germany. The job was really easy and my good knowledge of English came in handy. I even helped another classmate of mine, Rachel Verner, to get a job at my office, but after only two days she was too scared to go into this fenced off government sector in which British, Arabs and Jews all worked together, so she quit.
For the next few months I went with Father and many other Jewish employees to the barbed wire entrance to Bevingrad, near the Jewish Agency complex, to be checked by the armed British guards who then escorted us all the way to our offices. Each one of us had been issued a special identity card which served as our passports. In the offices we were joined by Arab and British employees and we all performed our tasks as if there was no war between us.
One day we heard a terrible explosion. Our building was five stories high so we all went to the roof to try and find out what had happened. We saw the Jewish Agency complex engulfed in fire and partially destroyed. When we realized what had happened, the Arab employees began to sing and dance, demonstrating their joy at another of their "successes." It really made one sick. Later we heard that there had been quite a few casualties.
The Arabs somehow managed to get through to the Jewish areas and sometimes planted bombs on Jewish streets. On February 1, 1948 they blew up the premises of The Palestine Post (now The Jerusalem Post). The building was about one hundred yards from our house and the explosion shattered some of our windows. Across the street from us was the old Hadassah Hospital. We all rushed down there to see what had happened. There were quite a few wounded people and many doctors trying to help them, among them my uncle Werner Nissel, Aunt Margot's brother.
On another occasion (February 23 1948) the Arabs with the help of some anti-Jewish British police, blew up the large residential shopping block of Ben Yehuda Street, close to where Uncle Heinrich and Aunt Margot lived. Luckily they were not hurt but their apartment was badly damaged.
Then two Jewish settlements just north of Jerusalem, Atarot and Neve Ya'akov were surrounded by Arabs and had to be abandoned. Dier Yassin, an Arab village near the western outskirts of Jerusalem, from which attacks on the adjoining Jewish areas had been launched, was taken over by EZL and LEHI who killed most of the inhabitants. A few days later, on 13 April 1948, a Jewish convoy of 78 doctors and nurses on its way to the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was attacked and everyone was killed. Some 200 yards from where this happened was a British military post responsible for the safety of the road. But the British soldiers preferred to ignore their duty when Jewish lives were at stake.
The water pipes and electricity that supplied Jewish Jerusalem were cut off by the Arabs, leaving us without water and electricity. Fortunately, the Jewish municipal workers had sealed all the cisterns in the city, like the well in our back yard, in order to ration and distribute the water to the population throughout the siege, a foresight that saved Jewish Jerusalem. Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus became a Jewish held enclave, as did the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, all of them completely cut off from the rest of Jerusalem. The streets dividing the Jewish and Arab areas became front lines, with barbed wire positions. The Jewish side was manned by Hagana, EZL or Lehi commandos, while the Arab side was occupied by the Transjordan army and the British-officered Arab Legion, which had not been withdrawn in spite of British promises.
One day two Hagana men who had been active in sabotaging British property were almost caught. They managed to escape and flee to my school building where they hoped to hide. However, Mrs. Levi, the headmistress, telephoned the British authorities and asked them to pick up the two men. I felt and still do to this day that it was a disgraceful conduct and am greatly ashamed of her deed.
Father had been approached by the evolving Jewish government, to help in legal advice. Dov Joseph was made the administrator of Jewish Jerusalem, and Father became one of his legal advisers. He now had three jobs to fill his day: in the mornings he worked for the British government, an eight hour job, in the late afternoons he worked for the fledgling Jewish government, and at night he did guard duty for the Hagana. Somehow he managed to cope with this overload, even at his age of 48.
one day his troop was needed to defend Notre Dame Monastery. For three days we had no news from him. Mother and I tried to find out where he was, as he had not
notified either the British or the Jewish government, so we understood
that his absence was involuntary.
Mother and I were terribly worried, but no one could give us
any information. Finally,
after three days, Father came home.
He was completely exhausted and dejected, his hair having
turned white overnight. Father's group had been inside Notre Dame while Arabs
encircled the compound, trying to conquer it.
Three times the Hagana and Palmach (the elite rural draftees of
the Hagana) had managed to chase the Arabs away, but each time they
returned. While Father
and his friend were posted at one window, two shots killed his friend,
who practically died in Father's arms.
It was a shocking and terrifying experience for Father and it
ended his career as a soldier. Dov Joseph arranged Father's discharge from army duty, as he
needed him for more essential government tasks.
Jerusalem was in a state of siege. Our contact with the rest of the country had been cut off when the Arabs took control of Bab el Wad, the valley through which ran the only road connection to Tel-Aviv. Just before the road was closed a few convoys managed to get out and luckily for all of us, we had managed to get Big Granny on practically the last one. It was an armored truck, loaded with sick people and accompanied by some heavily armed soldiers. Granny was not very comfortable in this company, but we were all relieved when she made it safely out of besieged Jerusalem.
We were now in a state of war. A normal way of life no longer existed. Some areas were so heavily bombarded and shelled that various houses collapsed. We were asked to take in another family. It was only a small family, just parents with a young son, so we gave them our living room while I moved in with my parents into their bedroom. Our house was not spared either. Forty three shells hit our building, but its very thick walls protected us from injury.
Work in the British government was suspended, so Father became a full time employee of the fledgling Jewish government while Mother volunteered as a cook in the army mess hall. I was enlisted in the army full time and was stationed in Schneller again, this time to go through special training in communication. We were instructed in how to use and repair walkie-talkies, telephone switchboards and other equipment. This time we were housed in stone barracks, as tents had become too dangerous. Shells flew about our camp regularly and we had to run from one building to another to avoid being hit.
A few weeks later we were assigned to our positions. Mine was in the Italian Hospital, situated diagonally across from my school. We were a mixed group of males and females, most of the girls being from my school, some of whom were not very friendly. We were told that the men would soon be moving out, closer to the Russian Compound which was still occupied by the British. I implored my commanding officer to take me along and he promised to do so if I scrubbed the toilets in the Italian Hospital. I really worked hard and got them all spotless, without having any proper cleaning fluids. So when the men moved to a building just outside the Russian Compound, I was allowed to go along.
We were awaiting the withdrawal of the British forces while stationed in that building, which we expected at midnight of May 14 to 15 of 1948.
I am stationed opposite the Russian Compound;
Past midnight, May fifteenth.
I have to watch the British soldiers
Packing up to leave at dawn.
The Union Jack still on the buildings;
All is quiet, a calm.
The British have shed blood, broken most promises;
This promise they will not break.
Lighter; the sky is turning gray;
The birds chirp their morning song;
The breeze sways the tree-tops;
No departure yet.
The sky turns softer, almost pale blue;
The sun sends its first rays;
The sound of people stirring finally,
Soldiers appear, starting, to load the lorries.
Slowly, more come out of their barracks,
Single file, unorderly;
Two lower and fold their flag, then join the rest,
Who sneak into their vehicles.
The minute the British vacated the Compound, our people moved in and took possession of the whole area, which included the general post office, police headquarters and the broadcasting studios. By afternoon I was allowed to join them, and the Russian Orthodox Church became our new base. That afternoon David Ben Gurion declared the creation of the State of Israel from the Opera House in Tel-Aviv.
Immediately Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, comprising 60 million people, attacked our fledgling state of 600,000 Jews. The siege of Jerusalem continued two more months, until an alternative route could be constructed through the hills from the coast, which we called "Burma Road." Life was very precarious during the siege of Jerusalem. The Arabs shelled us continuously, trying to get us to surrender. Everybody in Jerusalem was in the front line. Even the children and old people were enlisted for some tasks like filling sandbags for barricades or collecting weeds, mainly thistle, which were cooked like spinach. Food was getting very scarce.
The enlisted populace received one voucher a day for a hot meal served in the restaurant in which Mother was a cook. For the other two meals we were apportioned sandwiches. However, in order to get to the restaurant one had to walk through a narrow street, now called Mounbaz Street, which we dubbed "Alley of Death," because almost daily someone was killed there by Arab snipers. Many of my comrades preferred eating their sandwiches in the comparative safety of our base. I, however, was still very young and foolish, and rather enjoyed the excitement of running between the sniper bullets. So I traded my sandwiches for the vouchers and had three hot meals a day, while risking my life every time.
We had very limited ammunition left in Jerusalem. A new kind of home-made cannon had been constructed by our soldiers, the "Davidka," of which only one existed in Jerusalem. It was not very effective as a destructive machinery but made a tremendous noise, and served successfully as a means of frightening the Arabs. It was manned by three young soldiers, who would set it to work for a couple of hours, then move it to another front line, in order to give the impression that our people had a huge arsenal.
One day I heard my superior officers discuss a house that was on the edge of the Russian Compound, in no man's land, in an otherwise empty field, which separated us from the opposing Arab camps. The officers had observed the house for some time and wanted to enter and search it. I begged to come along and was granted my wish, promising to be extremely careful and quiet, as snipers from either side could shoot us if we were discovered. The time was set to go there just before dawn. Armed with flashlights, screwdrivers and two guns, we embarked on our undertaking. Surprisingly, the house was unlocked, so the screwdrivers were unnecessary. Once inside, using our flashlights, we saw a richly and beautifully furnished house that had been abandoned in a great hurry. This wealthy family must have been in the middle of a meal when they made their strategic withdrawal, for remains of food and dinner dishes still cluttered the dining-room table. They had left most of their valuables behind: thick Persian carpets, exquisite paintings on the walls, elegant silver flatware and a huge library.
Near the mantelpiece under some papers we made a gruesome discovery. We found a stack of photographs that really sent a shiver through our bodies. The photographs showed some smiling Arab fighters, standing with their guns, treading on two captured women, who were lying naked on the ground, their breasts cut off. A golden Star of David was visible on one woman's chest. There was quite a large stack of these morbid, ghastly pictures, which my officers decided to take with them to hand over to their superiors. As daylight was fast approaching, we decided to make our way back to the base.
This event and particularly the horrible photographs kept going through my mind and gave me no peace. I felt that I had to return to that house and explore it more thoroughly on my own, and perhaps come up with the identities and additional evidence against these savages. I decided to go there after dark, when my officers would be on duty so I would be free to slip away unnoticed. Equipped with only a flashlight, I approached the house. Just when my hand was on the door knob, I thought that I heard a noise coming from inside. I hesitated a moment, contemplating what to do: but then I convinced myself that probably the noise came from some mice running around, consuming the food remains, noisily enjoying the copious feast. Everything was shrouded in darkness. Surely there could not be anyone inside. Slowly I turned the knob and entered. . .
Carefully closing the door behind me, I turned on the flashlight and focused it on the room. There, near the mantelpiece, stood a young woman, holding a flashlight and some other paraphernalia. I do not know which one of us was more panic-stricken. We were both paralyzed with fear. After what seemed like hours, I ventured to ask the girl, in Hebrew and English, what she was doing there.
"This is my uncle's house," she answered in fairly good English, "I have come to collect some important items that he has left behind."
"But this area is not under your control; you have no right to come here. It is no man's land and if you should be caught you could be shot," I said.
"So can you. You have no right to be here either!"
"True. We are both trespassing. So we had better both leave at once!"
Without exchanging another word, we both moved cautiously toward the exit, each wary of the other, keeping a respectful distance. Once outside, we quickly made our ways in opposite directions. The last I saw was her figure disappearing in the darkness. I never saw her again nor did I ever venture to return to that house. For many years I kept that terrifying encounter to myself.
Food and water were very strictly rationed, and Arab shelling continued, injuring over one thousand of our inhabitants and killing 170 civilians. As our cemetery on the Mount of Olives was cut off, a temporary burial place was prepared near the Valley of the Cross, where also a tiny landing strip was set up for the occasional Piper Cub plane that managed to land. The siege of Jerusalem lasted for more than three months. We were completely cut off from the rest of the world, although our troops were constantly trying to reach us from Tel-Aviv, and once in a while an old Piper Cub plane managed to fly over Jerusalem and drop us desperately needed food, medicine and ammunition. A horse-driven wagon came along our street every three days to sell us kerosene (oil) for lighting and cooking, but even that was getting scarce. Children gathered wood to enable housewives to prepare a hot meal out-of-doors between shellings. An official would come every second day to unlock the wells and hand out our water rations, about a gallon per person, to be used for cooking, drinking, washing, laundry, toilets and more.
Egyptian and Iraqi troops joined the Arab Legion in invading Palestine. They closed in on the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and on May 27, the Jewish citizens surrendered. one thousand three hundred elderly men, women and children as well as wounded men were evacuated to the New City, while all the others were taken prisoner.
After a few weeks in the Russian Compound I was transferred to Shech Jarach, an area of Jerusalem near the road to the university. We were two females and one male assigned to a communication station. Our duties were to contact headquarters every hour, day and night. On June 11th A general cease fire was proclaimed on June 11th, which lasted four weeks. This break enabled our soldiers to capture the Negev, the Galilee and Lydda Airport. It also gave us a breathing spell, a feeling of relief. We were happy to be alive and able to move about freely again, without fear of snipers.
One fine sunny day I was walking along with my two comrades, when suddenly I felt a terrible pain in my arm. A sniper had fired a bullet that just grazed my arm. I had been lucky, the bullet had only gone through the flesh. A nurse treated my wound and I received three days leave. My arm healed fairly quickly but a scar has remained for life.
During the cease-fire the army decided to reorganize everyone, to make real soldiers of us, with proper training and finally issuing us uniforms. We were transferred to an army camp near Natanya, after traveling on the newly constructed "Burma Road." It was no more than a dirt road, but we were all delighted when this life-line to Jerusalem opened at last and the siege of Jerusalem ended.
Life in this army camp was a completely new experience. We were housed in tents and were assigned our own female sergeant. Every morning at six o'clock we were awakened by a loud siren. We had to get dressed immediately, run around the entire camp, then march and parade before the officers for a whole hour. After that our beds had to be made exactly as directed, and only then could we proceed to breakfast. Whenever we met an officer we had to salute, and always look brisk and alert, shoes polished and shirts properly buttoned. After the long laissez-faire period I just could not take this slavish obedience. Most aggravating was our female sergeant who had no education and was unpolished and loved to show her power over us ex-university students.
One morning I refused to get up, even when she sounded her shrill whistle right in my face, so she pulled my blankets away. I had prepared mugs and cups with water under my bed, which I then threw at her, giving her an early morning shower. She got really furious at me, but I was lucky to get away with my prank without punishment. Strangely enough, I got better treatment from her from then on, perhaps because she was a little afraid of me.
Our days were taken up with listening to lectures and receiving technical instruction. I saw no point in these endless drills, as they were of little use to us communication personnel. One afternoon, as we had just sat down to attend another boring lecture, our instructing commander got furious when he noticed that only five of us had come on time. However, without any comment or fuss, he started giving his lecture. Upon the arrival of a number of latecomers a few minutes later, the commander immediately started the lecture again. Then a few more sauntered in, and the commander began his lecture once more. When another group came in and the commander repeated his lecture for the fourth time, I could not restrain myself anymore. I told him that he was being very unfair, as he was punishing the punctual rather than the tardy people. When he ignored my remark, I took my boot off and flung it in his face! Enraged, he got all red in the face, took my boot and just continued with his lecture. Again I was lucky that we were in an incipient army, as a year or two later I would probably have landed in prison for this offense. My boot was confiscated for a week, so I walked around camp with one boot and one shoe!
In spite of all the mischief I was causing, I was very unhappy in that camp. One day I left the base and started walking, trying to figure out how to survive. I walked for miles, through a deserted air force base, and for a while I contemplated committing suicide. However, I reasoned that these stupid superiors of mine were not worth for me to end my life, and that our training in the camp would soon be over. I therefore decided to return to my camp and company a few hours later.
Before we were to return to Jerusalem and to our respective duties, we were taken on a one-day outing. We went to a beach in Tel-Aviv, and I was overwhelmed by the sight of the ocean. I have always loved the sea, and had missed it so very much. I could not get enough of the sound and smell of it and walked to the end of a pier to be closer to the water. I was sitting on the edge of the pier, breathing the fresh, invigorating air, when a man approached me and tried to convince me not to jump, that life was good and worth living. He thought that I was intending to commit suicide, but this time he was completely wrong!
When we returned to Jerusalem I was again assigned a new place, this time in Bak'ah, on the way to Talpiot. I had female superiors who continually pestered me with their irrational commands, so I begged to be transferred nearer to the front, where I would be more independent and have no female superiors. I was told that I could transfer to Ramat Rachel, but that the conditions there were fairly dreadful, and I would be the only female around. I did not mind, as long as I could get away from these female commanders.
Next day I was driven to Ramat Rachel, or what was left of it. The Kibbutz had changed hands several times until the Arabs were finally repelled. Practically all the buildings had been razed to the ground. Only the big communal dining hall had survived, with a few basement storage rooms underneath it. One of these little rooms was to be my domain.
Away from the
Pestering female commanders;
My own boss,
The only girl at the front line.
My bunk, beside the telephone exchange;
The radio transmitter, the kerosene lamp,
Both over my bed in this cell
In the basement of the only building.
Radio, telephone, Morse signals--
These are my wards;
Should they fail--use my feet.
Yet I look forward to the tasks.
The evening meal in darkness,
Without the dangerous silverware,
Grab the food, Dark-Ages style,
Try finding my mouth, guess the fare.
Blankets tucked securely around me
Hoping the rats
Will not find an opening.
Only two of us were responsible for communication in Ramat Rachel. We had twenty-four hour shifts, so we each were on duty every other day and night. One day when I was on duty, one of our telephone lines broke down, a line that connected us to the house of the former High Commissioner. It was in no man's land but guarded by an Israeli and an Arab Legion soldier patrolling it together. Both the Israeli and the Arab side had telephone connections to this position, but our line was disrupted. I was called upon to find the break and repair it. Two soldiers accompanied me while I checked the line, until I found the tear, which I repaired in no time. We were very near the patrol post of the two guards, so we walked over to them. One soldier had brought a camera along and took a picture of me with the Arab. Unfortunately I lost that photo somewhere.
Life was not very easy in Ramat Rachel. But I managed to adjust, especially as no superior was there to boss us around. When I was off duty for twenty-four hours I often went home, to get a good washing and some decent food. Of course we could only walk in the ditch that protected us from the snipers.
The sun warms
The chirping birds;
I walk in the ditch.
Still remembering my bed at home
I step along the winding trench.
I see a snake, then, huge,
Lying in my only path.
Out of the ditch
I run along the bank
In full view of the enemy,
Who instantly fire.
Our side answers; bullets fly;
Soldiers rush toward me
Forcing me back in the trench;
Two riflemen go after the snake.
The riflemen return
With the dead body;
They carry it, a trophy, for me;
I turn my back.
Once again I survived this experience unharmed. Unfortunately, a few days later we got the sorrowful news that my Uncle Heinrich was not so lucky.
At the age of sixty-three, but with many years of military experience, he had been appointed commander of Mekor Chayim, another outpost suburb of Jerusalem. He had not used the safety ditch that had been dug along the borders. A sniper bullet hit him, wounding him mortally. Not only the family mourned his death, but practically all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He had been a very popular, respected and beloved citizen, who had helped many people in financial trouble. No one of his immediate family was at his funeral, as his wife Margot was in Natanya and his daughters were in England. I was not given leave to attend and I think that the only relative present was Dr. Nissel. Uncle Heinrich, the oldest serving officer of Jerusalem, was laid to rest on Mount Herzl, the cemetery for commanders and dignitaries and, of course, of Theodor Herzl.
While stationed in Ramat Rachel I was sometimes asked to join the soldiers on duty at their posts. We had a strategic position, high up on the hill, overlooking an Arab village down below. At times our people aimed at the villagers who returned the fire. Occasionally I also took aim, but directed my bullets near the people rather than at them. I did not wish to kill anyone, just to scare them away.
Sometimes I had about twenty-four hours leave and went home to stay with my parents overnight. I had made a few friends in the army and was occasionally asked out for a date. While at the base I would go to a movie, but when I went home I usually declined. One of my acquaintances was on leave at the same time as I was and persuaded me to go to a movie with him in town. After long hesitation I finally agreed and consented to his coming to our house to pick me up. When he arrived, Father interrogated the poor guy as if we were about to get married. We were just comrades, as I was with quite a few other people, and here Father gave him the third degree! Father asked him about his profession, his parents' profession and background, where they lived and from where they came. I was rather shy anyway, having had little experience with men, and now Father was embarrassing both of us to the utmost. That was the first and last time I brought a male acquaintance to our house.
At about this time David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, started organizing his provisional government in Tel-Aviv. Father, as legal advisor in the fledgling Ministry of Commerce and Industry, as well as inspector of all hotels and restaurants, was part of that government. He was asked to move to Tel-Aviv and was allocated a very nice apartment in Bat-Yam, a smaller town on the Mediterranean coast, perhaps ten miles south of Tel-Aviv. So now my parents moved from the house in which we had lived for about sixteen years. They took my dog Bobby with them, as there was no way I could keep him at my army base. One of the neighbors who had moved in with us during the heavy shelling suggested that I maintain at least one room for myself, as I had to stay in Jerusalem. But I was in the army most of the time and did not want to be bothered.
Father had developed some illness which the doctors were as yet unable to diagnose. He had trouble walking and soon needed the support of a cane. It became increasingly difficult to get along with him as his personality gradually changed into an excessively uptight individual. Mother, as always, had the patience of an angel and tenderly catered to all his requirements. She had to give up her good position with the Custodian of Enemy Property that she had retained when Israel took over from the British government. Luckily, Mother was hired as bookkeeper in one of the bookstores in Tel-Aviv a few weeks after their move. My parents relished the new apartment which was on the ground floor of a three story apartment building and which was much more modern and spacious. Whenever possible I would hitch-hike and visit them there. Big Granny stayed with them for quite a long time. She, too, enjoyed the closeness to the sea and to metropolitan Tel-Aviv. Even with Father's illness it was easier for her to get along with my parents than with Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith.
Again I received orders to move to another position. This time I was to go to Chavat Halimud (Study Ranch) a kind of boarding school established and run by Rachel Yana'it, the wife of Yizchak Ben Zvi, later to become the second President of Israel. Chavat Halimud had been vacated by the students and taken over by the army. It was the closest to the High Commissioner's Mansion and not very accessible. We had to travel by armored truck, which was our luck, as two land mines had been planted on our access road shortly before we passed on it.
When we drove by, the mines exploded, flinging our truck about a foot high into the air, but leaving us unharmed inside, though quite shaken.
My duty at the ranch was again the hourly communication with our base. Most of the time we were only two people assigned to this job; in the beginning it was another girl, but soon I was again the only female in the area. We could not leave the premises on our own, as the only access was by armored truck, which arrived only irregularly. However the environment as a whole was much more cheerful. We had a sunny room, a bright dining room and beautiful gardens and playgrounds. Once in a while Rachel Yana'it arrived at the ranch - no one knows how she got there - and tried to give everyone orders. She would grumble about her neglected gardens and the disorder and untidiness of the buildings; most of all she attempted to conduct the war as though she was in charge. My superiors had quite a few squabbles with her and felt very uncomfortable whenever she arrived. She was a very sharp but older woman and the proprietor of the place, yet it was wartime and they were in command. We subordinates had some good laughs behind their backs though we had to be careful not to be too conspicuous, as she could turn on us and give us a piece of her mind.
About a week after I was stationed there a squadron of lively and charming young fighters arrived. Their main responsibility was guarding our quarters. We had these attractive playgrounds including a soccer field and there was supposed to be a cease-fire. It was springtime and these young men were full of energy that needed an outlet. So one day they decided to venture out and play soccer. They allowed me to participate and we all had a great time. Suddenly a volley of shots pierced the air and was sprayed all around us. We sank to the ground and crawled on our stomachs back to the building. Luckily no one got hurt, except for some minor bruises. That was the end of our communal outdoor activity. There was a donkey on the ranch which we sometimes rode around the building, but this activity was confined to one or two people at a time.
Among this squadron were three friends with whom I became fairly close. One of them, Bezalel, was more or less their leader, a very handsome playboy type on whom I had a crush. He liked me too, along with four other girls. Another one of the three was a more quiet and intellectual type who seemed to show some affection for me. The four of us spent many hours together talking, and later, when they were transferred, we went to visit each other in our respective new bases.
My orders to move to another base came soon too. This time I was stationed in Arnona. Another female ex-student was stationed there with me. We talked about our student days and our dissatisfaction with our current duties. We both discussed our prospects and decided to apply to be accepted into an officers' training course. Our superior officer had to sign our application, which he agreed to do only with the precondition that we both participate in an upcoming evening of entertainment, in which we would have to be on the team of a sports-quiz contest. We were rather shocked at his coercion, but had no choice, so we made fools of ourselves in front of hundreds of soldiers.
While waiting for our applications to get approved, I was still occupied with keeping up the communication channels. Among my tasks was to operate a large telephone exchange. Quite frequently I was connected to a voice of a young man with a similar job at another base. His voice was very pleasant and we had many long, stimulating conversations. We got to enjoy our telephone relationship very much and he suggested that we should meet one day when both of us would be off duty.
Just at that time the authorities decided that Israel needed educated people and that the university had to be reopened. Only two institutions of higher education existed in those days: the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Technion in Haifa. Both had been shut down for about a year and a half and all the students had been recruited into the army. In June 1949 it was decided that all the former students should be released from the military and resume their studies immediately.
I received my discharge orders just then, so I never attended an officers' training course. This young man I was about to meet had two days of leave coming to him, so he suggested we meet in Tel-Aviv on the day after my discharge. We made all the arrangements, but somehow our meeting never transpired.
As the University on Mount Scopus was inaccessible we were relocated to the Franciscan Terra Sancta College. Due to our service in the army we had lost three semesters. It was decided to make up for at least one semester by compressing the next three semesters into three and a half months' sessions each with only a one week break between them.
I had to find accommodations because my parents now lived near Tel-Aviv.. A new student home had just been opened very close to Notre Dame Monastery and no man's land. I was accepted as a lodger and assigned a bed in a room with two other girls. It was a wonderful feeling for me to be suddenly completely independent: no parents, officers or teachers to tell me what to do. To help us get established, we received a monthly stipend, though a very small one. I was also exempted from taking the two remaining exams and was now considered a full-fledged student.
My parents allocated a small monthly allowance to cover my expenses, and I also found a job as caretaker of three small children, three afternoons a week.
It was not a very easy or pleasant job, as the children were all very young, five, three and one year old; I had to feed them as well as change their diapers. In those days there were only cloth diapers which I had to wash by hand. I did enjoy playing with the children or taking them for walks, and after a while they became quite attached to me.
From then on I also had to provide for my own sustenance. We had a small hot plate in our room, enabling us to prepare coffee and warm up some light fare, but we could not cook a proper meal. Going to a restaurant was out of the question as it was much too expensive. A friend of my parents' had a wholesale candy store to whom I went occasionally to stock up on chocolate and other cookies. A bar of chocolate was often my main meal, or frequently falafel in pita bread.
The student house was coed, with rooms for men and women on all the floors. We had separate bathrooms but encountered each other at every turn. In the evenings we would often assemble in one of the rooms and organize little parties. Everybody brought some food on which to nibble and we sang and engaged in animated conversations. We had all just been discharged from the army and had survived a precarious war. Most of us felt that we deserved a spell without too much stress and some spare time to get ourselves back to orderly, mundane life.
When I went back to attend my classes, I decided to drop mathematics as I was too far behind. Statistics had become an independent subject so I switched to it and continued with economics, specifically "Economics of Israel and the Middle East." At that time the university was geared directly toward Master degrees without Bachelor degrees in between. It usually took five years to complete the studies and three subjects were required. One of my uncles had distinguished himself in sociology and had written a book "The Kibbutz" which was required reading at the university. So Father decided that my third subject should be sociology, specifically "Sociology and Demography of the Jews."
After having been in the army for eighteen months and being constantly exposed to Hebrew, it was now easier for me to follow the lectures. Professor Backi, who was the head of the Central Bureau of Statistics, was the sole lecturer and teacher in statistics, and Professor Bonne' taught economics. Soon Dr. Patenkin from the USA joined him. Dr. Patenkin was rather young and in the beginning his Hebrew was poor, but he was extremely dynamic and became very popular after a short while. Professor Martin Buber taught us Sociology along with Dr. Tartakover. I liked Professor Buber's lectures as he was very student-oriented and was always good-natured and patient even with the dullest of students. He was a small, slim old man but full of life. Unfortunately, I was not very diligent in those days and frequently skipped classes.
There were maybe five or six rooms for students on our floor. During the evening social gatherings I became particularly friendly with two male students who resided on our floor across from each other. One of them was Jehoshua Bizur, who, besides his studies of sociology, history and journalism, was a part-time beginner sports journalist. The other was Zigi Reiter, a student of chemistry and biology. Zigi had started his studies before WW.II. and had joined the British Army during the War, then went back to study until he joined the Israel Defense Force, so he received two small stipends, and could just manage to subsist on them. Both of these men showed an interest in me and occasionally asked me out for a date. I liked Jehoshua more, but he was rather busy, both with serious study and his job, so we did not spend as much time together as I would have liked.
My cousin Gerhard was getting married in Haifa and of course all the family went to his wedding. I was determined to go, too, and not be left out of another family affair. While I was still in the army my cousin Lore got married in Jerusalem but my superior officers would not give me the two or three hours leave that I had requested, so I missed her wedding. She had married the handsome and charming officer Avri Seidenverg, who years later disgraced the family name by being involved in the Lavon Affair, as the "Third Man."
Gerhard had been working as a machinist on an Israeli ship that was constantly bringing Jews from the displaced persons camps in Europe to the finally liberated Promised Land. On one of these trips he met Cilly Marocco from Warsaw. She, her mother, brother and sister had survived WW.II. by hiding in the forests. Now they were coming to Israel to start a new life. Gerhard and Cilly fell in love and he proposed to her while they were still at sea. Aunt Edith was terribly disappointed by this match, as her soon-to-be daughter-in-law was a poor Polish girl, and according to Aunt Edith's opinion, beneath their station. The wedding was a rather meager affair, with about ten people attending. Aunt Edith did not treat Cilly very well, even later, although Cilly turned out to be a very warm and wonderful person and she and Gerhard had an exemplary marriage. Mother treated Cilly affectionately and Cilly never forgot Mother's kindness toward her.
Just two or three months later, cousin Hannah got married. Her husband was Gad Ball-Kaduri, an immature young man from a highly respected but poor family in Tel-Aviv. Uncle Siegfried arranged and coerced this marriage, as Hannah was very wild and flighty, and he wanted to see her settled down. The wedding took place in Nahalal and was much more lavish, with practically all the residents of Nahalal attending.
David Ben Gurion and his cabinet soon decreed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. All the government offices were to relocate to Jerusalem, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in which Father was a legal advisor. My parents were allotted an apartment near the end of Gaza Street, but they had to take over a lodger who had been living there for many years and who refused to move out. So they only had two rooms and a kitchen at their disposal, while they had to share the bathroom and the separate toilet with the lodger. Most weekends he spent in Tel-Aviv with his family where they had an apartment. The custom in Israel even during the last years of the British Mandate had been that, in order to be able to rent an apartment, one had to pay "key money," an amount about one third of the price of the apartment. However, as a government employee, Father was allocated the apartment without having to pay any key money nor did he get anything for vacating the lovely one in Bat Yam.
As my parents were relocating to Jerusalem, Father wanted me to move back home, to save the rent I was paying at the student house. I had now been on my own for about five months beside the eighteen months in the army and shrank from that prospect. Still being partially dependent on their support, I believed that the only way to avoid returning home was to get married. Zigi had just proposed to me and so I accepted. My parents were rather stunned at my sudden decision, but Mother went with me to visit Zigi's sister Lotte in Tel-Aviv, a very nice lady, and after finding out more about the family background, my parents gave their consent.
Sigismund or Zigi was twenty-eight years old, the oldest of three children of a Zionist family from Timisoara, Transylvania. His father had been head of the Zionist organization and his mother head of Wizo. Just before WW.II they had sent their two older children to Palestine. A brother and sister-in-law of Zigi's father also came at about the same time, as well as Zigi's friend Yehuda Arbel. Zigi and Yehuda started their studies at the Hebrew University but soon enlisted in the British Army. Yehuda married Lotte just before he and Zigi were sent overseas to fight in Italy. During their four years of duty in Italy, Yehuda had many girl-friends, and Lotte met Yarden, her future husband. So on Yehuda's return from overseas they had an amicable divorce.
Both Yehuda and Zigi went back to university, but after two years were called upon to serve in the Israeli army. Yehuda met Hannah at university and they got married before the university reopened. They appropriated a nice house abandoned by the Arabs in the German Colony and moved in.
Now we also had to find a place to live. Zigi's best friend Yehuda had been keeping an empty basement next door to his house which he wanted for his parents, as he had hoped that they would soon be able to leave Romania. However, he had received news that his parents would not be given permission to leave, so he suggested we move in there. Since the Arabs had abandoned their houses, many people had moved into these dwellings and registered with the newly established Bureau of Abandoned Property to which they paid their rent.
We went to inspect the place and decided to take it. There were four nine by nine feet rooms in a square, with high windows that were on ground level on the outside. One room had no window, so we decided to break down one wall and thus enlarge one room which would serve as our living and dining room. There was also a small private courtyard at the edge of which there were two additional small rooms with openings for faucets which would serve as our kitchen and bathroom. The outer walls of the living quarters were very thick, about three feet deep, and one had to take three steps down to go into the rooms. The wet area, which was just rather thin empty walls, was reached by taking two steps up. We needed to get a sink, stove and cabinet for the kitchen, and a bathtub, a boiler and a toilet for the bathroom. There was no space for a sink, so we would have to use the faucet in the bathtub to wash ourselves.
My parents agreed to buy us some furniture: two beds, a cupboard, a table and chairs, as well as some china and utensils for the kitchen. Uncle Siegfried's wedding present was a boiler for the bathroom But we needed all the equipment for the wet area. We talked things over with our friends and roommates and decided to go and explore the abandoned buildings in no man's land opposite our student house.
The next few evenings, equipped with a torch, we sneaked into those houses and looked for the items that we needed. We found a kitchen sink, a toilet and a bathtub, but needed to detach them. With hammers and chisels we worked several evenings until we got them loose. Then we had to transport them into Israeli territory. The men were quite strong, so the sink and toilet were carried by two of them. The bathtub, however, was a different matter. We needed four people for that. With the help of two friends the four of us carried this stolen bathtub across the street from no man's land to our student house in the middle of the night. Just as we were crossing the street it struck me how ludicrous this situation appeared and what a sight we must be should anyone see us. I started laughing hysterically, and could not stop myself. It got so bad that I wet my pants. Luckily the street was deserted and we got all our loot safely into Zigi's room. The next morning a friend who had a truck helped us transport everything to our future apartment. A plumber connected all the fixtures so now our kitchen and bathroom were established.
Zigi broke down the wall between the two rooms using heavy hammers, then carried out all the debris to the garbage dump. I white-washed all the walls and cleaned the place thoroughly. Mother and I sewed some material to hang up as drapes. We also got acquainted with the young couple who lived in the house proper, above our abode. The Natansons had lived in the Old City of Jerusalem and had only recently been released from Arab imprisonment. He had been wounded, losing three fingers, which the Arabs had not considered severe enough for his earlier release.
We got married on 13th December 1949. Our Rabbi was Dr. Kurt Wilhelm, the founder of the synagogue "Emet Ve'Emuna" whose congregants were all German Jews and which we sometimes attended. Most of my family came to our wedding as did Zigi's sister and brother-in-law, his uncle and aunt and many of our friends. My parents financed the wedding and also paid for a five-day honeymoon in Tiberias, the warmest place in Israel in December. Eilat had not yet been established. We had a fairly good time although it rained frequently and sometimes it was rather cold. So here we were, two inexperienced virgins getting to know each other. This state was not at all unusual for a girl of twenty with the way I was brought up, but for a man of twenty-eight who had served in the army in two wars, especially in Italy, with Yehuda as a companion, a married man who never missed an opportunity to have an affair, it was somewhat rare.
Now we were a married couple who had to find a way to support ourselves. Our combined stipends were not quite sufficient to make ends meet. With the help of one of my parents' friends, I applied for a position at the Central Bureau of Statistics. I obtained a part-time position which enabled me to continue with my studies.
Among my tasks in my new job was to help conduct a census of all the inhabitants of Israel, especially of the newcomers. One of the first areas assigned to me was lower Lifta, which is near the entrance to Jerusalem below the main road. I had to hike down the steep hill and go from house to house, filling out long questionnaires. Most of the immigrants living there had recently arrived from Yemen by means of Operation Magic Carpet. The majority had lived in rural areas in caves and primitive huts, then were assembled in Aden from where they had been flown to Israel by plane. They had never experienced modern life and some had even tried to make a fire on the plane to prepare their food. They had quite a good knowledge of Bible and Jewish customs and most spoke some Hebrew. They were very diligent and eager to learn and adapt to their new environment. When I finished the survey in that area I was assigned different regions throughout the country.
Both of us were supposed to study seriously, but unfortunately we did not apply ourselves enough. I had some excuse as I was also working, but Zigi, who had already attended the university off an on for eleven years, was just idling around. He had serious disagreements with his professor who expelled him from the class, thus forcing him to switch subjects. At home, life was not peaceful either as Zigi just killed time doing nothing. We had a lot of arguments that at times turned physical, so after six months I was completely fed up and went to my parents, telling them that I was seeking a divorce and asked to be allowed to stay with them.
The reaction of Father stunned me. He almost had a fit. He declared that he would not allow me to bring shame on the family, that a divorce was out of the question. He called Zigi's aunt and uncle in Tel-Aviv (by that time my parents had a telephone, especially as Father was not well) and made them come to Jerusalem. The four of them pressured me for days, until I finally gave in and returned to Zigi. After long and hectic arguments it was decided that Zigi would leave the university and start a two year course in land surveying.
Our apartment was rather cold and very damp. Every spring I whitewashed the walls to cover up the mildew. It was also very inconvenient to have to go out in the rain to get to our kitchen or bathroom. I conceived the idea of building a little corridor, an enclosure with big windows, which would connect the entrance to the rooms with the kitchen and bathroom. I talked it over with my uncle Max, the architect, who made a proper draft for me, to submit to the municipality. After receiving the permission to build, I had to request the allocation of all the building materials as everything was strictly rationed. With the authorization for granting me the materials in hand, I went to various stores, to compare prices and haggle until they agreed to deliver the goods as needed. I found a workman who had some experience in building and, with my supervision and Uncle Max' draft, he built the structure I had envisioned. This improved our living quarters immensely.
Money was rather tight so I had to do all the laundry by hand, even the big bed sheets. Food, too, was deficient as Israel was absorbing over a million people in two or three years, tripling the population in that short time span. We built some coops and raised our own chickens and rabbits, and Zigi donated his blood almost every month which entitled us to a few extra rations. After six months of working for the government, I was hired as a full-time employee, so my studies were almost shelved.
Although we were no longer in the military, we still were required to do reserve duty. Every civilian was considered to be a soldier on eleven months leave. When Zigi was called up, I spent much of my time with my parents, as I did not like being alone at night for a whole month, although I enjoyed the serenity and was able to study more intensely. Then it was my turn to serve. I was stationed in the St. Simon Monastery of the Cross where we had guard duty beside our communication responsibility. Life was much easier here and I felt almost as if I was on holiday.
One day, while shopping with Mother at the Shekem, the military store something like a PX in which we were still permitted to shop, I suddenly fainted. A visit to the doctor confirmed my suspicion that I was pregnant. None of us were really happy about it, but I decided to make the best of it. I continued traveling all over the country to conduct the census as I rather enjoyed the trips and felt fine. Some of my female co-workers suspected my state and suggested that I should tell my boss about the pregnancy, so he would employ me in the office instead, but I kept quiet. I did not grow heavy so my pregnancy was barely noticeable.
We had gone to visit my parents one evening towards the end of the ninth month. While walking home I felt that my time had about come. I decided to go home, have some coffee and wait up until we could catch the last bus to the hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses examined me and declared that I had at least until the next day, but offered to keep me there. I did not want to stay in the hospital unnecessarily, so we hitch-hiked home. It was way past midnight when we went to bed, but by four in the morning I was up again. This time we had to call a taxi. It was almost five when we arrived at the hospital and by seven o'clock my son Amnon was born. About an hour later I asked the nurse to call my office and tell my boss that I would not be coming to work that day as I had given birth. My boss nearly fainted at the news; he had no idea that I had been pregnant. A few days later he came to visit me in the hospital, and he could not get over his astonishment.
We had a small ceremony for the Brit at the hospital and immediately after that I went with my baby to a special rest home for new mothers with babies. We were able to take it easy between our meals and our babies' feeding time. Most of us were new mothers so we were instructed how to handle and take care of our babies. I found that my Amnon was the best looking of all the new babies. We stayed there for seven relaxing days after which a very difficult time started for me. I hired an older woman to take care of my baby so that I could get back to work. My government position was not tenured yet, so I was not eligible for maternity leave; that meant that I was not paid for the two weeks that I had been absent, and we could ill afford to lose any more of my wages.
Amnon's caretaker was a good and reliable woman. She even did some shopping and tasty cooking for us. However, she was rather elderly and frequently got sick, so on these days one of us had to stay home. Neither of us could afford that, so I had to look for someone else. Answering my ad was a thirteen-year-old Yemenite girl. Pu'a was the oldest of eight siblings and had taken care of them for the last five years. She was young, healthy and eager to work for us, so I hired her to take care of Amnon and clean our dwelling. She was no cook, and was somewhat irresponsible, although on the whole fairly satisfactory. She remained in our household for the next two or three years. One day she saw a mouse running around the room. She took Amnon and waited with him outside, for hours, until one of us came home. Another time Pu'a found a small snake in the living room. She ran out, this time leaving Amnon in his crib. That upset me enormously, and I reprimanded her severely for it.
Our neighbor and friend Yehuda came over one day telling Zigi that his parents were at last coming from Romania and asked Zigi to give them some space in our residence. Zigi immediately agreed as he felt that he owed it to Yehuda for having told us about our place. I was terribly upset, especially as we were to share our cramped kitchen and bathroom with these old people. We had to squeeze Amnon into our tiny bedroom, while Yehuda had a whole house just for himself and his wife. But Yehuda's wife did not want her as yet unknown in-laws in her house, so we were to be burdened with them.
As if life had not been difficult enough, it now became worse. These old people were rather meek, but it was still a tremendous inconvenience for me. When I wanted to cook and she was there too; there really was not enough space for two people to maneuver. They used our bathtub and boiler and toilet and never paid a penny for anything, not rent, water or electricity which all added to our expenses.
After studying for a year to become a land surveyor, Zigi decided that he was not going into a second year but would apply for a job. He was hired by the Jewish Agency. Finally, at age thirty-two, not counting the years he had spent in the army, he started on his first day of work. At last we were going to have an income from the two of us, improving our financial situation. But Zigi's employment was not always smooth sailing, as he quarreled with co-workers, a few times even resorting to violent beatings. However, he somehow managed to keep that job for the many years he was working, until he retired at age sixty-five. It was the only job he ever had and he merely took a one year break when he went back to finish the second year of surveyor school when he was almost forty years old.
I was trying to continue with my studies beside my full-time job and housekeeping; Zigi was against it, maybe because he had quit university or because he wanted me to devote all my spare time to the family. Anyway, I managed to attend lectures during working hours, which I made up by working overtime. But I also needed to study for final exams. A few days before the exam I took three days of my yearly leave, and with my books, went to a public park to study. This was not a very efficient or comfortable way to prepare for exams, and needless to say, I did not do very well.
Pregnant women and mothers were exempt from serving in the reserve, so only Zigi was called in every year. When he was on army duty, I often took Amnon to my parents, sometimes even staying overnight. My parents loved Amnon very much and made a great fuss over him. When Father shaved in the morning he would always dab some of the lather on Amnon's cheek, making him laugh with delight.
Father's health was deteriorating rapidly. The doctors diagnosed his illness as cirrhosis of the liver, a disease often afflicting drunks. Father had never drunk much alcohol, but had been infected with jaundice in the early forties. I, too, had been infected with jaundice and we both developed Hepatitis. At that time we had both been seriously ill for quite a while and had to stay in bed. This caused the liver cirrhosis, for which the doctors knew no cure.
Believing that one day he would get reparation from Germany, Father had prepared all his documents many years earlier. When an agreement with Germany came into effect in March 1953, Father's application was among the first to be submitted. A few months later my parents received the first of two payments for loss of income due to Nazi persecution. My parents decided to use some of that money for a trip to Europe, especially to Germany, to consult specialists in Father's illness. After twenty years in Israel, this was their first voyage abroad, and their first experience in flying. They spent a few days in London where they visited my cousins Erica and John and their families, and then continued to Berlin. Paula Landshut, Father's cousin, had survived the War by hiding in Berlin and was now working for Germany's telephone company. My parents had an emotional reunion with her. They also went to Bopart to try and procure reparations for my friend Lea, but without success. The medical specialists Father consulted could not help him either. At least they had some good times.
My parents were still living in the rented apartment that they shared with the lodger. We all talked to Father to invest in a new apartment that they would be able to afford to buy with some of the reparation money. So Father finally agreed to put down a payment for an apartment in a new development that Rasco was building a little further away from where they lived. It would take almost two years until it would be ready, and the mortgage he received was for fifteen years.
My work in the Bureau of Statistics involved much calculating, which I quite enjoyed. I became a tenured employee working in the demography department and I was responsible for a number of temporary workers, two of whom became my friends. Arnona Peikes was a young mother with a son my Amnon's age. She had been an officer in the Israeli army and had married a high ranking officer who had stayed on in the regular army. They had just moved into the new Rasco development. When Amnon was almost three he was accepted at the Wizo day care center on Strauss Street, and so was Arnona's son, Jonathan. We often met when dropping off our sons, and walked back to the bus that took us to the office. The other friend was Frieda. She was a fairly new immigrant from Bulgaria and had just finished her army service. The three of us frequently spent our lunch breaks together and enjoyed each others' company. During those years Golda Meir's daughter-in-law worked in our office and occasionally Golda would come to our office to see her.
Home life was rather dreary and very demanding. As Amnon was now in the day care center, I no longer had help at home, and had to do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry myself. Of course we had no washing machine or refrigerator, just an ice-box that needed a new block of ice every day. We had a long way to walk from the ice shop and the block was very heavy so this was Zigi's job. The two old people also used our ice box, and were often in my way. I frequently got upset and one day I exploded. All day I was at work and when I came home in the late afternoon, rather tired, I had to start cooking and taking care of Amnon and our dwelling. Here I was, trying to prepare a meal, when this woman is in my way all the time, cooking her own stuff. I started yelling at her, that she had had the kitchen to herself all day long and now I wanted her out so I could work in peace. She screamed out, calling for her son which infuriated me further, so I pushed her out of the kitchen and closed the door. Just then her son arrived, flung the door open, and started grappling with me, pushing me out. I was fairly strong in those days, so he did not overpower me completely, but the end of it was that none of us did any more cooking that evening.
When Zigi came home I told him what had happened, and he tried to smooth things out. He and Yehuda agreed to move the old woman's table out from the kitchen to the structure or corridor which I had built, so that we would have less discord in the future.
After his discharge from the Israeli army, Yehuda never returned to the university, but was employed by the police force. He had advanced to a fairly high rank by the time of this episode, and he used his position to get back at me. Two days after the incident I received summons to appear at the police station at a certain time and date to answer the accusation of attacking a police officer! This was really outrageous! The private citizen Yehuda had come into my house to settle a dispute about his mother, and now he turned it into a criminal offense, as if I had attacked him while he had been on duty.
When the appointed time came for me to appear, Zigi made sure that he would accompany me. The minute I came in to the police station, the officers there started to shove me around, of course at Yehuda's instructions. Zigi tried to defend me and separate me from their mishandling, so immediately three policemen seized Zigi and arrested him for attacking policemen on duty. Their interest in me faded and they sent me home. I was completely shaken and went straight to my parents.
We had not told them anything about the affair and Father grew furious when he heard about the fraudulent treatment by the police. He used his connections for the first time in his life, to find out about Zigi's fate. He was told that Zigi would have to stay in prison until a court would determine his punishment. Father was so infuriated, he just could not stand the idea of his son-in-law being in prison and, at that, on false accusations. He again used his influence with the prosecutor general to whom he told all the facts, and was able to procure Zigi's release the next morning, without either of us ever being charged with anything. However, all this agitation left a great toll on Father, whose health deteriorated rapidly from then on.
Father also advised us to go to court and get an injunction against the old couple to leave our dwelling. We had a very strong case against them, because they had lived on our premises for two years without ever paying any rent, water or electricity. Three days before we were to appear in court, Yehuda went to Zigi and told him that he would move his parents to the basement of his own house, if we agreed to withdraw the case. We weighed the options and decided to agree, as otherwise the case could be prolonged for another year or two, for Yehuda could appeal the verdict in two higher courts. So finally we had some breathing space and Amnon was moved to his own little room. None of them ever paid us a penny but we were glad to be rid of them at last.
The Jewish Agency, Zigi's employer, had a few hotel establishments for its tenured employees. Zigi was able to reserve one week in Natanya for the three of us. I was not sure if we should go, as Father was getting very weak and was frequently in and out of hospital. When the time for our vacation drew near, I really wanted to cancel out, but by then it was too close and our only option was not to go and lose the holiday space. Mother encouraged us to go and promised to call us if things got worse. After three restful days enjoying the beach and the ocean, Mother called, reporting that Father was again in the hospital and would probably not survive. I decided to go to Jerusalem for the day to visit Father in the hospital, leaving Zigi to take care of Amnon. Father was barely conscious and could hardly talk. Mother was devastated. I tried to comfort her and promised to be back two days later. It was too late. Father passed away the next day, so we all came home. He had just turned fifty-five.
We had to make all the arrangements with the burial society, Chevra Kadisha, buy a plot, print the deceased announcement and notify all our relatives and friends. Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith came immediately with Granny and helped me with all the arrangements, as Mother was too perturbed to think straight or do anything. As is customary in Israel, the funeral was the day after his death. It was decided that Granny would stay with Mother for a few weeks so that Mother would not be alone.
Father had not left a will, so according to Israeli law half of his property was due to me. I had to go to the office which handled inheritance and fill out forms, declining my share and ceding it to Mother, as I did not feel that I had a right to it.
Our marriage had not been happy from the start. We had many arguments and fights, and Amnon was witness to many of them. About two months after Father's death I asked Zigi for a divorce. He refused at first, but I continued to pester him and promised him that he could have everything: the apartment, the furniture and furnishing, all the household if he would grant me the Get ( divorce paper).
Israel was under orthodox Jewish religious jurisdiction, and only if the male wanted or agreed to a divorce could it be executed. In those days it was enough for a man to say “I divorce you” in front of two witnesses, and that was considered a legal divorce. But if the man refused to agree to a divorce it could not be enforced. Even today there are still some women in Israel who left their husbands maybe forty years ago but can not get divorced because the husbands refuse to grant them. Another orthodox regulation was that in an amiable divorce, female children were to live with their mothers, but male children were to live with their fathers from the age of six.
was just four but I did not want to relinquish him later on, so I
needed his father's good will. We
went to the chief rabbinate in Jerusalem to fill out the forms for a
divorce hearing, and I also discussed my situation with Dr. Wilhelm,
the Rabbi who had married us. When
the date for our case arrived, Zigi changed his mind and refused to
go. I harassed him
constantly, until he again consented. A new date was set and this time we went to the rabbinate and
I finally received the longed for divorce.
My marriage had lasted six long, unhappy years.
Mother had agreed to have me and Amnon live with her temporarily. All I took with me were Amnon and his clothes and a few of his toys. Zigi would not even let me take my personal things. I continued working at the Bureau of Statistics and studied for my final exams at the university. I had already finished all my class work. The exams and writing my thesis were all I needed to get my degree. While living with Mother I had a little more leisure as she cooked for us and gave me time for my studies. Exams were only given twice a year. I had to take three major subjects, which needed a lot of preparation and study, so it took me a year and a half to complete them all. Mother helped me with the typing of my thesis. I could finally graduate with a Master of Art in the summer of 1957, ten years after I had started to attend the university. Besides studying during those ten years I had served in the army for a year and a half, had married and raised a child and had been employed full time for about six of those years.
There was a fairly festive graduation ceremony at which Professor Bonne as head of the economic faculty presented me with my diploma. I was extremely pleased and proud to have finally made it. Both Mother and Zigi attended my graduation and both congratulated me warmly and I know that at least Mother was very happy for me.
A tragic incident was stirring up the people in Israel. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, when finally the gates were opened to enable the Holocaust survivors from all the European Displaced Persons Camps enter the Promised Land unhindered, these people were silenced whenever they wanted to speak about the horror they had experienced. The prevailing opinion was that we needed to look forward and build up our new country that had just been created. However, in 1953 a leaflet was published by Malkiel Gruenwald accusing Rudolf Kasztner of having collaborated with the Nazis when he had been a member of the Hungarian Judenrat. He also accused Kasztner of having saved only his family and friends in a "Jews for trucks" deal with the Nazis, while abandoning and even abetting the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. As Kasztner was an Israeli government official by that time, the case went to court. This case started first discussions about the Holocaust and the role of the Judenrat. In June 1955 the court accepted most of Gruenwald's accusations, but an appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court which in January 1958 quashed the lower court's decision, clearing Kasztner's name. By that time Kasztner was no longer alive; influenced by the political atmosphere, a young Tel Aviv man shot him in the street in March 1957.
This was also the period when Yad Vashem was set up on Har Hazikkaron ("Memorial Hill") to remember the "six million members of the Jewish people who died a marttyrs' death at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators." Among the first facilities that were established were a memorial hall, a synagogue, a museum of the Holocaust and the Hall of Names. In addition, Holocaust Remembrance Day to be held each year on the 27th of Nisan was initiated.
My social life was almost non-existent. I had my friends Arnona and Frieda at work, but when I went home I spent the rest of my time with Mother and Amnon and my studies. Both Arnona and Frieda encouraged me to go out occasionally and also start attending a French class with them once a week. Mother agreed to watch Amnon so we three women started studying French together, which was quite enjoyable.
One of my temporary co-workers began to pay me considerable attention. He was a little older, rather small in stature, of Armenian origin. Soon he asked me out for a date. I was not much interested in him but he was rather persistent, and having no other distractions, I finally consented. He came to Mother's house to take me out to a movie, and brought me home, too. He behaved very gentlemanly and I asked him in for a cup of tea. We talked for a long time and I really wanted to go to sleep. Mother had already gone to bed, and it was getting late. Soon he began telling me that it was time for him to get married and that he thought I would be a suitable wife for him. He explained that his family was well to do and we would get a nice apartment in their family house and he would take good care of Amnon. I was rather taken aback and told him that I hardly knew him and was not ready to get married again. He agreed to give me some time to think things over, and finally left, without the kiss that he had asked for. I definitely did not consider him and I never went out with him again.
The apartment for which Father had made a down payment was finally completed and was ready. Mother did not want to move there and gave it to me on condition that I take over the mortgage. I very happily agreed and moved in with Amnon. It was a lovely, modern two bedroom apartment with a front and back balcony on the first floor, and a shared air raid shelter on the ground floor . The kitchen even had a sink and stone counters and some cabinets. Mother bought me a sofa bed and I bought a refrigerator, a recliner, a coffee table and a wardrobe. Frieda and Arnona helped me get settled in and we had a little house-warming party. I soon found a lodger to help me pay the mortgage, so I slept in the living room.
For the first time in my life I had a place of my own, a place that really belonged to me. I had two friends and Amnon to keep me company. But I felt very insecure and went to see a psychiatrist. I never told Mother or anyone else about these sessions as I was very self-conscious about this. I used to see him right after work, once a week, for many months. He helped me overcome some of my inferiority complex and understand myself more clearly. These visits helped me gain some confidence in myself and my future.
About a year or more after our divorce, Zigi asked me to marry him again. I absolutely refused as I was glad to have gotten rid of him. He persisted with asking me every year, until I finally got married again. All those years he seemed to be a caring father, and often found excuses to meet me in order to discuss some problem concerning Amnon.
Zigi's parents were finally allowed to leave Romania and were honored with an impressive reception at Tel-Aviv Airport, including political dignitaries and the press. It had nothing to do with me, but about two months later Zigi asked me to go and see his parents, as they wanted to meet me. I had no interest in them, but Mother thought that it would be the right thing to do, so she accompanied me to Tel-Aviv, where they were staying at Lotte's place (Zigi's sister) until their promised apartment would be ready. So I met Zigi's parents, feeling completely neutral toward them. They seemed old, friendly people, who spoke German quite well, but I had absolutely nothing to say to them. After about an hour of insignificant conversation we left and I never saw them again.
An add in the newspaper attracted my attention. It described an upcoming trip to Ashkalon to go to the beach the following Saturday. Mother agreed to come along, so I signed up all three of us. The meeting point was in town at six in the morning, where a big truck was waiting. We had to climb into the truck and sit on hard wooden benches, but the people were kind and pleasant and we all enjoyed the day at the beach. I found out that they were a club, calling themselves Chovevei Teva, "Nature Lovers," or Meshotetim, "Hikers," and most of their trips were hikes through and across the country. One of the members asked me for my telephone number and he came to see us a few times, played with Amnon and occasionally took me out to a movie. He also talked me into joining the club and going on these hikes.
From then on I went on short trips, when possible with Amnon, but for Mother they were too strenuous. Zigi and I had an arrangement that Amnon would spend every second weekend with him, so on those weekends I could go on the more arduous hikes. However, once I took Amnon to Masada, long before the cable car was built, and he walked all the way to the top on this winding snake trail, practically ahead of everyone.
The members of the "Nature Lovers" club were a mixture of young people from all strata of society. The majority were Sefardic, and there were quite a few lawyers and even the future President of Israel, Yitzchak Navon, was a member. I soon became very friendly with one of the younger girls, Rachel Sheetreet. She was extremely warm-hearted and sometimes invited Amnon and me to her parents' house. She was a clerk at the Jewish Agency, where she had been fully employed since her fourteenth birthday. She only left for the two years she had served in the army. She came from a poor large family with four brothers and four sisters. I soon found out that I knew two of her brothers quite well, as we had served together in the reserve at St. Simon Monastery of the Cross.
About a year after I joined the "Nature Lovers," I got more friendly with one of the members, Avraham. We went out to the movies and coffee shops and occasionally to Finks, a cozy bar that was famous for its goulash soup. Avraham was working in an agency that read every newspaper and magazine published in Israel, and cut out all the articles that mentioned or were relevant to their various clients, sending them these clippings daily. His day started very early, as soon as the papers were available, and by noon his workday was finished, even with the afternoon papers. He was in his mid-thirties and still lived with his parents in the orthodox neighborhood of Geula. We liked each other and he also got along well with Amnon, so eventually we decided that we would get married. I was not yet ready for marriage again, so we agreed to remain engaged for the time being; we never did get married.
For the last few years Mother had been employed part-time as bookkeeper and secretary in a bookstore in town. She never really recovered from the loss of Father and now her health was deteriorating. I must confess that I did not spend enough time with her. She was alone and missed Father very much. I was busy with work, with Amnon and my social life, and did not consider her needs sufficiently. To this day I have a bad conscience about having neglected her when she most needed me. She decided to go to Europe again, especially to Germany to see if some specialist there might help her recover. She invited me to come along and accompany her on her trip. Frieda wanted to go to Europe too, as she had applied and been accepted at the summer school for English teachers at the University of London.
We all planned to go to Paris first, where Frieda had relatives who had a little bed and breakfast establishment. From there Frieda would go to London while Mother and I went to Berlin. We planned to go on to Switzerland, to find a nice bed and breakfast place for Mother to stay a few weeks until Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith would come and take her home. Just a few days before leaving for Europe, Mother's best friend, Erna Kieve, called me to her house; she told me confidentially that Mother had stomach cancer. I was terribly shocked, and was full of hope that a doctor in Germany might find a cure for her.
Amnon was now six years old and according to the divorce became Zigi's complete responsibility. Amnon also had to start school. The children in Israel attend school six days a week from eight o'clock to twelve thirty. Zigi had to work until about five, so he decided that Amnon would be better taken care of in a foster home. I agreed to pay half the cost, so that I would have a say in Amnon's education and future. We applied for a suitable home and were referred to a family in Motza, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. These people had four children and another foster child, all about the same age. We arranged for Amnon to live with them and go to school there with their children, while taking turns in having Amnon for the weekends.
On the whole Amnon was quite happy in Motza. He had constant playmates and the parents were friendly. Only once Amnon went through a traumatic experience. He had a large, silver colored teddy bear given to him when he was a baby. This was his favorite toy which he cuddled and which gave him comfort, and he never parted from it. Of course, he took it with him to Motza. Being a little boy, he had not always given it careful treatment and after six years it had become rather dirty and smelly. Instead of trying to wash the outer hairy part, the foster parents burnt it, fearful of vermin. Amnon was utterly devastated. I had to buy him another bear but it never replaced his first one.
While still in Israel, I also rented out Amnon's room to cover some of the expenses for the foster home. Amnon stayed with me every second weekend, both of us sleeping on the extendible sofa in the living room.
Mother, Frieda and I had booked berths on the Israeli merchant marine ship Theodor Herzl. It was a beautiful, modern kind of cruise liner built in Germany and acquired by Israel as part of the reparation deal. It was cheaper to go to Europe by boat than to fly in those days and much more enjoyable. We had a cabin for four, with Frieda and me on upper berths. The fourth woman, Ruth Goldman, shared the lower berth with Mother. I had played with Ruth when we were about six years old, one of my first friends in Jerusalem.
We boarded ship on Sunday, 30th June 1957 and disembarked four days later in Marseilles. From the time we got on board until we came back two months later, on Sunday, 1st September, I kept a detailed journal of all our adventures, 78 pages long, written in Hebrew. I just recently found it among my belongings and enjoyed reading it again after forty-four years. I made copies of it for Amnon and Frieda so they can also relish and relive our exploits. As my other two children cannot read Hebrew, I have decided to describe my first trip to Europe in detail, using the journal as my source.
This was my first trip abroad, after spending twenty-four years in the enclave of Israel. I was twenty-eight years old and was extremely impressed by what I saw and encountered. I was awe-struck by our ship which had six stories and five entertainment centers, such as a movie theater, a bar and a dance hall. Only the small swimming pool of fifteen by thirty feet disappointed me. I called it the "Mikve" but still enjoyed splashing around in it.
On the third day of our cruise we approached the shores of Sicily and the southern tip of Italy. I was fascinated by the beauty of the landscape and amazed by the telephone cables that connected Sicily with the rest of Italy. Late at night I just could not get enough of gazing at the fire-sprouting Stromboli Volcano. On the fourth day we arrived in Neapoli (Naples) where we joined a guided tour of Pompeii. I was full of wonder at this rediscovered and excavated ancient city that had existed about two thousand years ago and had been destroyed by the volcano.
The following day we disembarked in Marseilles and took the night train to Paris. We had booked a sleeping cabin and again I was astounded at the neat berths and sink with soap and drinking glasses. I slept on the top berth and had a good night. We awakened early as we were supposed to arrive in Paris at 7 o'clock, but we only arrived at nine. We bought some coffee and croissants and stood in the gangway to stretch and watch the landscape through the windows. In the cabin next to ours was a young Frenchman with his little nephew and we struck up a conversation. I used my knowledge of French that I had learned at university and found that I could manage quite well. The Frenchman invited me to go out with him in the evening and promised to show me some of Paris. I gave him the address of our hotel and he said he would pick me up at seven.
We went to Frieda's relatives' establishment where we settled down in our room and took an afternoon nap. At seven my date arrived punctually and took me to a bistro where we had some drinks. Then he asked me to go with him to a hotel. I gave him a clear negative answer and he said that if that was the case, he would return to Marseilles the same evening. So he brought me right back to our hotel, and that was the end of my first evening in Europe!
The next few days we went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Montmarte and Montparnasse, the Invalides where Napoleon's Mausoleum is, Champs-Elysee and to many other wonderful tourist attractions. A friend of Ruth's who was also on our ship joined us and introduced us to her uncle who was leaving Paris the following day. He wanted to show us all as much of Paris as possible in the short time he had. So we had a great opportunity to see more remarkable places, such as the Rodin museum, the Grevain, which is the equivalent of Madame Tussaud in London, the Sorbonne, Madelaine Cathedral, the Jewish quarter, the Tuilerie Gardens, the Carrousel or small Arch of Triumph and the Seine. In the evening we went to Sacre Coer, to Place Pigalle and to the Etoile. We sincerely thanked the uncle for giving us this opportunity to see such an immense number of attractions, as we could not have experienced even half as much on our own.
Next day we went to Versaille and were shown around by a guide. I was glancing at our group when suddenly I noticed a woman standing next to me who looked exactly like Ingrid Bergman. I whispered to Frieda about it and she said that it was Ingrid Bergman. I looked at her again. She was about forty, had long blond hair, was very tall, and attractively dressed in a white skirt and plain but pretty blouse. She was accompanied by her daughter and another young woman and a male escort. She was trying to hide her face as soon as photographers surrounded her and no one listened to the guide any more, everyone focused on her. Another guide soon appeared and took her group out through a private passage. Now we could resume listening to our guide. We then went to the gardens, which were absolutely magnificent, the most beautiful ones I ever saw.
In the evening we went to the ballet at the Opera, the next evening to the Follie Berger. I was extremely impressed with both shows as I had never seen anything like these great dancers nor so much nudity before. The metro was also a novelty to me and we soon got used to taking it. We found it quite easy and cheap and also very convenient for getting into town center quickly. We did a lot of window shopping and bought a few things too, and I was amazed at the enormous department stores, especially the Gallerie Lafayette comprising two buildings of six stories each. We had arranged to meet Frieda at the restaurant of the Gallerie Lafayette, not realizing that there were several restaurants there, and it was sheer luck that we found each other.
We were in Paris on the French Day of Independence celebrated on the 14th of July. They started their parades very early, so by the time we arrived at the Champs Elysee we only saw the end. They had marched from the Arch de Triumph to the Concorde. It seemed as if at least a million people were watching. A salute of twenty-one shots was fired by cannons and many airplanes were flying in formation, imparting a very festive atmosphere. In the evening three huge lamps were lit at the tomb of the unknown soldier, one red, one white and one blue, and there was a gigantic display of fireworks.
After spending twelve days in Paris, we parted from Frieda and the other girls and Mother and I flew to Berlin via Frankfurt. This was my first experience with flying and I was very impressed by the food we were served but the ear-ache spoiled the enjoyment and we were glad when we arrived safely. In Berlin we had some business and saw a doctor who gave Mother new medications. We met Father's cousin Paula Landshut and her friend who had hidden her in Berlin during the whole Nazi period. The two invited us to their apartment and there I saw television for the first time. It was a small, black-and-white television set and there was no program just then, only advertisement for sausages, but I was completely fascinated and watched eagerly. For me it seemed the greatest luxury to be able to watch these moving pictures while sitting in a private home. The following evening we were invited to Mother's friends and there I could watch a beautiful program on their television: transmitted from Genoa was an international ballet festival which included the four greatest dancers in the world.
We went to East Berlin by underground and never noticed when we crossed over. A cousin of Mother's who lives there met us at the station and we took a taxi to the Jewish cemetery, Weissensee. I was surprised to see so many Hebrew inscriptions on the stones and a monument at the entrance memorializing the fallen. We first went to look for this relative's and Mother's aunt, a sister of Granny's, then for Mother's and Father's fathers. A bomb had fallen near Mother's father's grave making it very difficult for us to find it, although we had precise instructions where each grave was located. On the way out we passed many graves of important people, among them those of the two rabbis who married my grandparents on both sides as well as my parents, uncles and aunts.
We took a taxi back to the underground, a ride of more than half an hour and paid almost nothing for it. Mother bought three plants with beautiful flowers, donated a considerable sum for three graves and for the cemetery, paid for two taxis, gave her relative money for a taxi to take her home and paid for our return tickets by underground and all this amounted to as much as one cheap theater ticket! In East Berlin everything was extremely cheap but we could not buy anything as one had to show an East Berlin identity card for every purchase. All their essential food was rationed and chocolate was completely unavailable.
That afternoon we were invited by other friends of Mother's, who had just bought their house with reparation money. They had lived in Tel-Aviv during the Nazi regime but now had returned to Berlin. They invited us out for dinner to Kempinski, the most elegant and modern restaurant in Berlin. It had existed for many years, but had been bombed out and was now completely rebuilt. Mother told me that during Father's student days, when they were engaged, Father would take her there occasionally for the cheapest fare on the menu - bread with gravy - and they felt on top of the world.
Kempinski also impressed me very much. We arrived by taxi and a doorman opened the door for us, another doorman opened the doors of the restaurant and then someone took our coats and showed us to our table, near a window. The food was excellent and I was impressed by the attractive crystal bowls in which we were served a fruit salad, two bowls with ice between them standing on silver platters. When someone had a telephone call, a waiter walked through the restaurant with a sign on which the name of the person was written, to notify him in a quiet manner. Our waitress came from time to time to see if we had enough of everything and added another dish whenever we emptied one.
Across the street from the restaurant were moving neon signs announcing the latest news, among them that Baron Rothschild had donated many millions for the construction of a building for the Knesset, Israel's parliament. On the crossroads we saw a policeman directing the traffic. He was wearing a belt with blinking lights, green on the front and back, red ones on his sides, clearly indicating to the cars when to stop. All these were fascinating new sights and impressions for me.
Mother's cousin from East Berlin had left us a message at our bed and breakfast place letting us know that she would meet me the following day at two o'clock at the underground station. She was waiting for me there and we drove to Stalin Boulevard. The street was decorated with thousands of flags as Ho Chi-minh, the communist leader of North Vietnam was expected that day. There were gold, red and black East German flags, and many more red communist ones, as well as blue ones of the socialist youth. Stalin Boulevard had tall buildings with tiled fronts but the sides and backs consisted of broken down blocks that were in great need of restoration.
The following day Mother and I went with cousin Paula to see the Interbau exhibition. Architects from all over the world, including the Israeli Klein, had displayed their different, modern building ideas. Many edifices were six stories high and had six apartments on each floor, constructed for various family sizes. There were some for just couples, others for parents with one child, differentiated for a small or a big child, and for couples with two children. The sizes of the apartments were from studios up to three bedrooms, many with separate breakfast nooks. The furniture was also very modern, low tables and mostly round or oval. A cable chair-lift took us over the whole area, which was almost two miles long. From it we could see all the buildings again surrounded by lovely gardens and even a small lake.
On the next day we flew to Zurich via Frankfurt. We had a two-hour stop-over in Frankfurt and sat in a restaurant all that time because it was raining incessantly. We watched the planes landing and taking off, every minute or so, like an assembly line, all the different airlines, except El Al. Soon we continued our flight to Zurich, where Ariye Metzger, the son of my parents' friend was studying medicine (his father had the candy wholesale business in Jerusalem). His father had given us a package containing Falafel, Techina and Chumus mixes for him, which he was very happy to receive.
Ariye had reserved a comfortable hotel room for us which we could not have found ourselves. He took our luggage and brought us to our hotel, where Mother went to rest. I went out with him as he wanted to show me some of Zurich. We went to Lake Limat and saw many boats and swans, then returned for Mother. By funicular rail we went up to the top of the mountain and saw all of Zurich, a lovely, very green city. There was a forest and a lake on top, and everything lush and green. No wonder, with all that rain. Many benches were available around the lake mostly occupied by young couples who seemed undisturbed by the rain.
From there we went to Ariye's room. The house he lived in looked just like those on pictures of Switzerland: narrow with a red tiled sloped roof. His room was downstairs while the bathroom and kitchen were upstairs. His room was cozy and had a radio, a record player and many books. He served us coffee and cake and we had a pleasant time talking, and looking at pictures of his trips in Israel and abroad. We completely forgot the time and suddenly we realized that it was rather late, so he made us stay for dinner. He was really a very nice young man. After a quick stop at an information bureau, Ariye took Mother to our hotel and then the two of us walked through town. We had wanted to go to a concert or theater, but in summer nothing is playing. Then we missed the movie, so we just strolled through the narrow alleys, close to the lake, looking into a bar where partially drunk men were singing and later we saw two old ugly prostitutes. Ariye said that they were all old and ugly in Zurich. Then Ariye took me back to our hotel. It had been a lovely day.
The next morning we went back to the information bureau where they suggested we go to Brunnen, situated on the Four Forest Lake and not very far from Zurich. We bought our train tickets and did some shopping. I was amazed at the automatic doors and at the self serve service, where we only saw a cashier who took our money at the exit. We returned to the hotel, packed our luggage and took a taxi to the station. We were very early as Mother was afraid to miss the train, but after an hour it arrived and we were on our way.
It took only one and a quarter hours to get to Brunnen. There we left our suitcases at the left-luggage office and went to the information booth. They could only give us information about two hotels, so we went to look at them. One was rather big, and at the other the proprietress advised us to go to a private home which takes in guests. It was close to the hotel and we found it quite charming. Two small rooms were available in the low-ceilinged attic. Each room had one bed and pictures of Jesus and Maria hanging over them to keep us safe. On a wardrobe stood pitchers of water in bowls, just like in the old Dutch paintings.
We went to the station to get our belongings and later went to lunch at a restaurant right on the lake. We watched the boats and the people, mainly tourists strolling on the banks of the lake. The next day we took a boat that went to Gersau, a very picturesque village even smaller than Brunnen. The scenery was gorgeous and I was impressed by the clouds hanging much lower than the mountains, looking like hanging cotton wool.
The first of July is Switzerland's national holiday. We took a cable car to Urmiberg, a seven minute ride up to a three thousand feet high mountain. From there we had a beautiful view of four lakes and many villages. We sat on the grass and let the sun warm us. In the evening we watched a procession of all the local people in their national costumes, with our landlady at the head. Children were holding lanterns and men waved their flags. This was followed by a performance of William Tell, of which I could not understand a word. Mother said that it was about the Swiss treaty for democracy. Then the national hymn was sung, the same melody as the German and British. When everyone dispersed we went to a coffee shop close to the lake and watched the lit up boats all in different colors. There was a lot of fireworks which was very effective, coming from high up on the snow covered mountains and reflected in the water.
The next morning we went to the beach for a swim. There was no sand there, just grass and mud. I jumped into the water and thought my heart would stop. The water was freezing! Everyone was enjoying the water so I dared swim some more, going out to a floating platform far out in the lake, but I kept my head out of the water. No more jumping into the lake for me!
In the afternoon I said good-bye to Mother and took the train back to Zurich. I bought a ticket to London and called Ariye, who was already waiting for me. He took me out to dinner and then helped me take my luggage to the train, found me the best seat by the window facing forward and then waited on the platform until I departed. It was really very nice of him. I had three seats to myself enabling me to stretch out and sleep, except for the constant passport and ticket control.
At noon the next day we arrived in Calais and there I took my luggage to the ferry boat to Dover. When we approached the white cliffs of Dover I watched them eagerly, but my pleasure was lessened as I had no one with whom to share the experience. After the wearisome and long passport and custom control, I missed the first train and had to wait for a second one, arriving in London two and a half hours late. My cousin Erica was no longer waiting for me as she had come with her little daughter who had grown tired of waiting. I left my heavy luggage at the station and found my way to Erica's house; needless to say, it was not the shortest way. Erica welcomed me warmly and was sorry she had not been able to wait.
The next day I visited the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I was rather disappointed in the Abbey as it was much smaller than I had imagined and the tomb of the unknown soldier had no burning flame, just some poppies around it. I called Frieda and later went to meet her at the university. We were very happy to see each other again and went out for coffee and a stroll in the streets. I then returned to Erica's, a trip of one and a half hours.
The following day Erica and I went to a ballet at Festival Hall, which had the best acoustics and was very modern. Later we walked to Trafalgar Square. Then Erica went home, while I went with Frieda to see Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.
Erica and I went to visit her brother John and his family the next day. I had not seen him since 1946, and could hardly recognize him. They had a lovely house and garden and offered us a delicious lunch which impressed me greatly. Then John took us by car to see more of London: the law courts, Fleet Street where the important newspapers are published, St. Paul's Cathedral with the Whispering Gallery, Buckingham Palace and Cleopatra's Needle.
Frieda and I planned to go ice skating the following day. We arranged to meet in front of Queensway Ice Palace but when we arrived the place was closed for the following two weeks. We decided to go to Batersea Park instead. It was an amusement park, like a country fair. We tried our luck and dexterity but only came up with some colored pencils and a pocket comb. Suddenly Frieda had a giggling fit which made her wet her pants. Unfortunately an Englishman was watching us and there was no rain that day, so we had to depart in a hurry. I had to get back to Erica's early anyway, as she had invited our cousins Hannah and Lore for dinner. It was very pleasant for us four cousins to be together and we had a good time talking.
Erica had some friends, a mother and young daughter, who had also come to stay with her. They were from Austria and it was their first visit to London. Another friend, Jean from Doncaster, was staying at Erica's as well. We all went to show them some of the sights, such as Piccadilly Circus, !0 Downing Street and the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. I thought the ceremony rather ridiculous and typically English. These guards have helmets with horse tails covering half their faces, and they have to sit on their horses for four hours without moving. When the ceremony ended they had to trot back to their barracks in file, but when the traffic lights turned red, they too, had to stop and wait for them to turn green again. Here was the absurd medieval tradition confronted by modern technology.
After a visit to Westminster Abbey we went out for lunch. I was amazed at the British convention that one cannot comb one's hair or put on lipstick in public, so we all went to the powder room. To use a bathroom we needed to deposit a penny in the door for it to open, but we could wait for each other keeping the door unlocked without having to pay each time. I found this system all over Europe. There was also a machine hanging on the wall, into which one could place six pennies, press a button showing the perfume of one's choice, which would then eject from it. There was a big roll of towel cloth that could be turned so that each person had a clean section. All these gadgets fascinated me, as we had nothing like any of that in Israel.
From the restaurant we took a bus to the Tower of London. On the way we passed Fish Market, which was very smelly, then Pudding Lane and the Monument where the fire of London had started in 1666. In the Tower we saw the Beefeaters, who looked to me like henchmen. A guard near the entrance was marching ten steps up then ten steps down every minute or so. The Beefeater told us about the significance of the six ravens in the Tower. Their wings had been curtailed so that they could not fly away, as their absence would make the walls of the Tower crumble and the British Empire fall. From the Tower we could see the docks and London Bridge and we went to the armor exhibits but not to the Crown Jewels, as there was a line there of over one thousand people.
Next day was Sunday and Frieda and I went to Petticoat Lane, the Jewish Sunday market. It was very crowded but clean, colorful and cheerful though they all were trying to cheat. In spite of the myriad of shoppers and salesmen a band managed to play and even to be heard. We bought some fruit and a few trinkets and enjoyed the festive atmosphere.
After running around to the French and Italian consulates for visas and to the Israeli travel agency for our tickets, a waste of more than five hours, I went to the National Art Gallery. First I walked through the whole museum to see everything, then, after lunch, I went back to look again at paintings that I enjoyed the most. Among them were Van Goghs, Renoirs, Degas, Manets, Pissaros, Ingres, Murillos, Velasquez, Rubens, Rembrandts, Van Dycks, Botticellis, Leonardo da Vincis, Reynolds, Gainsboroughs, Constables, Whistlers and Turners. I spent many delightful hours enjoying all that wonderful art.
In the evening, our last in London, Frieda, Erica and I went to the theater, to see "The Chalk Garden" directed by Sir John Gielgud. Our seats were not the best but we had a good time anyway. When we took the tube to get home to Erica's, suddenly all my family entered our coach: Uncle Siegfried, Aunt Edith, Hannah and Gad, all of them on their way to Erica. We talked for a while and then beds had to be made to accommodate everyone, so it was very late before we got to sleep.
Frieda was to pick me up at nine the next morning, but arrived only at ten. We said good-bye to everyone and went on our way. First we had to go back to the French consulate, stand in line for three hours, only to be told that we needed a letter of recommendation from the Israeli consulate. We took a taxi there with another Israeli couple and were told that it was closed as it was Friday afternoon. However, as we were due to leave the country that same day they did us a favor and gave us the required letters. Again by taxi we returned to the French consulate, stopping on the way for Frieda and our male companion to have passport photos taken. We finally got our visas only to learn that we did not need Italian visas. Then we had to go to a Swiss bank to cash a check that Mother had sent me. By now it was four thirty, and the bank closed at three. Again they did us a favor as we were leaving that day, and they cashed the check. Now back to the Israeli travel agency, which had not arranged our train tickets to Italy as we had requested, forcing us to take them without the reserved seats. We then went to take out the clothes we had bought a few days earlier, and after drinking some tea we finally left London at six thirty in the evening.
We took a bus to the northern outskirts of London and, after buying a good road map, we waited for a hitch hike. We got a lift for a short way, then another, and the third one took us to Peterburg. Along the way we had twice been invited for pineapple juice. In Peterburg we found a reasonable hotel with breakfast for fifteen shilling. Then we had fish and chips in newspaper for one shilling and went to bed. As there was no key to our door we pushed a heavy armchair against it, luckily for us, because we heard some knocking at our door in the middle of the night. The maid was rather surprised when she could not open our door in the morning to wake us up as we had requested.
From Peterburg we hitch hiked north with several people. After lunch in Appleby we got a ride with a Scottish couple that took us all the way to Glasgow. They invited us for tea and gave us their telephone number promising to pick us up the next day and take us to Loch Lomand. They were really wonderful people. We started looking for a hotel but most were rather expensive. Finally we found one for just over a pound. We again had fish and chips in newspaper and walked through the streets. Everyone seemed to be drunk and some musicians were playing their bagpipes while several couples were dancing in the streets.
With the help of three different motorists we arrived in Edinburgh the next day. The third ride was with a young Scotsman whom we could barely understand. He was a red-head and was very surprised that red-headed Frieda was not Scottish. He showed us a little of Edinburgh, Holyrood Castle and the Scots Memorial. We then walked around town for a while and met a rather unpleasant Israeli, who told us that the Edinburgh Festival was due to open that same night and that he had made reservations three months ahead of time. Hearing this, we decided to move on.
We went by bus to the outskirts and then got a ride on a motorbike with a side-car, both of us sitting in it. He drove rather fast, for over two hours, but we were rather crowded and uncomfortable. Then we got a ride in a car that had an "L" on it. We did not realize that he had no driving license yet and was practicing his driving. However, he, too, took us quite a distance. By then it was past seven thirty but still very bright, so we decided to try and reach Doncaster. Then a couple with their ten year old son gave us a ride and took us a long way farther than they needed to go, to a crossroads, as they did not want to leave us in the middle of nowhere at night. It was nine o'clock by now and beginning to get dark. It was Sunday and the worst day for hitch hiking.
After unsuccessfully waiting for half an hour, a police car passed by, but soon turned around and came back. They asked us what we were doing and we said that we were trying to hitch hike, asking them if they would take us. They explained that it was against the law, but they would make an exception and take us to the next town, to Hexham, where we should find a hotel. They asked us if we had enough money for a hotel, which we affirmed, luckily, as we learned later that otherwise they could have imprisoned us for vagrancy. They also told us that, should we be unable to find a vacancy in any of the three hotels in Hexham, we could call the police after ten o'clock. We found two of the hotels full and the third one too expensive, so we decided to go on, at least until ten.
Soon a car with two young men stopped for us. We told them that all the hotels were full and we wanted to get to a town where we could find a vacancy. They decided that in the small town of Haydon Bridge we would be able to find accommodation. When we arrived, one of them went to ask at the first hotel, but there was no vacancy. However, the second hotel had a room for us. As the young man had gone with us, we had to take the room without knowing the price. We thanked the young men and they left. There was a bar in the hotel full of noisy men drinking and singing. We then asked for the price of our room and were told it was fifteen shillings per person. Frieda said that we had no choice, as it was getting late. The receptionist then agreed to charge us just twelve fifty. We had a pleasant room and went to bed.
All night we seemed to hear rain falling. In the morning we saw that the hotel was situated right on the banks of a river with our window facing it, so it had been the river that we had heard. We had a lovely breakfast which was included in the price of our hotel, and when we were alone we buttered a few sandwiches to take along. I went to pay for our room taking out a pound, and before I could get out another five shillings, the receptionist said that we should keep it. That was really very considerate of him.
Our next ride in the morning took us right into the Lake District, to Keswick. It was a lovely place, with little houses that had beautiful colorful gardens, enormous trees and luscious lawns, a gorgeous lake and a thundering river. Unfortunately it was raining incessantly, so we decided to move on. The next ride brought us to Windemeer. There we saw lovely lakes and forests in a mountainous area. Our driver lost his way, so on the way we saw more than expected, such as the picturesque town of Grasmeer, by another lake. Windemeer was a much larger place, also beautiful and green with trees and lawns. It was still raining so we took off again, with a heavy truck driver who looked like a butcher. We drove through Manchester and the rain kept pouring down. About eighteen miles from Doncaster he had to turn off.
I called Jean whom I had met at Erica's and who was expecting us. She told us to try and get to the police station in Goldthorpe and call her again from there so she could pick us up. It was already close to ten o'clock. A couple stopped for us and we told them our destination. They were just going a short way but when they arrived, the husband told us to wait while his wife got out. He told us that they had a baby at home but he would take us to the police station in Goldthorpe. On the way he had to stop at a friend's house to get some gas, as the gas stations had also closed up. Many of these English people really went out of their way to accommodate us.
At the police station we asked to use the phone to let Jean know that we had arrived, and in the meantime we had a jolly chat with the policemen. When Jean arrived with her brother, the policemen jokingly told them that we were their prisoners, as they had no others that night and would be bored by themselves, while we were very entertaining. Jean agreed to bail us out, jokingly consenting to pay the preposterous sum of one hundred pounds.
Jean and her brother took us to their farmhouse. It was an enormous house with some fifteen rooms each as large as a whole apartment. Jean's mother also welcomed us warmly and we all sat in the cozy kitchen having English tea and talking. After midnight Jean showed us to our room. It had two double beds, a vanity and another table, a wardrobe and a sofa and because it was so large, the room still seemed unfurnished.
The next morning Jean woke us up at seven fifteen serving us English tea in bed. It was still semi dark outside. After a good breakfast Jean showed us their farm. Their house was five hundred years old, their barn seven hundred and one of their trees over one thousand years. They had cows and pigs, but mainly grew corn, beans and other vegetables. Jean's brother took us to the bus stop from where we rode into Doncaster. There we again stood waiting for a ride towards London. One driver had a little Israeli flag and we found out that he was a Jew from Leeds. Our next driver was a very pregnant lady who kindly took us to the outskirts of her town to make it easier for us to catch the next ride. This one turned out extremely lucky, as he was going all the way to London, a four hour ride. He was a tourist guide who had driven all night from Scotland. We got some of his professional expertise when he showed us many interesting places on the way.
It was almost seven when we arrived at Erica's. We washed, packed, had a meal and Erica made us sandwiches for the way. We loaded all our suitcases on a baby carriage and walked to the bus stop, laughing all the way, with Erica and her husband Max accompanying us. We had turned her house upside down and had really come and gone like a whirlwind. After thanking them for their kindness and hospitality we said good-bye and went by tube to Victoria Station. We had not bought our tickets and told the person at the ticket booth that we had come from three stops back instead of the twenty, saving us a great deal of money. Now we devised a method to haul our luggage through the long passages at the station: one of us would take two pieces and her purse for about one hundred feet, then put them down. At that moment she would turn back while the other started walking with two more pieces, all the time each having her eyes on the other's luggage. It took us quite a while to get our seven suitcases and two purses and coats to the train, and we arrived utterly exhausted, but again we had saved our money by carrying our own luggage.
After a two hour train ride to Dover we decided to take a porter. Finally we got onto the ferry where we sat in the bar most of the time. We took a little walk around the boat and saw two first class carriages in which the passengers were sleeping peacefully all the way from London to Paris. There were also some cabins on the boat but all were occupied. At three thirty in the morning we arrived in Dunkerque and again asked a porter for help. During the train ride to Paris we finally managed to get some sleep while sitting in our seats.
It was ten in the morning when we arrived in Paris. We went to Frieda's aunt's bed-and-breakfast establishment and were warmly welcomed. My cousin Hannah and her husband were staying there, as we had given them the address. Frieda's aunt made us a delicious meal and then Frieda and I went to sleep. At about five in the afternoon we woke up, washed, had coffee and with the kind help of Frieda's aunt, took our luggage to the Gare de Lyon from which we were to depart for Rome. The train was very crowded but we managed to find two seats and for a few hours even had two seats each, so we could take a nap. We sat next to two young Italians, one nineteen, the other seventeen who were also just returning from a hitch hiking tour of England. They spoke some English enabling us to hold a conversation with them and compare experiences.
Early in the morning we arrived in Turin and the nineteen year old got off. We bought rolls and coffee from the buffet, and soon passed the town of Pisa and admired the leaning tower. We had to move to another railroad car that would take us to Florence. Before we left, the seventeen year old gave us his phone number in Rome asking us to call him when we would get there eventually.
We arrived in Florence at four in the afternoon and went straight to the information booth to find a low-priced hotel room. We took a taxi to the hotel, unpacked, washed, did some laundry, and then went out to eat: soup and spaghetti. Then we walked to the market and did some shopping, as everything was open there until nine.
In the morning we went to the Uffizi Art Gallery where we saw wonderful original art created by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Botticelli, Titian, Rembrandt and many others. At lunch time we had spaghetti again. We were extremely hungry and when one spaghetti fell from Frieda's plate to the floor, she was very sad. I also lost one, but luckily mine fell on my dress so I could save it, although my dress was soiled. All this tragic loss of spaghetti made us have a hearty laugh.
From there we went to Piazza de Michelangelo, a park on the hill overlooking the town, visiting two beautiful churches on the way. While walking through the park we met a group of Italians who were shooting a film called "Good-bye Firenze." We used our hands and feet to understand one another . Suddenly it started to rain, and two of them offered us seats in their car. They then invited us for the evening to show us some of Florence. We made arrangement for them to pick us up at our hotel at nine. We walked back to town, bought fruit, rolls and sausage for dinner and for next day's lunch and had some tea.
When our Italian filmmakers arrived we first went out to have some coffee with them and then they took us to the oldest bridge in Florence and later again up the hill overlooking Florence to see it all by night. After having more coffee they brought us home past midnight and promised to get in touch with us in Rome through American Express, as they lived in Rome.
We packed our bags the next morning and took a taxi to the railway station. Our train was to leave at ten fifty so we had some coffee while we waited. Frieda looked for our tickets but could not find them. We looked everywhere, then Frieda rushed back to the hotel, however, no tickets. Then she took out everything from her purse and looked through all her belongings again, and there they were, with all our other tickets! What a scare!
We took the train and got to Rome at three, called our little friend from the train but he had no hotel for us, so we found one through the tourist information bureau. It was on the fourth floor and a cute seven year old boy who spoke a few words of English helped us take our luggage up by elevator. When we came down our friend was waiting for us. Together we went to the Israeli travel agency, then to American Express, both without success, then to the Coliseum which was smaller but more esoteric and interesting than I had imagined. From there we walked to the tomb of the unknown soldier which was guarded by two soldiers, then to some famous fountains. We had pizza for dinner then went up to Pincco, the highest hill in Rome from which we watched the illuminated city. We sat in a lovely garden, next to a fountain, a very peaceful and enjoyable spot. Then our friend saw us back to the hotel and we arranged to meet again the following afternoon.
We spent the morning visiting the Forum Romano, Titus' Victory Arch, the Catacombs, the Capitol and two art museums. We then took a nap in our hotel and soon our little friend came to show us the Pantheon Cathedral and Fontana di Trevi into which we each threw three coins without looking, to make sure we would come back to Rome. Later we visited Piazza Navona with its three fountains and had some ice cream. We watched a parade of the world organization of working youth going to a gathering at St. Paul's Square. All other traffic was stopped as they passed on foot and by bus, many singing "Arividerci Roma."
The next day we bought tickets for Tosca, then went to St. Paul's Cathedral. It is only seven hundred years old as the previous cathedral had burned to the ground. There were paintings of all the Popes and there was room for seventeen more; after that, they said, the world would end. We heard a beautiful mass and then returned to our hotel as a friend of Frieda's father was coming to meet us. He took us by car to three of the seven hills of Rome, to Mussolini's palace and later treated us to ice cream with whipped cream. The portions were so large that we had a hard time finishing them.
The Duomo St. Peter was our goal the next morning. It was the largest, most magnificent edifice I had ever seen or could imagine. We looked at Michelangelo's Pieta which is of beautiful, white, shiny marble, and with the candles all around, radiates a very reverential atmosphere. We saw many confession booths and mainly women engaged in confessing. In the Vatican we met a large group of Israeli students on their traditional European tour. Most of them were not really students and their behavior was abominable so that we were ashamed of identifying with them. Their plan was to see the Vatican with its one thousand and four hundred rooms in half an hour. They were worse than the American tourists!
We looked at many wonderful paintings by Raphaello, Leonardo da Vinci, Bellini, Michelangelo, Veronese and others, then went to the Sistine Chapel. It was really stupendous. The ceiling looked as if it was sculptured but it was all just painted. The large wall with the last judgment was also awe aspiring and a great contrast to the ceiling in both color and style. We sat and gazed until our necks hurt from the strain.
As we were going to the opera in the evening we went to our hotel to rest in the afternoon and also to pack. In the evening we dressed like the Italians, wearing gloves, high heals and pretty dresses. The opera was performed in the open air in the Baths of Caracalla, between ancient walls, very appropriate for Tosca. Our seats were not the best but we could hear very well. Maria Canielia was Tosca, not too good, as she was rather old, fat and not a good actress, but the male parts were sung beautifully. The enormous stage, the largest in Europe, sometimes forced the singers to run across to make it to the center on time. The lighting, scenery, costumes and choir were all stupendous. It was a little chilly and three planes flew overhead during the performance, but we still enjoyed it tremendously. Our little friend was there, too, with his parents, and in the interval he invited me for coffee and introduced me to his parents.
We had to get up at five thirty the next morning to catch our train to Genoa. We left Rome with tears in our eyes, singing "Arividerci Roma." At three we arrived in Genoa and went to the information booth. We met another girl who was travelling on our boat too so we got a low priced hotel room in a bad neighborhood and were advised to get there early before dark. On the way we met another young man who was also going back on our boat. After washing up a little at our hotel we went shopping. We must have gone into every shop in Genoa. We had supper and then went early to bed. In the morning we did some more shopping, spending our last pennies, and met numerous Israelis. The town seemed to be full of them, and I believe that Hebrew was the prevailing language that day. With the young man and the girl who had shared our hotel room, we took a taxi to the port. The lines were tremendous and it took us almost four hours to get on board. The boat was not in good shape, rather dirty, but we were lucky to have been assigned a nicer cabin higher up, enabling us to keep our window open to get a fresh breeze. After a shower and change of clothes and a good, massive dinner we felt quite human again.
We spent the next morning in the sun trying to get a suntan. We met a passenger who had come with us on the Herzl and who had bought a portable radio. We listened to music all morning. In the afternoon we met a friend of Frieda's who sang us an opera of his own composition. In the evening we had a delicious meal with wine for Kiddush. It was Friday night and the first time in two months that we realized it was Shabbat. Later we all went on deck where a Bulgarian couple were singing and playing the accordion. They sang arias from famous operas, Bulgarian and Israeli songs, and we all had a good time.
Another day on board gave us the chance for more sunbathing, and some dancing in the evening. Frieda and quite a few other passengers had upset stomachs and received some drops and pills from the doctor. They had mostly recovered by the time we arrived in Haifa.
It was not easy to get back to the real world. Frieda had moved to Tel Aviv where she was working as a teacher. I had been promoted to Statistician after receiving my degree, and was also transferred to the department of medical statistics with a friend of my parents', my new boss, Dr. Kallner. I was glad to see Amnon again and had brought him quite a few presents. We spent every second weekend together. A few evenings a week I saw Avraham .
The political situation was becoming more tense. Egypt unilaterally nationalized the Suez Canal and as a result no Israeli ships were allowed to pass through it. France and England were also apprehensive of Egypt's action and soon war broke out between Egypt and Israel, who was supported by France and England. We had orders to cover our windows with black, sticky paper in case of air attacks, and complete blackout was enforced. Amnon helped me get the windows covered and was itching to do more, but he was too young . I was assigned some home-guard duty, which consisted of walking around our neighborhood twice a week to make sure everyone complied with the blackout. With the help of bombardments from British and French military, Israel took the Gaza Strip, El-Arish and the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, all the way to Sharem-el-Sheikh.
Mother soon came back with Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried. She had lost a lot of weight and could not keep her food down. She was in and out of the hospital, but nothing could be done for her anymore. She finally ended up in a private hospital, near my office, where I would sit with her for many hours every day after work. In February 1958 she died at age fifty-five.
Uncle, Aunt and Granny were all staying in Mother's apartment the first few days of sitting Shiva. Many friends came to pay their respects, among them Rachel and a young man, David, with whom I had been working at the office since my transfer. They became close and soon got married in spite of being from completely different backgrounds. Rachel 's parents had come from Morocco, had eight children, and her father was a carpenter. David's parents were from Germany, his father headed Israel's Social Security and David was an only child. Their marriage did not last long and they were divorced two or three years later.
I now had the big task of dissolving Mother's household. The landlady wanted the whole apartment for which she agreed to pay a small some for key money, most of which the lodger demanded for moving out as well. The rest did not even cover Mother's hospital bills. But my parents had received some reparation from Germany which was now my inheritance. One sixth of my parents' estate was due to Granny, but she decided to relinquish it in my favor, as she had also received a small amount as reparation from Germany. It enabled her to buy her own radio and a few other extras, which was all she desired at that stage in her life. So again we had to go to court to file the settlement.
My inheritance was nothing to brag about, but still I had a little extra money for the first time in my life. Until then I had barely made ends meet and often had to buy on credit at the grocer's or borrow money at the end of each month. Now I had some invested money and the little house in Tivon, both of which I wanted to keep as security for Amnon's and my future. When I received my own reparation from Germany, a small compensation for the hardship of adjusting to a new country and a foreign language, I decided to learn to drive and buy a used car. Driving lessons were quite expensive, and it was customary in Israel to let people fail their test the first time. I was no exception, but received my license after the second test. My boss, Dr. Kallner, had failed twenty eight times and was still taking driving lessons and tests.
Soon I bought a 1947 Morris which looked like an English taxi. It gave me a lot of trouble and was more often in the garage or stuck on the roads than in my use. Still, I enjoyed driving to work, picking up Amnon and going to different places on weekends. I often took Avraham along. When Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith went to Europe the following year, I asked them to get me a better used car from Germany. They had a 1953 Volkswagen in very good condition shipped to me, and driving this car really gave me a feeling of great luxury. In those days there were not many people driving private cars in Jerusalem.
At the office I had become friendly with a fairly new immigrant from Russia, Genia, who was assistant librarian. She was rather lonely as she had escaped from Russia by herself. Genia had managed to come to Israel via Poland. She had a sister and brother-in-law and their two children, but they lived in Natanya, a sea resort between Tel-Aviv and Haifa. After some time she became my lodger and a closer friend. While Frieda and I had always shared great laughs, with Genia and her Russian soul, I shared our utmost sorrow and misery. Nevertheless, we had some good times together, too. Once she invited me and Amnon to her sister's, so I drove to Natanya where we were made very welcome and enjoyed their Russian hospitality and the beautiful beach.
Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried were going to Europe again, this time without Granny. She was to go to a hotel in Natanya for two weeks. Then she was to come and stay with me. When I came to pick her up, she had just fallen while trying to pack her suitcase, and had broken her leg. I brought her to hospital where she was put in a cast and was kept there for three days due to her advanced age(85). I found a place in the German Colony in Jerusalem where they were willing to put her up for ten days, but would only provide her with food and lodging, no other care. I had to work until four every day so someone had to see to Granny's needs until then.
As cousin Hannah was not working, Granny sent her money to come and be with her. Hannah left her husband to fend for himself, and came with daughter Dorit, who was seven, a year younger than Amnon. They stayed with me, and Hannah met all my friends and went out with them, having a good time, meanwhile leaving Dorit for me to baby-sit. Often when I went to Granny after work, she would be waiting impatiently for someone to help her, as Hannah had not bothered to come to her help, and poor Granny had been by herself all day. On my weekend with Amnon, Hannah and I agreed to take turns in going out one evening each. On my evening out I came home fairly early to find the children unsupervised, with frightened Dorit in Amnon's bed. Hannah had again gone out with one of my and Avraham's friends. When Uncle and Aunt returned from Europe they took Granny to their house. She recovered slowly but eventually was back to her vivacious self.
I was not very happy with my life. A year had gone by since Mother had passed away. I had Amnon, many friends, a secure job, an apartment and was better off than most of the people with whom I associated. But something was lacking in my life. I decided to go to Europe again. Frieda had just married Chaim, a nice Bulgarian from her parents' circles. So this time I was going on my own, taking some leave without pay to travel for three months. One of the people in the Nature Lovers Club was an English engineer, a non Jew, named Cockle. He was looking for an apartment; his company would pay a very substantial rent for him. One of my lodgers had just left, so I asked Genia to move too and rented my apartment to Cockle for three months. The rent I received paid for more than my passage to Europe and back on the Theodor Herzl .
As I have kept quite extensive diaries of both my trips to Europe, and wrote the second one in English, I do not intend to dwell much on my many adventures. I have made copies of the 145 page diary which is available to be read there. I just want to sum up the highlights in a few sentences. I met the Chief Engineer of the Herzl, Rudi, with whom I became friendly and we had a good time together both coming and going. My trip started in Berlin from where I went to St. Anton in Austria. I joined a ski school and experienced beginner's skiing in the Alps. From there I went to London and had the first Seder night at cousin John's, the second with my parents' friends. I slept in youth hostels and hitch hiked to Cornwall, to Stradford on Avon, York, and Doncaster, where Jean had arranged for us to go down a coal mine, almost three thousand feet deep.
On my way to Liverpool to catch the boat to Ireland, I got a ride from an interesting older man who took me out to dinner, showed me the area and promised to meet me when I returned a week later. Starting in Belfast, I traveled all over the Emerald Island, to Londondary, Cork and Dublin among other places. When I returned to Liverpool, my former driver was waiting for me. He took me to see Chester and Whitchurch, invited me to a lovely dinner and later drove toward Stradford on Avon. He was going to get a divorce and asked me to marry him! Well, I promised to think it over when I got home and let him know. I then went to Wales, a very rugged and undeveloped but fascinating country.
My next stop was in Amsterdam where Ezra, one of my Nature Lovers friends, was living. Together with his girl friend we visited Keukenhof, the vast flower garden, and the Rijksmuseum. The next day I took a tour through the canals of Amsterdam. I hiked through Belgium, to Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse, but had some bad experience with drivers who thought they could take advantage of me, so I continued by train towards Barcelona, Spain. There I found a hotel with three meals a day for two dollars. I went on a city tour and to a bullfight. The whole pageant and prelude to the bullfight were extravagant and superlative, but the fights themselves were cruel and unfair to the bulls.
From Spain it was back to southern France, to Perpinian then Cannes, Nice and Monaco. These places were the playgrounds of the rich and famous and it was obvious why, as they were unbelievably beautiful. Two Germans had given me a ride and were on their way to vacation in Alassio, Italy. I went along and stayed one day, then on to Milan where I saw the opera "Assassination in the Cathedral" in the La Scala.
After two rainy days in Venice I went to Rome where I stayed with Angela, Erica's English friend. She took me to Tivoli and to the Villa d'Este then to the opera to hear Bizet's "Pearlfishers." In Naples I embarked on the Herzl and was treated like royalty, thanks to my friend Rudi.
Again I had difficulty adjusting to my drab, monotonous life. I had Amnon every second weekend and Avraham and I were still seeing each other. Then Granny came to stay with me for a while, as she felt responsible for me now that I was a full orphan. One day she asked me to take her to a milliner's, as she wanted to buy a new hat. She tried on a few, but could not find one that she liked. She said that these hats all made her look old. Well, I do not know what she expected to look like, at her age of eighty seven.
She did not like Avraham and hired a private investigator to inquire about his character and his employment records. The detective was very incompetent and got information about the wrong person, someone who had rather poor credentials, but Granny was still convinced that the information concerned Avraham; she tried very persistently to persuade me not to marry him. I was not that sure that he was Mr. Right anyway, so after a while we kind of drifted apart.
As I had my car and Frieda lived in Tel Aviv, I started driving there quite frequently, often twice a week after work. Through some friends I had met a guy who showed great interest in me and offered to help me get out of my deadlock. He was also divorced and had a son and seemed to have a lucrative job as an accountant. He had also been a photographer and had other professions. We discussed the prospect of us getting married, but I was again not quite sure. We spent some time together also with our sons and celebrated Amnon's birthday, at which he took many pictures. He introduced me to some high ranking, influential person who advised me how to apply for a better position at Timna's atomic plant. I filled out numerous forms and was interviewed, but because of my association with my Russian friend Genia, they considered me too much of a security risk.
My friend wanted to change his position and work independently. He needed some capital and took a loan, asking me to be his guarantor. I was not very comfortable with the idea, but still I consented. He turned out not to be a very trustworthy person, rather unstable and volatile, moving from one job to another, at times having no income. When he was unable to repay his loan the bank turned to me to repay it, causing me great concern. Ultimately I was lucky to get out of the whole affair unharmed.
On one of my visits to Tel-Aviv I was asked to deliver a little package to some friends of one of my acquaintances. When I arrived there these people thanked me and asked me to stay for a cup of coffee. They introduced me to a man who had just dropped in and had also been asked to stay for coffee. We talked for a while and soon both of us left together. We walked back to my car and continued talking, until he suggested to go to a cafe where we could sit and talk more comfortably. I had no specific plans that day so we sat in a cafe, talking for quite a few hours. When we parted, he asked to see me again. We arranged for him to come to Jerusalem two days later, and met at five o'clock at a cafe next to the Sherut (shuttle) taxi stand.
We then had another long conversation. He told me that he was a professor of political science and economics and was currently the academic head of an agricultural boarding school near Be'er Sheva; that he had come to Israel only three years earlier, with a Dutch, non-Jewish wife and two sons, but that his marriage had been annulled and she had taken the children back to Holland without him having had a chance for a farewell. The Jewish Agency had allotted him an apartment in Holon near Tel-Aviv which he was renting, but during the week he lived in a small house on the premises of the boarding school. He was also a part time lecturer at the newly established Tel-Aviv University and the editor of the Polish language newspaper published in Tel-Aviv, so that he had to be there quite often.
His name was Yurek and he was a good looking man of thirty-seven, though he looked older as he was already rather gray. He was a Holocaust survivor from Poland, having left there at age fifteen. Together with two cousins, he had been sent to Russia to escape the Nazis. His father had died when he was thirteen but his mother and younger sister Rebecca, died in Auschwitz. Yurek had very pleasant and gallant manners, kissing my hand the European way, and I immediately felt very comfortable and secure in his company. He told me that one of his former students, a young man from Cochin, was getting married a few days later, and had invited him and his friends to the wedding. So Yurek asked me to come to the wedding, arranging to meet me in his office at his school.
On the day of the wedding I drove to Eshel Hanassi, the Weizman Agricultural School, almost a hundred miles from Jerusalem and close to Beer-Sheva, and found Yurek in his office. He greeted me warmly and introduced me to two couples, his neighbors from Holon, whom he had also invited for the wedding. We soon drove to Dimona, Yurek as my passenger, the others following in their car. The wedding was an elaborate affair. It seemed as if the whole town joined in the festivities. The ceremony was very interesting, utterly foreign to anything I had ever seen. There was wild singing and dancing and massive amounts of food. It was getting late and we all had a long way home. Yurek wanted to get to his apartment in Holon, and asked me to take him part of the way. While I was driving he proposed to me and I accepted, as this time I had the secure feeling that he was Mr. Right.
We decided to get married very soon, as we wanted just a small affair with my close relatives and a few friends on both sides. Yurek wanted to meet Amnon, and insisted on taking him to live with us as soon as possible. I called Aunt Edith and told her about our plans, and she invited Yurek and me for the weekend. They all welcomed Yurek warmly and even Granny approved of the match, maybe because he had a doctorate. Aunt Edith prepared a lovely dinner and both Yurek and I felt a little embarrassed when she sent Hannah and Dorit home before the meal.
About three weeks later we were married by Dr. Wilhelm, the same Rabbi who had performed my first wedding and had helped with my divorce.
We only had a three-day honeymoon in the Galilee, as it was the middle of the school year and Yurek could not get away until the summer vacation. We planned to make up for it later, when we would go on another European trip.
For the next two months I continued working in the Bureau of Statistics and living in Jerusalem, while Yurek remained at his job near Be'er Sheva. He would come to Jerusalem as often as possible during the week, and the weekends we would spend either in Jerusalem or in his apartment in Holon, usually taking Amnon along. On my initiative we went to the Jewish Agency and applied to buy the apartment. They were very accommodating and credited the three years rent as mortgage payment, so our mortgage was not very large. I was still paying the mortgage on my apartment in Jerusalem. However, the monthly payment had become as low as the price of a pack of cigarettes due to the high rate of inflation in Israel and my mortgage not having been linked to the inflation index.
Before we left for Europe, I applied for a job as a teacher of English and mathematics. They accepted me as a part-time teacher at an Ort vocational training school in Be'er Sheva and at a district high school in Mabu'im, near the Gaza Strip, together making up a teaching load of one and a half jobs. I had my car, so I was able to manage combining these positions, although I would have to travel some fifty miles each day. I could have been hired at Yurek's school, but I did not want my husband as my boss. Yurek was comparatively well paid, and so was I, but we still were unable to save, as the taxes in Israel were exorbitantly high.
We decided to sell my car and buy another one in Germany, using it during our travels and taking it with us on the way home. Before we could leave the country, we had to pay the Jewish Agency for all the furniture they had given Yurek when he had immigrated, and also pay off all the debts his ex-wife had left in many of the Holon stores.
We set sail by boat to Venice, where we spent a few days, then Munich, where we bought another second-hand beetle Volkswagen, and drove to Heidelberg. We visited my Aunt Paula Hoehne and her husband Helmut. Paula had been in Teresienstadt during the war, and had suffered a lot. Her husband, a CPA and social scientist, was not Jewish, and had tried to get her out, but was not successful. Their only son had even been drafted into the army. After the war their son had left Germany and moved to Chile where he had married and settled down.
While in Heidelberg, Yurek went to Alkmaar by train, to see his children. He came back very upset as the family had not been pleasant to him and barely allowed him two hours to spend with his children. Paula and Helmut Hoehne were very nice to us and we found Heidelberg most charming, so we decided to return, maybe the following year, and stay for a couple of years in order for me to continue with my studies towards a doctorate. At that time there were only the Hebrew University and the very new University of Tel-Aviv (established in 1956) in Israel and only brilliant students were able to study for their doctorates, usually abroad.
On our return from Europe, I wound up my job assignments and moved to the Weizman School, taking Amnon with me. We had a small, free-standing house with a little garden and settled down to enjoy our family life. It had taken me a lot of persuasion to get Zigi to agree, after two or three meetings with Yurek, and he even sent his sister Lotte to come and check us out in our house and at school. Amnon went to school in Be'er Sheva with the younger children of other teachers, as Yurek's school was only a high school. Very often we had dinner in the school's dining room, so we did not have to cook every day. On many weekends we went to Holon or to Jerusalem, to go to the beach or enjoy cooler air when it got too hot in Be'er Sheva in summer. One weekend in winter we invited all of Yurek's friends and took them to the Dead Sea for a day long picnic. Occasionally we joined the Nature Lovers on a weekend trip to Eilat or other newly discovered locations.
My teaching job was, on the whole, quite satisfying. I had no experience, nor was I a qualified teacher, but imparting some knowledge to these eager young minds was gratifying. In Be'er Sheva I taught mathematics and English, but in Mabu'im I was the only teacher of a ninth grade and was required to teach all subjects. I had to prepare extensive notes especially in history, and my lectures were not overly popular.
Amnon seemed quite happy to be with his family again. He got used to Yurek, who was very kind to him, sometimes strict, though always completely fair. The boarding school had quite extensive grounds and was a safe place. No strangers were allowed to roam around and only the few cars of the teachers could park. Sometimes Amnon was alone at home after school when we were still teaching. One day Amnon was playing in the yard and saw our neighbor's dog. He loved animals and went to play with it. That dog was rather vicious and bit Amnon in his hands and arms. When I saw his injuries I took him to the doctor, who had the dog quarantined. He prescribed ten shots against rabies which were injected into Amnon's stomach. It was a very painful procedure, but Amnon was extremely brave and bore it like a man. I felt terrible about it; Yurek and I supported and praised Amnon for his fortitude, and gave him a nice present when the ordeal was over.
A very heart-rending, traumatic trial was taking place at the Beit Am (Conference Hall) in Jerusalem. The Israeli secret service had seized Adolf Eichman in Argentina and had smuggled him out and into Israel. His trial was conducted from April to August 1961, and open to foreign correspondents from all over the world. He was found guilty of ordering and overseeing the murder of six million Jews, of Hitler's "Final Solution" and was executed on 31st of May 1962. His ashes were scattered over the ocean.
We resigned from our positions at the end of the school year. Again we sold our car and rented out our apartments. We planned to leave Amnon with Zigi for a week or so, while we got organized in Germany. Then Amnon flew to Munich where we picked him up at the airport. Yurek and I flew to Berlin and looked around. We bought a second-hand Fiat and registered me as a returning citizen. As I had been a German citizen before the War, I was entitled to some financial aid for resettlement in my former homeland.
When cousin Hannah and husband Gad had heard of our plans to go to Germany, they decided to do the same. They soon arrived in Berlin with Dorit and both claimed their financial aid. Hannah also went to a doctor to be examined, claiming that she had been infected with amoebas when she had moved to Palestine.
We found Berlin very nerve racking, full of tension, similar to the political climate in Israel which had been our aim to escape. Berlin, just like Israel, was like an island, surrounded by threatening enemies. So we decided to try our luck in Heidelberg, where we could at least rely on Aunt Paula's moral support.
Yurek had been branded an enemy of the people when he left communist Poland. He had been a professor of political science at the state university and had counted many of the Polish political leaders among his students. Emigration was considered treachery. Yurek was now fearful of going through communist East Germany. So he flew to Frankfurt, while I took the car across part of East Germany. I felt very apprehensive when I drove out of Berlin, finding menacing soldiers and heavy tanks bearing down on the road, a "Big Brother" watching me from all sides. I finally arrived in Frankfurt, found a hotel, then went to the airport to pick up Yurek. When we turned the TV on in the evening, we found out that the East Germans had just finished building the Berlin Wall that completely sealed off Berlin. It was 16 August 1961.
In Frankfurt we went to the Jewish Community Center to get some moral support and advice on finding a way to make a living. Unfortunately the people were not very accommodating. However, Yurek met a former Landsman, a man from his home town. He offered Yurek a job in one of his bars in Heidelberg, urging him to work for him for a day or two and then decide. Yurek was very reluctant but went anyway. After one night he refused to return; he could not stand being constantly surrounded by drunks whom he was supposed to cheat.
We found a little furnished apartment that was available for a few weeks while the owners were vacationing. Then we went to Munich to pick up Amnon. I sat with him every day and taught him spoken and written German. I also went to Heidelberg University to try and register as a student. Unfortunately, I found the atmosphere there very hostile and anti-Semitic.
Again cousin Hannah and family followed us to Heidelberg; they also felt threatened in Berlin. They were planning for Gad to attend the International Culinary School in Heidelberg for a year to become a professional waiter, a job he had before their marriage, while she would find a job. All the years since they married, Gad had worked to support his family. After coming home he had to cook, do laundry and ironing, while Hannah went gallivanting around barely taking care of Dorit. Now Gad would have a chance for professional advancement.
Hannah had succeeded in getting quite a large sum as compensation for having been infected by amoebas. She rented a large apartment and bought beautiful furniture. She gave parties to which she invited the salespeople and anyone she met. We were of course also invited but were uncomfortable in this weird company. Amnon and Dorit had their birthdays five days apart, so we made one party together and had two neighborhood children join in the celebration. It was a quiet little party and reminded me of my first birthday in Palestine.
Yurek read an advertisement in the newspaper about a profitable way of making a living by running a dry-cleaning business. We decided to look into it and contacted the advertisers. They were a very capable couple who explained all the details and convinced us to venture into this occupation. They were going to teach us the essentials and were giving us all the heavy machinery on credit, to be paid back within three to five years. They then found us a suitable location, the street level store of a just completed new, six story studio apartment building, the second house from one of the main streets in Ludwigshafen, about ten miles from Heidelberg.
We signed a contract with the landlord and were also able to rent a studio apartment above the store. As promised, we received all the instructions. We hired one helper, and after a while opened our business. Although I had given Yurek some driving lessons in Israel, he still could not drive and had no license. We wanted to expand our business beyond the one store, to have more branches which we could service from our main shop. Yurek did the cleaning and customer service, and our help did the ironing. I found and attended to the other branches and also picked up and delivered carpets and large orders when requested. Soon we added repair and alteration service for which we hired a seamstress. We both worked very hard, six days a week and the business developed better than expected, enabling us to pay back the loan after just one year.
We took one weekend off to go to Alkmaar to see Yurek's children. He had let them know we were coming, but when we arrived at the grandparent's house, they refused to let the children see their father, and forced them into a back room amidst enormous crying and upheaval. Yurek's ex-wife was at work in another town and they said that only with a written letter from her would they consent to let the children see their father. So we drove to the town where she was working at a pottery factory and Yurek talked to her and received the letter. We went back to Alkmaar and after presenting the letter were allowed to take the children for two hours. Martin was fourteen and Wlady twelve, a little older than Amnon. We took them to a restaurant and then to a park, but the atmosphere was rather tense. When we brought them back, the grandparents asked Yurek in no uncertain terms not to come back and not to get in touch with them again. They said that they would take care of the children and provide for their future.
We only had a studio apartment, so Amnon had to sleep on a folding bed in the narrow kitchen. It took up the whole space, making the kitchen inaccessible when he slept. Amnon went to a German public school and slowly learned German. I managed to place him in a municipal day care center, but it was far from our house and his school, so he had to go there by street car. The center provided the children with lunch and supervised their homework.
Hannah invited us to celebrate the first night of Chanukah at their apartment. We brought some doughnuts, the Israeli traditional fare, and we lit the first candle, singing the customary Chanukah songs. While having coffee with the doughnuts, a man knocked at the door. He introduced himself as Dr. Fassbinder and explained that it had been his house which he had sold and he wanted to have a look at it again. He disappeared with Hannah leaving us waiting for over an hour. It was getting late and so we soon left. On the last day of Chanukah Hannah, Gad and Dorit came to our place for candle lighting and they invited us to a party the following week.
When we arrived at the party we were struck by the old and shabby furniture. I asked Hannah what had happened to all the beautiful furniture she had bought, and she said that Dr. Fassbinder thought that this furniture fitted her apartment much better . He had brought her his dilapidated furniture and took hers in exchange. We just could not believe it, but Gad did not say a word, so neither did we. Dr. Fassbinder was at the party and Hannah spent the whole evening dancing with him, completely ignoring all the other guests.
We soon found out that this Dr. Fassbinder was a member of a prominent Nazi family, and was a cousin of a famous film producer by the same name who had just made a very controversial anti-Semitic film. Dr. Fassbinder was married and had three adult children all living in Heidelberg. He also had a mistress in Ludwigshafen, a high school teacher with whom he had a daughter of Amnon's age and had another mistress in Speyer, all at the same time. He was a short, unattractive man with slimy eyes and hands, and when he shook my hand I felt the urge to wash them.
One evening about two weeks later there was a knock at our door. It was Gad and Dorit in a very agitated state. Hannah had left them three days earlier to go with Dr. Fassbinder on a two week trip across Germany; he was going to teach her to be a medical salesperson as he was himself. She had left Gad and Dorit without any money and the two of them were starving. We emptied our pantry and refrigerator, offering them all the food we had, but we just could not still their hunger. Yurek and I were really very upset about this state of affairs. We talked it over and decided that Hannah had gone too far. If she wanted a lover and wished to give him her money, that was her business and Gad's. But to abandon her daughter leaving her to starve, was more than I could keep quiet about. So I wrote a letter to Aunt Edith, telling her what had occurred. Well, she did not believe us, told Hannah about it, and eventually we received a menacing letter from Dr. Fassbinder threatening us with a lawsuit for libel! Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried did not talk to us for the next couple of years.
During Easter break I took a week off and went with Amnon to ski in St. Anton in Austria. We stayed in a little bed-and-breakfast place and enrolled in a ski school where we learned downhill skiing. I had just bought a film camera and took a lot of film of Amnon walking in the snow and having snowball fights with other children. We enjoyed each other's company and relished the spectacular scenery.
After one year in Germany we were finally feeling more comfortable and settled. Now Zigi wanted Amnon to go back to Israel. We had talked about Amnon going to him for a visit, but he decided to keep Amnon there. However, instead of keeping him in his vicinity, he placed him in a boarding school in Pardes Chana, not far from Haifa. He very rarely went to visit Amnon. Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Edith went to see him more frequently. One day I received a letter from Zigi's mother. She asked me to use my influence on Zigi and try to persuade him to go and visit his father, who had already been four months in hospital in Tel-Aviv, with never a visit from his only son. I was rather taken aback. We had been divorced for over six years, I had married again, was living in Germany, and here I was asked to help Zigi's mother whom I had met only once. I had enough problems with Amnon not having any visitors. I went to Israel at least once a year to be with Amnon, and I probably saw more of him than his father.
On my first visit to Israel to see Amnon I had bought a beautiful modern four bedroom apartment in Kiron, a newer small town near Tel-Aviv. I sold the apartment we had in Cholon and used that money for the down payment. When the apartment was ready I rented it out and arranged with the banks that the rent would go directly to pay for the mortgage. The following year Yurek and I came back to Israel and saw the apartment again, which was really lovely and spacious. When we inquired about the mortgage, we found out that we owed more than the year before, although we had repaid quite a large sum for over a year. The mortgage was linked to the index, and with the high rate of inflation, we would never repay the mortgage as it snowballed. So when we returned to Germany we immediately took out a loan at the bank and sent the money to pay off our mortgage.
aim in going to Germany had been for me to study.
When we were finally established I went to Frankfurt University
to inquire about the possibilities of studying there; the atmosphere
in Heidelberg had been too anti-Semitic.
Luckily there were two famous Jewish professors in the
sociology department, Professors Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno,
who were willing and helpful in getting me to study with them.
They even directed me toward a fund that enabled me to get a
small scholarship. The
next two years I traveled to Frankfurt twice a week, went to classes
and lectures and wrote some papers, but I still spent most of my time
in our business.
After three years of marriage I began to think about having more children. We were fairly comfortable, had a good relationship and were still young enough to raise a family. Yurek was not too keen on it at first, but I managed to convince him. This time I was really happy to be pregnant. I continued going to Frankfurt and to work in our business, but Yurek had taken more driving lessons and had passed the test, so that he could drive now and do the physically strenuous work outside our shop.
Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried made up with us when they realized that we had told them the truth about Dr. Fassbinder. But now they were no longer on speaking terms with Hannah. Dr. Fassbinder had instigated her to take her parents to court for allegedly owing her some money for the apartment that she and Gad had been given by her parents when she got married and which her parents had sold on her request when they left for Germany. Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried came to visit us when they came to Europe, and they wanted to see Dorit very much. I found out where Dorit went to school and called up to find out when her school day ended. I then took Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried to the school and we waited at the gate until Dorit came out on her way home. They had an emotional encounter. Dorit could not stay long and could not accept any presents as she had to keep the meeting secret from her mother. It really was a sad state of affairs.
Amnon turned thirteen in September, about the same time I was due to give birth. I had agreed with Zigi that he should make all the arrangements for Amnon's Bar Mitzva, for the synagogue and ceremony, as well as for locating a hall for a party, with us sharing the expenses. My son Michael Gerd was born on 14th September, 1964 at a hospital in Heidelberg. We named him Gerd after my Mother Gerda. I went to a hospital in Heidelberg because I wanted to have Heidelberg as my child's place of birth and not unknown Ludwigshafen. I made arrangements with the hospital to keep my newborn there for an extra week, while I flew to Israel, on a cheap student ticket that landed at three airports on the way.
The Bar Mitzva was a modest but pleasant affair with Aunt Edith, Uncle Siegfried and Granny attending. Hannah wanted Dorit out of the way to have more time with her Dr. Fassbinder so she had sent Dorit to her mother. From that time on Dorit was raised by her grandmother until Aunt Edith's sudden death. So Dorit and several other relatives, such as Aunt Grete and Evi from Nahalal, as well as Lotte and family on Zigi's side and many friends shared in our festivity. Zigi even invited Yehuda that scoundrel friend of his. Frieda was expecting her second child but managed to be present too.
I stayed with Rachel, who had also remarried. Her husband was an old acquaintance, Yehudah Levi, one of the Nature Lovers we had known for years. My film camera was very handy to record the celebrations. For me it was a very exhausting visit; I had barely recovered from giving birth and had this strenuous student flight and all the hubbub of the festivity crammed into a few days. Amnon wanted to come with me and live with us again, especially as he now had a little brother, but Zigi insisted that he go back to the boarding school and finish at least that school year, his last year of grade school.
Before a week had passed, I was back in Germany, to pick up my newborn son. Now we had another affair arranged. The Brith took place at the synagogue in Mannheim where we had become members, but a Mohel, the circumsizer, had to be brought over from France for the occasion.
The Mohel did not do his job properly and tied up Michael too tightly, preventing him from urinating and causing him to get blood poisoning. Michael was in a very critical condition before I realized that something was wrong and took him to a pediatrician. The doctor had him immediately transported by ambulance to a children's hospital. For three days the doctors could not tell us if Michael would make it. We were both absolutely devastated and just sat around crying. Luckily Michael had a strong constitution and recovered. After spending two weeks in the hospital he was finally released into my care. We were overjoyed when we were able to take him home again.
We lived above our store, so I continued working, going up to check on my son every couple of hours. I decided not to go back to university in Frankfurt. Although our studio apartment was conveniently located above our business, it was much too small for three people. I made an appointment to see the mayor of our town and asked him for help in procuring a bigger municipal apartment for us.
Yurek began to have bad abdominal pain. He had never been ill before, except for having been badly wounded during WW.II. when serving in the Polish army fighting the Germans. I still had my student health insurance but Yurek was uninsured, confidant that he would never need medical aid. However, the pain became so bad that he walked back and forth all night and finally went to see a doctor in the morning He was diagnosed with stones in the entrance to the gall bladder and the doctor immediately had him admitted to the hospital to have his gall bladder removed. In those days it was a big surgery as the whole abdomen had to be cut open. He spent three days in the hospital and was supposed to stay home for another ten days to recuperate. However, because he had no one to do the work in the shop, he came down to work a few hours each day, right after being released from the hospital.
When Michael was about six or seven months old, I took him to visit Amnon in Israel. I took him in his baby carriage by train to Genoa and then by boat to Haifa. I befriended a couple on the boat, Chana and Michael Goldschmidt. Michael was born in Vienna and Chana in India. Her large family had moved to Hebron when she was a young child. Her father and two brothers were murdered by the Arabs during the 1929 massacre of the Jews of Hebron, while her mother and the rest of the family managed to escape and settle in Haifa. Michael was a member of the bus cooperative "Egged" and usually drove his bus in the Haifa area. They lived in a small house in Tivon. We went to visit them when we stayed with Aunt Edith, who had also moved to a lovely, spacious house in Tivon.
Amnon was thrilled to meet his brother and enjoyed taking care of him. We stayed a few days with Aunt Edith, who was also delighted with this fun loving little bundle of joy. Granny was very much taken by her very handsome new great-grandson. Three months after our visit Granny died at age ninety one. She had left a will bequeathing her small inheritance to all her great-grandchildren, including her youngest, Michael.
We had a very friendly mailman who came to our business every day and spent a lot of time talking to the women ironing the clothes. He also talked to Yurek and asked him many times if he could become a partner in the business. As I was not working full time any more, Yurek agreed, on condition that he would pay us the same amount that we had put into the business. He talked it over with his wife and they agreed. They mortgaged their house and received the amount we had requested. He gave notice to the post office and started working in our shop. Yurek taught him how to dry clean and iron, and he was quite a help at the beginning. For once we were able to take a two weeks vacation together.
It took almost a year until we were notified that a two bedroom apartment was available for us in a new house in the suburbs, to be ready three months hence. This letter came none too soon. Amnon was coming to live with us again. He had to sleep in our store downstairs while Michael was now sleeping in the kitchen. Amnon was overjoyed in being with his family again and having his little brother to play with. We placed him in an excellent English boarding school in Heidelberg, in order that he would learn both German and English quickly. It was also fairly close to us, so we could see him once or twice during the week and every weekend.
Now a new and pleasant task was required of me. We were moving into a two bedroom apartment from just a studio, and we needed to furnish it. I found a big department store that had quite nice and reasonable furniture and furnishings. They were also giving us a line of credit that would finance all we needed. However, they required a guarantor's signature. I asked Aunt Paula in Heidelberg and they agreed without any hesitation. Helmut Hoene came to Ludwigshafen and signed our contract as guarantor.
We were soon able to move to our new apartment. It felt so luxurious to have two bedrooms, a living room, a dining area and a balcony in a modern building with two elevators. There were eight stories with four apartments on each floor. A little playground was available for the children and ample parking near the house. When all the furniture, the drapes and lighting were installed, it was a lovely place. This was the first time in my life that I had the luxury of choosing furniture for a whole apartment only for ourselves. After living in such close quarters for four years, this apartment felt like a palace. We now lived about seven miles from our business. I discontinued working and became just a mother and homemaker.
Amnon did not like school and being away from us. He was not doing well at school and he asked us to let him learn to become a chef. In Germany youngsters can leave academic schools at the age of fifteen provided they continue going to vocational school while learning a trade. I inquired about the possibilities and was directed to a vocational school. Amnon was interviewed and was offered a position as apprentice at a fine restaurant in the center of Ludwigshafen. He would have to work there for three years, four days a week and go to vocational school in Ludwigshafen the other two days.
Eager to start, Amnon left Heidelberg and came home. He shared the bedroom with Michael and began working. In those days apprenticeships were still quite tough. A German proverb says that the years of apprenticeship are dog years. And so they were. A supervisor or instructor was permitted to beat the apprentice if he misbehaved or did not follow instructions. Amnon would often come home late at night, dead tired, but he never complained or regretted his decision. I often felt sorry for him, but probably these years helped him prepare for an arduous future. Once he burned his hands and arms severely. The doctor bandaged them with ointments and prescribed a week of rest. It was extremely painful but Amnon did not mind to have a whole week at home to spend with Michael and me. Another apprentice, Bernd or "Rancher," worked and studied with him and they became good friends and still are to this day.
One Sunday afternoon Yurek, Amnon and I were sitting at our table having coffee while Michael was in his bedroom, jumping up and down on his bed. We begged him many times to stop and get down, but he did not listen. Suddenly he missed a step and fell. His cries of pain were horrendous. I rushed to him and saw the blood gushing out of his mouth. We immediately took him to hospital where they found that he had almost bitten his tongue off, it was just hanging on the edge. They sent us to another part of the hospital because they had to sew the tongue back on and they knew that we would not be able to bear to hear Michael's screaming. An hour or two later we could take Michael home. He was still bleeding profusely and we could not calm him down. Amnon talked to him and caressed him and we all tried to comfort him but he continued to cry until he fell asleep from utter exhaustion. For the next two days Michael continued to bleed excessively, he could not talk or eat, just drink some fluids but, thank God, the tongue healed well and Michael recovered completely from this ordeal.
The situation in Israel was again very precarious. The new Palestinian terrorist organization El Fatha based in Syria and Lebanon was sending bands of terrorists into Israel, killing soldiers and civilians, blowing up railroads and public buildings. After another deadly attack in which three soldiers were killed and six wounded near Mt. Hermon, the Israeli forces crossed the armistice line and counter-attacked the Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian forces, which had amassed on all of Israel's borders. Within a few hours the Israeli air force destroyed 452 planes, the army conquering the Golan Heights, the Jordan River, all of Samaria and Judea, including Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerico and Hebron, and south to the Gaza Strip and the Sinai to the Suez Canal and Sharm-el-Sheikh. After heavy shelling of Jewish Jerusalem by Jordan, the Israeli army counter attacked the Jordanians and liberated the enclave on Mt. Scopus, and later, all of Jerusalem and finally the Old City. After nineteen years of Arab desecration and destruction of the Jewish and Christian holy places, we could again visit the Wailing Wall or Western Wall of the Temple Mount, and had access to the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus as well as to the large cemetery on Mt. Zion.
The Six Day War of June 1967 took a heavy toll on the Israeli population. Over seven hundred lives had been lost and more than 2500 were injured. We had watched the war, keeping glued to the television screen. An appeal for monetary help spread over all the Jewish communities. Every one of us contributed our share, and even Amnon donated money to Israel from his meager income.
A month or two after the War Jurek and I went to Israel with Michael. The people who had rented our apartment in Kiron were moving out, so we camped out in our unfurnished large apartment. We had to take care of some official business and did not want to take Michael along all the time. We inquired and found a very friendly and capable kindergarten teacher, Ronit Pielkow, to take care of him for a few hours each morning. It was her summer vacation so she was available, and she had three children of her own who were also very young and became Michael's playmates. We stayed in touch and visited them when we came to Israel, and years later they visited us after we moved to Phoenix.
One day, while Michael played in another room, I was busy cleaning the apartment. Yurek was sitting on the balcony reading the newspaper. When I finished cleaning I went to Michael and found him drinking the cleaning fluid that I had inadvertently left within his reach. I rushed him to a doctor who immediately had his stomach pumped out. Thankfully he recovered completely after getting over the shock of this procedure. From then on I was more careful about leaving harmful things around.
Our friend David Neuman took us to many places which had now become accessible to us, such as Ramallah, Jerico and Kalia by the Dead Sea, places that Yurek had never seen. Of course we went to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall.
Our next door neighbors were a young, as yet childless couple when we moved in. Mrs. Duenkel was a tall, rather good looking woman who was very friendly but had drinking problems. Her husband was rather short, a meek "refugee" from East Germany. She was not working, expecting her first child and she became rather attached to me. As I was home looking after Michael, she would often keep me company and help me take care of Michael. They had no car, so we sometimes drove to a park with Michael. Once the three of us even went to Frankfurt where I had some unfinished business at the university. At that time we were still speaking Hebrew at home, and Mrs. Duenkel learned quite a few words and phrases to talk to Michael.
The Duenkels were a social case, probably because of her drinking problems. They were being sent to a recreation home for five days, and Mrs. Duenkel wanted me and Michael to come along. She inquired about our joining them and we were granted a place there too. I drove all of us to a lovely village on a hillside about thirty miles away. We were allocated a room per family, with shared showers and washrooms down the hall. We received three simple but nourishing meals a day and attended lectures and were instructed in occupational therapy while the children were looked after by nurses. The director of this establishment was a capable, intelligent man and I found an opportunity to talk to him. At that time there was a great shortage of teachers in Germany, especially English teachers, and he urged me to apply for a teaching position. When I came home I discussed it with Yurek, who was not too enthusiastic about the idea, but still, we agreed that I would apply.
As we were not so young anymore, I wanted to have two children close together. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage when I was about five months pregnant. The fetus had just died with no outside accident to cause it. Still, I wanted another child to bring up with Michael. So I was very happy when I became pregnant again.
A letter arrived for me one day, asking me to come to a specific school at a certain time and demonstrate my teaching skills. I was not sure if I should go as I was expecting a baby and had another one at home to look after. I went anyway, while Mrs. Duenkel watched Michael. I was asked to teach a seventh grade class in English. They must have liked my performance; about a week later I was offered a teaching position in a middle school for the coming school year, in spite of the fact that I was soon to give birth.
Again Yurek was not convinced that I should start teaching. He believed that my salary would barely cover the extra taxes we would have to pay. But I really wanted to work outside the house again. I had been an unhappy homemaker for over two years, and with the constant association of Mrs. Duenkel, I felt that I was daily getting more and more dull.
Michael was by now almost three. I wanted to enroll him in a kindergarten, but was confronted with two problems. Michael spoke only Hebrew so we needed to switch to German quickly in order for him to interact with others. Secondly, the people who ran a kindergarten in our neighborhood tried to convince me to stay home and look after my child. They believed that only at age five should a child be exposed to children outside the home. They practically stigmatized me as a heartless mother. They told me that the three-and-four-year-olds in their care were either orphans or social cases. However, I stood my ground and managed to get Michael accepted. I also had to find a woman who would bring Michael home and stay with him until I arrived. She had to clean the house and cook a meal, so that we could eat when I arrived from school.
School became a pleasant change for me. My load was not too heavy, about twenty-six hours a week and I was home by one o'clock every day, thus enabling me to devote all my afternoons and evenings to Michael. My salary was also higher than we had expected and, even with all the extra expenses of having help at home, we could finally accumulate some money in a building society savings account. Michael had some problems adjusting to kindergarten for a week or two, but soon got used to the new routine and to having other people around him. I had more problems with him at home. We had another neighbor living on our floor whose son was a year older than Michael, a big and strong bully who often terrorized the younger children. His mother was a rather nasty indifferent woman who would not control her son, just saying that the children should take care of themselves. It was easy for her, but I had to watch constantly to avoid Michael being beaten up by him. Worse was that this boy also started attending Michael's kindergarten, and there the boy often hit Michael.
Yurek expanded the business by renting some large premises in the center of town. The rent was rather high but the number of customers was also very large so it seemed worth while. Yurek worked in the new premises while his partner stayed in the first shop. At about this time Yurek's partner became very ill and needed to go to the hospital. He tried to postpone it but finally could wait no longer. We went to visit him in the hospital. He was doing quite well and was hoping to get back to work a few days later. But during his absence Yurek noticed that the income suddenly jumped to more than double of what it had been when the partner had attended to the customers and to the cash register. So when the partner returned Yurek confronted him and declared that he was desolving the partnership, leaving the first shop to the partner, while Yurek would have the new store and the branches that we had acquired. About a year later Yurek found another shop in a good location in another suburb and with much lower rent. For a while he had both shops but when the new one was doing well, he closed the expensive one in town.
About three months after I started teaching my time to give birth was drawing near. I prepared a little overnight bag for my stay at the hospital, keeping it in my car in case I would have to go to hospital while I was at school. However, the baby was in no hurry to get born, so when Christmas break came I checked into the hospital, again in Heidelberg to have that city on the birth certificate. I was told to go back home and return a week later if nothing happened until then. So I waited a week and then drove to the hospital. Labor pains had to be induced two days apart and finally my daughter Iris was born on 29 December 1967.
Iris was a very pretty and easy little baby. After two weeks at home with the children I went back to school when Christmas break was over. My help turned out rather unreliable and too young to handle the children so I advertised and found an older, mature woman who was extremely dedicated and kind and became a great help to our family. Through the social services I found out about a Catholic network of vacation homes for families (Familien Ferien Heim) where one could relax and have the children taken care of by a dedicated staff. I immediately applied and was accepted for Easter vacation.
The school year in Germany is more evenly spread out, so that there are three longer breaks, Christmas and Easter each three weeks and summer six weeks. The vacation home granted me two weeks. The network had five homes spread all over Germany but my first vacation was to be in the one nearest home, yet still over fifty miles away. Yurek had to tend to our business and could only get away for the weekend. As Michael was a rather wild little boy I was afraid to travel with the two little ones by myself. I asked Mrs. Duenkel and she gladly came to my help by driving with us and then taking the train back home, for which I naturally paid her the fare.
We had two very restful weeks in a beautiful resort town with wonderful clean air. I had a room to myself while the children had their own quarters according to age groups. We received four meals a day at which time children over three joined their parents. After lunch we all had a good nap and then we took our children for long walks until dinner time. The rest of the day I was free to do as I pleased, read, embroider, drive around the country or play games. In the evenings we often had some social affair, music, a lecture, a dance or games. Although it had some Catholic overtones (a short prayer was said before each meal) the place was very family oriented and friendly, and it rejuvenated me enormously.
While taking care of the children one of the helpers noticed a growth behind Iris' left ear. When we came home I immediately took her to the pediatrician who referred me to a specialist. He had to research through all his professional literature as the growth she had was one of the rarest in the world. Fortunately it was benign, but it needed to be surgically removed otherwise it would grow. The surgeon also warned that a new growth might develop anywhere on her body but only until she turned five. We were terribly upset at having to place Iris in the hospital and have her undergo surgery at such a young age. She was only a few months old, but we had no choice. The surgery went smoothly and after about a week in the hospital we took Iris back home. Unfortunately, she did develop another growth on her neck and had to endure another surgery about a year later.
Amnon worked and went to vocational school for three years and then had to take final exams, both theoretical and practical. He studied quite hard and passed all the tests very well. He received his diploma as chef and applied for a job. He was eighteen years old and wanted to earn some money before going back to Israel to join the army. He was employed by the restaurant of a big department store in Mannheim, a town adjacent to Ludwigshafen just across the River Rhine. We sent him to a driving school and he managed to pass the driving test right away. From his first earnings he bought himself a second-hand car so he could take short trips on his days off. After ten months he quit his job and returned to Israel for military duty.
Aunt Edith and Uncle Siegfried came to Europe again and visited us in our new apartment. They had also made up with their daughter Hannah, who had meanwhile given birth to a daughter, fathered by Dr. Fassbinder. She called her Isabella Na'ama, really unbelievable for a Jew to name her child Isabella, after the queen who had expelled all the Jews from Spain. Gad again said nothing and just went along with the situation. Somehow Hannah's parents also accepted the state of affairs and enjoyed the new granddaughter. A few years later Hannah finally divorced Gad but had Isabella keep Gad's family name.
We managed to save some of our earnings and decided to invest them in a house. We found one that was within our means, however it needed some renovation, especially the installation of central heating. It was situated in Hemsbach, a small town about thirty miles from Ludwigshafen. It was a two story house with an apartment on each floor. After all the construction work was completed we had to rent it for income and to help repay the mortgage.
A woman with four children approached me and begged me to rent her one of the apartments. She had not been able to find an apartment as people did not like to rent to large families. She had been referred to me by a real estate agent, and I felt sorry for her, so I made the big mistake of agreeing. They moved in and paid the rent for just two months. I went to see them and asked for the rent, but she always found an excuse that her husband would soon pay, that he was unemployed for the moment and would pay as soon as he got a job. Whenever I came there were stacks of beer crates at their door, so they must have had enough money for that. One day, when I came again, the husband just arrived home by taxi and again promised to pay the following week. A month or so later the family living in the apartment below them called us to say that water was dripping through the ceiling. I went back to the house and learned that the woman had gone out leaving the washing machine run over and flooding the whole apartment with water seeping through to the lower apartment. This caused us a lot of damage and they still had paid no rent.
Finally we had to resort to a court of justice. It took almost two years to get our case heard. All this time they were living in our apartment with no rent forthcoming. The judge decided in our favor. Because they had four children, we had to pay for their move into a dwelling for social cases. My compassion had cost us a large amount of money and tremendous aggravation.
One day we received very sad news. Uncle Siegfried had a heart attack but with the good care of Aunt Edith was on the way to recovery. She was not well herself, but he would not let her get help. From her strenuous work of taking care of him, she suddenly got a heart attack and died on 15 July, 1971. Now Uncle Siegfried had to send Dorit back to her mother in Heidelberg. Unable to take care of himself, he had to go to a nursing home.
After three years of teaching as an unqualified teacher at a middle school. I felt that I was not using my potential and had no possibility of advancement. I inquired and found out about a way of getting qualified. Sending in my masters degree diploma I applied and was accepted as a teacher at a vocational high school and junior college in Frankenthal, a small town about ten miles away from Ludwigshafen. While having a full teaching load I had to study and pass exams, in a two year program.
The next two years were the most strenuous ones in my life. I had a full time teaching job, a full time study program and two small children at home that needed my attention. Luckily I had a good woman to help me at home and I paid her a lot extra so that she would often stay until about five to give me time to study. There were other teachers studying for their qualification but most of them only had a part time teaching position. Even that proved too much for some and they gave up half way. There was only one more older teacher who also had a full teaching load like mine. He had been the manager of a bank before he came to teach at school. His wife was a judge who had many more leisure hours than a bank manager. He was determined to make it as a teacher so that he, too, would have more time to spend with his family.
Beside my heavy load of work and study I had another handicap. Of course all our studies were conducted in German. I had no difficulty in understanding everything, but I also had to write many term papers in German. I had never learned the language or its grammar, and writing scientific papers was an incredibly hard task for me to master. Fortunately I had a colleague, Mr. Wendel, who was kind enough to read my work and correct my grammar and spelling.
During those two years I went to the Catholic family vacation homes every Easter, summer and Christmas vacation, taking my typewriter with me, and using every spare moment to write my term papers. There I met the family of Dr. Buehler from Freiburg. They also had three children, two boys, Clemens and Rupert, a little older than Michael, and Maria one year older than Iris. We celebrated Iris' birthday there and Maria was always Iris' most important guest. Dr. Buehler was also so kind and corrected my work. After two years of much sweat and tears I passed my final exams and wrote and submitted a kind of thesis. I was extremely pleased and relieved when I ultimately received my teacher's diploma and was conferred the title of Studienraetin. I was now a civil servant on a five year probation of which two had already transpired. Three years hence I was tenured for life.
All this time Amnon was in Israel in the army, going through the toughest army training imaginable. Six hundred young men had been accepted to be trained as frogmen, but quickly most of them fell by the way. The training lasted eighteen months and only three, Amnon among them, graduated from the course. Zigi had remarried a divorced woman with a son. Her husband had mistreated and deserted her and their son, and now Zigi adopted the boy officially. He no longer showed any interest in Amnon, but fortunately his sister Lotte watched over him enabling him to spend many weekend furloughs at her house. However it was getting too much for her. Their apartment was not very large and they also had three children, Danny and Dina about Amnon's age and Ori the same age as Michael. Now Amnon no longer had anywhere to go when he got time off from the army. So we decided to buy a little apartment in Tel-Aviv for Amnon' s use.
When I came to Israel with the children on my next visit, we looked around Tel-Aviv and found an older ground floor spacious studio apartment centrally located between Ben Yehuda and Dizingoff Streets, and only two blocks from the beach. It even had air conditioning. Amnon loved the place and often invited friends to stay with him and he gave big parties. There was a police station two houses away and sometimes policemen would knock on his door when neighbors complained about too much noise late at night. Amnon had made friends with a guy named Avi. They became very close and Amnon invited Avi to stay in the apartment with him and share the expenses of water and electricity bills. In those days the army paid its soldiers very little so we helped Amnon by augmenting his meager monthly income.
While in Israel we also went to visit Uncle Siegfried. At first he had been in a pleasant nursing home and had received good care. But Hannah had come to Israel with her friend Dr. Fassbinder, and had decided to put him in a nursing home paid for by the health insurance company, so that no money would be spent from her future inheritance. I was horrified by the place. Uncle Siegfried had to share the room with three other men, two of them illiterate Arabs. His clothes were filthy, and he told me that they were not really his clothes, but the other people just took his clothes if they were nicer or cleaner than their own. I brought him some fruit and chocolate, and he held them tightly under his arm; he said that everything was stolen by his roommates. I tried to talk to the management about moving him to a better place, but they said that only his children could decide that, and his daughter had placed him in that nursing home. I wrote to Gerhard in New Jersey, but he was suffering from Angina Pectoris and needed open heart surgery. His health did not permit him to undertake the strenuous journey to Israel.
Some months after our visit we heard that Hannah had brought her father to visit her in Heidelberg. I was really surprised, as he was neither mentally nor physically fit to travel. It turned out that she had engaged a nurse as his traveling companion, as that was the only way he was allowed to leave the nursing home. Although I had severed my relations with Hannah, I wanted to see Uncle Siegfried, so I called her and she agreed that I could come and take him to our house for a few hours. I found Uncle Siegfried in a confused state of mind, but physically he seemed a little better. He told me that Hannah and Dr. Fassbinder had talked him into changing his will, so that Hannah would be his sole heir. I tried to convince him to leave his will the way he had set it up with Aunt Edith, or change it to leave everything to his grandchildren, as his children did not really need his money. But my words were wasted, as I found out later. Hannah's sole purpose in bringing her father to Germany had been for her to work on him until he would change the will. The pressure she put on him worked, and he did change the will in her benefit.
In September 1972 the Summer Olympic games were carried out in Munich. Yurek loved sports and watched as much of the Games as he had time. We were absolutely horrified when Arab terrorists took eleven Israeli sportsmen hostage. For the next few days we remained glued to the television, watching in utter shock how the German police and special army units botched the whole episode and let the Arabs kill all eleven Israelis. It was a devastating situation, which got even worse when three of the terrorists who had been captured, were released about a month later, on the demand of hijackers of a Lufthansa plane taken to Beirut. We felt very uncomfortable living in Germany at such a time.
Whenever we came to Israel again to see Amnon we also stayed in the Tel-Aviv apartment. Of course Avi moved out while we were there. Amnon always organized his friends to help him sweep it up before our arrival, but it was still so dirty and neglected that it took me more than an hour to clean the worst of it before I let the family enter, and then I cleaned the place more thoroughly for the next few days. However, it was a very convenient apartment and we enjoyed a lovely vacation there, walking to the beach or the Gordon municipal swimming pool every morning. Yurek came with us, but stayed only ten days, as he could not leave our business for too long.
Both of us wanted to see Sharm-el-Sheikh very much, and had a feeling that Israel would not keep it much longer. There was an organized five day Egged tour going there. My cousin Evi in Nahalal offered to have Michael stay with them for that time. Her youngest son Yuval was just a year older than Michael. Michael loved being on a farm. He liked to help collect the eggs and also had fun catching mice and other creatures he could find in the fields. Frieda offered to take Iris. Rosi was to take care of her in the mornings while Frieda was still busy at school. There was only the problem of language, as my children merely spoke German, while Frieda and Rosi spoke Hebrew, English and Bulgarian, but no German. Iris had her favorite toys but could not communicate with her hosts. Luckily a neighbor of Frieda's spoke some Yiddish, which is fairly close to German, so when it became extremely important, Frieda asked her neighbor for help. We did not realize how difficult it was for all of them not to have a common language.
In the meantime the two of us had a great time seeing this part of what used to be and again became Egypt. The Red Sea was the bluest water I had ever seen and we enjoyed swimming and the beautiful beaches. We also went to Taba and were shown the stretch of land on which Israel planned to build a resort hotel. At that time it was just bare desert close to the sea.
Less than a year later the situation in Israel was again extremely precarious. Amnon was in the army and, like any mother, I was very worried. On Yom Kippur, 6 October 1973, when everyone was in synagogue praying, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel simultaneously, at the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights, starting the fourth Israeli-Arab War. The Arabs had thought to catch Israel at a most vulnerable time, but they had miscalculated, as it was easier and quicker to mobilize all the reserve army on a day in which everyone was either home or in synagogue. Israel was able to retaliate speedily and won a decisive victory, but as always, the world powers intervened and a cease fire was declared two weeks later. It was a harrowing time for me as I could not reach Amnon. I called Lotte every second day, but she only comforted me by having no news, which she said was good news. When her son Dani was slightly wounded and sent home to recuperate, I envied her and told her that she was lucky, as her worries were over. After the cease fire we finally heard that Amnon had survived unharmed. Three months after the War, Israel and Egypt signed a non proliferation agreement.
Then, just another month later, we received more sad news: David Ben Gurion died on 29 November, 1973. Ben Gurion had been the charismatic leader whose energy and determination had initiated the creation of the State of Israel. He had been a down-to-earth, unpretentious man, usually dressed in khaki shorts and open shirts, and propagating a simple way of life. He would never allow Arabs to do the menial jobs, because he believed that Israel needed to be self sufficient, and the Jewish population should take care of all the necessary work in the country. He had also prohibited the introduction of television into Israel, but that, I think, was a mistake, as Israel had to keep up with the rest of the world and participate in modern technology.
The children were growing quite a lot. Michael went to school and Iris to kindergarten. She was lucky to be in a special experimental program where the children were taught French. She rather enjoyed it and came home singing French songs and playing games with French rhymes. She was very bright and I wanted her to start school when she was five and a half, so I had to have her tested. They found that she had an IQ of 164 and was ready for school. She started her first year and in contrast to Michael, was a very good student.
As a civil servant I was eligible to receive a plot of land in Frankenthal for a very minimal sum, so that we could build our own house on it. I was also entitled to a thirty year government loan of about seven thousand dollars at one percent interest. It was a small sum but very lucrative. We had saved some money and had built up our building society savings account for some years; however, it would take four more years to come due. The way the system worked was that one had to save money in the account for at least seven years, then one could get the double amount of one's savings at four percent interest. In Germany one had to get a mortgage from the bank and the prevailing interest rate at the time was nine and a half percent. The land, the savings account and my status as civil servant were enough collateral to get us a loan from the bank, more than half of which we would return after four years.
We talked things over and decided to build a house as large as permissible. Actually we were only allowed a two family house. But when it was finally completed, two years later, we had four apartments, one on each floor. Each of the two middle ones had five bedrooms and three bathrooms with two balconies, each thirty six feet long. The L-shaped living room was twenty by twenty feet with French doors and three large windows. The top floor apartment had three bedrooms and two baths, a balcony and many built in closets. The lower floor apartment we had originally planned as an indoor swimming pool, but changed it into a spacious one bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and a large porch. All the apartments had parquet floors and ceilings and all the kitchens and bathrooms had floor to ceiling colorful Italian tiles. We only used the best material, had double glazing and rolling shutters on all outside doors and windows and central heating under the floor. We had a two car garage under the house and a one car garage at one side. The garden was quite large and we had a well dug to water the lawns, trees and flower beds.
When our house was almost ready we moved in. We persuaded the construction people to complete our apartment first, the one on the first floor. We had to buy more furniture, all new drapes and lighting and felt overjoyed to have the luxury of living in our own commodious house. We had the builders concentrate on the downstairs large apartment next, and when a month later that too was completed, we rented it to a family with two older children. The top apartment followed and two months later was also ready. We found a young journalist couple who rented it. A few months passed until the last, downstairs apartment was completed and that we rented to a pleasant single younger woman. The outside plastering was still needed and by the time the final touches were given, a year had gone by since our move in.
The family in the large apartment were causing us concern. The wife was divorcing her husband and one day she took the children and some furniture and disappeared. The husband was in a state of shock and stayed two more months. Again we looked for good renters. A family Nitsch was eager to move in. They had three daughters and a son as well as an adopted son, all about Michael's and Iris' age. The husband was employed by the municipality of Ludwigshafen as a social worker and political official and they seemed a friendly family. They soon moved in and lived in our house for many years, and their children became good friends with ours.
The children had to go to new schools close to our house. There was only one small school in our suburb. The school had two teachers and thirty six children so that one teacher taught first and second grade, the other third and fourth. Michael was in fourth grade and we wanted him to be promoted to a Gymnasium after summer break. In the German school system only the first four grades were attended by all children. After that they were divided into three streams, mainly according to ability: Gymnasium, which leads to university, Realschule, with access to vocational school, and somewhat equivalent to high school, and Hauptshule for the less studious and capable.
I managed to finagle Michael into a fourth grade class in a school in the town center, where there were more children in his classroom and he had specialized teachers. At the end of the year the children wishing to go to the Gymnasium are tested and those that pass the exams qualify to be accepted. Luckily Michael passed and went to the Gymnasium the following year.
Iris was halfway through first grade when we moved to our house. School was only about a block away and our suburb was quite safe for her to walk to school by herself. Although there were only eleven first graders sitting with eight second graders in the classroom, they did not treat her kindly when she first came. A big bully in second grade started pushing her around in the break, telling her he does not like Jews. But Iris had experience with Michael's bullying and quickly shoved and knocked him to the ground. The boy was stunned and speechless and avoided her from then on. All the children were awe-struck and showed her a great deal of respect, and she never had any more troubles. One little boy admired her so much that he became her follower and devoted friend.
During a short fall break of about a week, we sent the children to a horse farm. There they received riding lessons and learned how to take care of the horses. They enjoyed the experience very much, and became quite good riders. But Michael somehow got the idea that the horse assigned to him needed a haircut, which he undertook, cutting off the whole mane of the horse. The owners were horrified when they saw the horse and expelled Michael from their farm, never allowing him to return.
It was not much later when Uncle Siegfried died, on 28 December 1974. Gerhard in the meantime had his open heart surgery and was able to attend the funeral. When he found out about the changed will, he managed to salvage some money that Uncle Siegfried had in a Swiss bank account. Hannah took her brother to court, a habit she would continue whenever she did not get her way. Although it was proven that Uncle Siegfried had not been of sound mind when he changed the will, the accompanying nurse testified to that, the court deliberated for years, and large sums went to the lawyers. About four or five years later an agreement was reached, but Gerhard has never talked to his sister again and refuses even to mention her name.
When Amnon completed his four years of military service - he had to serve the extra fourth year when he signed up to become a frogman - we wanted him to come back to us and get a better education. I wanted him to come to my school to study for one year and take the final middle school exams. This diploma would enable him to be accepted at the International Hotel Management School in Heidelberg. He was completely taken by the prevailing new music, especially the Beetles, and we promised to buy him the best high fidelity stereo radio, tape recorder and speakers if he came.
Our enticement worked and Amnon came back to live with us. We gave him the largest bedroom for all his equipment and he went to my school, taking his studies seriously. He also managed to get a job as life saver at a municipal indoor swimming pool in Mannheim. After graduating from my school with a diploma, he was accepted in Heidelberg and studied for two years, graduating as an internationally accredited hotel manager. With this diploma he went back to Israel and was hired as Food and Beverage manager at the five star Plaza Hotel in Tiberias. I was relieved that Amnon was back in Israel, as he was of marrying age and I believed that he would now be safe from all the Christian girls he had been dating, and that he would find a nice Jewish girl in Israel.
My teaching assignment consisted mainly of English, but I also had to teach mathematics and political science. The latter was causing me a lot of aggravation, both because of the subject matter and the students. Much of the material was German government and politics, which I did not know well myself, but the students were the worst kind, rebellious teenagers who had to be forced to go to school, sometimes being brought in by police. Most of my English classes were quite pleasant, and the majority of the students were eager to learn. I initiated a yearly trip to England so that my students would be exposed to English surroundings and would be forced to use the language for sheer survival.
As a tenured teacher I was entitled and indeed encouraged to take further education seminars and courses, of which I readily took advantage. One year I was even able to go to Colchester, England, for a ten day course in English language and literature. It was a great opportunity and while there I managed to visit my cousins on the weekend
In the special government monthly publication which was circulated in school, I read about a teachers' international exchange program. I found out that interested teachers had to apply and after a few interviews some teachers were selected for the exchanged . I talked it over with Yurek and we decided that I should apply. Soon I was invited for an interview, but I was not among those chosen the first year. So I tried again and at my third attempt was finally successful. I was assigned to go to Gillingham, Kent and take up the position of my exchange partner, a Mr. Sutton, who was head of the language department at an adult education center.
When we had a short break from school, we went to Gillingham and met Mr. Sutton and his wife. We saw their house and school, discussing all our arrangements for the coming school year. A few weeks later, when the Suttons came to Frankenthal, we showed them our house and my school and finalized our exchange preparations. The Suttons moved into most of our apartment, leaving just one bedroom and one bathroom for Yurek, who had to stay and take care of our dry cleaning business. I was taking the children and we moved into the Sutton's house, which was rather small, with just three small bedrooms and one bathroom.
At Easter the four of us went to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, taking a boat tour on the canals and visiting the zoo. On our way back we went to Brussels, to view the Atomium which had been built especially for the World Fair. We went into every one of the five globes, representing the five continents. Just when we were up inside the highest one, Iris needed a toilet, which, we were told, was near the base. So we went all the way down and later climbed up again to finish our tour.
During the summer before my exchange program, we again went to Israel. I had problems with my renters in the Jerusalem apartment and also with those living in the little house in Tivon. We also had to find renters for the Tel-Aviv apartment, while Amnon was staying in Germany for a couple of years. We visited my cousin Evi and family in Nahalal and of course my friends Frieda and Rachel and their families. Another terrible incident shook us up the day before we left. An Arab terrorist had placed a bomb in an old ice box in Zion Square, in the center of Jerusalem. It killed fourteen people and injured many more. Among the severely injured was Yehuda Levi, Rachel's husband. He had just picked up a pair of new reading glasses from his optometrist. We tried to visit him, but only close family members were admitted. We managed to find out that Rachel's mother was taking care of her three boys while Rachel was staying with her husband, who was in very critical condition and it was not yet known if he would survive. Fortunately he did make it and after four months in hospital was able to return to his family. But he lost a leg, two fingers and most of his hearing.
In the school year 1975 to 1976 we moved to Gillingham. I enrolled the children in a public (=private) school where classes were small and the headmaster spoke some German. I had to get the children fitted out with uniforms, as required by all schools in England.
Michael had already studied English for a year, so he did not have to cope with a completely foreign language. But for Iris it was very tough. There was a kindergarten that started four days before school, and I enrolled her there, so she would be exposed to English all around her while playing with younger children. The first few weeks in school were very hard on her, and she often came home crying. But she caught on extremely fast, and after two months her English was so good that she was moved up to a higher grade. I enrolled the children in Judo courses and let them join the girl guides and boy scout clubs. They soon made friends and enjoyed the many activities available in England.
My duties as head of the language department were quite diverse. I had to teach some German courses as well as English and grammar courses, and to supervise other teachers and evaluate their performance. I taught two evenings a week, and was lucky to find an older woman who would clean the house once a week and stay with the children the two evenings I had to teach. During the school year there were two or three seminars on weekends which I was supposed to attend, and that posed a more difficult problem. I became quite friendly with the head of the art department and his family, Anne and Brian Haynes. They had two children, Christopher and Debbie, who were just a little older than Michael and Iris. Iris made friends with Catherine Penfold, a girl who was both in her girl guides and her Judo class, and I met and became friends with her mother Pam. So when I had to go to a seminar for two days, I was able to arrange for Iris to stay with the Penfolds, and Michael with the Haynes. To repay their favor, I tutored Christopher Haynes in mathematics for the rest of the year, as he had problems with it at school. I often invited Pam Penfold and Catherine to our house and the girls had a good time together.
Yurek came to visit us about every three weeks. While we were in Gillingham we always looked forward to his coming, and often took little trips together to see some pretty and interesting sights. During that year we had many other visitors as well. First, Amnon and Avi came for a short stop over, on a big trip they were embarking on, all the way to the tip of Norway. Then Clemens Buehler, our friends' oldest son came with his boy friend, making our house their base from which they set out on their hikes around the country. Of course I invited all my cousins to come for visits and we went to see them many times too. With Erica we became especially close. She lived only about a fifty minutes drive away from us. I took her with us and showed her England!
Mrs. Elizabeth Buehler also came to stay with us, and I brought her to Erica on the one weekend in which I had to attend a seminar. That was the best and most memorable weekend for me. We were in Stradford on Avon and attended four Shakespeare performances. After each play we had the opportunity to talk to the actors and producers and could ask them questions about their work.
During Easter vacation Yurek came over for almost two weeks and we drove all the way to the tip of Scotland. We first stopped in Doncaster to meet Jean again. She was engaged to be married and was rather busy, but we managed to spend an evening together. She had booked us in a pleasant hotel. From there we went to Edinburgh where we viewed Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle and the university complex. Our next destination was Loch Ness where Michael was convinced that he had glimpsed the monster. We took a boat ride on the lake and Iris started chatting fervently with an older man, who enjoyed her company. When Yurek came over she turned to him and talked to him in German; the man just could not believe his ears and eyes: Here was a little girl, who spoke English like a native, and was also fluent in German!
We drove through the wild Scottish countryside all the way to the tip of Scotland to John O'Groats on the North Sea. In a place called Tongue, south west of John O'Groats but still by the Ocean, we found a lovely bed-and-breakfast place at an unbelievably reasonable price. We had a very late dinner and then walked around along the beach. At eleven thirty we decided that it was time to go to bed, but the children could not be persuaded. It was bright daylight although we could not see the sun. We all went to bed at midnight, but it was hard to fall asleep. By two in the morning it finally got dark, but by four the sun was shining again!
The coast of Scotland was scenic and we enjoyed many more beautiful sights. We drove through vast empty country overgrown with wild heather. The only road was so narrow that merely one car could drive over it. About every hundred yards there was a turn out, so that when a car from the opposite direction approached, one of the cars stopped there until the other car passed. These roads were so lonely and empty that we rarely met another car, perhaps two cars during a whole long day. We made our way back to Glasgow where we booked passage on the night train that also carried cars. So we drove the car onto the train and were then shown to our compartment of two upper and two lower beds. We went to sleep in the evening, and woke up in the morning in London.
At the end of the school year all the international exchange teachers were invited for high tea to meet Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret at her Kensington Palace. We were instructed to wear hats and gloves for the occasion. So when the assigned time came, we all assembled in the gardens of Margaret's Palace and were introduced to her Majesty one by one.
Margaret did not wear either hat or gloves, but was quite friendly and exchanged a few words with each one of us. It was a lovely sunny day and we enjoyed the beautiful gardens. Then we went in for tea, and were served some tasteful sandwiches and cakes with tea and coffee. Margaret sat with her guests but did not eat anything: she just sat smoking one cigarette after another.
We soon had to go back home. It was hard to say good-bye to all our relatives and new friends. The experience of being in friendly England made me realize that we had absolutely no social life in Germany. We were busy making a living and raising our children, but still we needed a few friends to get together once in a while. The only people we saw occasionally were my relatives Paula and Helmut Hoehne in Heidelberg and Paula and Joseph Ruedell in Freiburg, all of them a generation older than we and rather sickly. The Buehlers we saw mostly when on vacation. None of them lived near us so we met them perhaps twice a year.
Around this time another agonizing occurrence stirred us profoundly. An Air France plane with 229 passengers of which 83 were Israelis, was hijacked in Athens by Arab terrorists. They flew the plane to Entebbe, Uganda. Three days later all the non Israeli hostages were released. The dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin was very hostile to the Jews. They were in great danger of their lives, so the Israeli Defense Forces managed a spectacular rescue raid on Entebbe Airport, bringing the hostages home. Four civilians and an Israeli officer, Yonatan Netanyahu, were killed during the raid. One Israeli woman, Dora Bloch, who was hospitalized for an emergency, was left behind. She was brutally murdered by orders of the enraged Idi Amin. This event stirred the whole world and soon movies were made depicting this episode and starring such famous Hollywood stars as Kirk Douglas. When this exciting and adventure-packed film was released about a year later, terrorists planted bombs in the movie houses where it was shown in many cities, such as in Lisbon, all West German cities and many in Greece.
Upon returning to Germany and to our old schools, we felt that we had greatly profited from the year abroad and I decided to apply for another exchange, this time to the United States. As it had taken me three attempts before I was chosen, I decided to apply again right away. The principal of my school was furious, but fortunately the decision was not up to him. During that time I had to take more exams and successfully demonstrate my teaching abilities in front of my superiors to qualify for promotion to Oberstudienraetin.
In the meantime I organized two trips to England with different classes and established good contacts with a couple who specialized in teaching foreign students. I planned one study vacation for my sixteen- and seventeen-year-old students during Easter break and took my children along. Their English was quite good after a year in England, so they were able to participate in the class work, although they were much younger.
Michael was approaching his thirteenth birthday and was busy studying for his Bar Mitzva. Since his sixth birthday and Iris' fifth, the children had been going to Hebrew and religious school at the synagogue in Mannheim. Their teacher was Mr. Rosenfeld, a cantor from France, who had a lot of patience teaching the unwilling children. They attended classes every Sunday morning and one afternoon during the week. The last six months before his Bar Mitzva, I took Michael every Saturday afternoon to Mr. Rosenfeld's house. He tutored Michael and drilled him to memorize his portion. Mr. Rosenfeld was orthodox, so we could not ring his doorbell, but had to call loudly from the street. Mr. Rosenfeld threw us the key of the house and then we walked up the two flights of stairs instead of using the elevator.
Many guests came to Michael's Bar Mitzva. My cousins Eva, Hannah and Erica and daughter Elizabeth came from England as well as my parents' friend Mrs. Demant. My cousin Dorothea from Brazil, who was in Europe at the time also attended. A fairly far removed relative, Zigi Zweig, came from Israel. The whole Buehler family came from Freiburg, and Eva's ex-husband and new family came from Luxembourg. Cousin Lore and husband Hans Friedrich came from Hamburg. We had sent an invitation to Dorit but her mother just discarded it, without ever telling Dorit anything. At the time I had a wonderful housekeeper, Frau Bach, to take care of our family during the morning hours, and she baked many delicious cakes. Together with Amnon we prepared sumptuous cold plates, salads and warm dishes for three days of festivities. Many of our guests stayed in our house, but we also rented a few rooms in a hotel to accommodate the rest.
Michael did a good job at the synagogue reading his Torah portion and Haftara. After the service we had a savory lunch for all the members at the synagogue, more than eighty people. Then we went to our house and continued the celebration with our relatives and friends, a group of almost forty people. It was a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by so many relatives and friends who participated in our joyous occasion.
About a month after the Bar Mitzva I received a letter inviting me to go to Bonn for an interview with the Fulbright commission which selected the exchange teachers. It was a freezing cold day late in November when I went to Bonn. There were about fifteen other candidates there, and I was told that the commission would interview about seventy applicants. I did not think that I would be selected, nor did I really want to go off again so soon. Surprisingly, I was one of the thirteen who were picked to go on exchange the following school year. I did not want to decline, fearing that I might not get another chance, so I accepted.
In the meantime we heard stirring news from Israel. Prime Minister Menachem Begin invited President Anwar Sadat of Egypt to visit Jerusalem and Sadat accepted the invitation and came to Jerusalem to address the Knesset. Ministers and statesmen were going back and forth and were preparing peace talks. This was the first time that an Arab state talked to Israel and was ready to make peace. We all had great hopes that other Arab states would follow, and that peace would come in a not too far future. The following year Begin and Sadat met at Camp David in the United States under the auspices of President Carter and a Peace Treaty was signed in the White House on 26 of March 1979. Israel withdrew from Sinai including Santa Katarina Monastery, and returned the oil fields. Sadly, some Arabs were against any peace with Israel, and in October 1980 assassinated President Sadat.
I received a letter from the Fulbright Commission, advising me of my exchange destination. I was to teach at Moon Valley High School in Phoenix, Arizona. It so happened that my Aunt Carola, Father's only surviving sister, was living in Phoenix. I wrote her a letter, telling her about our coming, and asking her to find out what she could about the school. As was typical with her, Aunt Carola did not wait, but immediately took a taxi to the school and went to my exchange teacher's classroom, knocking on her door in the middle of a lesson, and introducing herself as my aunt.
Soon I received a letter from Aunt Carola that she had liked the school and my exchange partner and that she was looking forward to our coming. A few weeks later my exchange partner, Susan Shubert, also wrote to me and sent me a plan of her house. This time I could not take my car along, so I needed to buy a second hand car when we arrived. In our apartment we built a wall and broke open a door, making two separate apartments of our dwelling so that my exchange partner would have completely enclosed living quarters.
The American exchange program was very well organized. Before leaving Germany, we were invited to Bonn where we met our exchange partners just arriving from the States. We spent four days together with our families, touring the countryside, taking an afternoon cruise down the Rhine River and calling on the American ambassador. We had some journalists interview a few of us, among them thirteen year old Michael, whose comments and replies were published in the local paper. From Bonn we were flown to Washington DC, while our exchange partners were escorted to their new domicile. Yurek was with us in Bonn and now took Mrs. Shubert to our house.
In Washington we were housed at the American University, where I shared a dorm with Michael and Iris. We were given a three day sightseeing tour of America's capital and heard some lectures about our future assignments with tips and directions to help us along. We were then supposed to fly to the towns to which we had been assigned, but I had made arrangements to stop over in New York for four days to see some of the attractions of the Big Apple.
Amnon's friend Avi married an American girl and they were living in New York. He booked a lovely hotel for us in the middle of Manhattan, diagonally across from the Waldorf Astoria, and came to pick us up at the airport. He took some time off to show us the lower East Side with all the Jewish shops and suggested places for us to see. I also got in touch with Gerhard, who lived in New Jersey, not far from New York, and he and Cilly came on the weekend and took us to the Statue of Liberty. We were absolutely fascinated by this lively city and Michael could not get enough of watching the endless traffic drive by the whole night long.
We arrived in Phoenix on 16 of August at five in the afternoon. Steps were placed at the exit of the plane; we had to walk across the tarmac to get into the arrival building. We experienced quite a shock when leaving the plane: it was about 115 degrees Fahrenheit. No one had told us that it could be that hot in the late afternoon. It felt as if we were stepping into a sauna. The assistant principal of my designated school met us at the airport and took us to my exchange partner's residence. When we entered the house we were rather startled to find a vacuum cleaner in the middle of the room as well as a broom and bucket, all the apparatus needed for cleaning, but nothing had been dusted or mopped. I thanked the assistant principal for the ride to my new residence and when he left started sweeping the place. Although I had asked Mrs. Shubert to store away anything breakable that we would not need, I found the house full of bric-a-bracs which I packed away before the children could get to them and regretfully break any. By the time I organized our sleeping quarters it was quite late. We had eaten on the plane so at least I did not have to worry about food that evening.
The assistant principal asked me to come to school three days later, still during summer vacation. But I needed to register the children for school. Because it was so hot, we got up early and walked to Michael's new high school first, about half a mile away. It took the whole morning to get Michael registered for his freshman classes and get all his books. By the time we arrived at Iris' grade school we found it closed. It was the middle of the day and extremely hot. We had to walk back home and I also needed to buy food. It was not very pleasant carrying all the groceries in this heat.
As soon as I had a moment I went to the phone and tried to rent a car for a few days. I brought along five thousand dollars in cash, for we planned to buy a second hand car for me. I needed money for our daily expenses, while my salary continued to be paid to my bank account in Germany throughout the year. Well, I was in for a shock to find out that no one would rent a car to a person who had no credit card. In Europe we had just heard about credit cards and there was talk about them being introduced, but no one had as yet received or used any. I implored many of the car rental places that I needed a car and would give them four thousand dollars as collateral or guarantee, but to no avail. Finally one car rental place near the airport was willing to rent me a car. I called Aunt Carola and told her about it and she wanted to come along. I called a taxi to take us down there, and the fare cost me as much as the security I had to put down for the car, just twenty dollars!
We took Aunt Carola back to her house promising to visit her as soon as we settled down, and we went to look for a second hand car. I received a call from a lady who wanted to clean my house every week, an acquaintance of Mrs. Shubert's, and she offered to help me find a car. She took me to some car dealers, but I could not make up my mind about any of the cars we saw. We had a car to drive for the time being, so I could go shopping and stock up on all the provisions we needed, and the next morning we could drive to Iris' grade school and get her registered.
The following morning I had to go to my new school. I arranged for the cleaning lady to come and clean the house and at the same time to baby-sit. At school I was introduced to the principal and many of the teachers and was shown around the campus. I was really impressed with the enormous grounds and sports fields. There was one classroom which was to be mine for the year and I was pleased that the students would be coming to me and I did not have to prance from one classroom to another as was customary in Germany. Another novelty for me was that my timetable would be identical every day of the week. I taught two classes of German, one freshman beginners class, the other a combination of second and third year German for a mixture of sophomore, junior and senior students. My other three classes were mathematics for freshmen. I was also able to get the advice of a mechanics teacher to help me decide on the purchase of a car, and he recommended a Ford Pinto station wagon.
During that year we visited Aunt Carola and Uncle Max quite a few times and also had them over to our house. There were some funny stories about Aunt Carola, which cousin Ilse was very good at relating. Aunt Carola managed to escape to England during the Nazi regime in Germany. Her English was rather poor when she first arrived. She rented a room and felt rather cold, so she asked her landlady if she could have another ceiling (= blanket) as the train (= draft) was coming through the window! When the gas employee came to read the gas meters, she told him that she was the meter (=renter)! as in German these words had the double meaning. Whenever we came, Uncle Max played records of Tango music and always told us the same stories. They both enjoyed playing Pinochle, which they first had to teach us, and then we all played it whenever we met.
Television was much more varied and diversified in America. We could practically watch it twenty four hours a day and there were many channels from which to choose. It was a novelty for us to watch some children's program while having breakfast, and it was easier to get the children out of bed when I turned on a program they liked, such as the Wallace and Ladmo Show. There was also a repeat of the film "Holocaust" which had been shown in April, before we came to America, and it left a deep impression on me.
After our return to Germany the following year, this film was shown on German television for the first time, and I watched it again. It had to be dubbed before it was presented to the German audience, and that usually takes quite some time. The film was the first attempt to awaken the world to the horrors of Nazi atrocities, and it started to shake up the conscious of many people. Since then Holocaust survivors began organizing and documenting their experience. In mid June 1980 the first World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors met in Jerusalem with over four thousand participants from twenty six countries. This was thirty five years after the end of WW.II, and it took quite a few more years until the first Holocaust Museums were established. The Diaspora Museum, "Beth Hatefusot" in Ramat Aviv in Israel, which opened in May 1978, depicting the numerous settlements in which Jews had lived before the Holocaust, was the precursor to these museums.
On Labor Day weekend we went to Riverside inCalifornia to visit my cousin Ilse, then on to see cousins Henry and Martin. They took us to Disneyland, a most exciting adventure especially for the children. We stayed in Laguna Beach at Martin's apartment and he was kind enough to give us his waterbed to sleep on while he and Henry slept in the living room. It was our first experience with a waterbed, and most fascinating for Michael. I slept in the middle, between my two children, but with Michael's constant swaying of the bed, I almost got sea sick, and very little sleep.
After about six weeks Yurek came for his first visit. During the year in the exchange program, Yurek made the long journey across the Atlantic five times. He always stayed for at least two weeks, the last time even eight weeks, and we enjoyed being together again and tried to do as much sightseeing as possible. During the Thanksgiving break we went to the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Lake Powell.
At Christmas time we drove to California, again visiting my cousins Ilse, Henry and Martin, then on to San Diego and the zoo. We saw Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks and later we drove along the coast to San Francisco. There we celebrated Iris' birthday in Chinatown and tried authentic Chinese food for the first time. During the Spring Break we flew to Mexico City to see the sights, especially the Pyramids nearby, then drove to Taxsco, the Silver City, and later to Acapulco.
Although we had gone to Germany for the purpose of my studying towards my doctorate, I had never finished my studies. First Michael and later Iris was born. It was more important for me to raise my young children and be with them than to get my degree. Now the children were a little older and had their own hobbies and clubs. There was a piano in Mrs. Shubert's house and she had given me the name of a piano teacher, who gave Iris lessons. Her daughter Jenny became Iris' best friend. Michael was often busy playing football and Iris also joined a soccer team, and both were involved with scouting. There were so many channels on television keeping the children constantly occupied that I could leave them alone for an hour or two. Arizona State University offered many interesting courses, so I registered for two literature classes and enjoyed them tremendously.
When the school year ended I had an unusually long summer vacation of almost three months. First cousin Erica came to visit and we took her to Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam. My friend Frieda came soon after that and of course Yurek. Frieda had lost her husband Chaim to cancer, after only seventeen years of marriage. First we took Frieda to Tucson and Old Tucson then to Tombstone for a taste of the old Wild West. The five of us now planned an extensive trip across the country to see as much of the USA as possible. We bought a beautiful van fully equipped with refrigerator, sofa, table and pilot seats and sold the Ford Pinto. We usually took a room with two queen or king size beds and a roll-away. Frieda would share the other big bed with Iris, and Michael slept on the roll-away. Often Iris' hair was still wet when she went to bed as she had very thick long braids. Sometimes Frieda would feel the wet braids that seemed to her like snakes, so she called Iris "the lady with the snakes."
Our journey began with the Grand Canyon again, then Meteor Crater and Utah, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, across to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, then Dallas, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. In New Orleans we visited the French Quarter and enjoyed the street entertainment, also tasting the cajun specialties offered there. During the night we encountered a heavy rainstorm causing a blackout in the whole city. In the morning we went to the harbor to inquire about a boat trip down the Mississippi River. We were told that we had just experienced a typhoon and no ship was leaving port. When we continued on our journey eastward we saw many cars half submerged in pools of water around their houses. I pointed this out to Yurek who said that this must be the way people parked their cars in this area! Later we found out that the rain from the typhoon had damaged much of the surrounding region.
In Cocoa Beach, Florida, we had a beautiful, large hotel room, right on the waterfront. While staying there we would get up at seven in the morning, put on our swim suits and run into the water. The sky was blue and the sun was shining, making this even more enjoyable. We then returned to our room to shower and have breakfast. By that time the sky always turned dark and the rain started pouring down incessantly, all day long. We could only sit in the room and watch television for the rest of the day. This happened three days in a row, so we decided to continue northwards, hoping for better weather.
In Florida we went to Disneyworld and the Kennedy Space Center, two great attractions especially for Michael. In Nashville, Tennessee we got tickets to the Grand Ole Opry and quite enjoyed the performance.
About once a week Frieda and I went to a Laundromat to wash all our dirty clothes. We had bought Michael a bright red T-shirt which turned out not to have fast colors. When the laundry was ready everything was pink! It did not matter too much for our women clothes but Yurek's and Michael's underpants really looked a funny lot. We created a new fashion of men's pink underwear!
We visited Charleston, Kentucky, South and North Carolina, Fort Knox, Indiana, Detroit, Chicago and on to Niagara Falls, where we took the boat "Maid of the Mist" right up to the Falls. We were handed out raincoats, as the Falls got us quite wet. From there we went to Canada, to Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. There we visited Yurek's uncle and family. It was a very emotional meeting. They had not seen each other since 1945, just after WW.II, when both men went back to their hometown to see if any family members had survived. The family made us very welcome and we got to know their youngest daughter Golda, a high school teacher in her mid thirties. We stayed with them for two or three days and then had a tearful farewell.
Now we turned back towards New York. We stopped in Boston and Philadelphia, then on to Washington DC and back to New York. Both Frieda and Yurek had not seen these impressive cities before, and we, too, enjoyed a second visit. Frieda had a cousin in New York with whom she stayed, and we resided with Gerhard and Cilly. We left our van at their house and took a bus to Manhattan, as parking was a big problem in New York. We also arranged the shipping of our van by sea and on the designated day brought it to the port. Our trip across the United States lasted seven wonderful weeks, but now it was time to say good-bye and go back to the call of duty.
Again it was not easy to return to Germany and to our old routine. We had all fallen in love with Phoenix and talked about the desire to live there. I inquired about my chances of being granted leave without pay; I definitely did not want to lose my pension. Since my first employment by the German government, the job market for teachers had completely turned around. Now there were many more teachers available than jobs for them. The government would have no objection to my application for leave on the basis of my being a mother of under-aged children. I could take leave until my youngest child turned eighteen, but the government would not guarantee me a return to my former school, just that I would have a teaching position somewhere in my former state.
We weighed all the options and calculated our budget. Yurek would have to sell our business and come with us. We had our house and apartment to rent, giving us additional income, but not quite enough. We decided that I should apply at Arizona State University as a Ph.D. candidate, and come to America as a student, with Yurek and the children as my dependents. We would also sell our apartments in Tel-Aviv and Kiron. We figured out that this would give us the needed capital on which to live for the next five years.
Amnon was working as Food and Beverage Manager at the Plaza Hotel in Tiberias for some time when he met a young girl who had advanced to the head of one of the restaurants. Julieanne was a non Jewish girl from Southend, England, who had gone to a Kibbutz with her Jewish girlfriend. The girlfriend left after a short time, while Julieanne stayed on, but soon applied for a job as waitress and worked her way up at the Tiberias Plaza Hotel. Now Amnon wrote us that he was thinking of marrying her. I was rather shocked, as I felt fairly confidant that since his return to Israel he would marry a Jewish girl. He told us that she was converting to Judaism and they would get married after her conversion. We decided that I should go to Israel and meet her and also try and sell the two apartments.
In those days Israel had enormous inflation. Since 1974, the Israeli Lira (which in 1948 had the value equivalent to a Pound Sterling) had devaluated tremendously. In 1976 all government subsidies were slashed and prices jumped 20% in a single day. Consumer prices rose almost 40% annually in those years, and especially basic food and fuel prices sky rocketed. When the new money unit of the Shekel was introduced in 1980 it was hoped that inflation would slow down, but the opposite occurred. Israel had the highest inflation in the world for a while, reaching 400%.
I first went to Tel-Aviv to talk to some real estate agents who might help me sell the apartments. In those inflationary years I would make sure not to keep any Israeli money when I left the country. I would find that what would buy me a taxi fare from the airport when I left would not even get me a box of matches when I returned. I got into the habit of telling the Sherut (the shared taxi) driver, that he should help me carry my luggage up to Frieda's apartment, and she would pay him as I had no money. We were always happy to see each other and had so much to talk about and catch up on our news that we usually talked all night long until it was time for breakfast.
After spending two or three days with Frieda and talking to a few real estate agents, I took the bus to Tiberias to see Amnon. He was working during the day so I had to make my own way to his hotel. We both were happy to see each other again, but he could not spend much time with me while on the job. I left my luggage with him and went for a stroll, had a bite to eat and waited until he finished work. Then he took me and my luggage to his dwelling. He and his Australian boss/friend John had rented an old house overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The house had belonged to a doctor who lived there for over fifty years until his death. Amnon's girl-friend and fiancee Julieanne was living there too. I was introduced to both of his house mates and we all had dinner together. Julieanne was a pretty, young girl. She was rather shy and as my time there was short, I really did not get to know her.
I stayed with them for two days and was most impressed by the location of the house. It was summer and I got up early, without disturbing the others, walking around the house and garden. The view from there was really superb. The whole lake was in front of me and I could even see the opposite shore. It was the weekend and the others enjoyed sleeping longer. When they got up we had breakfast together and later went for a walk. We talked some more and Amnon assured me that Julieanne would be Jewish before they got married. The next day they all went back to work and I had to see to my affairs, especially finding buyers for the apartments. Unfortunately I found no one who wanted to buy at such a short notice. I left Israel leaving my address and telephone number with the realtors.
A few weeks later one realtor found a buyer for the Tel-Aviv apartment. We came back to Israel for just four days and managed to get all the paperwork signed and most of the money transferred. When I picked up the cash from the bank I needed a big brown paper shopping bag to carry the money. The bank had these automatic counting machines to sort and count out my money, which amounted to close to a million Israeli Shekel, but it was worth only about forty two thousand dollars. We then had to go to an Armenian money changer in the Old City of Jerusalem to get foreign currency. This was actually an illegal procedure, but the only way to get my money out of Israel.
Frieda called us about a month later and had a buyer for our spacious apartment in Kiron. The buyers were going to pay about fifty thousand dollars, a rather low price. We agreed as we really needed to sell. However, Frieda made the mistake of letting them pay for the apartment two months later, without adjusting for the inflation rate, thus they were going to pay the amount in Israeli Shekel that they agreed on but after two months. When we received the money for the four bedroom apartment, it was less than what we had received for the studio apartment in Tel-Aviv. But Frieda had made that deal with them and we had to take our losses.
On 7th June 1980 Israeli jets destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor "Osinak." The whole world was in an uproar and condemned Israel. It took many years for the West to realize how important that act was for world peace, but no country ever thanked Israel for it, although many must have been silently grateful.
During my year as a Fulbright exchange teacher I had taken some courses at Arizona State University and met Dr. Fisher, among others. He had just been nominated the Head of the English Department and I applied to him to take me on as a candidate for a Ph.D. degree. Dr. Fisher complied with my wish and when all the applications were approved, we got ready to make the big move across the Atlantic. I went with the children first, so that we could find a house and car and register for our schools.Yurek would remain in Germany to sell our business, cars and furniture and rent our apartment for five years.
We arrived in Phoenix after midnight and went to a hotel close to the airport. By now I had my credit cards, so in the morning I was able to rent a car and look for a more reasonable hotel near the area where we wanted to buy a house. At the end of my year as an exchange teacher we looked at some houses that were just being built and we found one that we liked very much. They asked fifty four thousand dollars for it, but wanted twenty eight thousand in cash to be sent to them when we returned to Germany. We did not know these builders and thought it too risky to send so much money to someone unknown to us. That same house was for sale by a doctor who had only lived in it for six months but the a sking price was seventy four thousand dollars. Prices had gone up so much during that one year that this doctor was able to make that much profit. I saw other houses too, but they were all in that price range. All I could bargain for was that he would leave most of his furniture, which was fairly new and quite nice, and that he and his family would leave within five days. I called Yurek and related the situation and we decided to buy the house and take over the mortgage.
In less than a week after arriving in Phoenix we moved into our own house and I even bought a car. We then registered Michael in his old high school, this time as a junior/senior; he had finished tenth grade in a Gymnasium in Germany, having studied thirteen subjects, and had just managed to receive his diploma of "Mittlere Reife," somewhat equivalent to a high school diploma. It had not been easy to get him that far. He hated some of his teachers and deliberately failed in drawing/painting and in biology. His counselor advised us to let Michael take biology again and two other classes, such as American history and geography, through correspondence. Then he could graduate one year early.
I had more difficult problems with Iris. During our first year in Phoenix she had been in sixth grade and learned absolutely nothing during the whole year, except, of course, to speak American English. We came to America with a fair knowledge of English, after spending a year in England, but we had all acquired a British accent. Young children are especially cruel and they made fun of Iris when we first came, because of her accent. Iris had a great ear for language and managed to switch over to American in practically no time. Michael took a little longer but also spoke American English in less than a year.
During the year that we had gone back to Germany, Iris attended a Gymnasium and was a good student. The courses were quite challenging and, like Michael, she studied thirteen different subjects. I did not want her to waste another year in grade school. I knew she could handle a more intense course of studies. I applied for her to be accepted in high school, although she was only twelve. We were told that she would have to take a few tests, which she took right away, and as she did well in all of them, she was accepted as a freshman. Although Iris looked older than her age, she was very naive and innocent, and made the mistake of telling her true age. In one of her classes she was among some senior students and of course they made fun of her. It was really my mistake to have pushed her too soon into these higher grades. She was perfectly capable to handle the academic side and although we chose tough classes for her, she always did well, but she missed out on the social side and the fun part of high school. There was also the problem that most students from the age of fourteen worked about twenty hours a week, which my children were not allowed to do, because they were foreigners. This gave them more time to study.
My days were now fully occupied with studying. The study program turned out more complicated than we initially thought. My MA degree was in economics and statistics and I now wanted to pursue my studies in English. I had to study for another Masters degree first. I took as many courses as was permitted and had to pay the high fee of an out of state student. But I enjoyed being a full-time student and felt refreshed and invigorated not having to teach for a while.
Yurek soon came to join us and now he, too, had to start a course of study. He did not know any English at all and started taking some classes for Mexican immigrants. These classes were only offered on Saturdays and they progressed much too slowly, so he also found a private tutor, tried to read the daily newspaper, and watched a lot of television. It took him about six months until he could hold a conversation in English, but his writing skills were soon better than mine!
We stayed in touch with Amnon, writing letters to each other. We also heard from Frieda by correspondence, as telephone calls in those days were still very expensive. On television and in the newspapers we again heard some shocking news about the killing of five people and wounding of seventeen while they were at Friday night services in Hebron. Just two months earlier the Israeli government had recommended the resettlement of Jews in Hebron, and now Arab terrorists were endangering these people. This sounded much like a repeat of the Arab massacre of the Jews in Hebron in 1929. When Israel finally pronounced the basic law that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel in July 1980, we were really pleased. This had been discussed for many years. Then more terrible news was announced in October: the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. There never was any quiet or peace in the Middle East.
All four of us were busy studying and by December we felt that we needed a little vacation. We went to Waikiki Beach, Honolulu on Hawaii, for a week and had a wonderful time. It really was exciting to go swimming in the ocean during Christmas time! We went to the Polynesian Culture Center and saw the wonderful performances there, we took a dinner boat cruise, participated in a Luau, and went parasailing. This invigorating break gave us all a lot of energy for our continuing studies.
Michael took computer classes at Cortez High School. He had a wonderful, dedicated teacher and Michael was fascinated by the subject. After school he participated in the football team and often came home bruised and aching all over. But he continued playing every day; he did not want to forfeit being in the team, which could happen if the student was absent more than one day.
Michael also joined the wrestling team, and their group won a trophy. All these extra curricular activities drained Michael's over abundant energy, which had caused him so much trouble in Germany. His teachers there always complained of his restless and disruptive behavior. Now he was very attentive. Because he was more challenged, he turned around and became a very good student. He also had an exceptional biology teacher, Dr. Hoyt, whom Michael respected greatly. In that one year he changed completely from being a failing biology student to one of the best. It was Dr. Hoyt who recommended Michael for the Honor Society. Michael was able to graduate in the top ten percent of his class and received a scholarship for Grand Canyon College, where he already took a computer class while he was still in high school.
In the summer after Michael's graduation, we sent both children to Camp Ramah in Ojai, California. We bought Michael a second-hand car and he and Iris, accompanied by a teacher/counselor, drove to camp. They enjoyed it, especially Iris, who returned the following years, eventually as an assistant counselor. On their way back the children were by themselves. Michael drove too fast, overheating the engine so much that it burnt out. Michael called us at nine o'clock at night from the middle of nowhere. We told the children to go to the station from which they had called, and stay there until Yurek would get to them. We then went to U-Haul and tried to rent a hitch, but the first one did not have it, so we needed to go to another company. Finally Yurek was on his way. He arrived where the children were waiting, half way between Los Angeles and Phoenix, at about two o'clock in the morning, and it took until five before they all arrived home. I did not go to bed but sat all night waiting for their safe return. At my request Yurek called me when he reached the children to let me know that they were all right. Of course we had to bring the car to a repair shop, and a new engine had to be installed.
A few days later we started on a beautiful long trip along the west coast of California, to see the enormous redwood trees. We drove to Oregon, where the children and I went white water rafting, then to Salt Lake City and Washington State and on to Vancouver, where we embarked on an exciting seven day cruise to Alaska. On our way back we visited Montana, Idaho, and Yellowstone Park where we stayed in a cabin. We saw deer walking past our window, and watched Old Faithful spray its boiling water high up into the air. We then drove through Utah and visited Bryce Canyon, enjoying the proximity of the chipmonks who came up to us and practically fed out of our hands.
Michael now became a full time student at Grand Canyon College. I became a teaching assistant at Arizons State University beside my full time studies. This helped us financially; I no longer had to pay the high tuition of an out of state student and I also received a small salary of four thousand dollars per semester. Yurek continued to study English while also doing the cooking and shopping.
Meanwhile Amnon was able to transfer to the Jerusalem Plaza Hotel and his bride soon got a job as assistant manager in another Jerusalem hotel. After my apartment in Jerusalem was vacated by my unreliable renters, I let Amnon and his bride live there, at first still sharing it with one person, but soon they had the whole apartment to themselves. Julieanne went through almost two years of intensive study and indoctrination by orthodox rabbis, even staying in an orthodox Kibbutz for three months, but the rabbis were still not ready to convert her. By now she was pregnant and I tried to talk them into going to Cyprus to get married there. But Amnon wanted a marriage that would be legal and fully recognized in Israel. Finally the rabbis converted her in December and they fixed the date of the wedding on the seventeenth of December. Julieanne, who now had the Hebrew/Jewish name Naomi, did not want me to come to the wedding with the children, because she felt embarrassed. I had two final exams to take at the end of the semester, one on Amnon's wedding day and the other just one day earlier. My professors were so kind and agreed to let me take the exams three days beforehand, so that I could fly to Israel and attend my son's wedding.
Amnon had arranged all the festivities himself. He invited about a hundred and twenty guests to a beautiful dinner and dance banquet at the Plaza Hotel following the wedding ceremony which was held at the Chief Rabbinate. Naomi's sister and aunt came from England, and some of my friends came too, Frieda, Rachel, and cousin Evi. Amnon's aunts from Tel-Aviv and his cousins all attended, but Zigi was conspicuous by his absence. It was a very festive affair and Amnon had really done a superb job of planning the menu and arranging the decoration of the banquet hall as well as all the other preparations.
Early the next year we received the happy tidings of the birth of my first grandson, Ophir. We bought some cute clothes and a teddy bear and other toys and sent everything to Israel. Because of our studies no one could fly to Israel to see the baby, so we made arrangements for Naomi, Amnon and Ophir to come to us. It involved some difficulties for us; since Naomi's conversion they were kosher, while we were not. I bought new pots and pans and dishes and silverware and went to Segal's kosher store to have everything kosher for them.
We were looking forward to their visit; no one but me had as yet met Naomi and of course we were also very eager to see the little baby.
Now Michael repaid Amnon some of the service rendered when Michael was a baby, by changing Ophir's diapers as Amnon had done for Michael so many years earlier. We also took our guests on some sightseeing tours, to Tucson and Old Tucson, to the Botanical Gardens and a few museums, but it was not so easy, because they could not eat proper meals in any restaurant for none were kosher in Arizona. Although it was only May, it was getting rather warm, and much too hot for Naomi who, as an English girl, was not used to such heat. But on the whole we all enjoyed their visit and were sad to see them leave.
During summer Michael took some classes at college, one of them about survival in desert environment, and part of the course consisted of hiking the Grand Canyon. He carried all his provisions and blankets in his backpack and had to find his way all the way down. After a few hours rest, he hiked all the way back up. It was an exhilarating experience for him and he was very successful.
At the end of the same year I received my second Master of Arts degree, this time in English, but I did not bother to go to the graduation ceremony. I was waiting until I could get my Ph.D., and planned to attend that one. I studied Cynthia Ozick's short stories and was the first person to write an extensive commentary on her work. My professors thought well of my thesis and suggested that I extend it and utilize it as a basis for my dissertation.
I took Iris on a Caribbean cruise for her sixteenth birthday. We first flew to Miami, where we went to see Yurek's Aunt and Uncle. They always stayed there in the winter to get away from the freezing cold of Canada. They were happy to see us and we spent some hours in their company. We stayed at a lovely luxury hotel and the next morning we were transferred to our ship. It was very comfortable and we had many programs, but Iris found some youngsters her age and enjoyed the programs geared to these teens, so that I saw very little of her. She had a wonderful time and that was what counted. We visited St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, San Juan and Nassau and went swimming on one of the most beautiful tropical islands, with fine white sand and emerald green water.
In May of the following year both Iris and Michael celebrated their graduation. Iris graduated from high school and, like Michael, received a scholarship from Grand Canyon College. Michael graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in computers. He had been assistant to his computer professor who thought very highly of him. He registered to continue his studies at Arizona State University and was also able to get a position as teaching assistant in the computer department. At the age of nineteen he was teaching students who were all probably at least three years his seniors.
As a graduation present we sent Michael to Israel, and I followed soon after. Naomi was expecting her second child and Michael managed to be present at Chagai's Brit celebration. There was a day care center not far from my apartment, so both children were cared for there, and Naomi was able to continue working. It was not easy for them, but they wanted to buy their own apartment so they needed her salary.
For some time both Michael and I commuted to Arizona State University every day. It was a long distance, about twenty five miles and took up much of our time. I had found colleagues with whom I often shared a ride; the first was Jill, who was working toward her degree as a CPA, then John Mills, who, like me, was working on his Ph.D. in English and was likewise a teaching assistant. I often went to Hillel, the Jewish student association, especially on Tuesdays when a very reasonable lunch was served. There I heard of the "Bayit" (=house) a house for Jewish graduate students. I inquired some more about it and we decided that it would be convenient for Michael to move there if he was accepted. So Michael applied and soon received a positive answer. When Michael moved to the Bayit it was easy for him to get to campus by bicycle. Parking was an enormous problem at Arizona State University and this saved Michael a lot of hassle. Rabbi Barton Lee of Hillel was often at the Bayit and got the students involved with Hillel and its programs.
My five years leave without pay ended that summer, but Iris would only be eighteen at the end of the year, on 29 December. I needed that time to finish my studies, so I applied and received a six months extension. By the end of that year I completed all my studies, finished my dissertation, graduated and finally received my Ph.D. I went to the graduation ceremony with the thousands of other graduates and found it quite exciting. After the ceremony we went out for lunch with all my family and friends who had come to my graduation. I was also invited to become a member in the Phi Kappa Phi honorary society, which accepted only students of high scholastic rank.
Iris was now eighteen years old and I had to go back to Germany to resume my teaching position. My new school was in Worms, about twelve miles from Frankenthal. All the apartments in our house were rented, and they were also too large for just me. We decided that I should first go to Germany by myself and Yurek would stay with Iris at least for the first six months; we did not consider her quite adult yet.
I flew to Germany early in January and arrived in freezing weather. I arranged to pick up a rental car at the airport and drove to Worms in a snow storm. I arrived on a Sunday and found the information center closed. At the train station, I asked some passengers if they knew where I could find a reasonable hotel. Someone directed me to a small place that accommodated American soldiers and their families stationed in Germany. Luckily they had a room for me and I could stay there for a while.
The next day I went to my school first. The principal was a friendly lady who made me feel welcome. My teaching assignment was not too great. I was now a newcomer and received those classes which the old-timers did not want. There were just two fairly good classes in which I taught English six hours a week in each. My other classes were either full of rowdy or incapable students to whom I had to teach political science.
Two days of vacation remained before school started. I went to realtors to look for an apartment and also to some car dealers to buy a new car. This last was the easiest. I had my own car before I started teaching and returned the rental car. There was also an apartment available in a lovely area of Worms. It took a lot of begging and persuasion until the landlord agreed to rent it to me. Now I had to get furniture, and that included a wardrobe and all the kitchen equipment such as a sink, stove, refrigerator and cabinets. I did not want to spend too much money, so I looked at the advertisements in the newspaper for second-hand items and bought whatever was suitable. Moving the various pieces to my apartment was a big problem as my car was small. Sometimes the sellers had trucks and offered to bring the pieces to me. Once I had to rent a truck for two hours and drive and load my acquisitions by myself. I was still in good shape and managed well. My apartment was on the second floor but there was an elevator, so I could load each piece separately and then drag it to my place. By the time I got everything I needed it looked very cozy and comfortable.
Soon Yurek came for two weeks and I really enjoyed having him around. It was not much fun being all alone. Before that I had always traveled with the children who had kept me busy. I had been able to reach Dorit who came to see me and we spent a few Sundays together. For once, Dorit had been rather fortunate. Her father's (Gad's) godparents (Sandac) emigrated to America and became quite prosperous. They had no children and when they died they left Gad about one third of a million dollars. As Gad had died two years earlier and Dorit was his only child, she became heir to that money. Hannah took her daughter to court, in an attempt to get some of the inheritance, but she lost the case as she had been legally divorced. Dr. Fassbinder tried to talk Dorit into buying an apartment with some of the money, but she decided to rent a comfortable apartment and just buy tasteful furniture and invest the rest of the money so she could not touch it for five years. Unfortunately, years later she had some crooked boyfriends who managed to appropriate all that money from her.
At spring time Erica came from England to stay with me for about a week, and in May Iris came, too. I became an expert tour guide and took all my guests around showing them the main attractions and the pretty and interesting places. I was busy going to different government offices to get my Ph.D. diploma recognized. They sent it to Bonn and a few months later my degree was finally acknowledged. In the meantime I had found out that I could get more leave without pay because there were still many unemployed teachers. I applied immediately for three more years and my leave was granted from the beginning of the following school year.
It was not easy to close down my apartment. I put several ads in the newspapers and was able to sell the car without too much loss, with the condition that I could keep it until I left for the airport. My landlord was not happy to have to find a new lodger again so soon, but he had no problem getting one. Selling all the furniture was more difficult. There was also the problem that I needed much of it until I left, and most people wanted to take the things they bought right away. I met a Jewish man and his girlfriend through the synagogue, and they were extremely helpful in disposing of the furniture I had not sold, by taking it to a young penniless Jewish student. They also took me to Frankfurt airport and saw me off.
Before returning to Phoenix, I visited Amnon and family in Israel. Amnon changed his work place and was now the general manager of the strictly kosher Kings Hotel. When I arrived at the airport, Amnon picked me up and told me that he was taking me straight to his hotel where his boss wanted to meet me. On arriving at the hotel he asked me to freshen up a little and then he sat me down with a cup of coffee.
A few minutes later in came not his boss but Cynthia Ozick with her husband! That was a complete and most pleasant surprise and I was elated. During my studies I had corresponded with her, but I had never had the opportunity to meet her. And now here she was in person! Amnon really made my day. He told me later that he met a young woman with whom he had worked in the Plaza Hotel. During their conversation she mentioned that she was escorting a famous Jewish American writer while she was visiting Israel, and she was staying at the Kings Hotel. Amnon asked her for the name of the writer, and when she said "Cynthia Ozick," he immediately got in touch with her and introduced himself as my son. He gave her the royal treatment, with fruit and flowers in her room and got accommodations for her daughter, who was spending a year in Israel and just came to Jerusalem to see her parents. When Amnon told her that I was coming two days later, they planned together to give me this surprise. We sat and talked for about two hours and I was just in a state of euphoria.
Amnon and Naomi had moved to their own small apartment in Gilo. They had a neighbor whose twelve year old daughter, Avigail, was baby-sitting the children and was really doing a marvelous job. It was good to see Amnon and Naomi again and re-establish my relations with the boys.
The apartment they had bought had very little space, so I arranged with Rachel's brother, a furniture maker, to construct a built-in closet for them along the entire bedroom wall. Likewise I organized a plumber to build a small bathtub instead of the shower, so that the children could enjoy a bath. I also had some attic space installed in the hallway, to give them more storage room. Amnon had been very fortunate too. A wealthy American steady guest at the Plaza Hotel whom he had sometimes assisted while he was working there, decided to give him a wonderful present for his new apartment: a new sofa and loveseat that had just arrived for her from America; she had somehow lost interest in it.
During my absence Yurek had finally managed to get a working permit or green card, with the help of two expensive Mormon lawyers.. Yurek took classes at Western University to learn the business of a travel agent. We became friendly with Cynthia Parish, our travel agent, and Yurek went to work with her, without being paid, to get more familiar with the business and see if they could go into partnership. After about a month, Cynthia went on vacation for a week and Yurek managed fairly well to take care of the business by himself. He felt that she was too domineering and would always try to be the boss, so he decided to look somewhere else for an occupation.
He found a small secretarial business for sale. When we went to see the business, we found out that the owner, Eva Feld, had a very similar background to mine. She, too, had been born in Germany, had emigrated to Palestine in the thirties, had been in the Jewish underground, and later moved to the United States. We talked Hebrew with her and came to an agreement about the sale, including a one month transition period in which she stayed in the business and taught Yurek and Michael all they should know.
Since my return to Phoenix, I, too, was looking for work, but I did not want to be involved with Yurek's business. I wanted a teaching position. Both Glendale College and Paradise Valley College offered me a part time teaching position. These two places gave me enough teaching hours, but we would each need a car, because we were both working at different locations in the city.
While living in the Bayit, Michael met a young woman, Jodi Lewkowitz, who also came to live there. They became close friends and they soon decided to get married. We were not too happy about it; Michael was rather young and was still studying. Jodi was five years older; her younger sister was already married, so she was adamant. They set the date for 4th of January 1987. We made all the arrangements with Jodi's parents, and sent out invitations to all our family and friends.
We had a large family gathering at Michael's wedding. Amnon, Naomi and the children came from Israel, Erica, Hannah, Eva and Susan, (rabbi) cousin John's daughter, all came from England, and Ilse, cousin Henry and wife Ines as well as Ilana, Gerhard's daughter, came from California. Of course cousin Gerhard and Cilly who now lived in Sun Lakes, also came. It was a beautiful wedding at the La Posada Resort, with Amnon as best man, Jodi's sister as matron of honor, and Iris one of the four bridesmaids.
A few months later Iris graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science degree in computers. She had followed in Michael's footsteps and had also done extremely well. She was nineteen years old and wanted to get started in the business world. After a few interviews she received a good offer from Honeywell and began working.
That summer I went to Israel again and attended an intensive five weeks course for teachers at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Institute. We were taught by the best experts in the world about the Holocaust and how to teach it. I was able to live with Amnon and family. I took the bus early each morning to get to the hotel in which the other students were staying. That permitted me to get a ride to Yad Vashem with them. Late in the afternoon I would usually return the same way, but occasionally there was an evening program in their hotel. I then had to walk to my bus late at night. I had no problem or fear about walking by myself through dark alleys at night, something I would never dream of doing in Phoenix, or any other city in America.
About a year or two earlier ads appeared in the Israeli papers for a new neighborhood being built north of French Hill, called Pizgat Ze'ev. Amnon looked into it, as they were planning to have more children and their apartment was very small. He asked us for help so he could buy into it, but we also had no money available. However, we did have investments in the bank and also our house as collateral, so we were able to get a much better loan in Germany than Amnon could get in Israel. Due to the high inflation in Israel, mortgages were all linked to the inflation rate. Often, after years of paying, one's mortgage would increase rather than decrease. Our bank gave us the eighty thousand German Marks we asked for, and we sent them to Amnon, who paid them to the building company, for a four bedroom apartment. When I came to stay with them while studying at Yad Vashem, they had already moved into their spacious apartment, so there was plenty of room for me, too. They had a nice sized living room and two and a half bathrooms as well as a small garden and a big inner courtyard.
Amnon's job in the hotel took him away from his family too much. He had to work every other weekend, which is much shorter in Israel - just Friday afternoon and Saturday. As hotel manager, Amnon had a hotel suite at his disposal to accommodate his family so they could be with him for the weekend, but it was very hard to make the little boys behave properly in such an elegant ambiance. Amnon began looking for another occupation. His friend Avi had returned to Israel with his family and together with a partner bought the franchise of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream for all of Israel. Amnon asked him if he could join just in the Jerusalem store that was about to be opened. Avi and partner agreed, if Amnon paid thirty five thousand dollars. Again Amnon asked us for help, and we somehow got the money together, even getting a small loan from the Jewish Free Loan Association in Phoenix. Amnon now became the manager of the Jerusalem Ben & Jerry's and eventually established two more stores, one in the newly opened Malcha Canyon shopping center.
Naomi was expecting another child. When Adam was born in December 1988 she decided not to work in the hotel business anymore either, but to open a daycare center for little children. That permitted her to stay home and also look after her own children. Their apartment was still large enough to accommodate both the family and the day care center, which was mainly located in the living area and garden. Naomi became a very dedicated teacher and her day care developed into an extremely popular enterprise; she had and still has to turn away many applicants.
Michael had left our business when he was offered a good position as a computer engineer. He finished all his course work for his M.Sc. degree, but he postponed writing his thesis until it was too late. Because of that, he never received his degree. Jodi also gave up her studies at ASU and decided to take a nine months course for paralegals. When she finished the course she was hired by a law firm where she had her own office and a secretary, receiving a good salary. But she did not stay long. She did not like her work. She went to study again, this time to become a social worker. When she finished that course, she was hired with a very low salary and rather unpleasant working conditions, but that position was to her liking.
When Michael and Jodi were first married, they moved into a small house which Michael had bought before he met Jodi. But after a few months Jodi did not think it was big enough. They bought another brand new house in a new development. It was really a lovely house, but to get there one had to go through a rather slummy area or take a fairly long round about way. Again Jodi wanted to move. They bought an older house off Baseline Avenue, a major street and very noisy, though conveniently located near shops and schools.
Yurek expanded the business on his own and added a few additional services. He received permission from the local authorities to evaluate foreign documents and diplomas, a service available in only three or four other states in America. He also did translations from all languages, eight of which he could do himself. For the others, he utilized teachers and graduate students mainly from the American Graduate School of International Management. Yurek quite enjoyed the business, and did a very good job of it. Once in a while, when there were large amounts of mail to be sent out, I would come and help on the weekend, and even Michael and Iris joined in.
A publishing house showed interest in my desertation and proposed to publish it in book form. Peter Lang Publishers did not offer me any funds yet required me to adapt it and especially to prepare an index. We did not yet have a computer at home making it a much harder job than it would be nowadays. It took me many months until my manuscript was ready for publication, yet I enjoyed the task. My book was finally published in 1989 as part of the series of Twentieth Century American Jewish Writers and was titled "Inevitable Exiles."
My Wanderlust was taking hold of me again. Yurek used to call me a gypsy, as I often liked to alter my environment and scenery. The children were all grown and self-sufficient and I felt that if I was to try one more change it would have to be very soon as we were getting on in years. I talked it over with Yurek and perused the professional magazines advertising positions available at different universities world wide. One position that appealed to me was in Papua, New Guinea, but among the duties it entailed was going into the back country occasionally to oversee and instruct other teachers. Yurek objected to this position, arguing that the people there were still cannibals and I would be too endangered
Another interesting position offered was in China, at Zhejiang University, Jinhua, near Shanghai. Both Yurek and I thought that we could greatly profit from living in such a different culture for a year. I therefore applied for the post of English teacher and received a positive reply. I was to teach English and American literature and receive a salary of one thousand three hundred Yuan per month for the academic year 1989-1990. They would pay for my round trip air fare and eight hundred Yuan travel allowance. I was assured that this salary (ca. three hundred and fifty dollars) was thrice the amount necessary for living and considerably higher than any of the Chinese faculty received. In addition I would be supplied with a modern furnished apartment with TV, free electricity, water, and heating. It would be within walking distance from the classrooms. I would also be provided with free medical health care and a bicycle. If I wished I could always eat in the faculty dining hall for one Yuan a meal. My teaching load was to be fourteen hours a week from September to June.
I liked the offer and we were both excited about the prospect of this new adventure, although the salary was nothing to brag about. However, we were not looking for an opportunity to get rich, just a chance to acquire new perspectives and experiences. After accepting the position I received instruction about all the documents they needed in order to process my contract.
Then one day Yurek began feeling sick and got terrible stomach problems and constipation. When he finally went to the doctor, he was diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor emphatically advised him to stop smoking, a fifty year old habit of his. For many years we had all begged him not to smoke so much, especially in the house and in the car, but to no avail. Now he stopped cold turkey. He had always bought a few cartons of cigarettes at a time, and now he gave them all away, so that he would not be tempted. The doctor warned Yurek that he needed to take his illness seriously, going regularly for check-ups, so we decided not to set out for our thrilling China adventure after all, as we did not trust the Chinese doctors and health plans too much; we would return to Germany instead.
We were expecting Mrs. Elizabeth Buehler and her son Rupert to come and visit us during Christmas break. We made plans to go to Hawaii with Elizabeth, just four women: Elizabeth, Jodi, Iris and I. About a year earlier I had gone to Puerto Vallarta with Iris and the two of us had bought a one bedroom timeshare there. We had exchanged our week for one in Waikiki and thought it would be enjoyable for all four of us. We helped Rupert to rent a car for ten days. He wanted to drive to California and see some of its attractions. So the four of us spent a week in Hawaii, first driving around the scenic and interesting places, since we had a car for the first few days. Then we relaxed at the beach and walked through the tourist areas and fascinating night market. One day while swimming in the ocean we were caught in a rainstorm. We got out and stood under a tree; we were told that the lightning was dangerous if one stayed in the water. It really was a strange and rather funny experience.
My three years of leave without pay ended in the summer of 1989. We decided that it would be best if we went back to Germany so that I should work a few more years until I could retire. We also speculated on the possibility of getting full health insurance in Germany, which we did not have in the United States. We made our plans to go back to Germany, sold the business and rented out our house. Luckily, we found both a buyer for the business and people who wanted to rent our house for two years.
Iris moved out earlier as she wanted to be independent. She left us once before at age eighteen, but found it too lonely and expensive to live on her own, so she returned home after only six months. We gave her a bedroom, a den with a television and a bathroom for her own domain, with the use of our kitchen and telephone, and asked her to pay us one hundred dollars a month "rent." She stayed with us over a year but felt that as a working adult she needed her own apartment.
Yurek and I decided to go back to Europe when summer vacation started. We wanted to find accommodations and get organized, and then take an exciting trip of some countries we had not seen before. We booked a tour with Cosmos that took us to Scandinavia, southern France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece and its islands: Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes and Patmos. It was a beautiful trip and we enjoyed it tremendously. Morocco was celebrating the sixtieth birthday of their ruler, and there were festivities everywhere. Spain was also especially exciting as they were preparing for the Olympic Games and everywhere new roads and buildings were being erected. We loved the Greek Islands, in particular Santorini with its whitewashed buildings high up on the cliffs.
On arrival in Germany I was advised of my new school assignment in Ludwigshafen, the town in Germany in which I had started my teaching career. I had come full circle. My former insurance agent offered us a furnished studio apartment for the time being, until we could find another place. Our house was completely rented out and most of the apartments were too big for us anyway.
Fortunately we were accepted in a health insurance plan without any restrictions. We also needed a car and were lucky to see one that was for sale standing in front of our bank. When we inquired, we were told that it belonged to one of the branch managers. He told us that his car was only two years old and had low mileage, as he used it solely for going to work. The asking price was rather high, but it really was in good shape and much cheaper than a new car, so we bought it.
We went to several realtors and received some addresses of apartments for rent, but many were not suitable. One seemed quite comfortable, a one bedroom apartment with balcony, though on the second floor. However, there were some seventy applicants crowding into that apartment. We all handed in our forms which the realtor had given us, in order for the landlord to look them over. Somehow he preferred us over everyone else, so we were lucky to have been chosen. There was only a huge wardrobe in the bedroom and a sink in the kitchen, otherwise the place was empty; the landlord had taken everything else away. We later found out that the place had belonged to his estranged wife who committed suicide. We needed furniture, but did not want to spend too much, as we knew that we would only stay a few years. So again we looked at ads in the newspapers and found second hand furniture for sale and were gradually able to furnish the place.
My teaching assignment was once more a mixture of good, eager students and some incompetent ones. I had three English classes that I taught four hours a week each and five difficult classes of unwilling students whom I had to instruct in political science two hours a week each. The primary English teacher was a very pedantic and insecure teacher. Everyone had to follow his meticulous evaluation method of exams although it did not make much sense to me. I was able to organize a yearly two weeks class trip to England. We stayed in the YMCA in Havering, a suburb of London and sister city to Ludwigshafen. We saw all the important sights and tourist attractions, and also enjoyed going to some musicals. Although I had a lot of work organizing all the logistics, everyone enjoyed the trip and the students benefited from it by practicing their knowledge of English.
During Christmas break Yurek and I went to Phoenix. We found a place that rented furnished apartments for short periods. We were quite comfortable there and enjoyed the warm sun and the swimming pool. Iris introduced us to her fiancee John Rundle, who once was my student at ASU. Iris met John at Honeywell, where they were both working. We invited them to come and visit us in Germany when it was a little warmer. So in May they came and stayed with us for about a week. We took them to see some interesting places, like Heidelberg and Schwetzingen. They also visited the Buehlers in Freiburg and went to Switzerland where John inquired about a job opportunity. About that time we also got the happy news that Naomi and Amnon had their first daughter, Danielle, after having three sons.
We talked with Iris and John about their plans and we all agreed that the best time for them to get married would be the following January, when we would again be in Phoenix for Christmas break. We brought them to the airport where they took the plane back to Phoenix. When we returned from the airport there were four people waiting for us on the street in front of our house. Yurek was just about to unlock the entrance door, when one of the men approached him and asked him if he was Dr. Kielsky. Yurek answered that he was, and the young man said that he was Yurek's older son, Martin, also called Ilan. They had spent all morning going to the different police registration offices to find our address, and were now waiting for our return.
We invited them into our apartment and they introduced themselves as Ilan's wife, her sister and brother-in-law. We took them out for lunch in a nice restaurant. We then asked them to wait for a few minutes while we went to buy some cake and pastry. Then we all returned to our apartment for coffee and cake and talked the whole afternoon. It was a very emotional meeting for both father and son; they had not seen each other for almost thirty years. Ilan told us that he had been in Israel for about seventeen years, some of the time with his wife; they were back in Holland now and were living in Hengelo. He was a social worker and his wife was a cosmetician. His younger brother was also married and had five children. They had a half sister, whose father was an Israeli. She had gone to Israel where she got married and studied law. After talking for a few hours the four of them said their farewells and left. The next afternoon Ilan called to see how Yurek was feeling, as he had noticed that the meeting had affected Yurek greatly. I still do not know why Yurek did not want to talk to him, so I said that he was not feeling very well but that he would eventually be all right.
Now we started to prepare for Iris' wedding. We sent out invitations to all our family and friends and many of them came. Iris and John were married on the 6th of January 1991 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Phoenix. Amnon came from Israel and was one of the ushers, and Frieda also came from Israel. Rosi, David, Sharon and Maya all came from London, while John's parents came from South Dakota and both of his brothers and sister-in-law were also present and served as bridesmaid and ushers. Michael was also an usher and Jodi a bridesmaid.
It was a lovely wedding performed by a justice of the peace and the young couple then went on their honeymoon.
When we returned to Germany Yurek was not feeling too well. We had problems with one of our renters who lived on the ground floor of our house, so we decided to terminate their lease. They were a couple of psychologists who thought that they could outsmart anyone, refusing to move out. We had to take them to court on the ground that we needed the apartment for ourselves because of Yurek's bad health, and the hardship of climbing up two flights of stairs. After several months we got our hearing and the judge decided in our favor. However, the renters appealed and so they were able to postpone the judge's decision for another few months. At the next hearing the higher court judge again decided that the apartment had to be vacated and gave them a few more months to do so. He also decreed that the renters were to pay two thirds, and we one third of the hearing costs. The whole affair had agitated Yurek so much that it aggravated and accelerated his illness.
Finally the renters left and we were able to move into our own house again. They left quite a mess, but with the help of a cleaning woman I was able to get it back in shape. Yurek was in no condition to assist me with the move. I asked our neighbor's son, a seventeen year old boy whom I sometimes helped with English to give me a hand in carrying down the heavy boxes which I had packed. I rented a moving truck for two hours and hired two young men to move our furniture.
We now lived in a five bedroom apartment on the ground floor but most of the rooms were empty. We needed a wardrobe and a kitchen sink and cabinets. Again we found some second hand furniture through ads in the newspapers, but we decided to buy a completely new bedroom set, which was delivered to us and was properly installed.
My work at school was getting harder for me, especially as Yurek was not in good health. A pacemaker was implanted in his chest and he was no longer able to take care of much of the housework. I had reached the age at which I could take early retirement so I decided to apply for it. Yurek had not been working since our return to Germany; in order that we could spend more time together and take some pleasant trips, I, too, needed to have the leisure. The principal of my school was also retiring as well as another teacher, so we had a farewell party for all the teachers in our school.
Jodi and Michael had their first child, Rebecca, born in May 1991. I was still teaching at the time, so they waited for the child naming ceremony until we would come to Phoenix. When school was over we were able to join a wonderful trip arranged by the Jewish Community of Germany. It was called "In the Footsteps of Jewish History in Spain" and was led by a history professor from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Although we had taken a tour of Spain before, this one was completely different. We saw all the synagogues and Jewish quarters we had not seen on our first trip. We visited a modern synagogue in Marbella which had been built and was supported by the private enterprise of one family.
For the High Holidays we invited all our children in Phoenix to accompany us to Israel. It was also Michael's birthday and particularly Amnon's special fortieth birthday. We enjoyed having my three children together with their spouses and their children. Rebecca was just a four months old baby and Amnon's children were happy to have another baby to cuddle and take care of.
We had a lovely birthday celebration for Amnon and gave him a video camera as a present.
When winter was approaching we decided to go to Phoenix and not to suffer from the cold weather in Germany. We approached Iris and John about renting their back room with bathroom for the five months we planned to stay, and they agreed. Our house in Phoenix was much too big for us and also all the bedrooms were on the second floor, not easy or comfortable for ailing Yurek. So we put it on the market and were able to sell it, although at a great loss.
We were looking for a new, more comfortable house; one day we saw an ad about a new development planned in the area to which we wanted to move. We were there on the first morning of registration before the office opened. Three or four other people had come even earlier. After they showed us the plans, I was the first one to give them our earnest money for a two bedroom one level house at the location we had chosen. There were only about six older houses in the whole area, but the developers promised us that the new houses would all be built within eight or nine months. As we were planning to be in Germany during the hot summer months, we hired an architect to oversee the building process so that everything would be constructed according to the contract. I also hired a gardener who planted some trees in the back yard and installed an automatic watering system.
I had been approached by one of my former colleagues from Glendale College, asking me if I would be interested in teaching German to the children of the German pilots who were stationed in Luke Air Force Base. I would have to go there twice a week and teach about seven or eight youngsters in different age groups. They were all intelligent students and I would be paid well, so I agreed.
Yurek wanted to get back to Germany a little earlier so he could see his doctors there. I wanted to continue teaching my young students at least until spring break and besides it was only March and still rather freezing in Germany, so he booked a flight two weeks before I was to join him. We called each other every second day. About a week before my flight, he told me that the doctors had found cancer in his lung. I just could not believe it. I instantly changed my flight to the earliest one available, which was just two days later. In the meantime I went to the Institute that handles Valley Fever and was able to get all the brochures and information they had about that disease. I was convinced that Yurek had been infected with Valley Fever and that the German doctors did not know the difference.
When I arrived in Germany I immediately went to the hospital where Yurek was stationed. He was not feeling badly but he was convinced that the doctor had pronounced his death sentence when diagnosing cancer. I showed the doctors all the pamphlets that described Valley Fever, but they said that they knew about it and what Yurek had was unfortunately cancer. I was determined to get a second opinion and so we went to one of the most famous lung cancer specialists in Heidelberg. This man might be an expert in his field, but he was a brutal anti-Semite. After examining Yurek and his ex-rays, he said that as a Jew Yurek must be used to suffering, which would be what Yurek had to face. He also suggested that Yurek should get radiation treatment to localize and even perhaps shrink the cancer. For the next two months we went to the hospital twice or three times a week and Yurek was given radiation. He often felt nauseous and he lost his appetite which resulted in his losing a lot of weight.
We decided to go to Israel when the treatment was concluded and get another opinion from a specialist at Hadassah Hospital. Amnon made the appointment for us. Before we left, I asked the nurse what Yurek's life expectancy was, and after consulting with the doctor she told me that he only had about four more weeks to live. Again I did not believe her and this time I was right.
In Israel we went to the lung cancer specialist who told us that Yurek could have had surgery if he had not received radiation treatment. Now it was too late and only pain killers would help him feel more comfortable. This was not good news and made me even angrier with that German expert. We tried to enjoy our time with the children and grandchildren and knew in our hearts that this would be Yurek's last visit.
We returned to Germany and prepared to fly to Phoenix for the winter. Michael informed us that our house was ready. He had inspected it with the architect and everything looked well. Yurek wanted me to go first and get some furniture, so that we could live in our house when he arrived. I stayed for two days with Iris and John and managed to buy beds and mattresses, a table and chairs and some lamps. I also got most of our belongings from the storage where we had kept them for these last years. There were television sets, pictures, books, clocks, photo albums, sheets, towels and kitchen ware. So when Yurek arrived we were able to go to our own house which now had the most essential necessities, although it was still rather bare. The next few weeks we shopped for living room furniture and whatever else we needed.
In October Bentzi (Bentzion) Nathan was born to Jodi and Michael. He was named after Yurek's father. We were all present at the Brith and Yurek was very happy when he held his little grandson in his arms. I arranged to have a family photograph taken with the new baby, although it proved very strenuous for both Jodi and Yurek. A few weeks later we celebrated Chanukah and it became exceedingly difficult for Yurek to go anywhere. We had the celebrations at Jodi's house, but Yurek could only sit in an armchair, while everyone else was walking around.
Yurek had wanted to go back to Germany where we had full health insurance. But the children and I begged him to stay in Phoenix where the children could visit frequently and give me some moral support. We found an oncologist who made Yurek feel confidant and comfortable, but he suggested that we contact Hospice to take over Yurek's health care. Somehow Yurek was reluctant to utilize their help. After three further visits to the oncologist, who repeatedly told him to call Hospice and declaring that he could not help him anymore, Yurek at last agreed that I should contact them. First a nurse came and explained all the services they offered. She started coming to us twice a week, but soon came every other day, and towards the end every day.
We saw that Yurek was getting worse and I decided to have Amnon come to see us. He was an enormous help to me both physically and mentally. Amnon came for two weeks, but I felt that I really needed his support longer. Unfortunately, their car was stolen while he was with us and Naomi felt that she could not cope without him, so he left according to schedule. It became much harder for me as I could no longer leave Yurek alone. Although Hospice had people who volunteered to stay with him, he refused that service. Once my friend Helen came to visit and I could go shopping during that time. When my cleaning girl came I also used the time to go shopping. Some of my friends would also do the shopping for me when I needed anything. The worst was when I had to go to Luke Air Force Base to teach. Only once we tried a volunteer who called him every hour while I was gone, but it bothered Yurek, so I had to ask Iris and John to stay with him during the time I was away teaching.
Yurek no longer had any regular food but was sustained exclusively on Ensure. The doctor had prescribed morphium to alleviate his pain which he could take as often as he needed or wanted. It made him sleepy so he spent most of his days and nights sleeping. I occupied myself with embellishing the house, such as painting the garage. Yurek became so week at the end that he could no longer take a shower or wash himself. I could not help him, so a Hospice person came every second day to give him a shower. One night he fell and I could not lift him. Attempting to pick Yurek off the floor, even with his trying to help, was impossible. He was just too heavy. I had no choice but to call John, who lived ten miles away, while Michael lived more than twenty five miles away. When the same incident recurred early the next morning, I decided that it was time to get professional help to be with him most of the time. Hospice again helped me get nurses' aids for a special reduced wage. I had them stay for twenty out of twenty four hours of the day, as Yurek regularly slept from ten at night to three in the morning.
On the fourth night of my having the nurses' aids at our house, Jodi's parents came to visit. It was the 14th of January, 1993. Yurek was asleep so they sat in the kitchen with me for about an hour. The nurses' aid left and they also departed. I got ready for bed and then went to cover up Yurek. He was sleeping quietly so I went to bed too. I woke up, at about two thirty and went to see if Yurek was still asleep. But he had passed away some time earlier as he was already cold. I called the children and they came immediately. When the nurse's aid arrived I told her that she was no longer needed, but she said that I had to pay her for four hours minimum, and she stayed until the children arrived. I also called Sinai Mortuary and they came within a short time.
In the morning, I phoned Rabbi Silverman, who was to conduct the burial service. Michael and I went to Sinai Mortuary to take care of the financial business. They brought low stools to the house to sit Shiva on them. The children called all our friends to let them know about the funeral. It was Friday and we decided not to wait until Sunday but have the funeral before Shabbat, at three in the afternoon. Rabbi Silverman spoke with a lot of feeling at the graveside. Many of our friends came to pay their last respects even though it was a very inconvenient time for everybody. We invited them all to our house where quite a few trays had arrived so there was plenty of food. Michael stayed until late in the evening while Iris and John slept in my house for the first few days. I called Frieda and asked her to come to Phoenix and I promised to pay for her flight.
Every evening we had enough people for a minyan and one day the rabbi from Michael's and Jodi's synagogue came straight from the airport to pay his respects and also to conduct the service. Jodi went to the airport to pick up Frieda when she arrived on the fourth day. Then Iris and John went home to sleep but they came every day as did Michael, to sit with me. Having my children and Frieda around me made it easier to adjust to my new status. But after Frieda's departure two weeks later I felt extremely lonely and at a loss. I went to many different support groups and that was quite beneficial. My teaching job at Luke Air Force Base also helped my state of mind.
I invited Amnon and his whole family to come to Phoenix for Passover. Naomi's mother, Angela, also joined them so we were eight people in my fairly small house. We managed to accommodate everyone and they enjoyed their vacation. I also arranged a package deal to visit Disneyland and Universal Studios and rented a van to transport all of us. We had the special privilege of going to Disneyland at seven in the morning when it was not yet open to the general public, a deal called "Breakfast with the Stars." The children loved the various Disney characters and went to hug them again and again. Universal Studios was also a most exiting place for young and old. When we finally left, all the children fell asleep on the way home. We wanted to show Angela the famous part of Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard and the Chinese Theater, so Naomi stayed in the van with the sleeping children, while Amnon and I quickly showed her these sights.
We had the first Passover Seder at my house. With everyone's help, it was a great success. The second night we went to Jodi's and everyone brought a dish. She also had her parents and uncle and family for the Seder. I was seated at the very end of the long table, with some friends. I suddenly felt how unimportant I had become now that I was a widow. Jodi's parents were seated right next to her and Michael, at the center, then Jodi's sister and family and her uncle. It pained me very much and my loss became suddenly unbearable. I tried to suppress my grief but I became so overwhelmed that I had to leave the house. I was overcome by a flood of tears. All my children came out to try and comfort me, and that was very soothing and helpful.
After the departure of Amnon and his family I again was all alone. I made plans to go to Germany and try and sell the house. I would never live there again, nor would any of my children. I also wanted to go to Israel and visit my children. Phoenix was much too hot in summer. Even Jerusalem had pleasanter weather. With my frequent flyer miles, I managed to book a flight from Phoenix to Tel-Aviv via Paris, with two long requested stopovers. I only needed to buy train tickets from Paris to Frankenthal and back. I still had the car in the garage of our house.
The apartment in Germany that I had to myself was extremely large. I invited Erica and Hannah to come and stay with me. Since Erica was going to Canada to visit her daughter Jacqueline, only Hannah came for a week. We had a good time together and went sightseeing, had picnics by the river in Heidelberg and managed to pick many of the cherries on the tree in my garden. I had contacted a few realtors and offered the house for sale. Although quite a few came to see it, none were ready to buy.
Lisa, the daughter of my friends in Phoenix, Joan and Andre Klein, received a scholarship to study in Paris for a month. I invited her to come and stay with me after she finished her studies, and came to pick her up at the railway station. Again I became her tour guide and, as she was young and full of energy, we could go to many more places of interest. My flight to Tel-Aviv was scheduled five days after Lisa came to visit. Since she also had to go back to Paris, Lisa helped me pack and get all my suitcases on the train. I took as many items from the house as I could fit into my luggage, especially lovely down comforters that would be useful in Jerusalem in winter. Our train was leaving the station nearest to my house late at night and most of the travelers were already settled down for the night. We had reserved couchettes, bunk beds, but ours were high up so we had to climb over the sleepers and try and fit the numerous pieces of luggage in as well, all in the dark and without waking up our fellow travelers. It was not an easy feat, but somehow we managed. When we arrived in Paris in the late morning, Lisa helped me into a taxi and told the driver in perfect French to take me to Orli airport. I was very thankful for her help and cannot imagine how I could have done it without her.
At my request, Amnon was able to rent an apartment for me from his neighbors, who left on a two weeks vacation. It was a large apartment but they locked up some of the rooms, as I only needed one bedroom. Unfortunately, these people left the place in such a filthy state that I had to ask Amnon and Naomi to come and help me clean it. The three of us worked three hours and then I continued cleaning at least an hour every day. But it was conveniently located so even the little children could come and see me any time. It was summer vacation and both Ophir and Chagai needed to study and improve their reading, writing and arithmetic skills. This kept me busy for many hours every day, as they were rather unwilling students and needed a lot of coaxing and pushing. I went to visit many of my friends too, yet it was not a happy time, to say the least.
When I returned to Germany I again tried to sell the house. I found one buyer, with whom I had agreed on the price and other conditions. When we arrived at the notary lawyer's office, he suddenly wanted to pay much less than agreed. After two or three hours of discussion I finally gave up. I refused his new price offer. My insurance agent was also interested in the house and at last we came to an agreement. I put ads in the newspapers saying that I was selling my car and all the furniture and household goods of a large apartment. Many people came and bought clothes and individual chairs, lamps, and other smaller items, but I could not sell the bedroom furniture or a large living room rug. A Lebanese Arab wanted to buy the big entertainment center; however the price he offered was so ridiculously low that I refused. I again found a buyer for the car who was willing to pick it up on the afternoon that I was to fly back to Phoenix. He gave me about two hundred dollars earnest money.
Dorit was so kind to agree to come to my house and help me with the final packing and take me and my luggage to the train station. I had to return to Paris for my frequent flyer ticket. My train was leaving late at night, so I thought I would have plenty of time. I made arrangements with one of the renters to try and sell all the furniture and other paraphernalia that were still in the apartment. She would get twenty percent commission and deposit the rest of the money in my bank account.
On the morning of my departure I had a dentist appointment. After that I had to go to my bank to deposit some more money. It was raining heavily when I was driving home. By this time, it was about the noon hour. The cars in front of me were all slowing down and so was I, when suddenly I was hit by a car behind me. We all stopped in the middle of the freeway, and I got out to see what damage my car had sustained. It turned out that the woman who drove the car behind me was hit by a car behind her and the force of the crash pushed her car into mine. We both took the name and address of that third driver and his insurance company and then moved on.
When I arrived home I immediately got in touch with the guy's insurance company. They said that an estimator would have to determine the extent of the damage. It did not look like much to me, but when the buyer of the car arrived, he did not want a damaged car. My neighbor was again very helpful and got in touch with an estimator, who was ready to look at the car that same afternoon. We discussed the situation and the car buyer and my neighbor took my car to the estimator. He called the insurance company and gave them an oral report which he was going to follow up with a written one. The car buyer and I then came to an agreement. He would take the car as it was without him paying any more; I would get the money from the insurance, which had been estimated to be at least the amount he would have paid. I did get a nice sum eventually, about four or five months later. It actually was more than the price the buyer would have paid.
All this business took practically the whole afternoon and aggravated me tremendously. When I finally had time to start packing, Dorit showed up. I had promised to take her out for dinner. She was rather hungry having come straight from work, so we went to eat first. It was eight o'clock when we returned home and then she really helped me get organized and pack. We worked until the last minute. Then she took me to the train station and helped me load my luggage on the train.
Unfortunately, it was not a through train to Paris and at about twelve thirty I had to change trains. To get to the Paris train, I had to walk down the stairs and through a passageway, then back up on the other side. I had two big, heavy suitcases and a carry-on beside my coat and handbag, and no one was in sight to help me. I took two suitcases to the top of the stairs, then came back for the third, took two halfway down the stairs and came back up for the third, and so on, until halfway in the tunnel two younger people walked towards me. I asked the young man for help, and he obliged, carrying my two heavy suitcases all the way to my train. I thanked him very much and offered him some money, which he refused in broken German, as he was from Poland.
In due time my train arrived and the controller helped me with my luggage, so I finally could settle down on my bunk bed. My luggage had to stay in the corridor because there was no space in the cramped sleeping compartment. Again I had the top bed and as it was rather warm and sticky, the other travelers insisted on keeping the window open. A biting breeze was coming through the window and by morning I had a bad cold. In Paris I hired a porter to take me to the taxi which drove me to the airport. The airline personnel were very helpful and offered me some coffee and cookies as I was very early. There was more than four hours to wait until I could get on the plane.
After arriving in Atlanta and going through customs, I checked in for the last stretch of my flight to Phoenix. We got on the plane and I thought that I finally could relax. I had already been twenty four hours on this trip and was not feeling well, sniffling and sneezing with the cold I had caught on the night train. Something was wrong with the back door of the plane, so mechanics were called to fix it. We sat on the tarmac for over an hour, with no air condition and only some water to quench our thirst. The mechanics were unable to repair the damaged door and we were told to exit the plane and go to another plane on a different concourse. This was just too much for me and I started crying. One of the air hostesses saw my distress and offered to help me with my carry-on. She let me go with the disabled passengers on one of the electric trolleys. I was four hours late arriving in Phoenix and had traveled for almost thirty five hours. The children were waiting for me at the airport and I was extremely happy and relieved to see them.
It was good to be back in my own little house again. A few months later, I joined my travel agent, Cynthia, on a two weeks tour of Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. We were a group of seventeen women and one man, the husband of one of the women. Cynthia matched me up with a friendly, charming lady from Albuquerque, whose husband had been in the Far East during his army days and did not want to go back. We had a good time sightseeing and shopping in Honk Kong. I really indulged myself for once and bought a beautiful Chinese rug, a lovely ring and two sets of tailor-made suites, beside all the smaller items, especially clothes.
On a one day tour to Malaysia, we visited fish farms. It was fascinating to see how these people lived in their little floating houses. Singapore was the cleanest place I had ever seen. We visited the botanical garden and saw millions of gorgeous orchids. Only four of us continued on to Bangkok. The other three ladies agreed to put me up in their room on a roll-away bed so that I would not have to be by myself. The numerous golden temples and Buddhas were most impressive. The pollution and traffic jams were so horrendous that they left me with some bad taste. Being in the close company of so many women helped me but I often still had moments of loneliness. I missed my spouse to talk to and share in the enjoyment of picturesque places.
Michael and Jodi had moved again. While I was still in Germany Jodi had found a brand new large house in a recently developed beautiful neighborhood, on the south side of South Mountain. She insisted on buying it. They knew that I was selling my house in Germany so Michael asked me for financial help. I had to borrow a large sum of money from my bank in Germany until my house would sell and I would receive my funds. When I returned from Germany they were already living in their brand-new, three story house off Chandler Boulevard.
Jodi and Michael went to Dallas for Thanksgiving. Jodi entered Bentzi in a crawling contest and he won the Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico crawling championship. They now flew to Dallas where he competed nationally. They were put up in a nice hotel with all meals and all expenses paid by Huggies diapers. The championship was televised nationally during half time of a famous NFL football game. I decided to join them at my own expense, so as not to be alone on this holiday. The weather in Dallas was unusually bad, with heavy snowstorms. Bentzi became very ill and could barely crawl at all. He got worse and Jodi had to take him to the hospital by ambulance. They gave him medications to reduce the high fever. He seemed much better the next day after a rather bad night.
Jodi went to New York to a friend's wedding while Michael and I flew back home. It was a horrible flight, as Bentzi cried continuously and Rebecca behaved atrociously. I had agreed to stay with Michael overnight, because he had to work the next day and I was to baby-sit until Jodi returned late in the afternoon. It was not too bad as I made Rebecca understand that I would have no nonsense from her. She soon recognized that I really meant it and so she behaved quite well. Bentzi was improving by the hour and seemed practically well again by the time Jodi arrived.
One Saturday morning when I went to services in my synagogue, I talked to my good friend, Eve Hubschman. She had just lost her husband. We were standing around at the Kiddush after services, drinking coffee and munching some goodies when a friend of Eve's greeted her and asked her if she would like to come along to Laughlin as he had an empty car. Eve turned to me, introduced her friend as Fred Greenwood, and asked me if I would like to come, too. I said that if she went, and if Fred agreed, I would like to go too. So we chose a day of the following week, the 21st of December. I arranged to drive to Eve's where I left my car. From there Fred picked up both of us.
Eve and I were waiting for a while and soon Fred arrived. We could set off in his car, Eve sitting beside Fred, and, as I barely knew him, I sat in the back seat. We made two stops on the way, one in Wickenberg and the other in Kingman, so as to have, in Fred's words: "a full stomach, a full tank and an empty bladder." We had reserved rooms at the Ramada in Laughlin. It turned out that Fred had obtained nicer quarters for less money than we. After looking into his room, we decided to complain and were also able to get more attractive accommodations.
Fred was anxious to gamble, but Eve was even less inclined to do so than I. Half an hour of playing the machines was more than enough for me. We brought books along and enjoyed sitting near the pool, reading. When Fred came back from gambling, we went to the restaurant for dinner and later took a stroll along the river bank, all the way to Harrah's which is rather a steep climb uphill. I always have problems climbing, but we went slowly so it was very enjoyable. Eve and I retired fairly early while Fred gambled some more. We arranged to meet in the morning for breakfast after which we would depart for home.
When we were ready to leave, Eve said that now we would exchange seats and I was to sit in front. We had a long drive home and we started talking. Fred told me about his family and the more he said the more bizarre it sounded. He just had everything exactly the same as I had: three children, two boys and a girl, the oldest son was in Israel, near Jerusalem, was married and had four children, three boys and a girl; the other son was married and had a girl and a boy and had just bought a house off Chandler Boulevard in Greater Phoenix. The daughter was married to a non Jew by the name of John and they had no children, and both our daughters were to undergo surgery in their lower backs about a week later. We had both been in Jerusalem a few months previously and had been miserable as we had both lost our spouses to cancer very recently. Later I found out that our spouses had died only five days apart and were buried about six feet apart, that both had been born in the same year and both had been a month or two short of reaching the age of seventy.
It took me quite a while to digest this information. It just felt too eerie. Then a few days later Fred invited Eve and me to a quiet little New Year's Party. We each were asked to bring a dish, so I made fake chopped liver with nuts and green beans. Fred had invited two more widowers but only one could come, so we were four widowed people, listening to some classical music and talking. It was really the perfect setting for our situation. None of us was ready for dancing or big parties.
Yurek's Yahrzeit was coming up the following week and I asked friends and relatives to join me at the cemetery for a memorial service and after that to come to my house for refreshments. I asked Fred to come too, but he had to teach and would only be able to join us later at my house. There was quite a gathering both at the cemetery and at my house, keeping me rather busy. Fred stayed to help me clean up and asked me to accompany him to his Chavurah about two weeks later.
From then on we saw each other very often and soon Fred asked me to marry him. I was very reluctant to get married again. But I enjoyed his company and asked if we could be friends while giving me time to think it over. We went out for dinner a few times after which he came to my house to talk. We also started taking ballroom dancing lessons. One evening, while talking about our future, it suddenly dawned on Fred that he had talked to Rabbi Silverman many months earlier about getting married again and had asked him if he knew someone suitable. Rabbi Silverman immediately mentioned my name. He told him that I was in Europe at the time and that he should wait about a month and then call me. Rabbi Silverman told Fred that I would be a good match for him as we were both from Europe and both liked traveling. Fred had completely forgotten about it until that moment.
Like Yurek, Fred was a Holocaust survivor and like him, he, too, had luckily not been in concentration camps. Like Anne Frank, Fred had been hidden, but unlike her, he was moved about, living with fourteen different families. Fred had lost his father when he was eleven. His mother and one brother also survived the Nazi occupation, but his other brother was killed.
Fred also told me about the problems he had had with his children especially with his daughter, Rochelle, and how happy he was that he had been able to get back with them. He wanted me to meet Rochelle and we agreed to go to Los Angeles for his birthday, which fell on Valentine's Day. By then I had agreed to marry him. I bore in mind that we were seniors but rationalized that if we had five good years together it would be a wonderful future for us. This was my big mistake, as I should have wished for at least ten or even fifteen more healthful years. We talked to Rabbi Silverman and fixed the date of our wedding for 15th of March, the Ides of March. We decided to sell both our houses and look for a suitable house for our new life together.
We made a list of all the friends to be invited to our wedding and it turned out to be quite a long list of one hundred and forty people. We discovered that ninety five percent of the guests were mutual friends although we knew many of them from different angles. Our two Chavurot gave us special bridal parties that were really memorable and presented us with lovely gifts. Dorit had planned to visit me for Passover so I told her about our wedding. She arranged to come for this occasion as well.
The wedding was absolutely perfect, a happy but quiet celebration.
Fred took care of my hair and a cosmetician made up my face under Dorit's supervision. I bought a lovely off-white two piece dress for the occasion and everyone was glad to participate in such a joyous affair which rarely comes around at our age. We had three Rabbis attending our wedding: Rabbi Silverman, Rabbi Plotkin and Rabbi Sherwin. Cantor Tabaknik sang the beautiful special wedding psalms and benedictions. Afterwards we went into the dining hall where our one hundred and twenty guests enjoyed a mouth-watering, splendid dinner. A friend of Fred's played the piano during the meal and Cantor Tabaknik entertained us with his songs. The evening ended with the Hatikva, when everyone had to stand up for Israel's national anthem.
For our honeymoon we went to Hawaii and we had a great time. We spent three days on Maui, where we got the royal treatment. My travel agent, Cynthia, arranged a bridal suite for us that was enormous, with double doors and two big balconies that could accommodate a party of one hundred people. We were right on the beach, overlooking the ocean. It could not have been any better. The last four days we spent on Hawaii, the Big Island, where we did a lot of sightseeing. We went to the top of the Volcano and also to the place where the new lava was still flowing and had completely covered the road. Guards were watching and warning visitors not to go too far, but it was supposed to be safe where we were walking. While Fred was taking a picture, a fire suddenly erupted next to me that scared me but luckily did no harm.
While we were away, I arranged for Dorit to go on two tours, to the Grand Canyon and to Las Vegas. For the three remaining days, she stayed with Michael. We had found the house that we both liked, very close to our first house in Phoenix and to Fred's current house. My house had sold in the meantime and I had to move a week after our return from Hawaii. Dorit was still with us and again was a tremendous help in packing all my belongings. I borrowed Iris' truck and transported the smaller boxes. A moving company only needed to move my furniture and other big items. The first night in our new house we had problems with the lights and with the hot water. Dorit was still with us for that one night. We were not too comfortable in our strange surroundings, having to use candles when it got dark and not having any hot water for a shower.
Soon after Dorit left, Fred was able to find buyers for his house. In a way, a disaster had turned out to be fortunate. On Fred's return from Israel, his house had been completely flooded. The insurance company paid for the entire overhaul of his house, new carpets, tiles, drapes and paint, so that it looked quite good. The townhouse association had also repainted all the outside and repaved the road.
My moving was scheduled four days after the closing, therefore we assumed the same time span was planned for Fred's house. However, at eleven p.m. of the day of Fred's closing, we received a call from our realtor, telling us that Fred had to move the next morning. He had a dentist appointment for that morning to extract four teeth. Being fearful of pain, he asked the dentist to sedate him well, so he was very sleepy on the day of his move. We had managed to get a few hours extension. The realtor and I packed and cleaned the house for about eight hours, with Fred being able to help a little toward the end. Robert came to take all the furniture he was getting and the movers transported the few heavy pieces for Fred's den and the guest room. Fred had donated his piano to Beth El Synagogue. The movers brought it there, although it was already Friday night and the place was closed. Iris and John were very helpful. We used their truck for all the smaller items as well as the heavy stones, boulders and big flower pots in the garden. Without their help and the realtor's, we would never have made it.
After this exhausting day we were ready to go on vacation. I had booked my timeshare week in Puerto Vallarta the year before, and actually had invited Eve to join me. I had to disappoint Eve, who of course understood. Now I was going with my husband. We enjoyed it there very much, but made the big mistake of letting those clever realtors talk us into buying a few more weeks. They convinced us that the reason that I could not get the exchange nor the time requested was because I only had a single timeshare week. They said that we needed a fractional, which was four weeks. That would give us the leverage to get any exchange we wanted. They also said that all we needed was four studios. We gave up my nice one bedroom for four weeks of studios and had to pay them another thirty two thousand dollars! The next day the timeshare place next door to ours gave us a big talk and a fairly good deal. We had to pay them three thousand dollars with our credit card, and had three years to pay one hundred dollars a month for the balance. For that price we got a one bedroom place.
It was time for us to introduce each other to our own relatives and friends who were scattered around the world. We first embarked on a trip to Europe and Israel. We started off in England for Fred to meet my family and close friends: Eva and Suzanne, Erica and Hannah, John and Jane, and Rosi, David and family with whom we stayed. Of course we did some sightseeing too, such as Royal Sandringham Castle, Norwick, Ely Cathedral and Cambridge as well as the Tower of London, Greenwich and other attractive and interesting tourist places.
Next we took the overnight ferry to Hoek van Holland, and rented a car to go to Den Haag to meet Fred's cousin and also Frau Tinbergen, his old German teacher who had risked her life to come and teach him while he was in hiding. Then we went on to Eindhoven, Fred's birthplace, where we met the children of the man who had saved Fred's life during the Nazi era by hiding him with many different families. Unfortunately, the rescuer himself had died two years earlier. Fred's brother and sister-in-law were on vacation in Spain, so we could not meet them, and that really was most regrettable as the next time we went to Europe Fred's brother was no longer alive. Our last stop in Holland was in Hengelo, to see Yurek's eldest son Ilan, who had once come to visit his father and me in Ludwigshafen. Ilan and his wife were very friendly and showed us their lovely house. They offered us coffee and cake and a few bottles of water and juice to take on our way.
From Hengelo we drove to Amsterdam where we embarked on a five day cruise on the Rhine River. Since then we have taken many cruises but the cuisine on that Koeln-Duesseldorfer Line was superior to all of them. We traveled on the MS Britannia to Duesseldorf, where we went on a city tour, then to Cologne, where we were met by Maria Buehler who brought us a bouquet of flowers. We had another city tour there and took Maria along so we could spend more time together. Although she had been living in Cologne for quite a few years, she also enjoyed the tour and saw places she had not known about. Our next stop was in Speyer where we saw the Cathedral and the remains of a synagogue. Our cruise ended in beautiful Strasbourg, where we picked up our rental car.
We drove to Heidelberg to stay with Dorit for the next five days. Friday night we managed to go to the synagogue in Heidelberg and Saturday morning to my former synagogue in Mannheim. I showed Fred the most interesting sights, such as the Jewish quarter and synagogue in Worms with Rashi's Yeshiva and one of the oldest cemeteries in Europe that had not been destroyed by the Nazis. We went to the Odenwald, a beautiful forest region, to Bad Duerkheim, a lovely spa town, to Schwetzingen, a rococo castle similar to but smaller than Versaille. Of course we saw Heidelberg and its famous castle both by day and by night.
From Heidelberg we went back to Strasbourg to return the car and to meet with the Buehlers who took us on a walking tour of this picturesque city. We stayed with them in Freiburg for a few days. They treated us like royalty, wining and dining us in the best restaurants. They showed us some parts of the beautiful Black Forest, such as the Feldberg, where we took cable chairs all the way to the top.
We left Freiburg by train going to Zurich, where we started our Globus tour of Switzerland. Our first stop was in Vaduz, the capital of the tiny country of Liechtenstein. We stayed in St. Moritz overnight, in a lovely hotel and were served a superb dinner. The soup was so delicious that Fred complimented the waitress on it. She asked him if he would like a second helping, which he gladly accepted. The main course was also very savory and again Fred remarked on it. The waitress offered him a second helping of it and again Fred accepted. The dessert was likewise very tasty and again Fred accepted the offer of a second helping. So Fred ended up consuming two complete dinners. After such a big meal we had to go for a walk. It was really worth our while to stroll through the famous ski resort St. Moritz. The landscape there is absolutely magnificent.
The next day we took a horse and wagon ride along the river. It was in a lush rural area, with the high, snow-covered mountains visible in the background. We then went to Lake Lugano to embark on a ferry boat for a visit of the island of Isola Bella. A gorgeous castle with delightful gardens awaited us on that island, which well deserves its name. Zermatt was our subsequent destination, our base for taking the famous European rack-train ride up close to the Matterhorn, a climb to over ten thousand feet. From up there the panoramic view of the Alps is just breathtaking. Further visits included Lake Geneva with Chillon Castle which Lord Byron immortalized, then Bern, Switzerland's capital with its monumental Federal Palace, and the bear pit, Interlaken, Luzern with its famous Covered Wooden Bridge and the Lion Monument, and then back to Zurich.
Swissair took us to Athens, where we started our next Globus tour of Greece and its islands. Our bus tour took us to ancient Corinth and the extremely narrow Corinth Canal, to Homer's Mycenae with Agamemnon's Royal Palace, the Lion Gate and the Beehive Tombs, then to Epidaurus, the two thousand three hundred-year-old open-air theater. Olympia was our next destination, where we walked across the Gymnasium and saw the Temples of Hera and Zeus. We climbed the slopes of Mt. Parnassus to Apollo's sanctuary and the place where the Oracle of Delphi was pronounced and revealed. The unreal, fantastic landscape of Meteora with its twenty-four rock-top monasteries was a real eye-opener. To visit one of the monasteries, we had to climb one hundred and sixty steps, about the same as walking up to the tenth floor of an apartment building. We visited two monasteries, one famous for its frescoes, the other for its icons, but the panoramic view from them was the most incredible.
Thermopile, the site of the heroic battle between three hundred Spartans and the huge Persian army was our next stop, then Thebes, and Marathon, all famous places in Greek history. Returning to Athens, we visited the Acropolis with the Parthenon, Zeus' Temple and the Agora. The tour ended with a visit to the Royal Palace and a number of imposing government buildings as well as some elegant homes in the modern city.
Now started our cruise from Pireus, along the Dardanelle Strait, linking the Aegean with the Marmara Sea. Entering the Golden Horn we stopped in Istanbul, Turkey, to visit the Ayasofya museum and the Blue Mosque. Then on to Kusadasi, to explore the fascinating Greek, Roman and Byzantine excavations of Ephesus. Soon we were on our way to the Greek islands. First we anchored at Rhodes, where we walked around the Old City. Then Crete to see Knossos and visit the center of the Minoan civilization that existed in three thousand BCE. Santorini, the "Black Pearl of the Aegean," was a great adventure. We took the cable car to the village to stroll through the narrow alleys enclosed by white-washed houses, and had a breathtaking panoramic view. To return to our cruise ship we had to get down the mountain. We decided to walk but frequently had to step aside in order to avoid the hordes of donkeys carrying other tourists up or down. Patmos and Mykonos were the last two islands on our tour. Mykonos again dazzled us with its white-washed houses and its picturesque windmills. Fred, who took videos of everything, had left the video camera on the ship, but he was so taken by those intricate windmills that he went all the way back to get the camera, and then again to the windmills, a rather long walk.
Before we had left for the cruise, we had given our tour guide the detailed information of our flight from Athens to Tel-Aviv. The flight was scheduled for the day after our disembarkation, and would need to be confirmed. Somehow she had failed to do so, as our plane had been rescheduled and had left just before we were to check in at the airport. When I went to the El Al counter and asked them, in Hebrew, where all the passengers were, I was told of the time change. The Israeli crew went out of their way to accommodate us by rescheduling us for the following morning, providing us with a hotel room in a lovely hotel including all the meals. It really was rather convenient for us. Our apartment in Jerusalem was not available until the following day anyway, so we did not have to stay with Amnon for one night but could go to our apartment directly from the airport.
On the evening of our arrival Amnon came to take us to Chagai's birthday celebration. We all went out to a lovely restaurant in the German Colony and enjoyed the party during which Fred was introduced to my children and grandchildren. The following day we took the armored bus to Kiryat Arba. There I met Fred's son Naftali, his wife Marcia and their four children Hanan, Boaz, Jehoshua and Bracha. Two armed soldiers accompanied us, beside another heavily armed vehicle leading us through mainly Arab territory. The drive was extremely interesting to me as I had not taken that road for forty-seven years.
The last time I was in Hebron was in the summer of 1947. I had joined a tour of the Negev with cousin Hannah and many of her friends and colleagues, all from the Afula area, as she had been working at Afula Hospital at the time. The whole group was returning north, while I had to get back to Jerusalem. In Hebron they turned northwestward, while I headed northeast. I got off in Hebron and waited for an Arab bus to take me home. Just a few months later this would no longer have been possible.
While driving to Kiryat Arba I looked out of the window eagerly. The landscape was very beautiful but during those many years since my last time there, the environment had changed completely. We saw some Arab refugee camps that had barely been improved during almost half a century, but there were also numerous magnificent villas recently erected by the rich Arabs in many of the towns and villages that we passed. We drove through Hebron and then entered the heavily guarded enclave of Kiryat Arba. It is an attractive garden town, with beautifully built houses of white Jerusalem stone and many lush lawns and trees. Once inside the fence, this place feels completely safe and the children can walk about unaccompanied, even at night.
We made the rounds in Israel so that Fred could also meet cousin Evi and family in Nahalal, my best friend Frieda, and Leah and husband Moshe in Tel-Aviv, also Rachel and Yehuda, David Neuman and some more of my former classmates. Shula Brown/Retter had a big celebration for the "Pidyon Haben" (Redemption of the first born) of her grandson to which we were invited, and there I again met many former classmates.
Just about three months later we were scheduled to return to Israel to celebrate a double Simcha in my family: Ophir's Bar-Mitzva, and his new brother Gil'ad's Brith Milah. I was eagerly looking forward to this event as Ophir was my oldest grandson. I had never managed to be at any of my Israeli grandsons' Briths. I arranged for all my children and families to come with us: Michael, Jodi, Rebecca and Bentzi, Iris and John, and Jodi's parents joined us too, so that we were a party of ten booked on the flight from Phoenix to Tel-Aviv.
Unfortunately, Fred got a bad attack of asthma just a few days before our flight. I had to call an ambulance which took him to the hospital. Fred had just canceled his health insurance as he would be covered by Medicare two months later and he thought that he could do without insurance for two months. Luckily he insisted on being taken to the Veterans Hospital, where they examined him, gave him some oxygen, and released him three hours later; however, they strongly advised him against his flying for at least one week. We just had to pay for the ambulance, a sum of four hundred and ninety dollars. Cynthia, my travel agent, was a tremendous help in getting our flight postponed to four days later. This was not an easy task as we would now fly three days before Christmas. We were even exempt from paying any penalty. We thus missed traveling with all the family and also missed the Friday night celebration which coincided with Amnon's and Naomi's wedding anniversary. Fred had still not recovered fully and needed some oxygen on the last segment of our flight, but after a day or two in Israel, he recuperated completely.
We rented a small, modern apartment on French Hill, which is the suburb closest to Pizgat Ze'ev, where Amnon lives. Amnon and Naomi were renting a beautiful large apartment for themselves. They were no longer comfortable living in the same quarters with the kindergarten, which operated from seven in the morning until five in the afternoon, six days a week. However, for the occasion of the Bar-Mitzva, the kindergarten closed for a few days. It had been planned that all my children would stay there.
The morning after our arrival Jodi, Michael and the children came to our apartment complaining of their uncomfortable accommodation. It was too cold and the kindergarten was still in session, so they had no access to the kitchen. Michael and I inquired about other available rentals, but nothing satisfied Jodi. We had booked a timeshare week in Tiberias, and promised them our apartment for that time. A little while later Iris and John arrived. They also complained about having had no breakfast as they, too, could not get into the kitchen, which was being used by the kindergarten. Jodi's parents were staying at a hotel where they were comfortable, so Iris and John got a room there too. However, just before dawn the following morning they were all almost blasted out of their beds. An Arab terrorist had camouflaged himself as an Israeli soldier and had tried to get on an army bus full of soldiers returning to their base. Fortunately the bus driver became suspicious and started driving off, but still the Arab's bombs went off killing three soldiers and wounding others. All this happened across the street from the hotel where Iris, John and Jodi's parents were staying. They got quite a shock.
Amnon's and Naomi's fifth child, Gil'ad, was born a few days before our arrival. We were all present at Gil'ad's Brith, which took place at Beit Ja'akov Synagogue in Pizgat Ze'ev on 20 December. It was wonderful that all my family were present at this happy family celebration.
The Bar-Mitzva was a fantastic affair. It started on Thursday with Ophir reading the Torah at the Western Wall. Then on Shabbat he read his Torah portion again and got an Aliyah in the synagogue. The delicious Kiddush that followed the services was catered by Naomi and Amnon. Then about forty guests came to their house for another sumptuous meal. The big party was Monday night at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Amnon went all out to make it even more grandiose than most weddings I had attended.
The food was tasty and offered many different choices and the dessert tables were just out of this world. I have never seen anything like that before or since. The Bar-Mitzva cake was shaped like an open Torah scroll and was made of the best marzipan. There were so many savory desserts that very little of it was eaten, so I took a big piece of the marzipan cake home and enjoyed that delicacy for a few more days.
Amnon engaged a fourteen man entertainment group comparable to any Las Vegas show. Their repertoire included many of the hits from famous musicals, which they sang and danced beautifully. They also prompted us to dance and sing along, so that everyone was involved. Ophir showed off his dancing talent and we all circled around him and applauded his performance.
During the week that we spent in Tiberias we went to the hot springs spa a few times. This was very relaxing and invigorating, alleviating all our pains and aches. We also went to Chamat Gader, formerly known as El Chameh, a natural hot spring. I had soaked there with Mother during my childhood, when the country was still a British Mandate. Then the place was a primitive small pool for women only in a fairly dark room. There was a similar room for men. Now it was completely renovated with large outdoor pools among lush trees, waterfalls and lawns, modern dressing-rooms and showers. We encountered there quite a large crowd, enjoying a day of relaxation. Not far from there was an alligator farm where we saw many alligators of all sizes and ages. A demonstration of a fight between a man and an alligator was presented.
At our timeshare we attended a big New Year party. There was a lot of food and entertainment and the dancing continued until about three or four in the morning. It was fun and well organized, but we missed having friends or relatives to share in the festivities.
Back in Phoenix, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary on the 15th of March 1995. On Sunday the 19th, we made a big party at our house with more than eighty of our friends and relatives attending. March is a beautiful time of the year in Phoenix, when the weather is extremely pleasant. We opened the patio doors to the back yard. Our guests could spread out over the whole area. Fred and I prepared all the food ourselves. Some friends said that it was the best party in town. We also enjoyed the day immensely and repeated the celebration on our second, third, and fifth wedding anniversaries.
At the end of March we went to Palm Springs and San Diego, a month later to our timeshare in Puerto Vallarta, then to Cabo San Lucas, our sister timeshare. In August we went to Lake Powell and took a beautiful placid raft trip down the Colorado River.
In the summer of 1995 we drove across the USA to Eastern Canada. We first went to Canyon de Chelley and Mesa Verde National Park. In the Four Corners I was in four states simultaneously, by placing each foot and hand in a different state: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Then we went to Durango and took the train to Silverton, a most spectacular ride. We stayed for a week in a timeshare on Lake Dillon in Colorado. The scenery was lovely and we used the opportunity to visit many beautiful areas, such as the Garden of the Gods, Denver and Leadville. We drove all the way up to Pike's Peak, 14,110 feet high. It was covered in snow although it was the middle of June. I was wearing my open sandals, and I had to borrow Fred's huge sneakers to enable me to get out of the car and walk around to see the spectacular view of the area. Unfortunately, Rocky Mountain National Park was closed most of the way because of the heavy snow.
We stopped in Independence and later in St. Louis, Missouri, where we went up into the Arch, then to Indianapolis with its lovely famous rose garden. From there we went to Dayton, Ohio to see the Air Force Museum and then to Columbus. Pittsburgh was our next stop to visit friends of Fred's, then on to New York where Michael was working at the time. He held a Vice President position at Republic Bank and enjoyed his position very much. He showed us his bank and his office, and the cafeteria which was Kosher. The bank was located in the center of Manhattan, next to the Central Library and occupied the whole eight stories high building. Unfortunately, Jodi objected to Michael working in New York and refused to move there, so he soon had to give up his position. While visiting New York we managed to see one Broadway show: "Crazy for You."
On our way to Canada we stopped in Ausable Chasm and walked down to see that impressive natural sight. Then on to Quebec City, a most charming place to walk around, sit in the sidewalk cafes and watch the other tourists. We took a boat ride to Montgomery Falls and the picturesque surrounding area and were sorry that we had to leave.
I had stayed in touch with Yurek's uncle in Montreal. He had always begged us to come and visit him again, so I wrote him that Fred and I would come to see them. His grandson, Michael, was getting married on 3rd of July so we asked if we could come to the wedding. He was delighted and invited us to their house. We went to Toronto together, where the wedding took place. Golda, Yurek's cousin, asked us to stay with her; she prepared enough food to feed a whole army. We could stay only one day with Golda. They were all so happy to see us, and rather disappointed that we could not stay longer. The uncle showed us his synagogue, Beth Zion in St. Luc, to which he had contributed great sums of money, and which displayed many plaques with his and the family name. That same night I managed to get in touch with Michael Feldman, a childhood friend of mine (his parents and mine had been close friends in Germany and in Israel) and we paid a short visit to him and his new wife, Dalia. His first wife had also died of cancer.
Renee Kulik, the uncle's older daughter and mother of the groom, made reservations for us and other guests at a lovely hotel in Ontario. We found fruit and flowers in our room when we arrived, and a heartwarming welcoming card. That evening we had a big dinner at their house and finally met her and her family. They were all very gracious and friendly. The next day was another big celebration with a grand reception at the bride's parents' house, then the wedding itself at the Beth Tikvah Synagogue and a huge dinner afterwards. A large crowd was at the lovely dinner including a soap opera star who was one of the relatives.
After the exciting wedding celebrations we started on our way back. Our first stop was Niagara Falls where we embarked on the "Maid of the Mist" to get as close as possible to the Falls. We all received light ponchos to keep us dry. The Falls are really an amazing sight! So much water pouring incessantly down from these high cliffs. We enjoyed our stay in this very romantic place.
Then we visited London, Ontario, a small English style town with pretty parks where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Next we halted in Detroit, with its delightful Belle Isle Park. We went to West Bloomfield, to the Holocaust Memorial Center which is part of the Jewish Community Center. The huge complex is very impressive, with large sports facilities and beautiful grounds. We found the Holocaust Center a powerful, stirring and memorable place. In a fairly small space it succeeds in delivering its message.
Charlevoix and Beaver Island were charming French style villages with a picturesque marina. Again we enjoyed a tasty picnic lunch on the river bank. After a short visit to Traverse City we continued to Grayling, where we ventured on a canoe ride. We were told that it was really easy. The flow of the river would take us to our destination in about two hours, without our having to do any paddling. Well, we managed to get into all kinds of trouble. There were many tree stumps in the river which invariably seemed to ensnare us. They always got in our way and we had to struggle to disentangle ourselves from the numerous underbrush. Quite a few rowers passed us and once we even had to ask for help to get back into the current. With all our rowing it took us two and a half hours to get to the meeting point, where a large party was awaiting our arrival. We wanted to make a good impression, so we rowed hard in unison aiming at the correct spot on the river bank. However, we missed our goal, hit another tree and almost toppled over, to the amusement of all the spectators. Still, it had been a lovely experience and an adventure in a most scenic and serene environment.
Mackinaw Island in Michigan was our next destination. The ferry boat took us to the island. We then took a narrated carriage tour through the historic island. The only other transportation beside walking are bicycles. It was a sunny beautiful day and very enjoyable. Michigan in summer has many gorgeous places. We explored some beautiful lakes, such as Big Spring in Indian Lake State Park. The water in the lake is emerald green and so clean that we could see right to its deep bottom. There was a floating platform on which we were able to glide across the fairly small lake, by way of pulling a rope that was tied to both banks.
Later we explored different falls, such as Wagner, Munising and Canyon Falls. While hiking to one fall, the weather suddenly changed. It had been a lovely, sunny day and we were dressed in shorts. I wore my usual open sandals. Now it began to thunder and the lightning in the deep forest became quite frightening. We were already fairly close to the fall when heavy rain poured down on us, so we decided to go on and just have a quick look before turning back. There were a couple of other people at the falls, which were absolutely spectacular, but the rain drenched all of us completely, so we hurried back to the car. Luckily there were toilet facilities near our parking lot. We took out clean, dry clothes and changed everything. Even our underwear and footwear was soaking wet. When we drove back we had to maneuver the car between huge fallen trees. Since we were the only ones on the road, we could use the whole width of it. The storm had caused quite some damage. After we left, the road was closed for clean-up.
We stayed in Houghton and drove around the area, when, from a corner of his eye Fred caught an edifice which looked like a Synagogue. We stopped and investigated this beautiful, well preserved but abandoned Synagogue in Hancock, which we could only view from outside. In the morning we took a walk through town. Suddenly the sky took on a strange surrealistic sight: as if a dark gray curtain was gradually drawn from the horizon over the town all the way across to us. It became very dark and then again heavy rain poured down. Luckily we found shelter in an enclosed small mall.
There were many more spectacular falls to explore, and in Ironwood we viewed the gigantic statue of Hiawatha. In Hurley, Wisconsin, we picked raspberries which we enjoyed eating for our lunch, and took a pleasant scenic boat tour to Taylor Falls. Soon we came to Minnesota and stayed in the twin cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Of course we visited the Mall of America, then the largest in the US. We took a city tour to view the Capitol, St. Paul Cathedral and the other tourist sites.
Sioux Falls in South Dakota was our next stop. After looking around the falls which are right in the center of town, we moved on to find accommodations for the night. A small town called Mitchell seemed appropriate for the distance we planned to travel that day. When we arrived there and signed in at the motel, we decided to explore it. We were greatly surprised when we saw the many attractions this place had to offer. Foremost was the Corn Palace, an enormous building that is decorated every year with corn husks in different colorful designs. Inside was a kind of fair with many stalls and boutiques. Almost across the street from it was a Doll Museum with more than four thousand dolls collected over two centuries. It was so fascinating that we could barely make ourselves depart after spending over two and a half hours there. Diagonally across from it was the world's largest Balloon Museum which was also very interesting. The Enchanted World was the fourth attraction which unfortunately we could not investigate for lack of time.
Badlands National Park was our next destination. We walked through part of the park and looked at these strange formations. It is very hot and dry there and no shade anywhere. Soon we continued on our way, stopping at the famous Wall Drug Store, to arrive in Spearfish and meet John's parents. They had reserved a motel for us and took us out for a lovely dinner at the casino in an adjoining town. We spent a pleasant evening with them at their impressive house and they gave us some good advice about places to visit the following day. So we went to Roughlock Falls and took a tour of Homestake Goldmine in Lead, then on to Mount Rushmore. It took us quite a while to get to it, and after finding a parking space it took even longer to walk to the edge from which to view the monument of the Presidents. Once there, a few moments are all one really wants to gaze up.
There are many beautiful caves in the area and we went to explore two of them: Rushmore and Wind Cave. It was with great pleasure that we could feast our eyes on the colorful stalagmites and stalactites in these ancient underground places. While driving through Nebraska we encountered a place named Carhenge, in a field in the middle of nowhere; it is a configuration of old cars arranged similarly to the famous primeval Stonehenge in England.
We returned to Colorado and to Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, where we could drive in all the way and enjoy the beautiful scenery. In Denver we visited Red Rock Park and the Amphitheater, a natural grouping of boulders used for outdoor performances. In Glenwood Springs we went white water rafting and later enjoyed the Hot Springs pools. The whole place had been completely renovated and was now a modern, elegant spa, with places in which to relax in the many pools of varying temperatures.
In Utah we decided to take a smaller road, Route 128, that was described as scenic. It was a lucky choice. We had some magnificent views driving along a beautiful, clear and placid river. Then on to Arches National Monument with the many red rock arches and windows. Later we explored Dead Horse Point State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Dixie National Park, all different but each captivating. Then we continued to Zion National Park where we found accommodations at Flannigan's Inn, close to the entrance to the park. It is a charming place with a fantastic view and we always try to stay there. The park itself is magnificent, probably our favorite park. The walk by the river is most enjoyable and the scenery changes at every turn.
Our last stop was at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and luckily we were able to get accommodations in one of the cabins. It was wonderful to spend the night in this wilderness and walk around the Rim both at sunset and at sunrise. This was a great end to a most gratifying trip.
Michael and Jodi were having many problems in their marriage. Jodi was never satisfied with anything and always compared her status to her sister's, who was a hard-working, very successful realtor working with her lawyer husband. Jodi wanted a private swimming pool in her back yard, although they had a lovely one for their small community just two blocks away. Again Michael asked me for financial help and the swimming pool was installed. Jodi never treated me properly and she was even more unkind toward Fred for absolutely no reason.
Soon Michael decided that he wanted to get out of this marriage. He gave Jodi everything, the well furnished house and car and even paid up her student loan that she had incurred before their marriage. He moved out and rented an apartment. When they got divorced he agreed to pay her two thousand five hundred dollars monthly for alimony and child support, which he continued to pay her until she remarried. He still gives her fifteen hundred a month for child support and is a caring father seeing his children every two or three weeks and sometimes having them spend the whole summer with him. Michael found well-paying, interesting jobs in various cities such as Houston, Chicago and San Diego, and evetually decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. Initially he again asked me for financial help but he was doing so well in his studies that he received full scholarships and was able to support himself and his children without my help. He even managed to curtail his studied so that he will graduate in December 2001 after only two and a half years of study.
Iris also decided to advance her education. She studied at an evening university for four years while keeping her full-time job at Honeywell, which she has held since age nineteen. She received her Master of Business Administration degree in April 2001. This has helped her career in Honeywell. She now has a more responsible position and is in charge of a large group of employees. John has been writing full time for the last two years. He wrote a play, "Empire," about the trial of Field Marshal Ney during the Napoleonic era in France. The play was presented by the Play Wright's Theatre in Phoenix in 1998 and was quite a success. John's specialty is science fiction. He is currently writing a trilogy and is still looking for an agent.
Our best journey of the year was in October 1995. We went on a photo safari to Kenya and Tanzania. It was only a two weeks' trip but every day was unforgettable. We flew to London where we arrived the following morning. From there our flight to Nairobi was leaving only in the evening, so we were assigned day rooms near the airport. However, I had written to my cousins that we would be in London that day, so they all planned to meet at Eva's and Suzanne's house - Hannah, Erica, John, Jane and Dafna, in order to see us. After a quick shower and a short rest we went off to Hendon by underground and had a lovely family reunion.
We arrived in Nairobi the following morning, after two nights of flying and barely any sleep. It was Saturday morning and Fred had located a synagogue within walking distance from our hotel. While everyone else went to their rooms for a nap, we went to the synagogue. We arrived rather late, just at the end of the service; however there was a Bar-Mitzva and a big Kiddush. Fred went to the sanctuary to pray while I talked to some of the people. It turned out that they knew friends of ours in Phoenix and they wanted us to take a little package to them. We asked them to leave it with the reception at our hotel, as we would stay there again on our last night in Africa.
The same afternoon we started on our tour. The first stop was at Karen Blixen's farm house. Her pen name is Isak Dinesen, author of "Out of Africa" among others. Her gardens were especially fascinating with trees as tall as a five story house. From there we went to the Giraffe Manor where we could feed the giraffes while we stood on a second story balcony. They liked the food but did not want to be petted. Our last stop that day was at the Utamaduni Arts and Crafts Center where the natives performed their dances for us and we bought our first large carved African statues of a man and a woman.
The next morning we were on our way to "The Ark," a hotel surrounded by bush land in Aberdare National Park. We were only allowed a small overnight bag as accommodations there were rather cramped. On the way we stopped at the thundering Thika Falls and later we had lunch at the beautiful Aberdare Country Club. The hotel is in the middle of the wilderness and overlooks a flood-lit water hole and salt lick, high up on the densely wooded slopes of the mountain. We were required to lower our voices and be completely silent when we stepped out onto the terraces. A lot of elephants were quenching their thirst at the water hole, keeping most of the other wild animals away. From the balconies we could watch these huge creatures up close and could almost touch them.
On the following day we stopped at the equator to watch a demonstration of a curious phenomenon. Just two steps north of the equator, an object, such as a match or small stick placed in a bowl of water, will rotate in one direction, while just south of the equator, it will rotate in the opposite direction. At that stop there were a lot of Masai merchants and we went to look at their wares. Somehow Fred and I got separated and Fred found something that he thought would be nice for us to acquire. However, he did not want to buy it without consulting with me. The merchant was eager to make a sale, so he asked Fred for my name, and soon about half a dozen Masai were running around, calling "Vera, Vera!" Before long they found me and brought me to Fred and that merchant, who was able to complete the transaction.
Our lunch stop was at the gorgeous Mount Kenya Safari Club, founded by actor William Holden. It was a large, luscious place with an artificial lake and numerous types of birds. From there we continued to Samburu National Reserve, and the Samburu Serena Lodge, our lodgings for the next two nights. Our accommodations were close to Ewaso Ngiro River where huge hippopotami swim, sharing the river with giant crocodiles. We heard the hippopotami howl all night and in the evening a crocodile ventured to climb up the bank to devour some meat thrown there from the kitchen. During the day we went out on three game drives, each one lasting two hours. The first started at dawn, before breakfast, when the animals were most active, then in the late morning and afternoon, and the third in the early evening when the light was best for photography. During our days in Africa we were very lucky to see practically all the animals living there, thanks in part to our experienced driver. I listed as many as I could remember and was able to find out their names, and my list contains thirty-six animal and thirty-five bird species, beside three varieties of trees that grow only in that area.
Next we headed to Lake Nakuru, famous for its millions of pink flamingos. On the way we stopped at the spectacular Nyahururu Falls and later at the precipitous, steep slope of the magnificent Rift Valley. Then we continued to Lake Naivasha, the highest and purest of the Rift Valley lakes. A boat cruise took us to the breeding grounds of pelicans, fish eagles and cormorants. We were rather close to primeval hippos lurking in the shallow water, and watched zebras and antelopes grazing on the shore. From there we drove to the Masai area. We watched the red-clad, spear-wielding Masai warriors tend to their multi-colored herds among the wild animals. Only they are allowed to walk around, we and our guides had to stay in our tourist vans.
The next two nights we stayed at the Paradise Mara Lodge in Masai Mara National Reserve. It is Kenya's best and most scenic game park, situated at the northern edge of the Serengeti ecosystem. Due to a constant water supply, a thriving, permanent population of wild animals thrives there, and even increases due to the migration of two million gnus, zebras and wildebeests during the dry season in the Serengeti plains. On our several game drives we saw all the hunter's "big five": elephants, buffalo, lions, rhinos and even a leopard lazily hanging up in a tree. We were able to watch lions make love and cheetahs chase their prey. In the early evening we were entertained by Masai dancers in their beautiful red garments. Their guttural chanting is unique and so is their on the spot high jump.
We went on an optional visit to a Masai village and were greeted by the women with their chanting and dancing; later they offered us their homemade artifacts. Afterwards the village chieftain invited us into his abode, a low, rather small hut, though larger than all the others. It had just one room which served as living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom for his family of five.
Only once were we taken to an area where we were permitted to leave the van and walk among the wild beasts. We were accompanied by park rangers with guns, probably loaded with some tranquilizing substance in case an animal would attack us. We walked among the Rhinos and I saw a cute little baby rhino whom I wanted to pet, but the ranger ordered me away, as the mother was close by and could be extremely dangerous.
This concluded our Kenya trip but we still had a four day tour of Tanzania ahead of us. First we returned to Nairobi, where we all had dinner at the most famous of Africa's restaurants, the "Carnivore." There they served all the wild animal meat grilled on skewers. The waiters came around with a small piece of each, such as snake, zebra, crocodile, impala, hartebeest or buffalo, but there was such a variety that by the time the guests had tasted them all no one was hungry enough to order a meal anymore. I was the only one who would not taste any of them, so I ordered grilled fish instead. Most of our group, including Fred, seemed to enjoy the experience very much.
After spending the night in the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, we left for Tanzania. The roads were just terrible. There were potholes inside potholes and frequently our driver preferred driving off the road to avoid the incredible bumps. There was quite a hassle to cross the border at Namanga; each one of us had to go to the border patrol office and have our passport stamped both at the Kenya border and again some hundred yards further at the Tanzania border. A multitude of merchants crowded around us, trying to sell us their wares. We were cautioned by our tour guide not to take pictures of these women who could become rather pushy. Well, Fred ignored that advice. He took some pictures and was instantly surrounded by a multitude of women and he had to be rescued by our tour guide. One of these women peddlers gave Fred a bracelet, asking him to remember her and only buy from her on our return. However, he had learned his lesson and was careful to stay out of sight on our return.
We were now transferred to the Tanzanian van driving us to Arusha where we had lunch and then we continued to Tarangire National Park. Before arriving at our Tarangire Sopa Lodge, we were able to go on another game drive. We encountered a group of elephants close to our path, heading across our way. The leading elephant was a huge beast and showed signs of anger at our presence, so our driver backed off, waiting until the herd passed, before he ventured to continue. He told us that a few days earlier one of his fellow drivers/guides had had a similar encounter, but had tried to drive on. The elephant got angry and just flipped the van over. The people inside were only bruised but rather scared, and another van had to come to help them get out.
While driving through one of the desert areas we stopped at a cluster of huts filled with merchandise for tourists. Attached to the canvas of one hut was a sign in many languages welcoming the tourists. Among them was the sign "Shalom" in Hebrew. When we entered that hut I started speaking Hebrew with the merchant and was really surprised that this Masai was able to answer me. His vocabulary was very limited but still it was astounding that a Masai in the middle of nowhere knew some Hebrew!
Our last destination was Ngorongoro Crater, the most famous game park in the world. The over one hundred square mile crater hosts an incredible variety and density of wildlife. Our accommodations at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, located right on the edge of the crater was a brand new place of sheer luxury. The common areas had beautiful marble statues and staircases and the terraces offered a stupendous view of the deep crater below. Our rooms were spacious bungalow suites with balconies overlooking the crater. In the morning we noticed that the lovely gardens around our rooms had been mired. Later we found out that some buffaloes had managed to infiltrate into the resort area and dug up the flower beds during the night. We spent the whole day driving through the crater, and encountered numerous animals, as well as two young Masai shepherds leading their Brahman cows. Only their long spears protected them from the roaming wild animals.
On our way back to Nairobi we encountered vendors at the side of the road selling huge ostrich eggs, as large as a human head. However we just stopped to take a picture. In Nairobi we had time to visit the local market and get a few more gorgeous carvings. They liked our old hats, shoes and T-shirts which we traded in for some of their merchandise. We had to buy another bag to be able to transport all our shopping, and at home we had to add on another room - our Kenya room - to accommodate all the fine wood carvings we had acquired.
1996 was another exciting travel year. In March-April 1996 we flew to Israel via London. We enjoyed our visit with our children and grandchildren and had lovely Seder and Pesach celebrations with them. We managed to exchange one timeshare week to Eilat, where we enjoyed the beautiful facilities. While staying there, we took a one day trip to Petra in Jordan. It had been my dream for about sixty years to visit Petra, the city carved out of red rock. During my youth, some of our friends dared that voyage into enemy territory and quite a few lost their lives on that venture. Now there was a peace treaty with Jordan and many busloads of Israeli tourists went on this extraordinary tour every day. We arrived at the border shortly after six in the morning, but wasted over two hours with formalities and beaurocracy until we were permitted to go across. A large information board specified the rate of the Jordanian visa for each country of citizenship. All Arab citizens were exempt, but those from countries Jordan looked upon unfavorably, such as Israel or the USA, had to pay the highest fee.
Finally we were allowed to proceed and drove close to the Saudi Arabian border from where we had a good viewpoint of the gulf of Aqaba. On arrival at Petra we had the choice of riding mules or walking, but we preferred the latter. The temples, tombs and Roman ruins of this ancient Nabatean city were only rediscovered in 1812. Petra lies in a narrow valley surrounded by lofty mountains. The ornate carvings on the perpendicular faces of the temple fronts are unique. We saw the Treasure House, the Amphitheater, the Citadel and the Palace, all showing evidence of Greek, Egyptian and Oriental influences. I was exhilarated at finally having the opportunity to see Petra. Later we had lunch in a big tent and bought some of the spices we had tasted in our tea.
As there is a peace treaty with Egypt, I suggested that we go to Taba, the beautiful resort built by Israel right on its border, but disputed by Egypt. After years of negotiations, the UN gave it to Egypt. We were going to have afternoon tea in that lovely resort, which both Fred and I had visited while it still was part of Israel. So we took a short bus ride and then had another lengthy beaurocratic encounter at the border. How disappointing was this place when we finally arrived! It was dirty and run down, and the waiters were thoroughly rude. They would only take Egyptian currency, no charge card, dollars or Israeli money! We did not bother to go to their cashier to get Egyptian money; we no longer had any desire to stay. Another long hassle at the border and waiting for the bus, at last brought us back to our resort. We had wasted more than two hours without having had any tea. But most perturbing was the sight of this once gorgeous resort having deteriorated so sadly once it was turned over to the Egyptians.
After more visits with friends and family we went to London. There we stayed at the Hilton Hotel, took some tours, and saw more of my family. Then we embarked on the Queen Elizabeth II which took us from Southampton across the Atlantic to New York. We had a great time on this luxury liner. When we arrived at New York harbor we all rushed on deck to gaze at the skyline. Walking down a stairways I missed seeing the last step. I tripped and sprained my ankle and tore some ligaments. It was extremely painful; I needed immediate help but it took some time until the ship's doctor could examine my foot, as he had to be awakened. The medical personnel were very caring, taking X-rays to make sure no bones were broken. They gave me some pain pills and sedatives, and provided a wheelchair to take me to a taxi. It was a rather sad anticlimax to an otherwise lovely vacation.
According to our plans we flew to Nevada just two weeks after our return, so we started off with me still using crutches. We flew to Reno, which was a rather disappointing town, nothing more than a small hick town with a few casinos. The following day we drove to Mammoth Lakes, still covered with six feet of snow in May. We drove to all the surrounding lakes, such as Crawly, Grand, Silver, June and Mono Lakes and soon I was able to discard my crutches. We visited Virginia City, the Ponderosa Ranch of TV Bonanza fame and on to the Squaw Valley Olympic Village where we had been able to get a week's timeshare exchange. It was a lovely place and it gave us the opportunity to explore the whole Lake Tahoe area, such as Truckey and the Donner Pass. One day we drove around the entire lake and even took a very enjoyable cruise.
Just a month later we embarked on another exciting trip, this time to Europe. We started in Goeteburg, Sweden, where we picked up our new Volvo from the factory. On arriving at the airport on 4th of July 1996, we telephoned the factory and were told to wait where we were. A Volvo chauffeur met us there five minutes later. We were promptly escorted to a luxury Volvo stretch limousine, taking us and our luggage to the factory. After serving us a fine lunch we were taken on a tour of the factory, which was really fascinating. Unfortunately I was so tired from our long flight that I often dozed off. Finally we were shown our new Volvo, an immaculate, lovely car. All its features were explained to us and then we went on a test drive. It was really thrilling. We took some time to rest up and then drove our new car with a full tank of gas to the harbor, to embark on a ferry boat for an overnight crossing to Kiel, Germany.
We first went to Amstelveen, Holland, to visit Fred's family and participate in the unveiling of the gravestone of Jacques, Fred's brother. While there we visited the Portuguese Synagogue, the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Fred's old German teacher Frau Tinbergen, in Delft. In Den Haag we visited Fred's cousin Ben Swaab. We drove to some of the quaint little towns around Holland, such as Marken, Volendam and Edam, and saw the world famous flower market in Aalsmeer.
Our next stop was Heidelberg to visit Dorit, with whom we went to Friday night services in Mannheim and Saturday morning in Heidelberg; then on Sunday on to Baden Baden in the Black Forest. The weather was lovely and we enjoyed this beautiful spot. The Buehlers in Freiburg were our next destination. We stayed with them for four days and were again treated royally. They wined and dined us in the most exclusive restaurants and they also took us to beautiful places, like the Isle of Mainau, a flower garden of exquisite beauty, to Shaffhausen on Lake Constance, to Schauinsland, a high point in the Black Forest, and to Colmar in France. There we visited the Bertholdi Museum that houses all the plans of the sculptor and architect who created the Statue of Liberty.
We succeeded in getting a week's timeshare exchange in charming St. Johann im Pongau near Salzburg in Austria. On our way we visited some lovely small towns situated on Lake Constance, such as Lindau and Meersburg. During that week we also toured the Lake District of "The Sound of Music" fame, went to the Liechtensteinklamm waterfalls and crevice and visited Salzburg several times. In Salzburg we went to the Mirabellen Garden, Hellbrun Castle and water gardens, Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart's birthplace and the Marionette Theater to see and hear "The Magic Flute."
Venice was next on our program and there we stayed in a motel just outside the city, taking the bus to reach the town center. I had been in Venice quite a few times before but had never taken a Gondola ride. This was Fred's first visit to Italy and he wanted us to experience all the tourist attractions. So we floated on the canals in a Gondola and had coffee in a cafe on the Piazza St. Marcus. We walked along the famous canals over the Rialto Bridge and along the harbor and explored the ghetto with the Jewish Museum and the four synagogues.
While standing in line to get inside St. Marcus Cathedral, some American tourists raved about Padua, a most beautiful town just about an hour's drive from Venice. As it was not far out of our way, we decided to go there for a short visit. However, we arrived in Padua in an immense rainstorm with a sky as dark as night although it was only eleven in the morning. We could barely see anything and would have been completely drenched if we would have attempted to get out of the car. So we gave up the idea of seeing Padua and made our way out toward the coast. We came to a lovely small beach town called Bellaria and decided to stay there. After inquiring at a few hotels and pensions, we finally found an unpretentious cozy pension which had accommodations for us. It was still raining but no longer heavily. Everyone was watching sports on TV until late in the afternoon, when the sun tried to come out. We walked to the town center and the beach, where people were already back in the water, swimming. It was a lovely, very pleasant little town, and we enjoyed walking along the streets with its many shops. The next morning the sun was out and we, too, went swimming. A big market had been installed for the day and we had fun browsing and shopping there.
Florence was our next destination. On the way there we stopped in Rimini just to see this beach resort. Then we paid a visit to the tiny independent republic of San Marino, perched high up in the Apennine Mountains. From there we had a stunning view of the surrounding area and we enjoyed strolling around among the many other tourists. By the time we arrived in Florence it was rather late, so Fred wanted us to find accommodations quickly. Most hotels were very expensive, but we took one for just one night. It was not really nice and the personnel not at all pleasant.
The next morning we wanted to go to the tourist information office, located in the train terminal, to direct us to more appropriate accommodations. We drove around a large block three times before we could locate the entrance to the station. Swarms of motorcycles and scooters were driving wildly all around us, overtaking us from all sides. We felt lucky when we arrived without accident. We were given the address of a smaller hotel, a place that was walking distance from town center. This enabled us to leave the car parked and not to have to risk being swept away by the extremely crazy and hazardous Italian traffic. We spent two wonderful sunny days in Florence, touring all the main attractions. We went to the unique Uffizi Museum and the Dali Museum, with some of the most incredible art exhibits, to the synagogue on Saturday morning and Santa Croce Cathedral as well as Ponto Vecchio on the Arno River.
Fred wanted to see Milan so we drove there next. It was rather disappointing, as the La Scala could merely be viewed from outside whereas it is only impressive from inside. The famous Cathedral was being renovated, its splendor lost among the scaffolding. We went to see the Galleria but after about two hours we left Milan and drove towards Alassio, where I wanted to stay. We passed a lovely little resort town called Acqui Therme, which looked so inviting that we decided to stay there for a night. We were able to find accommodations at a pension which catered to the Italians on vacation. Dinner and breakfast with all the other guests were very enjoyable, and in the morning went swimming in the hot springs. Then off to Alassio, where there were absolutely no rooms available anywhere on the Italian Riviera. It was the first week of August, and all of Italy shuts down the first two weeks of August giving every Italian worker his yearly vacation.
We decided to drive along the coast for a while anyway, and if accommodations could not be found, we would turn inland later in the afternoon. We saw one resort town after another, all very lovely and inviting. Suddenly, with the corner of his eye, Fred saw a sign saying "Zimmer." He pressed on his brakes and I got out to ask if anything might be available. The innkeeper had one room for two nights, just what we were looking for, which we took. The innkeeper wanted to show it to us, but we took it without looking, happy that we could stay near the beach. It happened to be a lovely little room with private bathroom and with two large windows overlooking the Mediterranean. It was called Pensione Monte Carlo in the town of Laigueglia, a beach resort popular with the Italians.
In the evening we went out for a walk and mingled with the Italian holiday makers. The place was extremely pleasant and festive, and made us feel uplifted and joyous. In the morning we bought fresh rolls, cheese and milk at the bakery around the corner and had a delicious breakfast while watching the first bathers attempting to soak in the as yet rather cool water. Later we also went to the beach, and enjoyed swimming and relaxing on the deck chairs.
After leaving this charming holiday resort, we drove to San Remo, Menton, Ventimiglia, Nice and Monte Carlo, the capital of Monaco. The last place was so congested that there was absolutely no parking space available anywhere; unable to stop, we could only drive through. We soon left the enchanting French Riviera and turned inland, starting to climbing into the Alps. The road was good but very winding and after every curve we got a different breathtaking view. We drove through Col de Vars, famous for skiing, then on to France, and to Briancon, a fascinating medieval town with an old fortress on the top of the high Alp Mountains. From there we drove first to the spa resort Charles Aux Baines and then Chambery, where we over-nighted at an attractive sports hotel.
We crossed over into Switzerland and visited Geneva, with its imposing buildings of the United Nations and the Red Cross World Headquarters. From there we investigated Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Laurenz and Vuarrans. We stopped at several hotels to inquire about room availability at an affordable rate. It took us several hours until we finally located a room for the night. In a lovely motel in the middle of the countryside, a charming place with a stunning view of the Thuner Lake, we managed to get the last room.
Next day we went to nearby Interlaken, a beautiful lively town right on the lake. Later we visited Spiez and its castle and enjoyed more of the spectacular scenery. Slowly we made our way towards Germany. It started raining again and we were lucky to find a cozy bed and breakfast place in Lorrach, where we could warm up in our comfortable, heated room. The next night we stayed in Frankenthal and joined the merrymaking at a popular evening concert. Driving north towards Hamburg, we took the road along the Rhine River, passing many picturesque towns and villages, among them the famous Lorelei cliff. The next night we stayed in the beautiful City Hotel in Lippstadt, again joining a festive crowd.
In Hamburg we spent a few days with my cousin Lore, who had a lovely house in an attractive opulent suburb. It being Saturday the next morning, we went to synagogue. They searched us thoroughly and investigated us meticulously before they let us in, although they saw my maiden name on my passport and knew my uncle, Professor Landshut. On Sunday we took a city tour and a boat tour on the beautiful Alster. The following day we visited the harbor and the Elbe River.
Then it was back to Kiel and the ferry boat which took us to Goeteburg. We drove right out to the border with Norway, on to the fifty year old Svinesund Bridge and arrived in Oslo. There We found a nice little bed and breakfast place in the suburb of Nordstand. We stopped to visit a stave church and stayed the next night on camp grounds near Edland. The place was empty except for us and one couple in their motor home. The proprietor was eager for us to stay, so she offered us sheets and towels from her home. With a choice of cabins, we selected one close to the lake and to the bathrooms with hot showers which we had exclusively to ourselves. The place was so serene and pristine, almost making us feel as if we were alone on the planet. Our cabin had three bunk-beds of which we used two bottom ones. I served both supper and breakfast on the terrace outside our cabin overlooking the quiet blue lake. Before retiring for the night we went for a long walk around the lake without meeting another soul.
On our way to Bergen we saw many impressive waterfalls and occasionally we needed to wait for a ferryboat to cross over some fjords. We found a fairly reasonable hotel on a hill in the outskirts of Bergen and then walked and drove around to see the town. The following day we took the twelve hour tour "Norway in a Nutshell" which took us by train, bus and ship to some of Norway's most breathtaking scenery. First was the train ride to Flam via Myrdal, stopping at a spectacular waterfall. From Flam to Gudvangen we were transported by ferryboat, enabling us to admire massive snow-capped peaks that enclose the fjord. In Gudvangen we continued by bus, climbing up through a valley to Stalheim Tourist Hotel with a captivating magnificent view. After a short stop we continued along Oppheim Lake to Voss. From there it was back to Bergen by train.
We now started to make our way back to Sweden. We drove eastward and took a ferry to Geillo, a small ski resort where we stayed at a bed and breakfast place. Then back to Drammen, a busy seaport town, through Oslo and Mysen to a farm far away from anything, close to the Swedish border. We had found the address in the tourist guide for accommodation on farms. Our cabin was one large room with a clean outhouse that also had a hot shower. During the night it was so cold outside that I took Fred's raincoat to go to the outhouse. In the afternoon we went for a walk to a nearby forest and plucked a lot of delicious wild berries; we must have disturbed some bees, as one of them stung me.
Vaesteras on Lake Maelar was our next stop. There we stayed at a comfortable YMCA right on the lake. We drove to Kristinehamm to see Pablo Picasso's statue of his wife, which was enormous but not much of a likeness.
Then on to Skokloster, Sigtuna, Norteje and the university town of Uppsala. Near Rimbo we found another bed and breakfast establishment where we had a large house to ourselves. It had three bedrooms and an indoor sauna as well as an outdoor swimming pool, just for our use. The breakfast served us in the morning was so elaborate and plentiful that it could have fed half a dozen people. Our hosts were always extremely friendly. We were sorry that our communication was so limited as most of them spoke only Swedish.
Our next stop was the charming Trosa, with a placid river running right through its middle. We walked around town and took some pictures of the church and the marina. In the afternoon we drove along a lovely country road and saw a stylish hotel. Fred decided to ask if accommodations were available and at what price, although I thought that it would be way above our budget. It turned out that Fred was right. They had rooms available at a reasonable price. We were happy to be able to enjoy a beautiful room with a delightful view of the lake and walk along the shore of these wonderful surroundings near Kolmarden.
The next day we again found a bed and breakfast place on a farm near Rogsloesa. Once more we had a lovely house all to ourselves and our hosts even brought us afternoon tea. They also told us about a concert that would be held that evening in their church, recommending it highly. So we followed their advice and enjoyed an evening of lovely music.
Our last overnight on a Swedish farm was near Alingsas. There we had a little apartment with a covered small winter garden. We had difficulty communicating with the farmer but he connected us with his daughter by phone. She spoke English very well and told us to come for a walk and visit with her and her family. It was a pleasant walk and interesting to meet the young people and their children.
On our last full day in Sweden we visited another large waterfall near Huskvara, then the town of Jonkoeping. We drove to Goeteburg, back to the Volvo factory to leave our car for them to ship it over to Los Angeles. The Volvo people agreed to keep the car for us for over a month. We were going on another big trip and timed the arrival of the car so that we could pick it up on our return. They made reservations for us at an airport hotel, as our flight was the next day at seven in the morning. It was a beautiful hotel, very luxurious, but extremely expensive. We had a delicious breakfast at five in the morning and were then taken to the airport. That same evening we arrived home. It had been a wonderful, adventurous trip. Yet again, the best one of the year was still to come.
Three weeks after returning from Europe we flew to Melbourne, Australia. For years I had promised my cousin Uschi that I would come to visit them, and now we finally arrived. Uschi came to the airport to meet us and take us to their beautiful, spacious house. We had completely separate guest quarters, including a bedroom, bathroom and den, with view of their lovely garden. Unfortunately I caught a bad cold, as their weather is very changeable. They say that if you do not like the weather, just wait five minutes. Still, I did not let the cold stop me from sightseeing.
On the weekend, Uschi and her husband, Werner, drove us to a delightful cove called Cliff Mornington, where we walked along the beach cliffs. Fred remarked that the cliffs did not look too stable, but Werner reassured us that they had been there for thousands of years. Two days later we read in the newspaper that a group of people were buried beneath the collapsed sand. Most managed to get out but one tourist was killed. Once again we had been lucky.
For lunch we went to a spectacular place called Arthur's Seat, with a stupendous view all around, and later wandered around the attractive grounds. The next day Uschi and Werner took us to the beautiful botanical gardens and to the art center complex, where free concerts and opera excerpts were performed on Sunday afternoons. They also took us to the Healesville Sanctuary to watch Kuala bears up close and see dingoes and wombats and even pet the kangaroos.
As our hosts were not yet retired, we booked a few guided tours during the week. We took the Great Ocean Road Tour that went along a part of the southern coast of Australia, Geelong and Lorne, Port Campbell and the striking gorge, then to London Bridge which had also recently collapsed; further to the Twelve Apostles, huge pillars standing in the foaming ocean. Our next tour was to the Southbank, the blue Dandenongs and to Sherbrook Forest. There we encountered many colorful wild parrots which even ate out of our hands. We visited Melbourne itself, walking along the Yara River Bank, Victoria Market, the Daimaru Japanese department store and the Melbourne Center. A free trolley bus offered us a tour of the city too.
From Melbourne we flew to Sydney, and joined our tour group which was to take us along the east coast of Australia. We spent three days in Sydney, joining some guided tours of the City, including the famous Opera House, a harbor tour, Darling Harbor and Bondi Beach. On our own we travelled by monorail and visited the Chinese Gardens, the Tea House, China Town and the botanical gardens. We were to be picked up at our hotel at eight o'clock on the fourth morning. Quite a few tour buses came to pick up their passengers, so we asked one Australian Pacific guide if he was looking for us, as that was our tour company. He looked at his list and said, "oh, that's tomorrow." We told him that it must be a mistake, as that morning we were to start our tour north. Again he said "tomorrow" and we insisted it was today, until he managed to convey to us in his Australian brogue that we were to wait for another bus with the tour guide named Tamara!
Finally our tour bus arrived and we started on a wonderful fourteen-day tour of Australia. We visited many fabulous places, such as Port Macquarie, Surfers Paradise and Brisbane. But the highlights of this trip were more than usual, among them Fraser Island where we stayed two nights in the Kingfisher Bay Resort, overlooking Great Sandy Strait. There we went on a four wheel drive along Seventy-Five Mile Beach to Eli Creek, where we dipped into the water. We were offered a very reasonable twenty minute flight over the island in a Piper Cub, which just the two of us took and enjoyed tremendously. From the air we saw lakes and sand banks, our resort and lush forests. This island is a real paradise, a World Heritage natural wilderness treasure, with the crystal clear Lake MacKenzie; its temperature was too cold for me to enjoy swimming.
We stayed in Rockhampton, the town known as the beef capital of Australia and located right on the Tropic of Capricorn. On our way we visited a few plantations, banana, pineapple and sugar-cane, then stayed two nights on Hamilton Island, another paradise. Our accommodations were in the famous Whitsunday Towers Resort, large apartment-style units with balconies overlooking the Catseye Beach and the gorgeous gardens and pools. Colorful cockatoos landed on our balcony and shrilly asked for food. The many swimming pools were each more inviting than the other, making it hard for us to leave this heavenly spot.
Beside these two paradisiacal islands on which we stayed for two days and nights each, we visited four more lovely islands: Daydream, Dunk, Hinchinbrook and Green Island. They all had lush, dense forests and white sand beaches. A short cruise on Lake Barrine, a volcanic crater, and a Daintree River cruise were also enjoyable as the flora and fauna along the shores were exceptional.
The spectacular Kuranda Train ride was somewhat spoiled for us as rain poured down incessantly. We stayed in Cairns three nights experiencing some more highlights. We visited the popular and gorgeous seaside resort of Port Douglas with its golden beaches. We spent time in the just opened Tjapukai Cultural Theme Park. There we learned about the ancient Aborigines who also performed some of their traditional dances and played their unusual instruments for us.
The absolute supreme highlight of the whole trip occurred the following day when the "Reef Queen" cruise ship took us to the pontoon on Norman Reef, located on the true Outer Barrier Reef. There we took a ride in the sub-sea coral viewer for a fascinating underwater journey through the multi-colored coral and marine life. We swam and snorkeled in the beautiful reef, among those exotic fish, a most exhilarating experience. The following day we boarded the exciting new Skyrail Rainforest Cablecar which took us just above the forest canopy. It was a long tranquil ride with spectacular views, allowing us to relish this pristine, succulent wilderness.
Our tour of Australia ended there. We now flew to New Zealand for a fourteen day tour of those two islands. Our Australian tour guide, Tamara, assured us that she had confirmed our flight. However, when we arrived at the airport, thirty-six of us passengers were told that our flight to Christchurch was delayed by twelve hours. We were to take off at three in the morning. They also told us that the new flight schedule had been conveyed to all confirmed passengers. Tamara had not done her job properly this time. Now we were stranded at the airport which did not even have a restaurant, just a small kiosk. After massive complaints, the responsible flight personnel finally agreed to take us by bus to a late movie in town and gave each of us a ten dollar voucher to spend at the kiosk. We arrived in Christchurch at six in the morning, dead tired, with just enough time for a quick shower and breakfast before our tour bus was leaving. We never saw Christchurch, or rested in our enormously large room with windows all around, looking on to lovely gardens.
The first day of our tour was also fairly lost on me, as I could not keep my eyes open. The bus took us south to Mount Cook, stopping at the turquoise colored Lake Pukaki and then to a local sheep farm for lunch. On the way to Dunedin we saw the unusual Moeraki Beach Boulders that look like balloons or globes half immersed in the sand. A city tour of Dunedin was followed by a guided walk through Olveston House, a late 19th Century historic home. It had belonged to the wealthy Jewish Theomin family and displayed a fine collection of antiques.
We then travelled to Te Anau, the gateway to Fjordland National Park. For lunch we stopped in Gore, the world capital of brown trout fishing. A huge statue of a trout stands in the middle of town. I was looking forward to having a delicious, fresh trout for lunch. However, I was greatly disappointed. We were told that no commercial fishing of trout was allowed in New Zealand, although one could fish privately and have fresh fish for personal consumption.
From the picturesque Te Anau we continued on to Milford Sound to board a launch for a memorable cruise. Fantastic waterfalls and gigantic scenery as majestic as Norway's unfolded before us. We stopped for a visit at the Underwater Observatory, a unique place in deep down water, comparable perhaps to a submarine.
Queenstown was our next stop, a stunning town, situated between a gorgeous lake and high mountains. We took the gondola ride up to the peak for a spectacular view, and also a four-wheel precarious drive up steep cliffs and down to Skipper's Canyon. There I picked up some beautiful, odd-shaped pebble stones to add to our collection in our garden in Phoenix. We observed quite a few younger people bungy-jump down the original first facility, a long bridge across a deep canyon. I just walked to the middle of the bridge and my legs began shaking, as the bridge was narrow, rather unstable, and the canyon below very far away. We took a cruise to Walter Peak Station and Farm. There, in elegant ambiance, we were served a delicious four course dinner. Later we witnessed the performance of trained sheep dogs herding sheep.
The highlight of our New Zealand trip awaited us at our next stop, Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier. Another reasonable flight was offered to us (about thirty dollars per person). Many of our group took advantage this time.
We shared our small plane with another couple and of course our pilot, who took us so close to the glacier that we were sure to scrape it and plunge down. But the view was so fabulous and unreal that we were completely exalted and delighted by this massive amount of immaculate pure snow, leaving us no time to be scared. Our experienced, mature pilot gave us a wonderful grand tour of the glacier, making us feel as if we were explorers of new territory never before beheld by humans.
Later we boarded the Transalpine Express which took us to Christchurch via the rugged Southern Alps, one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world. On arrival in Christchurch we continued immediately by bus to Picton, a pretty port, to board the ferry for a scenic crossing of the Marlborough Sounds. Our bus then took us on to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. We had a short sightseeing tour of the city then continued to Tongariro National Park. We stayed overnight at the elegant Grand Chateau Hotel, where we enjoyed a fun-filled 1920s theme dinner. Everyone was asked to dress up with the help of paraphernalia provided by the hotel.
The Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua was next on our agenda. We were greeted by the Maori guide in the traditional Maori fashion by the rubbing of our noses. We toured the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, sprouting hot bubbles and steam, the Agrodome where many different species of sheep were displayed to us, and then on to the luscious Rainbow Springs, a delightful trout and wildlife sanctuary. That evening we were treated to a Maori Hangi dinner and concert which was very interesting and exotic.
On the way to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, we stopped to tour the Glowworm Cave. We walked in complete silence and darkness to view the innumerable twinkling glowworms. We then visited Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter. There we moved along a well-lit long spacious tunnel surrounded by sea water and all kinds of fish, some really huge, like sharks and mantas. Then we entered a very cold chamber where numerous different varieties of penguins strutted about in snow and ice. A visit to a lovely rose garden ended our tour.
We were barely home for two months, celebrating my birthday, Chanukah and the arrival of the New Year when, in January 1997, we were off again on a cruise through the Panama Canal. We flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where we boarded our ship, the Crown Dynasty. Cozumel was our first stop and from there we took a tour of Tulum, well preserved Mayan Ruins just off the sea shore. On our next stop, the Cayman Islands, we visited a place called Hell, a vast area covered with dark lava. We sent some postcards from their post office, were driven to a store to taste some rum and rum cake, and had a short tour of Georgetown, the capital.
Our ship now took us to the entrance of the Panama Canal on the western or Caribbean side. We progressed very slowly.,It took almost the whole day long to get through the canal as the locks are barely wider than our ship. The captain had to navigate very carefully to enter the exact spots designated for our ship. The first three locks raised our ship quite high until we reached Miraflores Lake which we had to traverse, then we went through three more locks which lowered us back to the level of the Pacific Ocean near Panama City.
Our next stop was Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Dancers in beautiful costume welcomed us at the port. We took a tour of Poas National Park and Cloud Forest to view Poas Volcano, half filled by a turquoise colored lake. Soon it was hidden in mist or clouds, corroberating the fitting name of the forest. After a pleasant lunch stop we visited Sarchi, famous for its painted oxcarts and other artifacts.
Our last stop was in Acapulco, Mexico, with its fabulous harbor, once the playground of the rich and famous. We took a tour of the city which included watching the celebrated cliff divers, the harbor, downtown where we stopped at the flea market, and a tour of the magnificent Mayan Palace Resort. We spent the evening enjoying the performance of the Mexican Folklore Dancers and stayed at the lovely Fiesta Americana Condessa Hotel.
In May and June 1997 we left on our next trip, cross country from Seattle to Western Canada. We had plotted our route on the map, and were going to visit friends and relatives in two cities. For most of the time we had made no arrangements beforehand for accommodation. Our intention was to arrive at a community we liked and there look for a bed and breakfast establishment with the help of the local visitors' center of the Chamber of Commerce.
In Seattle we visited friends, Julia and David Almoslino. Julia is Eva Feld's daughter, the lady who had sold us the business in Phoenix. Julia once came to visit us in Germany for a few days. She was a lovely young woman who for a long time could not find the right partner for herself. Eva put an ad in the Seattle newspaper and David answered it. He shortly arrived in Phoenix and after meeting Julia the young people made plans to get married. They had a lovely wedding in the Chabad House in Phoenix which we attended. They were orthodox and invited us to stay with them for Shabbat. We had a wonderful, very peaceful Shabbat, going to two different Sefardic synagogues with them, all very close to their house.
We also did some sightseeing in Seattle, such as the harbor, downtown Pike Place Market and drove to magnificent Mount Rainier National Park. It was still covered with snow, in some places fifteen feet high. Half way up, the road was closed. We went to the delightful Alexander's Chalet for dinner. On our way to Canada we took more picturesque side roads and were rewarded by the magnificent scenery and even seeing a black bear close to the road. We stopped in beautiful Manning Park and walked along the clear blue lake.
Our first stop in Canada was in Hope, a small town in British Columbia, not far from the US border and at a junction of three highways. We found a lovely newly built bed-and-breakfast place there called "Evergreen." The owner had designed and built most of the house himself. We liked our very spacious room with a balcony, a panoramic view of the mountains and a sumptuous breakfast so much that we returned to the same place on our way back.
Of all our experiences in bed-and-breakfast places in Canada, our next one was the grandest and most incredible. We stopped in a town called Osoyoos, also close to the US border but much further east. The Visitors' Center directed us to a gorgeous place called "Reflections Guest House." It is located on a lovely private lake within a twenty acre orchard. The house provides luxurious, quiet, private retreats, ideal for large families. We could not believe our eyes when we were shown an attractively furnished two bedroom, two bathroom apartment, super modern, with a spacious living and dining area and a fully equipped kitchen stacked with elegant formal dinner dishes for twelve people. Our private balcony overlooked the lake and had a superb view of the mountains. Our almost invisible host did not serve breakfast but supplied us with coffee, tea, and muffins as well as with complimentary fruit and vegetables freshly picked from his garden. We were really sorry we could not stay longer in this idyllic place, which charged us a ridiculously low off season rate (about $ 30.-)
Our next stop was in Glacier and Waterton National Parks. These were so spectacular, surrounded by snow-tipped mountains, that we could not get enough of the scenery. We feasted our eyes and Fred took innumerable fantastic pictures, all perfectly suitable for picture postcards. We stayed in Waterton Park overnight and enjoyed a close encounter with wild deer, then hiked to lovely waterfalls, Red Canyon Trail and areas completely covered with snow.
In Calgary we visited Jacqueline, Erica's daughter, and her family. We were received warmly and enjoyed our stay with them in their lovely house. Jacqueline took us to a beautiful synagogue on Shabbat and to a delightful indoor garden with numerous flowers, greenery, pools and waterfalls. They also invited us to a rotating restaurant at the top of a high-rise, affording us a spectacular view of the whole city.
From Calgary we went to our timeshare resort, Fairmont Hot Springs, for one week. We had a spacious superbly furnished and convenient apartment with balconies overlooking the magnificent landscape of snow covered mountains, a large golf course and a meandering river. We hiked to Mountainside, a ski area, the Hoodoos, took a water rafting trip and soaked in the large hot spring pool.
Next we went to Banff stopping on the way at Radium Hot Springs for a swim and picnic, and then at the spectacular Emerald Lake. We also hiked into Marble Canyon to see the Paint Pots, multi-colored mud, stained by different metalic alloys. There we also saw some beautiful waterfalls and wildlife, especially mountain goats and elk, near Mount Rundle. In Banff we stayed at a friendly family's bed-and-breakfast place that looked like a Swiss Chalet. We took a gondola ride to the top of the mountain, an exhilarating, delectable experience. It gave us a spectacular 360 degree view of all the surrounding mountain ranges, as well as the lush green valleys and winding rivers and blue or emerald-colored lakes. After descending the mountain we drove to some of these enchanting lakes, such as Johnson, Two Jacks, the Old Caves, Pool and Bow Falls.
We then drove on to the completely frozen Lake Louise and walked halfway around it. We also admired the elegant and ideally located hotel there. Morraine Lake was our next stop, then on to the Columbia Ice Fields across the spellbinding Sunwapta Pass. That whole region was icy cold but extremely beautiful. We boarded the snow mobile bus that drove right on to Athabasca Glacier. We were able to get off the bus and walk on the Glacier, taking a lot of pictures. When we returned to the parking lot there was a white mountain goat quite close to our car, but it quickly moved away when we approached. A short drive brought us to the thunderous and very colorful Athabasca Falls, with rainbows hovering above them.
Jasper was our next stop. There we found a comfortable bed-and-breakfast place, charmingly decorated with many hanging flower pots. We actually had a small apartment, enabling us to make our own breakfast and lunch. We liked it and the surrounding area so much that we decided to extend our stay much beyond our plans. While there we explored Pocahontas and Miete Hot Springs where we spent relaxing hours in the pools. On the road we encountered moose, elk and hordes of mountain goats. We also went white water rafting which was great fun and allowed us to see more wildlife.
Now it was time to wend our way back south and west, towards Vancouver, visiting Maligne Canyon, Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake. We also stopped at the Great Divide on the boundary between British Columbia and Alberta. There we could clearly see the water flow separating into two directions, one eventually going into the Atlantic, the other into the Pacific. Later we stopped at Emerald Lake, which truly deserves that name.
We needed to find a place for the night and came to a town called Sicamous. We had never heard of that town before, but it looked inviting. We followed a sign that read "Rainbow Valley Bed-and-Breakfast" off the main road and arrived at a lovely newly built house, with three gorgeous upstairs rooms, each with a spacious private bath, all available. It turned out that we were the very first guests, and our hosts seemed even more excited than we were. Each room was remarkably large and beautifully furnished, with lovely views from the windows. Our hosts invited us for afternoon tea and scones, even for dinner, though we politely declined the latter. Breakfast was delicious, with tall stacks of pancakes, the hostess' specialty. Not only was our accommodation