Thursday, August 06, 2020

Fifty Years to Our Aliyah - Part One

On Saturday night, September 5, the 5th of Ellul, after Shabbat was out, my wife and I, together with over 429 other Olim (see newspaper clip below), walked off the gangplank of the Queen Anna Maria which we had boarded in New York:

Just prior to boarding with my wife's sister (right) and my two cousins 
and my step-grandmother (far left)
(Credit: Nisan Teman)

It was a 12-day cruise from New York via Lisbon and Piraeus/Athens into the Haifa Port complex (I think we left New York on August 25) arranged ny the Jewish Agency's Aliyah Department.

We had arrived to Eretz-Yisrael. The bureaucracy began:

Both of us had been in Israel previously. I was on the year-long program of the Machon L'Madrichei Chutz La'Aretz 1966-1967 and Batya was at Machon Greenberg for a few months in 1969 (I failed at planning our wedding and asked she return early).

We were met by several Betarim, themselves studying at the Machon L'Madrichim, who assisted us with all what we had brought (a lot) and we went to Jerusalem. Our first night was at the old Machon location at Hizkiyahu Hamelech Street and then two or three more nights at the old Ron Hotel at Zion Square (now the Jerusalem Hostel). Shabbat meals we took at the two downtown restaurants open on Shabbat for people who pre-paid and presented the coupons, Sova on Hahistadrut, what is now the Superpharm, and Tarablus at the corner of Yafo and Strauss, where Super Adika is now.

From there we moved to our home for the next 10 months, the Betar Student Hostel in the Old City, corner of Rechov HaYehudim and Plugat HaKotel.

The Jewish Agency paid for moving all that we brought:

And towards our move to Bayit Vegan at the end of our first year, we got a "Sochnut bed"

That was our home, a 2-room apartment on the second floor, and where I was employed as director of the dorm. Betarim studying at the Hebrew University were the core along with a few others. Ben-Tzion Givoni and Aryeh Bechar had seen fit to give me the job.

The dorm soon became a hub of activity. We were involved in attempts to settle on the Land (my wife and I took a bus from the Arab bus station opposite Damascus Gate to just past Jalaoun Refugee Camp and walked back to the Army base of Bet El), 

(that's the late Yisrael Lederman to our left)

demonstrated for Soviet Jewry, we opposed the Left, entered the Temple Mount, and on and on. I became a Madrich in Jerusalem Betar:

My wife and I took a hike along Wadi Kelt. Spent first chag of Succot and then later Seder night with the Mageni family in the Military Governorship Compound in Hebron.  

At Chanukah we hosted a reunion of members of Brit Hashmonaim (at right: Batya, me, Rachel Segel and Rav Moshe Segel):

On Taanit Esther, there were contretemps when we were kicked out of the Temple Mount (I am at far left in picture below) and encountered some Arab who were displeased at our entry.

I served once a week as the Betar movement liason with the Machoniks. Attended lectures of Israel Eldad. And many demonstrations. I showed up at meetings of World Betar. Met with Geula Cohen to begin our 49 year relationship. Helped some people on the run. And our laundry the whole time was done by my wife, by hand. 

By the end of that eventful year, we were parents. On 29 Tammuz our first child, a daughter, was born. We moved to an apartment in Bayit V'Gan and I began to work at the Torah Culture Department of the Jerusalem Municipality, thanks to proteczia of Rav Segel, but moved on to the Public Relations Department of Shaare Zedek Hospital for the next four years under Elchanan Peles.  I also began my part-time stint at Geulah Cohen's Midrasha Leumit in Jerusalem supervised by her former husband, Emmanuel Hanegbi. We joined the Herut Movement and were driven back to the Old City by the late Haim Corfu (who had only earned his driving licence three weeks previously) and joined the Kuppat Cholim Leumit (pasting in a booklet the monthy pay receipts).

(To be continued)

UPDATE:   My wife's version.



Unknown said...

Fascinating slice of history - personal intertwined with national! Looking forward to the next chapters...

Jeremy Graus said...

Very interesting, I vaguely remember your Bayit Vegan apt.

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