Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – VII. My Early Childhood – Rue Tour Sina (2 of 3)

In the spring of 1940, my mother became pregnant.  Normally, this would have been a joyous event.  But, we were in the middle of a war; not an ideal time to welcome a second child.  Remember the pill did not exist, you could not choose when to have your children.  Notwithstanding the war, my grandmothers were overjoyed, and they managed to communicate their positive attitude to my mom and dad.

As 1940 progressed, an atmosphere of anticipation reigned over the house.  We eagerly awaited the arrival of the new baby.  According to the “scientific” observations of the grandmothers, it would be a boy.  Again!  Poor Flora!  Her dream was to have only girls.  And here it seems, she was fated to have another boy.

My parents prepared me for the forthcoming arrival of the stork.  Apparently, I was not happy at all.  All that talk that I could take care of him, play with him, and teach him what I knew, did not assuage me.  It got to the point that my parents told me that if I didn’t really like my brother, the doctor would take him back!  I am told that I found this to be a satisfactory “solution!”

On January 8, 1941, my brother, Robert, was born.  Again, my mother had a difficult delivery, and Dr. Manasseh had to draw upon his vast experience to avoid complications.  In this case, however, neither the mother’s nor the child’s lives were at stake.

My two cousins, Michael and Gaston, and myself, were taken next door to my grandparents to await the arrival of the baby.

When we finally returned, I took one look at Robert and declared that I didn’t care for him.  He looked so tiny sleeping in his pram.  There was no indication that he had any potential to one day be my playmate!  I asked about the “option” of having the doctor take him back.  First he would have to be fed and made stronger, only then would Dr. Manasseh consent to take him back!

Mercifully, Dr. Manasseh never came to take Robert!  Having 5 children of his own, there was never any chance of that happening!  My delightful brother was here to stay.  And he brought me many years of joy.  Mind you, when I was young, I would have died before admitting that, even to my own self!

Some Jews managed to escape from Europe.  One of them, a Romanian Rabbi, made his way to Egypt and disembarked in Alexandria sometimes in 1941.  The Jewish community in Alexandria helped him settled down in his new country.  They also assisted him in carrying out the formalities necessary to stay in Egypt (temporarily, until the war was over, or permanently if he so desired).  Needless to say, bribes had to be paid out.  But, ultimately, he was welcomed by the Egyptian authorities.

The Jewish community next asked him if they could do anything else for him.  Yes, they could help him carry out a very important (to him) undertaking.

He wanted to meet with as many Jewish families as was possible.  The European Jewry was in grave danger; the more Egyptian Jews knew about that, the better.  Of course, they could not do much for Europe’s Jews.  His mission was to prepare Egyptian Jews for what was to come in case the German army – God forbid – occupied Egypt.

The leaders of the community readily consented, and helped him in his quest.  The matter was facilitated by the fact that this man was fluent in French, and most Egyptian Jews spoke French.

And so it was that this Rabbi went from house to house to deliver his message.  Wherever he went, he had a large and attentive audience.

Some of his stories:  The Jews were asked to dig their own graves, and were shot by the thousands.  Babies were thrown in the fire.  His litany of horrors were difficult to believe, but those who heard him asked God to watch over them.  There was no way for anybody on the planet to imagine what was to come next.  But what followed was murder on an industrial scale.

What followed were the concentration camps, the gas chambers, and the decimation of Europe’s Jews carried out with bureaucratic precision.

Uncle Maurice attended one of his meetings.  He invited him to come to Cairo and do the same.  And this Rabbi gladly consented.

When he came to our house, close to 20 people came to listen to him.  We had to borrow chairs from the neighbors.  My cousins and myself were put to bed.  Keeping us there was another matter.  Therefore, we huddled in a corner.  Gaston promptly fell asleep (he was only 3), Michael and myself heard the whole thing and had nightmares for the next few days.

While he spoke, he occasionally was asked the odd question; mostly though what you heard were sighs, cries of disbelief, and crying, a lot of crying.

A neighbor asked him to come to his house, and he did.  And, on this evening, the attendees exceeded the capacity of the house.  People stood at the door!

I remember this man and these events as if they happened yesterday.  If I was good in drawing, I could draw his face from memory, but I am not.

Some people expressed disbelief.  Was it possible that such crimes could be committed?  And by the Germans at that.  Though we were at war with them, we considered Germany as a civilized and industrious nation.  Those were the same people who grew up with the music of Beethoven and the operas of Wagner; and that nourished their minds with the philosophy of Nietzsche.  Could such malevolence exists there?  Yes, it could; and worse, much worse, was yet to come.  Our planet was going to get acquainted with pure unadulterated evil.  (No blame is attached to any present day Germans.  Their ancestors are responsible for their vile actions.  They are the ones who will be judged by history for centuries to come).

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