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 – VIII. My Early Childhood – Rue Tour Sina (3 of 3)

In October 1942 a showdown between two military giants occurred.  On the German side was Marshal Erwin Rommel, the man nicknamed the Desert Fox; on the British side was Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.  They faced-off in El Alamein, in one of the most crucial battles of World War II.  A description of this battle follows.

El Alamein is a town 70 miles West of Alexandria.  On May 26, 1942, Marshal Rommel launched an attack against the British from Libya.  The British forces retreated into Egypt, and by June 30 had set up a defense line extending 35 miles from the South of El Alamein to the Quattara Depression, a badland which could neither be crossed nor flanked.

The British 8th Army was well prepared.  They had the men and supplies needed.  In August, General Montgomery became responsible for leading this Army, hopefully, into victory.

The British offensive begun on October 23 with tremendous air and artillery bombardments.  On November 1 and 2, after clearing the German mine fields, the British burst through the enemy lines near the sea and forced a swift German retreat out of Egypt, across Libya, and into the East of Tunisia.

Egypt was saved; and with the landing on November 7 and 8 of American troops in Algeria, the Axis suffered total defeat in North Africa.

For his victory, Montgomery was made a Viscount with the title:  Montgomery of El Alamein.

I remember that fateful night.  The whole family was gathered around the radio.  A name was whispered through the house:  El Alamein.  At a certain point, the radio was turned off; and all adults in the household started praying; we (the children) were not put to bed.  There was fear in the air.

When my cousins and myself went to bed, the adults returned to the radio and I imagine listened until they heard of the British victory.

I was 6 when those events took place.  Only when I was 12, was I able to comprehend that, by the grace of God, our lives had been spared.  By then, the world had long known the abomination perpetrated by the Nazis.  One-third of the world’s Jews had been wiped out!  The Jews across the world declared in one voice, “Never Again.”  That very same year (1948), the state of Israel was founded.  Its guiding principle was, and still is, to offer a refuge for Jews so that Never Again the tragedy of the holocaust could be repeated.

*  *  *

Early in 1943, after uncle Maurice and his family had returned to Alexandria, my mother started looking for another apartment.  The cavernous house on Rue Tour Sina had been from the onset a stopgap measure.  A large apartment that allowed us to receive the Alexandria family.  With the war over – at least as far as Egypt was concerned – it was no longer needed.  We would, however, return to the building numerous times since my grandparents still lived there.

My mother wanted a modern and smaller apartment.  She found what she was looking for in a newly built building.  Thus began our lives in 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra.  We lived there until 1956, a total of 13 years.

(Additional details for those of you from Cairo, or who are familiar with the city:  Khantaret Ghamra was a street in a division known as Ghamra, and in turn, Ghamra was part of a district called El Sakakini).

In the subsequent parts, I will share with you my years at Khantaret Ghamra.  Other episodes related to my life or daily life in Egypt will be outlined separately.  They are as follows:
Alexandria.  Education.  Welfare Egyptian Style.  The Mahmal (The Departure for the Hag).  Bad Eye 101.  The Zar (Exorcising the  Devil). Proverbs.  Stories My Grandmother Told Me.  The 1952 Revolution.  The Second Exodus.  A Return Visit to Egypt in 1996.

However, before I talk of those years, a review of the historical and societal contexts are in order.


The Battle of El Alamein
The Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia
Columbia University Press
New York

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