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 – L. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – My Paternal Family (3 of 9)

Robert and I were the only grandchildren Zaki would know. Joseph would marry, and have children, after his passing. Maurice would have 4 children, all born in Palestine. Angele would marry later, but never had children.

Robert was only 5 when nonno passed away. Therefore, in reality, I was the only grandson he could interact with. I was told many times by the other members of the family that I was the sun and the moon for him. For me, today, the opportunity to have known him represents an invaluable gift.

Isaac’s father traveled from his native town of Livorno, Italy, to Alexandria, Egypt.

Note that I said “traveled” and not “emigrated.” In those days, you were free to go almost anywhere in the world. Visas, and indeed passports, were not required. They became necessary only after World War I.

When you arrived in a new country, you were medically examined to determine if you were healthy and had no infectious diseases. In addition – at least in Egypt – you were asked if you knew anybody in your new country, had any money with you, or that at least you could support yourself.

What was the name of this ancestor? His wife? Did Isaac had any siblings? I have no idea, nor indeed did Nessim. But I do have some fascinating details on the Ezri clan.

The name Ezri appears only once in the Bible (I Chronicles, 27:26). This Ezri was an official in King David’s administration. Was he our original ancestor? There is a remote possibility, for, as far as Nessim knew, there was only one Ezri family. Dad had many cousins, mostly in Italy, but some were in other parts of the world. (Recently, the name came into fashion when it was adopted by a member of the crew of Star Trek!). Whatever the case, the Ezris settled in Livorno, Italy when this city was but a small village. There, they played a prominent role. There is supposed to be in Livorno a street with our name. I did visit Livorno a long time ago and made some limited inquiries; apparently there is no such street!

My great-grandfather must have been a staunch believer in the virtue of education; he send little Isaac to a French school where he received as good an education as was possible in late 19th century Egypt.

With his education, Isaac was able to secure a good position with a major department store, Cicurel. He continued to educate himself and progressed rapidly through the organization. Many years later disaster struck. Isaac was denied a promotion he thought he deserved. He discussed the matter with the Cicurel brothers, to no avail. Out of sheer pride, and to “punish” them, he quit!

In those days, this was career suicide. Securing another job was near impossible. And indeed he remained unemployed for the rest of his days.

This event was like dropping a potent poison in the Ezri’s well. Nothing would ever be the same again. Dad and Joseph had to now support the family. It would take many years after nonno’s passing before the hurt subsided.

My grandparents had 4 children in this order: Joseph, Nessim, Maurice, and Angele. Two of them were particularly affected.

Angele was left without a dowry; this, in those days, was disastrous for a young woman. She remained bitter with her dad for the rest of her days.

Maurice was a young adolescent when he embarked with friends on a sailboat to Palestine! He would never again come back to Egypt. He simply turned his back on the drama unfolding in Rue Tour Sina. His poor mother never saw him again. She had 4 grandchildren in Palestine that she would never get to know and love.

I only saw uncle Maurice many years later in Israel. I fell in love with him, and countless times I expressed regrets that I had not had the opportunity to know him before. I will talk of him when I get to the part related to my years in Israel.

For me there was an invaluable lesson here.

Flora liked her father-in-law. She had no reason to be bitter against him. Thus, he often came to visit during the day. She valued his views very much. He read the newspaper and offered insightful comments.

She used his tragic miscalculation as a cautionary tale. Again, and again, through the years, this is approximately what she said about pa (this is how she called him, and it is short for papa): “Pa was proud. All the Ezris are proud. Pride is an ugly sin that invariably brings grief. Don’t ever be proud, and never forget the lesson learned from your grandfather.”

And I never did! When the demon of pride whispers in my ear, I ignore him!

I continued to love my grandfather even after I had learned, and understood, what had happened. There were other issues as well. None of which has affected the special memories I have of him.

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