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 – Israel – CCLV. The Language of the Realm (5 of 7)


Beersheva (seven wells) is the capital of the Negev (the Hebrew word for south and not desert as is generally believed).  This is the city of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Hagar, and Elijah.

At the time I was there (1958), Beersheva was nothing more than a cluster of low-rise buildings.  Downtown was actually the old town; it was somewhat lively during the day, but completely dead at night.  Being in Beersheva was equivalent to being in the heart of the desert.  The road leading downtown was actually built in the desert, with endless dunes of sand on both sides.  During the day I could see in the distance the Bedouins and their camels.

[Today, more than 50 years later, Beersheva is a totally different city.  Its population has gone from about 35,000 to 195,000.  High-rise buildings have replaced the old buildings; and shopping malls have supplanted the small markets.  On the economic front Beersheva has a thriving high-tech industry and chemical plants.  Finally, the city includes the Ben-Gurion University and the Soroka Medical Centre.]

The accommodations were not that different than what I had in the kibbutz:  A bungalow that could accommodate four students.  One difference was that it afforded less privacy to the occupants; the bedrooms were too small for two people; and there was no partition in the middle of the room; the beds were almost stuck together.  The living-room, on the other hand, was large. When I complained, management volunteered to transfer my bed to the living room.  Ultimately, this never proved necessary.  There were three of us; and my two roommates agreed to share a room, thus giving me a bedroom to myself.

Of course, the menahel (manager) that came to resolve the issue heard the inevitable cracks that if the bungalows could include both genders, these issues would never arise!  To that she replied with a large smile that the ulpan was coed in the classroom only; definitely, not in the bedrooms!

We took our meals in a common dining room.  The food was decent, but certainly not as varied as the kibbutz.

My two flatmates were interesting, to say the least.  One was a middle age Polish gentleman by the name of Zygmunt; the other was a young Australian by the name of Dan.

Zygmunt was struggling mightily with his Hebrew studies.  He persisted in speaking to me in Polish, and when he was met by a look of incomprehension, he would switch to German!  He also insisted in “discussing” classical music.  He would hum snippets of musical compositions, or “play” on an imaginary keyboard.  The name of Chopin was often mentioned.  For the Polish, Chopin comes right after God!

Through another Polish student who spoke some Hebrew, I communicated to Zygmunt that I spoke neither Polish nor German; and that I had no interest whatsoever in classical music.  But it proved to no avail.

(At the time I was a Philistine; that mercifully changed as I matured.  Today I appreciate such things as opera, classical music, and ballet.  Had this been the case back then, I would have been able to “converse” with Zygmunt; for we would have both shared the universal language of music!)

Dan was altogether another story.  His Aussie accent converted English into a foreign tongue!  He also consorted with another Australian gal who often came for more than just conversation!  In such cases, politely, Dan asked his roommates to take a hike; fine, but it depends on the time of day.  Dan explained that the lady preferred her sex after dark.  And here a battle line was drawn.  The good news was that the matter was eventually resolved amicably and to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Being in the desert, we were warned about the possibility of finding the occasional snake or scorpion in the bungalow.  Indeed, one girl, Josette, was stung by a scorpion; luckily, it was a black scorpion (the dangerous ones are yellow); she was treated by the khoveshet (nurse) who assured her that she will live!  Josette had a bad scare but otherwise (I assume) went on to live for many more years.

One day, upon entering the house, I spotted a huge black creature in the living room; it was a black scorpion!  Neither Dan nor Zygmunt were around; it was therefore up to me to slay the dragon!  I took a heavy object and brought it down on that poor scorpion; the blow could have killed an ox!  When I dared to look, I realized that what was left could not be identified as a scorpion; even then I left the body where it was.  Eventually, Zygmunt gathered the remains in a newspaper and threw the whole thing in the garbage.  When Dan was apprised of this turn of events, he flashed me the V sign!

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