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 – CCLXXXV. Leaving for Canada (3 of 3)

Robert was the point man in our endeavour to immigrate to Canada!

To him I delegated the task to determine if it was possible to secure an immigration visa to Canada.  He was also responsible to look at the practical aspects of this venture, not the least of which was to figure out whether we should drag our parents into this second immigration.

I talked of delegating; but whether Robert really wanted that responsibility (related to convincing our parents) is something I never asked him; since he never objected, I assumed back then that he didn`t mind.

Mom and dad were in their fifties, therefore still relatively young.  The case we made was that as a family we went through thick and thin together, and that we should never separate.

And it worked for the best.  Nessim secured a job shortly after arriving in Canada.  Unfortunately, he died young.  Flora lived to 81 and benefited from the numerous advantages Canada provides to its seniors.  She did well, and for many years spent the winter in Florida.  There was also another advantage.

Mom never mastered Hebrew.  Now, however, she lived in Quebec where she could use her mother tongue:  French.  And she did so freely; she was never shy to claim what she perceived as her rights; and she now had the language to do so.

Back to the visa.

Early in 1963, we applied to immigrate to Canada.  But our application was quickly turned down.  We were surprised since we were bilingual, and Robert with his experience in the electrical system of aircraft was in a field which was very much in demand.

It proved to be a temporary setback.

In the spring of 1963, the Liberal party under Mike Pearson won the election and took office on April 22, 1963.  He went on to govern Canada (while holding minorities in The House of Commons) until 1968.  I have already talked of this amazing man, and there is nothing more to add except for the fact that I am here today thanks to him.

Sometimes in the summer of 1963, we applied again, and this time we obtained the coveted visa.

I experienced a sort of a letdown now that my dream was about to become a reality.  I was leaving behind many relatives and friends and my heart was heavy.  I was leaving behind a country which I had come to love.  I had seen the tremendous accomplishments of the Israelis and had come to admire very much the indomitable spirit of this people, my people.

The goodbyes were interminable.  I`ll give you an example.  I visited my cousin Gilbert in Haifa four times!  All of the visits were to say:  le hitraot (we`ll see each other again).  The last goodbye was shortly before I left.

I saw Moshé almost every day; his goodbyes were filled with admonishments:  Canadians are very polite, leave your Egyptian manners behind!  Canada is very cold, you`ll need to dress properly.  Remember it rains even during the summer, plan your vacations accordingly.  Do not forget to write.  Last but not least, don`t forget to find and marry a nice Jewish girl!

Aunt Angéle had trouble hiding her sadness; she promised to come and see us in Canada.  And, many years later, together with Manny, she did just that.

Uncle Joseph and aunt Étty did not hide their disappointment; Joseph who always told it like it is reiterated again and again that I was making a big mistake.  Their children, Lillian and Isaac were young teens; I no longer remember their reaction.

I had a special connection with Uncle Maurice; we were more than close relatives; we had that special affinity that transcends blood relation.  And this accentuated the pain we felt when we parted.

Saying goodbye to aunt Souma and my four cousins reminded me how much heartbreak I was causing and how much these new-found relatives loved me.

My cousin Joseph and his wife Rosette who lived in Holon told me again and again how much they`ll miss me; they insisted that I should come back if things didn`t work out.

Finally there were the relatives in Haifa:  Aunt Linda, Uncle Vita, Gilbert, Michael, and Nina.  They showered me with plenty of mazal tov (good luck), and made me promise to come back for a visit as soon as possible.

As I did when I left Italy, I went on solitary walks to revisit places that were filled with memories:  The beach at Bat Yam; the ma’abara; Yaffo; downtown Tel-Aviv; and numerous other places.

I was to leave on July 6, 1964.  Robert was getting married and would join me with his wife Margot in September.

And then it was the night before my departure.  Before going to sleep, my years in Israel quickly went through my mind.  There were challenges, disappointments, frustrations, and tears; but there was also the sense of having overcome many difficulties, and the rewards that come with that.

Yes, my years in Israel were not easy years.  But they helped in developing my character.  When I arrived in Israel I was but an immature youth.  I was now a man.

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