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 – CCLXXXVI. A Return Visit (1 of 19)

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens …” A time to leave and a time to come back and see people you have known and loved.

The first part is a quotation from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1); the rest I have obviously added myself!  The verse is open and invites you to add your own activity and the appointed time for it.

It took me 28 years to finally be able to go for a return visit to Israel.  It was 1992 when the planets were finally properly aligned and the time was propitious.  Even then, not all conditions were favorable for I was still plagued by depression; that said, I realized that there were never going to be ideal conditions to undertake such a trip.  And so, on October 13, 1992, I was on a plane which was going to reunite me with so many relatives I have left behind; and allow me to properly see the holy land.

I was not by myself on that plane.  Michael was with me.

Arrangements were made with “Intra Madison Travel.”  The airline company we chose was El Al.  Being familiar with the country, I was going to arrange my own tours in Israel.  Michael, on the other hand, joined an organized tour; this permitted him to save time and money; his visit was only for two weeks as opposed to my three weeks stay.  A short visit to Cairo for both of us was also included.  Alas, there was an earthquake in Cairo and Michael missed his chance to see the pyramids.

We were going to leave from the Mirabel airport.  A word about this airport.  Montreal at the time had two airports:  Dorval and Mirabel.  Of the two, Mirabel was the nicest and largest; and yet, today, Mirabel is only used for cargo planes!  The problem was that proper provisions were not made to connect the two airports; thus making it difficult for travelers who were going to Montreal, or had connecting flights in both.  And so, Dorval – now renamed Pierre Elliot Trudeau – is bursting at the seams with no room to grow, for it is located smack at the edge of the Dorval area.  Mirabel, on the other hand, has plenty of room to grow.  Would common sense eventually prevail and would Mirabel be reborn?  I suspect so for the Trudeau airport will soon say, “no more!”

October 13, 14 & 15

The first leg of our voyage was as usual to spend the night at a hotel airport, “Le Chateau de L’aéroport-Mirabel.”  Both the hotel and the airport were largely deserted.  It was obvious to us that sooner or later, Mirabel Airport would be demoted!  And that is what indeed happened.

We checked out of our hotel three hours before the flight, and we thought it would be premature to get our boarding pass; how wrong we were.  There was already a long line at the El Al counter.

Before we could even stand in line, an airline official approached us and asked us probing questions.  Examples:  “Why are you going to Israel?”  “What will your address be in Israel?”  “Could anybody have slipped anything in your suitcase during a moment of inattention?”  As we answered her questions, she noted our responses.

When we were ready to board, we were asked more questions, and some of the original questions were repeated!

This was the sign of great security, and we didn’t mind the questions.  It’s what made El Al such a safe airline to fly on.  Israel has had a few frightful situations back in the ‘70s, and those lessons were never forgotten.

The number of passengers on the aircraft was unbelievable.  According to my estimate there were over 500 passengers, many of whom were Israelis going back home.  How was order kept on the plane?  It wasn’t!  People were milling in the aisles; they were squeezing themselves through the small space between the seats and the food cart; and, at the end of their meal they unceremoniously took their food trays to the “kitchen.”  In point of fact I felt I was already in Israel!

Because of the large number of passengers, the wait at the carousel was interminable.  Michael finally managed to fish out our luggage.  Thereafter, we parted company and he went to join his tour.

When I cleared customs and immigration, I looked at the crowd and tried to locate a familiar face; in vain.  A family delegation was supposed to be waiting for me; alas this was true for most of the other passengers on the plane; therefore the number of people at the entrance was of biblical proportions!

Eventually I spotted aunt Angéle; with her was my cousin Lillian who was barely recognizable since, when I left Israel, she was only 13!  Now she was married and had three children.

Angéle had a nice apartment in Bat Yam; and I was going to be her guest during my three-week stay in Israel.

One of the first things my aunt told me was that she had an elevator in her building, a rarity in Israel.  The elevator in question was old-fashioned, you had to open and close the door (there was only one) yourself!

She also gave me her bedroom despite my protests.  Finally, she advised me that tomorrow aunt Étty, Lillian, her husband Tzion, and perhaps one or more of their children would visit us.

Both Lillian and Tzion took time off from work (Tzion was self-employed, and Lillian helped him run his business) to show me around Bat Yam.

Bat Yam has changed so much, I barely recognized it.  It cannot be called a town anymore; it is a bona fide city.

After the tour, I was taken to their home and introduced to their children:  Sassy, 20; Esty, 17; and Yossi, 12 or 13.  After the introductions, Lillian added in jest: “You see what you’ve missed!”  Indeed, a lot has happened in 28 years, but I had three weeks to catch up.

It had been a long three-days and my journal reflected that.

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