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 – CCXLIX. The Ma’abarot Stage (25 of 26)

I lasted for one day in that glass factory.  Of course I wasn`t hired to blow any molten glass and use my artistry to produce exquisite glass articles.  If I had it in me, it could have happened; but I didn`t; that was clear after the first hour on the job.

My work simply consisted in helping around; for example:  bringing from an extremely hot oven a molten blob of glass using a very long pole; holding the end of a pole, while the artisan shaped the glass at the other end; and piling newspaper and thoroughly wetting them to allow hot glass to be placed on them.

The work done around me was fascinating.  By the end of the day, quite a few articles have been produced, mostly from glass that have been allowed to cool overnight.  That said, it was clear that this was dangerous work; it was also very hot even though it was winter.

The foreman was surprised when I told him that that was my first and last day.  He liked my work and the interest I had shown.  Nevertheless, he understood my concerns regarding safety.

When I left, a chorus of bé hatslakha (good success in future endeavors) accompanied me.  Obviously, the curiosity I had shown through the day had touched many workers.

* * *

Of all my temporary positions, the work I did at Dayagi holds a special place in my heart.  My enthusiasm must have been contagious; for eventually dad secured a permanent job there (after leaving the grocery business).

Dayagi manufactured knick knacks:  Menorahs, ashtray, little animals, figurines, and the like.  The creative mind behind the enterprise was the owner himself; and he had a very fertile imagination.  He was always able to dream up new and appealing products.  He was also a good businessman; his merchandise was reasonably priced; and he exported it using his business contacts in Europe and North America.

Time here was of the essence.  For example, it wouldn`t do to have an order of menorahs arrive after Hanukah!  While I loved the work and the cute knick knacks, I wasn`t loved in return!  I often heard maher, maher (fast, fast) especially when I was working in the shipping department.

Nevertheless, I did work there for a while.  My work was precise; a shipment to Lyons, France, handed by me, never ended in Chicago, Illinois!  As well, being better educated than the other laborers, if required, I worked in administration.

* * *

I previously mentioned dahak work.  It`s a make-work project to employ individuals who are otherwise unemployable.  It`s in lieu of welfare, and, as we shall see, it winds up being more expensive than handing a welfare cheque.

At the center of Bat Yam, and at 90° angle to the seashore, there was a shdera (garden with many trees and benches) that ran in a straight line through the city.  At the tip of the shdera was a grassy slope that badly needed attention.  Accordingly, it was selected as a dahak project.

Three of us and a foreman were send by la lishka to take care of that part of the garden.The necessary supplies and tools were brought to the site.

The foreman was not a gardener; the first thing he did was to inquire if any one of us knew anything about gardening.  When he received three negative replies, he told us that we would then have to learn on the job.

The foreman was hardly ever present; the city was not going to dedicate an able-bodied person on such a project.  Really, there was only the three of us:  Zachariah Ma’abari , early sixties; Radko, in his fifties; myself, early twenties.  Zachariah was Yemenite; Radko was Bulgarian; and I was Egyptian.  Nationalities, however, were of little relevance here; the important question was, how was the work progressing?  Very slowly.  We took plenty of breaks and withdrew to a shady place when the sun was too strong!

Zachariah and Radko teased each other all day.  Since their sense of humor was totally lacking, they did so by insulting each other!  Radko insulted Ma’abari in Arabic; and Ma’abari insulted Radko in Bulgarian!  Even there, imagination was totally lacking, they simply repeated the same insult!

Since the foreman was rarely present to direct us, written instructions explaining the required work were left for us.  The problem was that they were in Hebrew, and Radko and Zachariah did not read Hebrew (I suspect they were illiterate in their native tongues as well).  My Hebrew being still limited at the time; I translated the instructions in French with the help of a city employee.

By now, you probably guessed that I became the default foreman.  So how did “my” project go?  I’ll give you the good news only.  It was finished and the city was satisfied.  Finished on time and within budgetary constraints?  Hell, no!

The moral of that story:  Be glad if your government provide welfare for families that need it; and don’t ever ask to put the welfare recipients to work.  It’s an expensive proposition that you as a taxpayer cannot afford.

* * *

Through the Mapai office, I managed to obtain two long-term temporary assignments.

The first one was at the Kuppat Holim Clalit where I was employed as a pakid (clerk).  I handed numbers to patients and pulled out their files.  After acquiring some experience, I was allowed to allocate them to doctors; forward requisitions for tests, and maintain a semblance of sanity in the front office.  The work of a pakid was involved, and the more I learned the more responsibility I was given.  I was also shuttled between different offices.

Alas, since I was replacing staff during their vacation period, my career at Clalit ended at the end of the summer.

The good news was that my next position proved to be a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I found myself involved in a project that used an amazing new technology; a technology that in turn would be swept away when computers dominated our world.

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