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 – CCXLVI. The Ma’abarot Stage (22 of 26)

The makolet (grocery store) run by Nessim and Goren quickly became the unofficial café of the ma’abara!  No, no coffee was served there; people, in addition to buying their groceries, used it as a meeting place.  They came in to chat with the partners; and it was rarely about inconsequential things; they were facing difficult problems, and wanted to unburden themselves.  As well, they were often looking for advice.

Dad was not happy with this situation.  He made it clear that he had no training in psychology!  Nevertheless, he had to go easy with them for after all, they gave him their business.  In time, he would have managed to get his point across; unfortunately, his partner loved the attention, and worked at cross-purpose with Nisso.  Sadly, the customers wanted dad to hear them out and valued his advice; they were barely polite with Goren, but he never clued in.

My father realized from the get-go that he could not count on Goren to pull his own weight; but there was a big difference between accepting that fact in his own mind, and facing the reality of running a demanding business without full support from his partner.

It was not a case of his partner being a malingerer, when he could, Goren was willing to work hard; but often he simply couldn`t.  On any given day, dad was never sure whether Goren would show up at the store.

After all these years, I no longer remember how my father coped.  I know that my mother had little time to go and help in the store; Robert as already mentioned was in the army; I was often laboring at one of the temporary jobs provided by la lishka; finally, Goren‘s wife with young children didn’t even have the time to come to the store to buy  provisions, let alone help.  The sad truth was that often my father was alone in the store; mercifully, most of his customers showed understanding and some even helped him the best they could.

The other problem was the need to extend credit.  More often than not, the customer instead of handing cash would tell dad, “a’l ha’heshbon,” meaning, put it on my account.  The credit worthiness of new immigrants who worked sporadically was obviously not very high.  Therefore, Nessim had a simple rule:  All accounts had to be settled by Friday, or he would not extend any more credit to that individual.  That rule should have kept bad debts losses to a minimum, however, Goren was not in agreement.  To him that meant lost sales, never mind that the customer may be unable to repay his debt.  This issue threatened the partnership; eventually, after being counselled by his relatives, Goren reluctantly fell in line.

In time, we were provided with an apartment in Ramat Yossef; ditto for Goren and his family.  As for the business, the Jewish Agency helped the partners relocate into this new location.

At the onset, the business showed a loss; that was to be expected.  Eventually, it turned a profit, but it never provided a sufficient income to support two families.  My parents counted on my wages to balance the budget.  As for Goren, he was receiving  assistance (food, clothing, etc.) from the Soukhnout.

There came a time when our financial situation markedly improved.  Robert had completed his military service and had a well-paying job with El Al.  I had finally managed to secure a permanent job with a crown corporation.  Under the circumstances, dad saw no reason to carry on with this demanding business.  He left the partnership and went to work for a knick knack factory, Dayagi.  He worked both in shipping and in administration.  He was well liked by the owner.  He would later tell me that this period was one of the happiest in his life.

We were all in Canada when dad received news that Goren had passed away.  He was in his thirties.

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