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 – CCXXV. The Ma’abarot Stage (1 of 26)

[A ma’abara (plural ma’abarot; a specific ma’abara is referred to as ma’abarat followed by the name of this place; the place in question could be a village, a town, a city, or even a newly created settlement) is a transit camp for new immigrants.  More on that later.]

Ma’abarat Kfar Saba

Picture yourself coming back to your country after a forty-year absence; try to imagine how emotional that homecoming would be.  Take that analogy many, many steps further, then, and only then, can you begin to understand the emotions that reigned on the Jerusalem on the night before our arrival.  The people on that ship were coming back after a 2,000-year absence!  Every single immigrant was aware that he was carrying on his shoulders his ancestors that had been waiting for that day for two millennia.

Genoa, then, was a transit port for immigrants waiting to immigrate to Israel.  They had come to Genoa from the four corners of the world.

There were Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, and Russians. Russia at that point in time had allowed a certain number of Jews to leave.  The doors of Poland and Romania were wide open, and Jews were free to leave.  Hungary had no restrictions since there had been a revolution; if you had a place to go, you went (before Russia sent its tanks!).  The Jews did have the State of Israel, and Hungarians Jews left Hungary en masse.

From the other side of the world there were Moroccans, Tunisians, and a large number of Egyptians.

Many more countries were represented.  I quickly gave up trying to keep track of the numerous languages spoken on that ship.  How was the Jewish Agency going to communicate with them?

You may remember that I was a reluctant immigrant to Israel.  Yet, on that night, I actually found myself blinking away some tears.

I was getting caught up in the maelstrom of emotions.


* *  *

The scene when the ship finally docked in the port of Haifa was perhaps unique in the world.

Normally, when you arrive in a new country as an immigrant, you disembark, go through customs, immigration, and finally enter your new country.  If you have no family and no sponsor, help is extended to you as required.

Not so here.  A number of representatives from the Jewish Agency (JA) took over the upper deck.  They brought with them tables, chairs, and briefcases stuffed with documents.  They were not alone; with them were extra people who acted as translators.  Finally, customs officers were also present.

Many languages were spoken by these officials.  Nevertheless, there were rare occasions when communications proved impossible.  In this case, through sign language, they were asked if they had relatives waiting for them on the pier; if they did, the officers reluctantly (for reasons explained later) summoned them up.  If even that option was not available, one of the bureaucrats shouted to the crowd on the dock:  “Does anybody here speak …” In most instances that last desperate measure solved the problem.

Communications between these representatives created a (seemingly) chaotic atmosphere; sometimes there was a need to communicate with higher powers, in this case, an officer left the ship, went to the immigration building that was part of Haifa’s port, and talked with his superiors.  At times a call had to be made to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.  But that was only the tip of the iceberg.  When the actual processing started there was pandemonium.

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