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 – CCXXVII. The Ma’abarot Stage (3 of 26)

Our new home shocked us!  It was so tiny it was difficult to believe that a family of four was expected to live there.  There was a tiny living room with in one corner a rudimentary kitchen, an even smaller bedroom, and a bathroom without a shower!  The furniture was basic: just beds with mattresses, a table and chairs, and the essential kitchen utensils.  The first thing we did was to turn the taps on, yes, there was running water.  Since there was no electricity, we were furnished with a kerosene lamp, and a container with kerosene.

The ma’abara officials welcomed us with coffee and cake, and provided us with a great deal of valuable information.  They stressed that we were going to love living in Kfar Saba for it had beautiful natural surroundings, also work was plentiful both in the citrus groves and in construction.

I thought that dad was going to explode, but he managed to keep his cool; mom didn’t have to say anything, her worried expression spoke volumes.

The last straw came when we were issued ration cards.  It seems that even though there were no shortage of food in the Israel of the ‘50s, some foodstuff such as sugar, oil, meat (beef only, chicken was plentiful), flour, and bananas were still rationed.

Maurice who had accompanied us found himself at the receiving end!  He took it quite well, joked, and assured us that this was temporary; the time will come when we would laugh when we remembered our difficult beginnings in Israel.  We would indeed, but at the time we could find nothing humorous about our situation

My uncle stressed that we could come to his house in Tel-Aviv as often as we wanted to.  Let me assure you that we took full advantage of his invitation; I lost count of the number of time we went to his home in Kiriat-Shalom.

Today, when I look back upon those events, I find myself wondering how it is that we did not appreciate everything that was done for us.  Just because we were Jews in a Jewish state didn`t mean that it was due to us.  Therefore let me go back in time, and marvel at the capacity of the State of Israel in doing what they did.

Israel was, and still is, a tiny country surrounded by millions of enemies.  Draft is compulsory for both men and women; at the end of your service you become part of the reserve.  Once a year, and for as much as a month, you`re called for melouim (to keep the training up-to-date).  If there is a war, you`re called to serve.  You stay a reservist until your mid-forties.

When we arrived, Israel was attempting to absorb literally hundreds of thousands of newcomers.  The State has been created for Jews, and no Jew was refused entry.

Back to us.  Here we were given a house and basic furniture all free of charge and we still complained.  As I will outline later, many other services were provided.  Belatedly, I today appreciate that the capacity of Israel to absorb so many immigrants could only be described as a miracle.

[Was there ever a risk living in an asbestos house?  No.  If asbestos is not disturbed it will not release any fibres and therefore will present no risk.  My brother, my parents, and I (and countless other immigrants) did not suffer any ill-effect after living in an asbestos house.]

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