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 – CCXXVIII. The Ma’abarot Stage (4 of 26)

We stayed in Kfar Saba for close to a year, let me therefore tell you about our life in this lovely corner of the Sharon Valley

Ma’abarat Kfar Saba did not have many houses, probably no more than 20 to 25.   However, more were being built.  Indeed, there was a lot of construction going on in Kfar Saba, a harbinger of the desirable city it is today.

Most of the olim (immigrants, singular o`lé) were Polish; we communicated with them mainly by using basic sign language.  We were not friendly towards each other. Thus the need to interact arose only if there was a problem

The inhabitants of Kfar Saba and Even Yehuda were predominantly farmers.  For us city folks this was quite a change.

The only merchant were the grocer and the greengrocer.  If you needed clothing or hardware, you had to travel to Netanya or Tel-Aviv.

You could buy directly from the farmer.  For instance, a French man by the name of Robert supplied us with chickens and eggs.

Needless to say, oranges, grapefruits, and lemons were plentiful and very cheap.

Despite the numerous worries that plagued us at the time, I have to admit that, at least for me, this was an enjoyable experience.

We were surrounded by green fields and citrus orchards.  The air was laden with the rich smell of the earth, and at nights I could hear the crickets chirping.  In season, the fragrant smell of orange blossoms filled the air.

We had in the front of the house a small lot which we planted with ornamental plants as well as vegetables.  I enjoyed gardening until the day when I was almost stung by a scorpion.  From far it looked like an innocuous yellow insect.  Luckily for me, I did not try to push it away with my hand, but rather by using the handle of the spade.  The movement of the tail left no doubt in my mind that this was no mere insect, but rather a bona fide scorpion.  Without any hesitation, using the spade, I killed it.

Other creatures I encountered were:  lizards, chameleons, and turtles.

One of the things I enjoyed was to walk to Even Yehuda.  The main village consisted of a village square, a small park, and city hall.

Many of the difficulties that are the lot of the new immigrant in Israel came into sharp focus during our stay in Kfar Saba.

The first Hebrew word an immigrant learned was sablanout (patience).  Plenty of sablanout was needed for it literally took years to secure decent housing and a permanent job.

The plight of the new immigrant was not an enviable one.  Only temporary work was available at the beginning, and it was physical labor.

Few Jews were accustomed to such work.  Back in the diaspora they had engaged in such occupations as administrators, lawyers, doctors, accountants, and merchants; now they were asked to work in farming, construction, building roads, collecting garbage, and other back-breaking work.

They weren`t shy and they made it clear that that kind of work was far removed from what they were used to.  They were then reminded that since Israel was a Jewish state, Jews had to till the soil and build their houses, for if they didn`t who would do it for them?

To put even more emphasis, they told us that early on, even doctors had to dig ditches; during the war of independence, they were trained, given weapons, and told to fight to save the newborn state; if not the Arab armies will make sure that the newborn would be stillborn!

Housing was another problem.  As already mentioned, newcomers were lucky if they could get an asbestos house with running water and electricity; at the other extreme they could wind up in a tent, although the souknout assured us that the days when immigrants were “lodged” in a tent were long gone; and as far as I can tell, they were truthful for I never heard of tents cities when I was there.

An apartment will come much later on.  Buildings were not very high back then in Israel, at the most the building will include 12 units; a unit is called a chicoun (plural chicounim).  Your chicoun could also be part of a quadruplex, this was the case for uncle Maurice.  A detached home like we have here in North America was a luxury and was referred to as a villa.  Today some wealthy people in Israel do have a villa; I understand that some well-heeled people have had a house built according to their own specifications.  Israel has come a long way since the `50s.  For instance, Ben-Gurion lived in a hut on a kibbutz; Menahem Begin lived in an apartment; today, prime ministers and ministers enjoy better accommodations.

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