Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Anniversary To Us!

Thirty-eight years ago, my husband and I, barely two and a half months after our wedding, docked at Haifa Port and became Israelis.

It was September 5, 1970, the fifth of Ellul, darkness had fallen and it was no longer Shabbat. The very large ship had been cruising around the Mediterranean for quite a few hours, since we couldn't dock on Shabbat. Just under two weeks before, we had boarded with too many bags and packages for our tiny windowless cabin. We were very young and had packed very inefficiently. Most of the things that crowded the cabin should have been in stored away. Yes, we were very young.

Being on an ocean liner was great fun. There was a movie every night and entertainment. The food was amazing. Yes, there was a kosher kitchen. There was also a kosher dining room, but so many passengers had ordered kosher food that they had a kosher section in the regular dining room. Our waiter, Teodor, solved our dilemmas about what to order by bringing us everything.

There were over four hundred Americans making aliyah on that ship, including the garin for Neve Ilan. It was the largest number of Americans to make aliyah together until Nefesh B'Nefesh's first flight, which had a similar amount.

We arrived in an Israel, very different from today's. Many olim, immigrants, had never been in Israel before, and Israel was very different from America. The United States seemed much more modern, affluent and technologically advanced. Styles were different, too. Private cars were rare, and a wait of a year or much more was the norm before getting a phone line. Israeli television was in its infancy and in black and white, only.

But in 1970, Israel was strong and confident. There was pride and energy. Of course, a closer look will show the negative and dangerous trends we're suffering from now. Even the legendary movie Exodus shows the desperate yearning for peace and coexistence of Israelis, the fatal flaw of the Israeli psyche.

Yes, we have been here almost four decades. Today's Israel is not the Israel we met that night in 1970. I remember the bus ride from Haifa to Jerusalem, looking at the brightest stars I had ever seen. In my mind, the stars are still shining. I've certainly gotten older, but this is still my Land, and I don't think that my idealism has dimmed. Our twenty-seven years in Shiloh have kept me strong.

G-d willing, the evil and corrupt politicians ruling our country will be forced out.

Shabbat Shalom


Risa Tzohar said...

...and many happy returns of the day!

Hadassa DeYoung said...

Mazal tov and Shabbat shalom!

Batya said...

risa, how about some stories of the olden days....

hadassa, thanks

frumhouse said...

Happy anniversary! What a great story.

Batya said...

thanks, frumh,
And I haven't even told you about where we lived.

YMedad said...

Story? Ask my wife why she reeked of whiskey most of the sailing.

Anonymous said...

1. Mazal tov. Nice to see someone with an optimistic outlook. Keep it up and kol hakavod.

2. So why did she reek of whiskey?
(I am not anonymous, just computer challenged, so they say)

Batya said...

Oh, no! The whiskey story! Would you believe that I didn't drink it?
Let it suffice that they didn't do "panovision" full mouth xrays at the time, so my old dentist didn't notice that my wisdom tooth was about to impact.

It does get more complicated...

Hadassa DeYoung said...

Impacted wisdom tooth? I had one of those. How long did it take to reach a dentist and how much whiskey did it take to keep you sane until then?
Are you going to tell us where you lived?

Batya said...

I've written on the blogs all about our first home in Israel, the Maon Betar in the Old City.

It could have been Dovid (Abu Noam) Federman who recommended a dental surgeon in Hadassa Ein Kerem soon after our arrival. People in the boat (table-mates) gave me the bottle of whiskey and cotton, which stayed to numb my mouth until the surgery.