Sunday, August 11, 2013

It Was Forty-Three 43 Years Ago Today....

It was about time that I check out the exact Hebrew day my husband and I docked at Haifa port as olim chadashim, new immigrants...

It was a Saturday night, September 5, after Shabbat and after circling aimlessly in the Mediterranean so as not to dock on Shabbat.  It's, davka, today, the 5th of Ellul, also a Saturday night-Sunday.  We spent fourteen days on the Annamarie, A Greek Line ship that had a kosher kitchen and a special deal with the Jewish Agency to transport immigrants.  We weren't unique.  There were about four hundred of us that summer of 1970.

In the late 1960's and early 1970's the miraculous Israeli victory in the 1967 Six Days War galvanized the international Jewish World, and for the very first time, Jews from the developed countries, who hadn't suffered obvious antisemitism began making aliyah.  Israel was no longer seen as only a place for Jews who had no choice and die-hard idealists.  Instead of forcing immigrants, like those from North Africa, into unsuitable, isolated agricultural communities, the Israeli Government built attractive (compared to what many Israelis had been living in) immigrant housing in places like Jerusalem's Ramat Eshkol, French Hill or Ramat Aviv, near Tel Aviv.

In 1970 many people didn't have phones in their homes, and some of those who did had shared party-lines. Our pockets and purses were weighted down with "asimonim," special phone tokens.  Most immigrants had to pick up at least minimal Hebrew quickly, since the local grocer served us what we needed, after we asked in Hebrew.  Supermarkets were rare.

Even Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel's largest cities were very different from New York.   Elevators were rare, and escalators unheard of.  Simple plastic bags were a luxury, rinsed and rewashed for maximum use.

Summer is a popular time to make aliyah.  Jennifer and her family have just arrived to The land where dreams come true!   Benji is celebrating seven years here.  Actually I was the first to blog about him.
Many of the young people, the single olim, had been in Young Judea and on its Year in Israel Program. Among them was Benji Lovitt, off to Tel Aviv in his Crocs, where he'll fit in fine.

That was an amazing flight in the midst of the Second Lebanon War.  I'll never forget the tears in the eyes of the stewardesses, who just couldn't believe that Americans were making aliyah to Israel in the middle of a war.

I have few olim friends who have been here in Israel longer than I.  One of them is Risa, aka Isramom.
My own first hours in Israel were just a few weeks after the Six Day War (which has become ancient history it seems).  My most vivid memory is of going with my friends to Tel Aviv where just about every balcony had an Israeli flag hanging out. The flags were in honor of the liberation of Jerusalem and in celebration of the survival of the State of Israel when just a few weeks before many had not been certain that this Zionist experiment would live out its second decade. That euphoria is sort of like the laughter after  a particularly scary roller coaster ride, you know the kind where you ride a loop that has you completely upside down and you doubt your sanity. When it's over your laughing from relief. Only this danger was real. And then it was miraculously over. (Or so we thought.)

My friend Ruti sent me this old post.  She had a much more challenging aliyah than I did, because she and the coach came with a bunch of sons, not just dreams.
One of the key ingredients in a successful aliyah is adaptability.  If I may spend a moment or two in the "bli ayin hara, puh-puh-puh" place, I'd like to brag about my kids' success in bringing this spice to our aliyah.

I've been living in Israel for almost a full two thirds of my life.  And we're in Shiloh for half of my life.  Considering that I'm old enough to get Israeli Bituach Le'umi, National Insurance old age payments, we're talking about a very long time.

What's most exciting is to hear that there are more young Jews packing their bags and planning on living here, like Aryeh.
Aside from me making aliyah, there are many many many more like me who are making this journey together with me. Each of us has our own story behind what we are doing, yet we all arrived at the same conclusion. THIS IS WHERE WE BELONG! And that in itself is mind blowing.

Please share this and send me more aliyah posts.


Risa Tzohar said...

Hi old-timer!
We're proud of our stripes!

Shy Guy said...

Isn't that when Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play?


Netivotgirl said...

What a moving post Batya! It brought back such fond memories of MY aliya in July 1977. Israel was so different then! Far fewer murders; people, including women, felt safe to hitchhike. No, there weren't as many fast food or clothing shops, but falafel abounded as did good cheer, smiles and yiddeshe warmth and appreciation for all of us who left more comfortable lives to begin anew here! Netivot was a primitive backwater when I arrived in '78. I don't know how I survived the culture shock! B'H we are now home and thank Hashem for every minute spent here in our land!!

A Soldier's Mother said...

Here's to your next 43 years in the only place we could ever call home...mazel tov!!!!

Batya said...

Yes, Risa, we earned them honestly. Shy, sure did.
Netivotgirl, no doubt wasn't Kansas.
Soldier's Mother, G-d willing in good health, you, too.

rutimizrachi said...

"Simple plastic bags were a luxury, rinsed and rewashed for maximum use."

I truly can't wait for the book, my friend. You have such stories in you. I know you don't think these stories are anything special -- but they truly are an important part of this precious country's "toddler years."

Thank you for including my post. May we share many more stories!

Batya said...

Ruti, my pleasure

sara said...

Mazal Tov - I am four years this august 16.
The only thing I regret about my aliyah is that my parents didn't make the aliyah they wanted to when I was a kid. I wish I had grown up here! I wish my kids had been born here! I think the people, like you who came when our state was fledgling are the true pioneers and hero's.
Kol Hakovod, you paved the way for all of us newbies.:)

Batya said...

sara, at least you're here now

Shy Guy said...

Coincidentally, it turns out that I was not so far off in my earlier comment. :)

Batya said...

Shy, you were. Sargent Pepper came out in 1967. I remember it well...'s_Lonely_Hearts_Club_Band's-Lonely-Hearts-Club-Band-lyrics-The-Beatles/6AA070A96A86498B48256BC200140BD7

Shy Guy said...

I'm enough of a Beatles fan to know the actual dates.

Batya said...

I'm old enough to remember when I sang the songs.