Yes, the title is correct. My husband and I did not fly to Israel as we made aliyah; we had a leisurely, enjoyable two week trip by ship. I can't really call it luxurious, because the cabin we were assigned to not only didn't have a porthole to see the view, but it had bunk beds.
For entertainment there was a movie every night, though as I remember, the second week was a repetition of the first. And the last two weeknights there was live entertainment. One night the Greek staff put on a show, and the second night a bunch of us "Israelis" provided a show of Israeli Folk Songs and Folk Dance. My husband and I were featured entertainers. There were three kosher meals a day; I don't remember any snacks.
The boat was Greek Line, Annamarie, with which the Jewish Agency had an arrangement for new immigrants and a kosher kitchen which most of us required. So many people requested kosher food that the smaller "kosher dining room" wasn't large enough, so quite a number of tables in the regular dining room was sectioned off as kosher for the rest of us. We had assigned tables, and there were two "sittings," first and second for meals. We ate at the early one.
During the day we'd wander around the ship, and the last week we rehearsed for the show. The economy/tourist section we were in was nothing like the television series Love Boat. It's a good thing that show postdated our trip, or I would have been disappointed for sure.
Twice we docked for tours at foreign ports, Lisbon and Piraeus. Maybe I shouldn't call them tours. We just wandered around; there was no organized tour with a guide. You can hear my story by clicking.
According to halacha, Jewish Law, it is permitted to sail/travel by boat on Shabbat, as long as the trip begins before and ends afterwards. Our trip by ship from New York to Haifa, Israel got us close to Israel while it was still Shabbat, so the boat had to float/waste time until Shabbat was over before docking.
After Havdala all of the Sabbath Observers rushed to our rooms to finalize packing and then go where the Jewish Agency staff was waiting to handle the bureaucracy/paperwork. There were also journalists who considered our mass aliyah of over four hundred American Jews at one time to be newsworthy. The founding garin, settlement group, to Neve Ilan was among the 400+.
Somehow we were allowed to leave the ship, found a couple of friends who had been waiting to greet us at the port, and we all got onto a bus to Jerusalem. I remember most people sleeping on the bus, but not me. I looked out at the amazing stars up above us trying to recognize constellations.
And that's how our life in Israel began... just forty-eight 48 years ago... thank Gd. And Gd willing we will continue to enjoy life until 120....
|hanging laundry in our first Israeli home, Maon Betar, Plugat Hakotel, Old City Jerusalem, September, 1970|