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“You Know Hebrew, Why Don't You Go to Eretz Yisrael?” (cont.)

The time arrived and we set out for Eretz Yisrael. In Marseille we boarded the French ship Sinai. There we met French soldiers who came to fight against the Druze.

We were at sea for twelve days, and reached Eretz Yisrael on March 14, 1926. We reached the Beth Olim [Immigrants' House] in Bat Galim [part of Haifa, on the seashore], and I remember that same day I visited the Dusiaters Avraham Slep and Meir Levitt, who at that time lived together in a cellar in Nachla [today Michael St.] in Hadar HaCarmel, Haifa.

We sat in the Immigrants' House in Bat Galim and waited for work. We wanted to join Gedud Ha'Avoda [work battalion], but there was no work. Yehuda Kopelowitz (Almog) used to come every Sunday, soothe us and offer encouragement, and six weeks passed in this way until I said: “Enough!” I went to look for work myself.

At that time work at paving a section of road from Zichron Yaacov to Furadis became available. Ten of us worked there, and lived together in one tent.

In Zichron Yaacov I rented a cellar for forty grush a month and this served as our place of residence. It had neither a door nor a window. Feigitzke ran the kitchen there for the company as well. Leibke Friedman (from Abel [Obeliai]), who had made aliya with us, was also with us. For a period of nine months Feigitzke and I slept in one bed, and Leibke slept in the other one. We also worked in gravel on the road; we sat and broke up stones, and later on we went to Kabara to dry up swamps. Every Saturday night our cellar turned into a youth club, where they listened to lectures and danced.

Micha Baron: You need to know that Zichron Yaacov at the time was the size of a yawn...

In Zichron Yaacov Feigitzke came down with malaria; she was in bad shape and wanted to return to Lithuania. This was three weeks after the birth of our daughter Bailke (in the cellar…) and we moved to a different street, and the malaria disappeared, without the help of a doctor.

The Dusiater Berke Levitt (son of Hirshl and Tzirl) was also in Eretz Yisrael at that time, but Chaya-Teme (Kagan) didn't come here and he went back to Lithuania. Then they immigrated to South Africa. Meir Levitt was also in Eretz Yisrael and left. Perhaps he was waiting for Sonia Orlin, who didn't come. But my Feigitzke always said: “Wherever you go, I will go with you.”

Micha Baron: Feigitzke belonged to the Pores family. Her father, Avraham-Itze, leased deciduous fruit trees from the landowners, and in the winter he would sell the fruit. When the fruit was ripe and still on the trees, the trees had to be protected from thieves, and Feigitzke used to sit in the orchard and keep watch!

Miryam Slep: Feigitzke was a beauty, with dark skin, like a Gypsy, and she was a live wire. And truly, who else would have dared to sit alone in the orchard and stand guard day and night?

Sara Weiss (Slep): I remember the shiny primus [kerosene burner for cooking] in Feigitzke's kitchen, a symbol of cleanliness! Ever since we visited them at their home in Hadera we had to scrub our primus, “so that it shone like a mirror, like Tzipora (Feigitzke) Orez's primus”. That was my mother's request.

I recall the long nights of dancing in Bat Galim. The people were hungry, but they didn't forego the dancing. I used to join the dancing, and Avraham Slep and Esther also used to come there, and Esther was my dance partner on more than one occasion. Later on, I used to come to Bat Galim from Zichron Yaacov too, even three times a week, and we used to dance and dance...

We moved to Hadera, our present place of residence, in 1932.

Masha Gershuni (Slep): I remember their cabin, “as small as the Janishok monastery”, but it was always open to people from the shtetl who stopped over in Hadera before continuing on their way north or south.

I must state that I was never without work, and they were happy with my work everywhere, and didn't want to let me go. I could have immigrated to South Africa. Perhaps my life there would have been easier. Nevertheless, I am content that I made aliya to Eretz Yisrael. We went through some hard times here, but we had a good life.

Micha Baron: It's easier to suffer if you have ideals...

Of course I hope that my grandchildren will continue living in Israel. No one in South Africa, or anywhere else, will take anything with them to the “olam haba“ [next world]! ...

Yitzchak and Feigitzke Orez hosting their friend Avraham Slep (on the left),
with their children Chaim (center) and Bailke
Zichron Yaacov, Pesach 1930

 

Family Orez hosting the chalutzim Miryam Slep and Micha Baron at their hut.
Hadera 1935

From right to left: Feigitzke Orez, Miryam Slep, Micha Baron, Bailke riding in front, her brother Chaim behind her, father Yitzchak Orez (at the back), Tzipora Margalit holding her baby Shoshana

 

Family Orez hosting again and again …

From right to left: (-), Feigitzke Orez, Miryam Slep,
Yitzchak Orez, Yitzchak Krupick (in riding breeches)

Seated: Bailke Orez (right), (-), (-)

 

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