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Jewish Pupils in a Lithuanian Gymnasium (cont.)

We joined in the activities of Hashomer Hatzair in Ponevezh. We went to listen to speeches about Zionism, and enjoyed theater performances and artists from Eretz Yisrael. Everyone was curious to see the kibbutz hachshara and they would come and stay over with us. It was a great honor for us to host them. We were regarded as their “unterferers”.

All the members of the kibbutz lived in one apartment comprising one large hall, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. The landlord who lived on the floor below suffered greatly from the noise we made, from the shouting and dancing that literally caused the house to shake. One time, he burst in on us with a hatchet and threatened to hit us if we did not stop the commotion.

We were forced to leave and move elsewhere…

When we wanted entertainment, to see a film or play, we had to save up for it and we would skip the butter… We would drink only tea or kalipuntsen vasser: water mixed with coffee, but only just enough on the tip of a fork (to color the water)…

Here is a picture perpetuating a moment on one Saturday when all the “artisans” in the hachshara got together: tree cutters, cleaning women, cooks, seamstresses and laundry maids… This was after laundry day and we were getting ready to go out for the evening. I then went to the movies with a “wet belly” because I had no other change of clothing…

Gathering of all the Artisans at the Hachshara

 

In the Sewing Room

Rivka (second from left): I am looking for a model for a dress. Our shoemaker worked in this room as well.
Until I came on hachshara, a few months were sufficient to get a certificate[4]. But during my time, the number of certificates diminished; so I spent four years in hachshara until I decided to leave and go and acquire some sort of profession. With the help and recommendation of Dr. Druyan[5], my father arranged a place for me in the hospital where I was to study nursing. And just then a member of the movement leadership arrived at our commune. His name was Yisrael Zeeman. I pleaded my case before him. I knew that certificates had arrived and if I did not receive one, I would quit the hachshara. I owe my thanks to Yaacov Gottlieb[6] who convinced me not to leave, but rather to wait patiently for a certificate. When it finally arrived, I “married” Michka Davidov and together we made aliya to Eretz Yisrael.

Taking Leave of Home Forever…

I left home. I got on a small truck belonging to Krut, which in addition to space for the luggage, had seats only for four, and so there was no seat left for my father who wanted so much to accompany me.

And now, I can see father before my eyes. We hug, we kiss, and I did not know that this would be the last time …

My father had planned to close up the house and follow us to Palestine with Hene-Liebale, our youngest sister…

I arrived in Palestine on March 12, 1938.

As we approached the port of Haifa, the city lights made a tremendous impression on me. But disappointment awaited me on the shore; the sight of the Horans (Arabs hailing from Horan), black as black can be, with their strange apparel. It was hard to understand how we would be able to live amongst them.

We were in the camp for new immigrants in Bat-Galim (a suburb of Haifa near the beach) when my sister Rachel and her husband Yashka Vitkin came to welcome me. Such excitement! Several years had passed since we took leave of each other, and I remembered Rachel as a full healthy young woman. But her appearance gave away the true conditions here in the land. Their clothing was also strange. It was a bright summer day and they had come in raincoats and muddy boots. I was shocked. It turned out that the day before it had rained, and they had made their way by hitchhiking on unpaved roads…

They took us from the camp to see Kibbutz Yagur. This was the first encounter with a real kibbutz! I remember this visit as a special event. I was so excited. Here I was fulfilling the dream of a lifetime… The next morning we went to our kibbutz, Mitzpe Hasharon. We waited near a store in Ra'anana for transportation to the kibbutz, and shortly a horse-drawn carriage arrived…

My boy-friend Yitzchak Shteinman stayed to work in Kovno, according to the “decree” of the movement. He made his way to Eretz Yisrael via the illegal immigration together with the last ones who came from Lithuania…

I then “divorced” Micha and married Yitzchak.

At the Yizkor Book Launch, Tel Aviv, 15 October 1989

In front, right to left: Batya Resnik (Shteinman) and Sigi Pilowsky (Sarver); Rivka, Tzila and her son Misha Gudelsky
Second row: Henia Sneh (Blacher) standing
Third row: Baile-Betty Aires, Ida and Zelig Yoffe, Rina Milon (Gusarsky)

Footnotes

  1. British permits for immigration to Palestine. Return
  2. Dr. Druyan survived the Holocaust, immigrated to Palestine, and lives with his family in Herzliya. Return
  3. Yaacov Gottlieb (Amit) was one of the leaders of Hashomer Hatzair, and ones of the first members of Kibbutz Beit Zera. Return

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