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[Page 81]

The Second Aliyah

 

In the days of the Second Aliyah

by Rivka Machneimy (Holodenko), z”l
[daughter of Baruch Holodenko, a well-known educator,
delegate to the Zionist Congress, correspondent of “Hamelitz”], Ein Harod

Translated by Ala Gamulka

 

1911

I Make Aliyah to the Galil

I came to Eretz Israel on the 7th day of Tishrei (1911), three days before Yom Kippur. I arrived with many others at the famous hotel owned by Haim Baruch in Jaffa. It was well-known for its filth and messiness. Before nightfall I went to the Laborers Club to meet people and to inquire about work. In my heart I had decided to go to the Galil. When I asked what kind of work I would find in the Galil. I heard the reply: “If you want to cook or do laundry you will certainly find a job there!” I could not accept these words. I had imagined that in Eretz Israel I would work in the fields like a simple Russian peasant.

 

ben081.jpg
Rivka Machneimy (Holodenko)

 

I did not think I would come to Eretz Israel to be a servant. After a few minutes, I replied: “You can't frighten me!” I began to inquire about how to get to the Galil from Jaffa. I discovered that during Hol Hamoed of Succot there was a group of pioneers planning to go to the Galil. I went to meet them

We were thirteen people, mostly new arrivals and a few old-timers. The trip was difficult and exhausting, but the scenery was beautiful. We were so intent on seeing everything that we did not feel the tribulations.

On the fifth day we reached the Kineret where we met the members of the settlement. I cannot describe the beauty of Lake Kineret as we first saw it. It was peaceful, wide and deep.

In spite of my excitement I did not forget my main purpose – to find a job. I approached one of the members and asked him about work. At the same moment, someone from another settlement asked if I already had a job. He offered me a job on a new work farm on Mount Poriah. There were only five members there and they needed someone to cook and do other housework. I was delighted to accept the position and I went off with him.

We reached the farm on Mount Kineret. Towards evening I found, in the fenced yard, a pile of stones and pieces of wooden building materials strewn about. I heard many languages spoken, especially Arabic. I believed these were Arab laborers who came to build homes. I later discovered that Sephardic Jews also spoke Arabic.

Suddenly I heard loud singing from the rickety dining hall. It actually resembled a shed. In the dark room one could barely see people, but one could hear singing and animated dancing. The people looked like shadows because the lighting was dim. Suddenly there was loud banging that scared me. It was a dinner bell. In the shadows one could barely notice tables made of boards and the sound of plates and cutlery, accompanied by talking. The noise grew and was impossible to take. Again one could hear the singing of “El Yvneh Hagalil” and again wild dancing erupted. I sat shocked and I wanted to escape from the din. I just did not know how to leave. The room was completely full and there was no space to move a limb. I finally came outside. I was upset and full of longing for home. I was on the verge of tears. I was full of inner doubt and I asked myself if I could really stay there. Didn't I want to escape from here and to go home? Then I thought to myself: “Wouldn't it be great to be able to consult with someone about work somewhere else?” As I was wandering alone, some people approached me and asked me: “Where are you from? What do you want to do? Will you stay here?” They begged me to remain there as a cook. They talked about the place and about their past, their work and their plans for the future. This was a desolate place.

I then found out about the farm in Migdal where there was someone from my hometown. I decided to reach him and consult with him about what I should do. In the morning I went there without informing the person in charge. The beautiful scenery enthralled me and I arrived very quickly.

In Migdal I met my friend. We spoke about home, mutual friends and Eretz Israel. He invited me to stay in Migdal. I refused remembering the miserable situation in Poriah. Suddenly, the person in charge from Poriah came looking for me. I spoke about my doubts. He then explained that it was a new farm and the members were young and inexperienced. I decided to return to Poriah and there I became a partner in the redemption of Eretz Israel.

 

Malaria
November 10, 1911

I have been working in the kitchen for the past few weeks. It was not as terrible as I thought. I was afraid that getting up early would be difficult. I realized it was good to be up before everyone and to do my work without any interference and with a clear head. Lately I try to get up at dawn and to read in bed. The library has not been organized yet and I cannot get books. The books I brought from home are dispersed among my friends. I wrote home asking for more books to be sent to me. I should have taken more with me.

Tomorrow there will be a meeting where work will be discussed. It is difficult for the members to work with the Arabs. I look at their lives: they eat their thin pita bread which they heat on the fire. Sometimes they prepare a black coffee which is impossible to drink. At night they sleep on the ground. Their lives are miserable, but they do not complain. Our members complain non-stop. At night they fall into their beds utterly exhausted.

 

How do Jews build a Homeland?
December 5

Today I received a letter from home. I was so happy. Father asked me what has been accomplished in Eretz Israel and what was happening there. He wanted to know how Jews work the land and build a homeland. As a seasoned Zionist he knew more about Eretz Israel than I did, but I was fortunate to be there. I could see everything with my own eyes. He only knew information from books and from his intense work in the Diaspora. How terrible! Father has not yet seen Eretz Israel and who knows if he will ever do so… It is only three months since I left home and I miss my family! I would be so happy to see my father in Eretz Israel. (My mother died when I was a baby). Father is dedicated to Zionism and he has not yet been able to see the first steps of the pioneers who came before me.

From time to time I re-read the letter and my longings become unbearable. A fear engulfs me. “Can I really pass this test?”…

The hour is late. It is a good thing no one came to my room. I need to be alone.

 

The kitchen in the beginning
December 12

Today I wrote a letter home and I included dried local flowers. I wrote about my work in the kitchen feeding fifty to sixty people. It is good they do not know how difficult my conditions at work are.

I put together the first kitchen on the farm. I hung up a few sacks to create a cooking area. I dug a trench, added some rocks and placed a pot on top of them. I am constantly worried that the pot will topple over or that the food will not be good. I gathered some wood from the building site and I also found some twigs and branches. I was wearing a dress with a tight skirt that I brought from home. I was unable to jump over the trench so I cut slits on the sides. My high heels also hindered my work.

My work hours are from 4:30 in the morning to 9:00 in the evening. After work I help my friends. I mend trousers and wash shirts. I am the only woman on the farm and the men are not used to doing this work.

 

1912

 

First General Meeting
January 5, 1912

Today I began to rearrange the kitchen. We now have a cooking stove and I will no longer get wet in the rain. Soon another woman will join us and my joy is unimaginable. It is difficult to be the only woman. In addition, there is no one to relieve me.

It is raining very hard and all the members stayed in and did not go to work today. This hampers my work. The wood is wet and the fire would not light. This made it difficult for me to prepare a meal.

After supper a few members came to the kitchen and helped with the dishes. They felt sorry for me and told me that on rainy days I should serve food that did not need to be cooked. I disagreed and I continued to cook even on rainy days.

Today was a good day. I heard that a family with children was coming. They also had grown children in Kineret and Yavneel.

Tomorrow there will be a meeting with a lengthy agenda. Only I realized I had made a mistake at home. I still do not know enough Hebrew. I had concentrated so much on learning Russian instead of Hebrew. I decided to speak Hebrew, but it is hard. My friends know more and to try to correct my mistakes. There is no way to learn the new language because there is no one to teach me and I have no free time. After work I have to look after friends sick with malaria.

 

Quinine for the members – to block Malaria
January 10

I wish the new kitchen would be built already. There will be a room for me and for the new female member who is due to arrive soon. I will be a better cook, too. Maybe on Shabbat I will go to Kineret to visit Hannah Meizel and I can get instruction from her on cooking with local products. In spite of all the difficulties in my work I believe that it is not so terrible. My main wish is for the members not to be sick. A week ago I was in Kineret where the malaria is worse even though they receive quinine on a regular basis. At our meeting we spoke about the need for a daily dose of quinine.

Working in the fields is not so easy now. The earth is being prepared for ploughing so almonds and olives can be grown. When will I leave my kitchen work and change to the fields? First, I want to fix my kitchen so the new woman will find it easier to do her work.

I have been writing and I did not realize the hour is late. I have to get up soon to go to work.

 

More Malaria patients
January 22

This week I read very little. I had to look after the new member who is already ill with malaria. He was very sick and had high temperature. I could not leave him. If he is still so sick tomorrow we will take him to the doctor in Yavneel. He lay in bed all day by himself. I went to him several times to bring him a drink. It is difficult to do it while I am working. D. Came back from work today with a high fever. It seems he, too, has malaria. There are many sick men and there is no place for them to lie down. This saddens me very much. When the kitchen is built there will also be rooms for the members. I went today to the Bedouin tents to get some milk for the patients, but I did not understand anything they said. I gave them a pail and showed them money. I also asked for some eggs. I paid them what they asked and I returned home happy. The first time I went there with Meir Hazanovich -He was [later] killed in Merhavia in 1913. Now I know the way to go by myself. There are more and more patients and I am worried…

 

Father lectures at Zeirei Zion assembly
January 28

Today I received a letter from some friends from home. They included reports of an assembly of Zeirei Zion. They write that there is much work to be done and that new members have joined. They write with enthusiasm about Father. (Rivka, the author, is the daughter of Baruch Holodenko, a well-known educator and a delegate to the Zionist Congress. He was also a correspondent of “Hamelitz”).

They sent me a copy of a lecture he gave at a meeting. It is good that father is so devoted to this movement. They envy me that I am fortunate to be living in Eretz Israel. Would that one of them could also make Aliyah!

 

I am invited to Merhavia
February 5

I was invited to work in Merhavia. It was difficult to decide because I was used to my place. I had made friends and I was deeply involved in Poriah. Besides I really did not want to work in the kitchen again, although I was not as afraid as before.

On Friday night there is a party to celebrate the new planting and the members said they could not plan it without me. I undertook the decoration of the dining room and the preparation of the food. The director told me not to go to work in the fields and to start preparing. I did not want to lose a day of work since we are under contract for the job. Every member is important.

This week I received letters from home. Soon one of my good friends will arrive. Today some tourists from America visited and took some pictures. They will probably be shown in cinemas in America. Perhaps one of my relatives will recognize me. The news from home gave me the energy to do my work.

 

My pay is equal to that of the male laborers
February 8

It's a celebration- five girlfriends came to Poriah! Tonight we arranged a work schedule. We are planning a vegetable garden for our own use. Since the new female arrived I have been working in the laundry and in the fields. Now I work in stone removal. As of tomorrow I will be planting olive trees. The farm has a personal account for every worker. On the first day I was given 9 grush for the job while the men were allotted 2 francs (the equivalent of 11 1/2 Turkish grush). After a few days I was earning as much as the men. The work in the fields was hard – removing stones, pulling up roots of old plum trees, planting olive and almond trees. There were two supervisors who watched the laborers. In spite of all this I was very happy. I discovered a new world where fieldwork was valuable.

Now two women will work in the kitchen and I will be in the field. Another woman will do the laundry and the fifth will work in the vegetable garden. From now on life here will be like in any settlement. We have two families now and we are more mature. We can now set an example.

 

I want to find my own way in life
February 11

Today I worked with a member who is expert in planting. He has been here for two years. I would like to be a veteran in Eretz Israel. I have not seen much –not even settlements nearby. On Shabbat I visited Kineret. It is so beautiful and I did not want to leave.

When I first came to Kineret I was asked to join a farm led by Hannah Meizel. I refused thinking that I wanted to find my own way in life. It probably would have been easier for me to learn, to work and to perfect my Hebrew. Here I have a purpose even if there are hardships. We are creating something new while in Kineret I would have come to something established. I would like to see the fruits of my labor, to see the place where I first began to develop and to grow.

At work we often have a supervisor. It is not pleasant. He does know all about work in the fields and he is almost native-born. He gets along with the laborers. Still…

 

We aspired to the sublime
February 12

I had a good day at work today. We sowed almonds and I worked in the olive grove. Field labor rejuvenates me physically and mentally. One can think, listen to birds chirping, and sing. All this is helpful in creating even if one is nervous and one wishes for more.

I miss my friends from home. We grew up together and we aspired for more.

When I came home from work I felt I had a temperature. Could it be malaria? I did not tell anyone because I wanted to go to work the next day. If I take quinine maybe my temperature will not rise.

 

I have become a wagon driver
March 4

Today I continued to work with R., a wagon driver. I am his assistant. The field was full of small and large stones. There is a wadi nearby and we have to fill it up with stones. I asked R. to let me have the reins, but he refused. I begged and begged and he finally agreed on condition that I carry the large stones while he brings the small ones. I, of course, was thrilled and took the reins. I did not care about the conditions that he gave me as a joke. I was not insulted. I drove the wagon all day and I was in a good mood. One thing made me laugh: whenever we came close to the wadi he got off because he was afraid we would turn over… In the evening, at the table, he spoke about our mutual work and the “condition.” He was delighted and everyone laughed.

On the other hand, Sh. has promised to teach me how to drive a wagon without any conditions…

 

My worth increases within the group
April 14

Today I worked with Sh. He works well. In a few days we will begin to harvest the wheat. I will work with him hauling the wheat. How great! In Russia I envied the peasant women who worked in the fields. I dreamed about it. This will be my first harvest in Eretz Israel.

I was very tired. We connected watering pipes to a new line. Tomorrow I will continue to uproot the old plum trees. We have a contract for the job and I am part of it. I am so happy.

 

A night spent watching an ill patient
May 2

While supper was being served I noticed that one of the new members was missing. I was told he was ill. When I finished my work in the kitchen I took a lantern and I went to the barn where the patient lay burning with fever. I asked the person near him to put the patient in my bed and I began to look after him. I placed cold compresses on his forehead and I prepared quinine for him.

It was quiet in the dining room. Everyone was asleep and I sat writing in my notebook. At times the night watchman came over and asked about the patient. He asked: “When will you go to sleep? How can you work tomorrow if you do not sleep?” I teased him and I asked him: “How can I leave the patient all alone? I am healthy and I can mange without sleep…”

What will happen to the patient? What will happen to all of us? Malaria! That's what everyone says.

As I listened to the patient's breathing I heard, from far away, the singing of Meirke Hazanovich, the night watchman. The patient talked through his fever and sometimes I was scared. Suddenly he said: “Rivka, bring me a wagon with rubber wheels and take me home.” I burst out laughing and I soothed him. His fever was now lower and I was thrilled. He began to perspire and I closed the window. I gave him two quinine pills.

The night watchman came to the window and told me that I have to go to work. I tiptoed quietly out of the room. I was so sorry to leave the patient alone. I was going to try to visit him during the day.

 

Wheat is brought to the threshing floor
May 6

This week we started to bring the wheat to the threshing floor. How can I describe how great was our satisfaction? We rise at 2:00 am and it is very quiet. Everyone is still asleep. We go to the fields where we pile the wagons high. We continue to the threshing floor. The moon lights our way and we do not even feel that it is night time. Dawn breaks slowly and we see our members setting out to work. At eleven we stop our work and we take a rest until 2:00 pm. We then return to work and stay till evening. We work a day and a half every day. The flies begin to pester us. After we bring in the wheat I will go to Merhavia. I will try working there and I may decide to stay.

 

I do not regret my decision
June 5

I remember when my father realized that he could not influence me not to make Aliyah at such a young age (I was only seventeen). He spoke to me and said: “How will you earn a living when you have never worked even one day?” I replied: “There must be other people like me and they are working…” I do not regret my decision. I have been here for ten months and I cannot honestly say I am happy with everything here, but I am here. There will be improvements in the future as the country develops. The people of Israel will flourish in this land.

 

Flowers for my birthday
June 11

Today was a hot day in the fields and it was difficult to work. We dug trenches for the planting of olives. I came back from work tired and in a bad mood. It has been two weeks since my last letter from home. My brother in Argentina invites me, “in all seriousness”, to come to him. If I agree he would arrange the trip. He probably thinks I am in dire straits. I was shocked at receiving this letter and I will not reply.

We decided to arrange a meeting of the members to plan cultural events. It is a necessity in life.

When I came home from work, a surprise was waiting for me. In my room I found a bunch of wild flowers in a vase on the table. A note was attached. It said: “Shalom Rivka. Today is your birthday. I came to congratulate you, but you were not home. I could not stay. I remembered it was your birthday from two years ago and I decided to wish you a Happy Birthday. I gathered some flowers for you on the way.” I completely forgot about my birthday, but D. (my father's student) remembered and was not too lazy to come from Migdal. I understood why he did it – he heard I was lonesome for home. Since he was older than I he wanted to help me…

 

Social life develops
August 22

Tonight a few members met in my room and talked about work. We read some foreign newspapers and sang Hebrew songs. It was very good. After everyone left I felt badly. It has been a year since I had seen anyone from my family. How I would love to see my father! I did not imagine that I would spend a whole year in Eretz Israel and I would not see my father. I hoped he would come because there was a plan he would be part of a mission. However, it has not yet happened.

 

In Merhavia

I have not written in my diary for some time. I have been in Merhavia for two months. I have a feeling that I will not stay here much longer. I have made some friends here and I have worked in different jobs. Now I am working in the kitchen with a friend. There are now about ninety members in the cooperative. The economy is quite similar to that of Poriah. People here are older and they seem to be quite knowledgeable. In the evenings, the veterans of Merhavia sit at the table in the dining room and sing beautifully in Hebrew, Russian and Yiddish. I do not know why it is so hard for me here and I want to return to Poriah.

 

An outing in the area
October 10

This is the first time a whole group of us went on an outing in the area. It is beautiful. The fields are covered with a carpet of flowers. A Bible expert described what was here in ancient times, how Merhavia was conquered and what its members dream about. We returned at nightfall. I was very tired, but I had to work in the kitchen because someone got sick. Even here people get sick.

 

I must read Hebrew
November 12

I have been lying in the hospital for a few days because I had a malaria attack. The hospital was located in an Arab hut built of straw and clay. The beds are covered with white sheets. The nurses look after everyone – it is a real hospital! When rain begins to fall, the white sheets are covered with pieces of clay falling from the ceiling. The mood of the patients and of the nurses changes. Still. Sometimes someone bursts out laughing.

My fever has not yet decreased. They give me quinine and I am almost deaf. My ears ring and I cannot hear what people are saying to me. I am very weak. I am embarrassed because I had been so strong. I have not worked for a week and I miss it. Y. Visited me. He sat with me for a long time. He read poems by Bialik to me. It is hard for me to understand poetry in Hebrew. He explained every word and promised to teach me Hebrew. Maybe I will be more successful here because the work hours are more regular. If they do not put me back in the kitchen, I could stay. I could also take part in reading programs being planned. Y. brought me a copy of “Anna Karenina” by L.Tolstoy translated into Hebrew. I still find reading difficult, but I must get used to reading in Hebrew.

 

1913

 

March 10

A friend from home has arrived here. She brought me regards from everyone and especially from my father. He was still lecturing at the Zeirei Zion club every week. He loves being among young people. It is well-known that my father wrote a will. In it he dictates how his estate is to be distributed after his death. Half of it would go to a Zionist group, a portion to his wife and the rest was designated to subsidize a young person going to Eretz Israel. Everyone was impressed. My longings for home overwhelmed me and I did not wish to see anyone. Tonight I felt what it meant to cry with happiness.

 

Can there be another plan for building our country?
March 18

I must decide, finally, that I will not stay here. What should I do? Should I return to Poriah? Will they take me back? I cannot find a place for myself here even though it is so beautiful. There are plans for future development. Perhaps the way of life will change, too. Cooperative living could be a new method for building the country. Many people will find it interesting. They are already talking about educating the children in a cooperative setting. Of course, this is still in the planning stage. If it succeeds, it will bring a big change in our lives.

Today at work I spoke to someone who has been here for a year and a half and he is unhappy. He would not leave because he is attached to Merhavia. It is his opinion that it should not be a decision based on personal needs. Degania presents the best example for the proper way to live. I believe he is correct and I enjoyed our conversation.

 

I learn to bake bread
April 4

I continue to work in the kitchen. We have just learned how to bake bread. Shifra Betzer, a veteran here, taught me many new tasks. Today we brought the wheat from the threshing floor to the yard. I am thrilled to meet veteran members and to be with older people.

We are four women sharing a nice room. We have interesting activities. Tonight we spent reading together.

 

I am back in Poriah
October 8

When I returned to Poriah I had a feeling that I had come home, in spite of liking my life in Merhavia. I want to live in a group. There are others here who want the same thing.

 

Happiness mixed with sadness
October 16

This is a new phase in my life. I am planning to create a family. I do not know why it is happening right now. I see all the problems in life. My happiness is mixed with sadness. I wrote a letter home announcing my happy news. The paper was wet with my tears.

 

I embroider a flag
October 21

Some members from Poriah together with others from other places are planning to establish a new settlement in the Galil. It will be located in Sharona (between Bayt Vagan and Sejera). They have begun their preparations. The director of Poriah will be in charge there as well. All night long I embroidered a flag for the ascent to the new place. On it is written: “May your hands be strengthened, the conquerors of Sharona. Go up and be successful”. The whole camp is happy because a new settlement will be founded in the Galil. I am so thrilled because some of my friends from Kineret will join the group. I would like to go there, too.

Aleph returned from work today quite sick. He has a high fever. Sh. and I sat by his bedside all night. I was there till midnight and Sh. stayed till morning. The patient is so quiet and only at times does he ask for water. He is so nice, still a child! If his mother were here, he would feel better. We take good care of him. Everyone loves him. He calls me”my sister”. The older women call me “the mother” of the children.

 

I am going to become a mother
December 10

Soon my secret will be out: I am going to become a mother. My heart is so full of happiness as well as sadness. Why? I am going to become a mother. What great happiness! I never felt a mother's love because my mother died when I was a year and a half. I do not even remember her. I do remember well my longing for a mother's love…When I was a child I envied every child who had a mother.

Now when I think of the child that will be born I know I will be happy that I am its mother. Although I did not benefit from a mother's love I will devote myself to loving my child. I will provide everything the child would need.

 

1914

 

I am going up to Sharona
January 10

It has been some time since I last held my notebook. I did not write about the move to Sharona even though I was very excited that day. It was a beautiful day. We walked from Poriah to Sharona singing and dancing. A wagon carried different necessary products. H. held the flag. At nightfall we reached the designated location. We entered one of the abandoned huts and began to clean and to prepare space for the members who were to stay there all night. This is the first time in my life that I was fortunate enough to found a new settlement on its first day.

 

They are waiting for news at home
January 18

I am waiting impatiently for the day of delivery to come. I am worried. How will I manage with a baby? Who will give me advice? Mrs. Abramson is my counselor and she teaches me everything. However, I am absorbed in thoughts about my baby. At home they are waiting impatiently for news from us.

 

I am expecting
February 4

Tonight, after work, I sewed clothes for the baby.

 

In Tiberias
March

I am all alone waiting for the birth, far from everyone. Around me are people who are strangers and are not really interesting. In spite of everything I want to overcome all problems. After all, I am not fifteen years old. I am a grown woman almost twenty years old. I have to be strong. I am ashamed of my weakness and my disquiet. I am staying in a hotel in Tiberias where I am waiting to give birth. There is no one in my room. I sit writing in my notebook and I walk around the room. In the dead of night the landlady comes to tell me that if I feel unwell I should call her. She will take me to the hospital. I was very excited. This old woman understood me and came at midnight to offer her help. I did not know how to thank her for her kindness.

 

The first baby girl in Poriah
April 6

My daughter, Geula (Redemption), is already one month old. She is a lovely, serene baby. She lies all day and no one even notices her. From the hospital we took a wagon home. The road was full of ups and downs and sharp turns. Our wagon drivers are real “experts”. When we came home I made sure my daughter had not suffered any harm on the journey. I do not yet have a bed for her. Our own beds are wooden slats on top of boxes. I placed her on the floor in a copper tub. I put blankets and pillows all around her. Mrs Abramson, my counselor, says that my daughter is good and is developing beautifully. She calms me down whenever I get nervous and worry about the child's health. I do not want to wake her up from a deep sleep when it is feeding time. All the members come to see the baby. They do not leave her alone. Every time someone comes to see her, something new about her is discovered. She is an “only child” – there are no other girls. My little daughter has brought much happiness to our lives.

 

Geula (redemption) for the Jewish People
April 12

I received a letter from father. He says: “Let us hope the Jewish people will be redeemed in her lifetime. I hope I will be fortunate enough to meet my dear granddaughter”. He is happy with the name we gave her- Geula (Redemption). This is a symbolic and uncommon name.

 

Sailing on the Kineret
May 4

Some of our members decided to go sailing on the Kineret. Of course, they would not go without me. I was afraid to take my daughter. However, my friends took the responsibility on themselves and we did join them. It was a wonderful trip. We went to the other bank of the Kineret where we visited Tabha. We also took a rest there. We then went to the synagogue in Kfar Nahum. A day like that gives you boost for a long time. My daughter benefited from this trip. It was a beautiful day and the lake was calm.

Tonight I will not spend time with my friends in the dining room because I have to get up early to go to work in the kitchen. I still have a lot to do for my little girl. I also have to do laundry. Y. brought me water to the room so I will not have to fetch it from far away.

 

In the almond orchard
July 25

Today I worked in the almond orchard. One of the members brought Geula to me at work. He was not working today so he had time to play with her. In the afternoon he took her for a walk. I was very happy with this visit and so was my baby. In general, she does not make it difficult for me to do my work. When I am in the kitchen she plays on a mat in the dining room.

 

War has begun
August 1

Today I received Geula's first picture. She is sitting on a chair. I will send it home. They will all be so happy. Father will be thrilled because he has not yet seen her in person. Father is getting older. Who knows if we will see each other again! Now the war has begun and who knows how long it will last. Our situation is already worse. We must continue our work more diligently, to produce more locally so we do not have to depend on imports.

 

In Beitanya
August 12

From Poriah we moved to Beitanya because we could receive some land there. Y. was really drawn to the offer. I had to move also for my young daughter, Geula. She needs to have some friends and to attend a nursery. There is a nursery teacher here. I do not really want to stay here because life here is not interesting. In addition, there is danger of malaria.

Last week we all had fever and there was no one to give us a sip of water. I planted a vegetable garden, but it is not enough work for me. I do not have friends or work here. Who will help me? Whom can I consult?

On Shabbat I went to Poriah. The place is developing beautifully. There are so many improvements and I really regret that we left Poriah. I thought of going to work in Kineret in the “Group of Twenty”, but what will I do with my child? I cannot leave her with Y. because he works far away from home. No! I cannot leave her!

 

Very harsh living conditions
August 25

I was asked to work, on a short time basis, in a laborers' kitchen in Bayt Vagan and I agreed. Geula and her father stayed in Beitanya and I visit them. The laborers work here drying swamps. Some of them are from the “Group of Shepherds”. The office in Tiberias arranged a workplace for laborers here as well as a union kitchen. The onus is on the kitchen staff (I and another woman). As part of their pay the laborers receive grain, vinegar, and beans, but no oil can be found. Petrol for cooking is also unavailable. We cut down trees and collected thorns nearby. It takes a long time to cook a soup on stones. We bake bread in the Arab village of Avodya. When there is no one else who can go there, I go by myself with a sack of grain placed on a donkey. On the way I have to go through Wadi Figes (this is where Yehezkel Nisanov was killed in 1911). The grain is not always ground in time so the bread is not always ready before the laborers leave for work. They often go to sleep hungry. There is no sugar and tea is drunk with plums or artificial honey made with carobs. We use it also for baking. Camardine (an Arab dish of dried apricots boiled and rolled) is smeared on bread.

Life is very difficult here. The laborers sleep in a barn or outside on rugs and mats. Today we nearly did not go to work. How can anyone work without food? In spite of everything I tried to bake the bread at night, but it was not ready by morning. There is nothing I can do to correct the situation. I wanted to speak to someone from the committee and to tell him it is difficult to live and work under these conditions. Today the taboon (Arab stove) broke. How will we bake the bread? I went to a few places to see if I could use their taboons, but I was not successful. They were in use. I will have to make a lot of noodles. I had great difficulty with my cooking today. I did not have enough wood for the cooking. I went out to gather twigs and I could not find any. I made a light meal. I feel that it is my fault that the food is so poor. It is my duty to report on conditions here. Perhaps something will be done.

 

I am alone on a dangerous road
August 26

I received a letter from Y. in Beitanya in which he tells me that our daughter, Geula, is sick and that I must return home. The letter reached me in the afternoon. Everyone was at work. What do I do? How can I leave my co-worker to work alone in the kitchen? She would not go alone to the flour mill and the laborers would be left without bread.

I gave her some instructions. I left a letter for the director asking him to get her help. I left on my journey. I had no choice. My worries about my little girl kept my mind off any thoughts about the dangers on this road. I had more pep and strength to walk faster.

I do not know how I reached the half-way mark. Suddenly, I saw A. I could not recognize him from a distance. He was angry that I was walking alone so late in the evening. He began to yell at me. “How dare you walk alone in the evening on this road?” I had never seen this quiet man so angry! It was difficult to prove to him that I had to come tonight to my sick child, Geula. When he calmed down he told me he had come from Yavneel with the intention of visiting me. On the way he wanted to see Geula to give me a report on her. When he reached Beitanya he found out Geula was sick. He then decided to ride his horse towards me to bring me to Beitanya. How happy I was to have met him because otherwise I would have come to Beitanya late at night.

I found Geula with very high fever. I began to speak to her, but she did not recognize me. I sat by her bedside all night. Only in the morning did Geula recognize me and she burst out crying: “Don't go away again. I don't want to stay here!” My heart was breaking and I cried with her.

L., the pharmacist, told me several times that if I wanted a healthy child, I must take her away from Beitanya. Here, malaria hits her often. I decided to take her to Bayt Vagan, in spite of the hard life there.

She is better today. She got out of bed and wanted to go for a walk. I fell near her bed. I thought I was just weak, but when I took my temperature I saw it was above 40 degrees Celsius. I had malaria again.

Today, Sh. Came from Bayt Vagan to see how Geula was doing. He told me the situation there was bad without me.

 

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