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The Jews Did Not Restrain Themselves (cont.)

I am in Eretz Yisrael

I arrived in Eretz Yisrael on Hanukah 1924. We reached the coast of Yaffo [Jaffa], and from there we were sent to Rehovot. We put up tents there and worked for a farmer. We worked from dawn to dusk. I was a member of Gedud Ha'avoda[2] then, and when we were about to leave, the farmer pleaded with me to stay, and even promised me a proper salary… But I forewent the money and left.

There was no shortage of food in the Gedud. The work was hard, but I managed. The purpose then was the “conquest of labor“.
Members of “Gedud Ha'avoda” conquering construction work in Jerusalem
Yitzchak Toker among the builders of “Straus - The Health House ” 1927

 

We moved to the Haifa port and worked there from morning to night. We loaded sacks on our shoulders, and I remember that we put planks of wood on our backs so that the sacks wouldn't slip off.

We managed to do all the work: quarrying, construction, plastering, and so on, and we lived in tents… I remember that Dostrovski (who later on was called Lt.-Gen. Dori) organized us at the building of the Technion Institute [in Haifa], and there in the cellar we learned to shoot. My instructor was Avraham Ikar, who passed away not long ago.

The group broke up, and everyone went his own way.

I rented a room in Haifa and worked at construction. For a while I shared a room with my friend and fellow Dusiater, Avraham Slep and for many years we also lived as neighbors in Kiryat Chaim.

 

 
On the right:Yitzchak Toker with a group of construction workers
“Segal House”, Haifa 1928

 

 
The first houses on Street A in Kiryat Chaim
“Workers' Neighborhood”, 1931

Yitzchak Toker is among the builders

 

Dani Toker: My father told me that when the train used to approach from the direction of Akko, the construction workers in Kiryat Chaim used to signal to the locomotive to wait until they finished pouring the cement for the roof…

A letter from Avraham Slep to his friend Dov Zeligson

Their friend Yitzchak Toker closed this letter with the following:

“Don't be a chalutz and don't get angry over nothing…”

Haifa, Hadar Hacarmel, December 23, 1925

My dear friend! I am sure you will forgive me for not writing to you all this time. As you know, I came to Haifa. On that same day I met Chaim Levitt and Yitzchak Toker. The situation we found in Haifa was also not so good. But that doesn't mean anything. There are many like us. There is nothing to worry about. You need to be patient in Eretz Yisrael.

We have rented an apartment. Meir Levitt and I pay a pound and a half a month. We were unemployed for about a week. But after a short while we obtained work: I with a carpenter and Meir on the road that is presently being built on Hadar Hacarmel. I worked for about three weeks. I earned 30 grush [grush - one hundredth of a pound] a week. My work finished last week. Now I am walking around like a tourist and looking at Haifa and its surroundings with open eyes. Meir is still working.

Feivish Milun has been in Eretz Yisrael for three weeks. He is still in the “Beth Olim” [immigrants' house] in Haifa. I think that he has some sort of package for you. We see each other every day. He sometimes also sleeps at our place. Feivish received a letter from Yehuda Gordon (later his brother-in-law) in Jerusalem, who wrote him that in the event that he can't find work he should come to Jerusalem. Feivish will travel to Jerusalem this Friday. There is nothing new with us. Yitzchak also doesn't have permanent work. You most probably met my brother Yosef [Yavnai]. He told me.

Pardon me for not writing all this time. It is definitely my fault.

Shalom for now. Regards to your effendi [a Turkish title; a man of property]

I await your reply. Yours, Avraham

My address is:

Haifa
Central Barbershop
Yehuda Hak
For Avraham Slep

Dov, with regard to letters between you and Yitzhak, I am writing to you not to blame him. He received a letter from you and immediately replied. Not just one letter, but many. He sent them by mail and also via friends we know. Forgive each other and keep in touch through letters.

I confirm what Avraham said, and don't be a chalutz and don't get angry over nothing.

From your friend,

Yitzchak Toker

 

Footnote

  1. Gedud Ha'avoda V'Hahagana [The Labor Battalion] named in honor of Joseph Trumpeldor. The main purposes then were the conquest of Jewish labor and defense. The driving force behind this organization was Yehuda Kopelewitz (Almog). Return

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