The Immigration to Israel
and my Life in the Country
On 29 December 1949, I traveled with other members from the kibbutz to the city of Warsaw. From there we traveled by train to Venice with stopovers in Czechia [Czechoslovakia], Austria and Italy. Among us were those who didn't want to reach Israel, and tried to escape in one of the stopovers after we left the Russian territory (they, of course, preferred to flee to the west). We decided to spread out between the cars and prevent them from leaving the train, because a Polish government's representative accompanied us. We feared that if he saw people running away from a train, that its passengers intend to immigrate to Israel, it may limit the number of exit permits to Israel in the future. In Venice, we were housed in one of the islands for a few days, until we boarded the ship Galila.
I, and other guys from our group, helped people and children to board the ship and settled in the lower deck, which was the worst place on the ship. On the way, a representative of kibbutz Givat HaShlosha, who joined us in Venice, tried to convince us to join his kibbutz. I waited until he finished talking with everyone, and then I told him that I wasn't interested in joining his kibbutz. He was very surprised and told me that he was confident that I would join his kibbutz. I told him that I based my decision in light of the behavior of the kibbutz members in Poland. He tried to convince me to join the kibbutz, and assured me that I'll be able leave after I see if I like it or not. I refused his offer, because I knew that after I join the kibbutz my conscience wouldn't let me leave it. Other members, who heard about my decision, immediately canceled their enrollment
On 10 January 1950, we arrived to Israel, to the port of Haifa. As soon as we got off the ship we were disinfected with DDT. It was a trivial matter for us in comparison to the hardships that we had gone through earlier. We were housed in shacks in camp Sha'ar Ha-Aliyah [gateway to immigration] in Haifa. We stayed there for two days, during which we also had a medical exam. Two days later, we were taken to Mahane Yisrael near the city of Lod. There, we were housed in the abandoned barracks of the British Army and used coupons to get food from the mess hall. In all, I spent 21 days in Mahane Yisrael.
I remember well my first trip from Mahane Yisrael to Tel-Aviv. I was asked by a family that I met in Łódź to visit their relatives who lived in Balfuor Street in Tel-Aviv. When I arrived to Tel-Aviv, I saw Sabra [native-born Israelis] youth happy and laughing, and the sight aroused in me feelings of envy and resentment. I felt in the depth of my heart how difficult it would be to connect with the native-born Israelis. The next few days proved to me how right I was
Meanwhile, I met my townsman, Fishel Michlski, who was with me in the camps in Germany and Russia. He arrived to Israel before me and lived alone in a room in Kefar-Salama in the southern part of Tel Aviv. I moved to live with him, and we continued to live together for a year and a half, until he got married. Then, I bought myself a room in Kefar-Salama and lived in it alone.
Within a short time, I met another person from my city who was a member of Ha'argaz company in Tel-Aviv. He got me a job in Ha'argaz as a tinsmith. In all, I worked as a tinsmith in Ha'argaz for six and a half years, until August 1956. I worked very hard, and also worked overtime. In Ha'argaz I connected with other Holocaust survivors who also worked there. It was very hard to connect with the locals.
Meanwhile, I found a second cousin on my father's side whose last name was Lipschitz. My grandfather and his grandmother were brother and sister. At first he served in the Polish army and was wounded during his service, and later he joined the partisans. After the war he immigrated to Israel, married and had two daughters. I used to visit them in their apartment in Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv
In addition, we located another family from Szczuczyn. My friend Michalsky and I used to visit them in Florentin [a neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv] every Saturday to drink tea, eat cake and chat
I was determined not to speak Polish in Israel. I searched for a way to get close to the local youth. I decided to find a framework to sing in and joined the Workers Choir of Tel-Aviv, which met in Beit Brenner. Most of the choir members were Sabra. Even though I got on with them, we never met outside the choir practice. The matter brought me a lot of bitterness, but I realized that this is the way of the world. In the summer of 1952 we traveled to the choir conference in Givat Brenner
In 1952, I signed up for a course of singing instructors and also learned to play the accordion. Many of the great composers of Israeli music, such as Zeira and Sambursky, came to test us. I told them that I can sing in Hebrew, but it's very difficult for me to teach in Hebrew.
In August 1952, I met my wife Bracha. Bracha was born in 1929 and was the only child to her parents, Chaim and Chaya Greenberg-Yarkoni. They immigrated to Israel in 1933, settled in Tel-Aviv and opened a grocery store. Bracha was a kindergarten teacher, a beautiful girl who was involved in the society. Under the encouragement of her mother she chose to marry me, a simple worker who was among her many suitors. The bond between us became stronger after she attended the first Zimriya [World Assembly of Choirs in Israel], in which I also participated.
We got married in December 1952 in Shaltiel House in Tel-Aviv. It was a relatively large wedding for that period because we had a band and even salami sandwiches, which were a real luxury in those days.
|Yitzchak and Bracha on their wedding day|
Unfortunately I didn't have enough money to pay for a honeymoon. Fortunately, the day before the wedding I received 25 dollars from my uncle in New-York, and we were able to travel to Tiberias for our honeymoon
Our financial situation, in the period after our marriage, was very bad. I worked very hard as a tinsmith and my salary wasn't high. Luckily, my uncle Itza Meir that I located in Mexico through his brother-in-law, and my uncle Ezri Kova from New-York that I located when I was in Bialystok, sent us food packages through a company called CARE. The value of each package was 15-20 dollars and it contained the best food, like chicken and compote. I didn't allow myself to eat from the packages and sold them immediately in order to meet our mortgage payments. At that time we ate herring and drank soda. Thanks to our thrifty way we were able to exist at that time and over the difficult years that came later.
In the period after the wedding we lived together with my wife's parents in an apartment in HaMagid Street in Tel-Aviv. It was a very small apartment. There was only one room and my wife and I lived in a closed balcony. There wasn't a kitchen in the apartment and my mother-in-law cooked on two paraffin stoves that stood in the hallway. There was a piano in the apartment that my wife played for many years. When our eldest daughter Leah was born in November 1953 we also a found a place for her in our tiny apartment
We lived with my wife's parents for a year and a half, until August 1954, when we moved to a two bedroom apartment in Shenkin Street in Givatayim. We lived there for four years, until August 1958, when we moved to an apartment in Ramat-Gan. We still live in this apartment today.
Immediately after the wedding my wife suggested that I should go to school because, as she said, I have a good head. I took her advice and signed up for an accounting course. I finished the course, but at that time I didn't use what I've learned.
Meanwhile, in 1956, I developed eczema on my hands and was no longer able to continue with my work as a tinsmith. I left Ha'argaz and looked for another job. However, every place required an experience that I didn't have. Meanwhile, I took another course in accounting
After eight and a half months of unemployment, I got a job as an accountant in the Z.D. Candy Company. I was very pleased with the work there and my superiors were very happy with me, but two years later, the Elite Chocolate Company purchased the factory and moved it to Nazareth. We couldn't move to Nazareth because my wife had to stay close to her parents because she was their only child.
I found a job as a bookkeeper in Geha Psychiatric Hospital. The contact with the mentally ill patients was very unpleasant for me and I searched for another job.
Six months later, I started to work in Bank Hapoalim [The Workers Bank]. At first, I worked in the simplest job and slowly advanced on my own. Meanwhile, I continued to progress in my studies: I studied course C and later course D, and then I studied for two additional years in order to receive my diploma. After that, I studied for three more years to receive a banking diploma. Over time, I advanced in my work at the bank. From a clerk I became a high-ranking official, later, I became a deputy bank manager and finally I was appointed as the manager of the branch in Ramat-Yitzchak. I worked there as a bank manager for eight years.
In all, I worked twenty six years in the bank - five years at the branch in Ramat Gan and twenty one years at the branch in Ramat-Yitzchak. I was very dedicated to my job. Throughout all my years in the bank I didn't take my vacation days because it wasn't possible. Eventually, I accumulated 13 months of vacation. I took them all at once and retired from work earlier
In January 1986, I retired after a long road of 26 years. I didn't go into a crisis. I have the ability to regenerate, to separate things and keep busy. Today I work as a volunteer in the in the retirees committee of Bank Hapoalim. We organize trips, vacations and other activities for the bank's retirees.
My dear wife, Bracha, worked for many years as a kindergarten teacher. In 1983 she retired from her job and today she paints for her pleasure. In May 1995, a big exhibition of her paintings was held in Beit- Alon in Givatayim, and many invited guests attended it.
My wife and I had the privilege to raise four children with love: Leah (named after my mother) born November 1953, Orna born December 1957, Eliezer (named after my father) born January 1964, and Haggai born September 1971. My wife and I wanted to raise many children so they will have a large family, because I was the sole survivor of my family and my wife was the only child to her parents. Although we didn't have the financial means, we made sure that of our children will receive the best education, including musical education and higher education.
|Our four children at the beginning of the 1970s:
Eli, Orna, Haggai, and Leah (from right to left)
On April 4 1974, my eldest grandson, Ofer Golan zl, was born to my daughter Leah. His brother Eyal was born on 9 January 1979
On 28 October 1995, my beloved grandson, Ofer zl, was killed in a terrible road accident while he was traveling in an Egged bus to Ein Gedi, May his memory be blessed.
In 1988, I traveled with Bracha, Eliezer, Haggai and Ofer zl to Poland. In 1992, I returned to visit Poland with my daughter Orna. We traveled to Warsaw and from there to Szczuczyn and other cities in the area.
In these visits I returned to the places that have been tied in my consciousness to the most terrible period of my life, to the most horrific events and mental sufferings that left their imprint in my mind, which devoured my dreams and brought me many sleepless nights.
Is there life after the Holocaust, the nightmares and the terrible suffering?! There is enough and to spare!!! We only need a strong will power and lust for life, in order to abandon the sufferings of the past and cling to the present, the beautiful and the real.
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