I was active in the Zionist youth movement in South Africa, until one day I said, enough lecturing, and decided to fulfill my own desires and make aliya to Israel.
The decision to immigrate was a very difficult one. The temptation to continue working as a veterinarian in South Africa was great, and I could earn much more there. However, when I visited Israel once or twice I thought to myself that if my parents had immigrated to Eretz Yisrael back then, they would have accomplished no less. They had invested so much effort in South Africa, and had had more than a few disappointments and fears.
When I finally decided to make aliya, one of my serious considerations was that when my son reached the age of eighteen he would not be bothered by the question why didn't my parents immigrate to Israel.
We made aliya on Independence Day 1975. We already had two children, Ilana and Dani, and I know that my relatives had doubts about our remaining in Israel. We were at the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center for a short time, where we learned Hebrew. After that we moved to Netanya.
Hadassa Friedman: Yudke knew a little Hebrew, but I didn't know one word! It was especially hard for me when I began running to the different offices. I think that the only place I had no problems was at the Electricity Company
The first winter the children were sick every other day. However, the fact is that we carried on. I regret that not all our friends were able to overcome the difficulties, and some of them left Israel.
Much is said about the absorption of immigrants, and about the immigrants' social integration. I would like to explain something. I remember that in South Africa I didn't properly appreciate the importance of the Landsmanschaften [societies of people from the same town], and even had my doubts about them until I came to Israel. Today I believe that these organizations provided the greenies (new immigrants) with a feeling of home on their arrival in the new country. Consequently, I don't think that Israeli society is unwilling to absorb the new immigrants. The truth is, and I refer to myself, I feel good in the company of people from my town, my friends from South Africa. I have a common language and memories with them. With them I feel at home.
I hope that our children, who already feel like sabras - and Gideon without a doubt -, will not have problems of absorption.
I am asked why I don't try to convince the rest of my relatives to make aliya. What should I do if they ask me whether it is worthwhile immigrating to Israel?
In my opinion, only those who truly want to make aliya should do so.
Yehuda Friedman, son of Zalmen and Rivka (top right) hosting his relatives at the circumcision ceremony of his sabra son Gideon, Netanya, June 1977.
Standing beside him (from right to left): Avraham Pomus, Lena and Yehuda Charit, Rachel Yeger (Pomus), Emanuel Sela (Slep) and Yosef Yavnai (Slep).
Sara Weiss-Slep hosting the newcomers Friedman
Seated, right to left: Zalmen and Rivka Friedman and their grandson Eitan Blumberg, Sara Weiss and her granddaughter Nitzan Krinski
Standing: Yaacov Weiss, Moshe and Musha Blumberg and daughter Liora
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