Sunday, September 4, 2016

46 Years in Israel

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Living in Maon Betar in Jerusalem's Old City, 1970-71

Living in Maon Betar in Jerusalem's Old City, 1970-71

It's now 46 forty-six years since the boat docked, the Greek Line Annamarie, in Haifa Port. It was a Saturday night. Ministry of Interior clerks came on to assist in a few bureaucratic things, and there were some journalists, too. It was a record-breaking day for immigration from the United States to Israel, as we weren't at all alone. There were another four hundred plus Jews making aliyah, olim chadashim.

In 1970, there were great differences between life in Israel and the USA. Israel was technologically behind and still very much in the grips of Ben-Gurion's mindset and Leftist pre-June 1967 Orthodoxy.

  • Not everyone had a telephone, and some were still "party lines," shared numbers.
  • There was no Israeli television.
  • Dirty diapers were still boiled on the stove, or people used a "diaper service," since not everyone had an "automatic" washing machine, and clothes dryers were "science fiction." And disposable diapers were brought in from abroad as gifts along with toilet paper, tampons, sanitary napkins and paper towels.
  • Overseas calls were via an operator, "person to person" or "station to station."
  • Many housewives were enjoying their very first electric refrigerator, happy to no longer have to get "ice."
  • For many the oven was a "first," too, and their seer pele, "wonder pot" was still in use.
  • Cars were so rare and precious that owners had to register them for army service. Yes, true, a car did "reserve duty" in the IDF.
  • Even into the 1970's and 1980's one of the perks for MKs Knesset Members was the free unlimited bus pass. That's what Geula Cohen used to visit us in Shiloh, and Benny Begin, also an MK in those days, took the bus to Machane Yehuda for his shopping. 
  • Besides in hotels, elevators were very rare. Most Israelis lived in three story "walk-ups."
  • You could count the amount of supermarkets in Jerusalem on one hand. There was a small makolet, grocery store on almost every block, and we shopped daily. 
  • Not only did stores close for the mid-day lunch/siesta, but many people came home from their jobs to eat. At 4pm everything reopened. 
Today's olim chadashim come to a very modern country, among the most advanced in the western world. But I'm glad we came on aliyah when we did and had the privilege to be part of this major adventure of living in the State of Israel these last forty-six 46 years.

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