Monday, September 05, 2016

46 Years in Israel

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.


Sharon Beck said...

Thank you for your beautiful story.

Batya Medad said...


Ann Bar-Neder said...

Oh Batya, you took me back 43 years.... No home phones, 2 supermarkets in the entire city of Jerusalem and having to do with the corner grocery. Oh how I long for those days (NOT). Israel was different in those days, but am so thankful for each and every day I am here. May we always share our memories.

Batya Medad said...

Just a correction, Ann, 43 years ago Super Sol had at least three branches, Agron, Kiryat Yovel and Ramat Eshkol. And I think by then the "Co-op" chain had a few, too. But phones were still rare.

Chuck Waxman said...

Mazal tov on your great achievement.
Tel Hai


Hannah said...

I love to read about how things were back then. By 1970, I had visited twice already, but things were very different for a tourist, then they were for someone actually living there. Plus I was a child- so my memories are not as clear as they would be, had I been older. I rely a lot on the pictures we took for my memories. I don't remember the Jewish quarter at all until at least a few years later. I guess we just went through the Arab Shuk to get to the Kotel. Did you take a lot of pix back then? They must be fascinating. Also, did you spend a lot of time in Israel, before you decided to make Aliyah?

goyisherebbe said...

I remember in 1970 when they extended the No. 4 bus in Jerusalem to the new neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol, and the erecting of the traffic light on Keren Hayesod. Some streets in Katamon were just being paved. I messed up my feet badly because there were no shoes for my EE feet. Shoes came with one standard width per size. I would have had to buy shoes with the toes sticking out empty or filled with newspaper. I remember going to the Tzemach Tzedek Habad shul on Rehov Habad in the Old City to daven on Shabbat with Lubavitcher friends. We walked through the shuk from Jaffa Gate. At the entrance to the shuk an elderly Arab started to talk to us in ... Yiddish! He remembered it from before '48! They used to smoke on the buses then. A dollar officially exchanged for IL3.50. The next year it went up to 4.20. Rav Ovadia Yosef held a public reception for the wedding of his daughter in the lobby of Heichal Shlomo. It was all like a dream! Those were the days!

Batya Medad said...

Hannah I hadvdecided to make aliyah before stepping foot in THE LANS OF ISRAEL. There was no such thing as a pilot trip then.
Goyish so many changes...