Once my parents knew that they were leaving Poland, they started getting ready in earnest. It involved mostly selling things that would not be useful in Israel, like fur coats, and buying goods that they could sell at a profit once arrived in the new country. Based on rumors, they bought crystal objects and a moped, supposedly highly praised in Israel. Around March 1957 a couple of huge wooden crates appeared in the apartment and slowly filled up with goods and furniture. And the moped (that was sold with a high profit after they settled in Israel). It all got shipped out to Haifa before May 1st.

We took a taxi to the train station and left for the Port of Szczecin on the Baltic Sea. All of the new immigrants for Israel filled up an old passenger ship (it was no cruise ship, believe me) to Le Havre in France. We followed the German coast west to the Kiel Canal that took us to the English Chanel. Except on the canal, the seas were quite rough and the weather miserable. Everyone was sick – I really mean everyone – except the crew. From Le Havre in the north of France we took the train to the outskirts of the beautiful city of Montpellier in the south of France and ended up in a layover camp.

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We lived in tin shacks, barracks, like you see on military bases.

We stayed there for about four weeks and the weather was great. The food they gave us in France was very good – we just loved the cheeses and the baguettes. The day finally arrived when we were loaded on busses and driven to Marseille. We boarded an Italian ship – much nicer than the one we took from Poland. The sailing on the Mediterranean was pleasant, smooth, and the weather was great. A few days later (maybe 10? 14?) we saw the Port of Haifa.

Haifa

In Haifa, after we went through the customs and immigration, we met my father’s cousin Havek and his family. It was all new to all of us – different continent, different country, different language, different weather, different people, and different architecture. Of course many people spoke Polish and Yiddish so Adam was communicating with ease. After a couple of days we were driven to my uncle Shabtai’s house in the town of Rishon Letzion, one of the first Jewish settlements in Israel. Shabtai and his wife Batsheva lived there with their two sons, Edni and Dani, ten years older than me. Shabtai changed his name when he arrived in Israel in 1926 to the Hebrew translation of Motyl (butterfly) which is “parpar”; his name became Shabtai Parpari. The two sons were in the Israeli Defence Forces – Dani in the intelligence division, and Edni in the paratrooper regiments. We spent a couple of months in Rishon and started to get acquainted with the language and the people. Because Shabtai was an administrator at the Housing Authority called Amidar, we were allocated a small apartment in a new development called Rasco Bet in the town of Holon near Tel Aviv. The buildings were three stories high with 6 entrances called “shikunim” or subsidized housing. There were about 12 buildings. There was no gas so we cooked on a oil camp stove. The weather was hot.

Adam started looking for a job. After a few odd jobs he began working for one of his friends from Poland who had several businesses. One of them was a furniture factory. It was hard, hot work and not very well paying but it put bread and butter (really margarine) on the table. After about 8 months and through some acquaintances Adam landed a position as a café-restaurant manager on the beach called Riviera in a neighboring town called Bat Yam. It was a beautiful setting, a great white-sand beach but there were few customers and the help was terrible. The business was not good. He lasted about 6 months.

Beach on the Mediterranean

At one point he got so discouraged with the dim future and the idea of restarting a new life at the age of 48 that he decided to end it all. It was a calm evening and there was nobody on the beach at the Riviera. He walked towards the water and started swimming out towards the horizon. He figured that eventually he will get tired and drown. Fortunately, this is a very long way to get it over with. As he was swimming further and further he was thinking more and more about his family, about his two sons. The more he thought the more the idea of dying became unacceptable and plain stupid. He was a survivor who survived hell during the war and communism after the war. He decided to live. He swam back and did not tell anyone about this until weeks later. I heard about this attempt on his life years later, in the 70s, from my mother.

A few months later his luck changed – he left the Riviera and he got a good job as a timber expert at the largest lumber and construction company in Israel – Solel Boneh; it was almost a state monopoly. There are no forests in Israel. Pretty much all of the lumber and timber imports in Israel came through his company. He liked his job and stayed there until his retirement.

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