Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

A nightmare or an eye opener?

My identity card was frayed at the edges.Why not, I have had it for 40 years? So I decided it was time to come into the 21st century and get a biometric one.  I had secured an appointment online at the nearest branch of the Ministry of the Interior in Bnei Brak.

Arriving almost half an hour before the designated time I was greeted by a lovely young modestly dressed young woman who seeing that I was early for said appointment, suggested that she might get me attended to promptly.

Soon afterwards my number came up,  literally.  I seated myself opposite a fairly motherly looking woman who glanced at my old tattered card and then proceeded to ask a million or so it seemed, questions. All the time looking at me or at my former identity card.

Then I was asked to sign on forms which I could hardly understand and also to ascertain if or not, wanted to have my name in the MAGAR which I took to mean the information base or census?

I said yes to everything.At my age and status I have nothing to hide.

Then endless questions about names of grandchildren and since I have quite a few and they are not all “Harrises” I thought I would go beserk.

Then the fingerprinting. First the thumb and then the forefinger on the other hand, then to wipe the lens again with a special moist pad . I wondered if this had any connection to CORONA but was too nervous to ask for fear of being thought flippant or senile? She got quite annoyed that the technology was not working as it should.

I had only been in this situation once before and that was in the former Soviet Union on my first visit to Moscow in 1977.

When we arrived at the official  customs booths at the airport  each person was pushed into a small aisle and a metal bar was clapped down behind to prevent escape! Then I was stood in front of the official who looked  at me so piercingly that I felt almost naked. I also wondered whether he had a camera inside the booth that showed how fast my heart was beating? Naturally he asked me endless questions with a dead pan response.

Finally today’s interview ended with my being photographed only after her request that I brush my small fringe to one side. I then timidly asked whether as an official of the State she might sign my form from the British Pensions office? They send one every year  to ascertain that I am still alive and that they can continue sending their meagre old age allowance to the Israeli address. Her answer was in the negative.

So feeling relieved when she assured me that the biometric identity card would be sent by a private messenger to my home, I left. After descending two lifts I hoped that in the massive building which houses the MOI  on Jabotinsky Street,I would find a cafe for a badly needed cup of coffee. This didn’t happen either?

However, while I was waiting for my turn I  had  observed an orthodox young man inter- acting so playfully with his gorgeous year old son who was lying in his pram.    I faced the reality that his child would not go to the army. I wondered if he the father, would be inclined to vote for a party that would at least attempt to bring peace to our tortured land?Then we could reduce the size of our army and the ultra orthodox would not have to deal with the paradox that is affecting their society. To serve or not to serve?

I exited the building to a reality which for me was a nightmare. The streets are  not streets.There are building works everywhere and its almost impossible to cross a road safely. I saw a young woman walking in the direction I needed, but in the road! I asked if I could walk along with her? I simply did not even know where I could  get a bus going in the direction of Tel Aviv.

Eventually, I found my way to Ben Gurion Street and went by “Shanks pony” as they say till I got to the end of it and finally found a taxi to take me home. I have no idea of how long I had walked.

While I was out I tried to contact my cleaning lady who did not answer her phone.

I expected the worst and that she had failed to contact me as my phone had been switched off for ages.When I entered my spotlessly clean apartment to my utter delight found the opposite.

So all’s well that ends well as The Bard wrote and I am off to get that much needed cup of coffee and put it all down to experience.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.
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