Zelda Harris
Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

As long as they don’t overstay their welcome!

We have to look on the bright side of life because sometimes it may seem as if it’s not worth living! My beautiful, wise and pragmatic mother Rene would say “Do not look at the lives and possessions of others, especially your friends. Sometimes they will have nicer clothes and more beautiful homes, but that does not necessarily bring happiness, only creature comfort, perhaps?” Despite the fact that I grew up in London during World War Two with all the horrors that entailed, the Blitz, the Rockets, being evacuated to strange places more than once and so on, I was a happy kid.

I also learned how to get along with others. In hindsight, I feel that my childhood experiences were beneficial and that I have continued to adjust myself to situations more easily, than those whose lives were seemingly easier.

Towards the end of the war, there was a severe housing shortage and my father had been moved from one army base to another. (He had a low medical profile and so was not suitable for combat. Instead, since he was a superb carpenter and Cabinet Maker he was sent to serve and work on army bases.) Mummy and I had moved to be near him at certain times and at others, we moved back and forth to London.

We were in fact homeless. The apartment block where we had lived had been bombed, but as luck would have it Daddy found a large house to rent in Edgware, Middlesex and we moved in. However, this was in 1942 or 3?

My Uncle Morris who also had a low profile and was employed in War Work, moved in with his wife, Alice. My cousin Riva’s husband Tony had returned from fighting overseas and joined his young wife. A random couple called Peggy and Syd also moved in, even though I am not sure why?

My father died on the last day of the war, he had contracted cancer. He was 39.

Slowly,the lodgers moved on and so did we. Aunt Stella let us her one bedroom flat in the West End and Mummy went to work in the restaurant near to Hyde Park that Stella had opened with her partner Lucien.

In 1951 when my husband Leon and I had returned from our first sojourn in Israel, we couldn’t afford the rent of the apartment we found, so we rented our bedroom to a young cousin and her friend. We slept in the kitchen and our firstborn in a cot in the lounge.

So when my husband Leon died in 2010 I decided to start to inform people in the UK that if they wanted to stay at a private apartment in TA I could accommodate them.

From that time on, I became an Airbnb host.

My life is not lonely and I have had many wonderful guests from Europe, Russia, China, Japan the USA and more, staying in my home.

I call it Home Hospitality and at least I get a small income from it so that makes life easier. At first friends (there are always some!) criticized and then warned me of male guests who might stay and could be problematic.?

“Aren’t you afraid?” they said.

I replied “never use that word to me! “do not put doubts in my mind!”

This has made an immense difference to my life. I have also been invited to many places, around the world.

I too have locals staying when they need something specific in our neighborhood, for example as TAU, The Exhibition Grounds, Assouta Hospital and more.

So even at my advanced age, I can be useful and also enjoy life and I am blessed with a large and loving family both here and in the UK. I have a granddaughter whom I love dearly, living with her husband in Australia, where I should have been on March 2nd last year. I hope that when Corona finally leaves us we will meet, even if they all have to come here and not I to them. In any case this is my HOME!

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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