Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Do grandparents actually influence or are they simply symbols?

I find most young Israelis blissfully unaware of their heritage in terms of where their families originated. Is that symptomatic?

Is this because everything changes so fast these days?

Or do people just not care? As a Jewish child growing up in Britain I was fiercely proud of the way people in my country of birth, behaved in general both during the horrific Blitz of London and the rocket attacks which came later. Also the vast amount of German Jewish refugees who were during WW2 were at first employed away from major towns but gradually integrated in the all strata’s of society.

We did not grow up with fear, we so believed in the strength and integrity of our forces.

However, I really did want to know more about our antecedents and my grandparents who did not speak English only Yiddish.

By the same rule I did have some brushes with anti-Semitism, but on the whole, could deal with them. On one side I am of Rumanian descent and the other Ukrainian.

It was the Ukrainian crisis which made me want to investigate more, but there was no-one left to discuss this with. My cousins in the UK seem to be totally disinterested in our connection albeit that their mother my youngest Aunt, was a devout Zionist and a fantastic fundraiser for WIZO. Her children do not seem to be concerned. On the other hand devout Christian friends from Holland who stay with me on their visits to Israel, have opened their home to 18 young refugees from the Ukraine.

I listened to an interview with Superstar (in my opinion) David Broza today and I think he referred to his parents as having lived for a time in Spain, but not to his grandfather Wellesley Aron who was an extraordinary man of many parts, who started the Habonim movement in the UK and Israel and was behind projects which today are cornerstones in Israel. Primarily, Neve Shalom.

At the end of one’s life, it’s not enough to write a book that people who have never even met me will read, one questions relationships and also cultural mores which may or not make a difference in identifying.

In our family in Israel, I admire my daughter-in-law, who together with her sisters, find opportunities to talk about their heritage which is indeed rich and fascinating.

After what for me was a disastrous election result, I hope that everyone will truly think about what Israel means to them. However not at the expense of others who populate and contribute to every strata of our society.

Am Israel “CHAI” and every other nationality and faith who live on our land.

Be proud and loyal BUT remain open-minded and caring!

May we all be blessed!

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.