Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Eternal optimist

Honestly? Corona is trying to squeeze the last vestige of energy and creativity, out of us. If we let it, we will all become moronic. We will ask “How is your Corona day, today”?

One can imagine the answer.

So being an OAP as they call pensioners in the UK, an elderly person, passed sell-by date, I can speak for some of us. I am also fortunate to have a dedicated caregiver Anni, from the Philippines. She has a beautiful voice, sings all the pop songs, and is a fantastic cook.

My father who sadly died on May 14th 1948 (the last day of the War in Europe) from lung cancer, was an optimist. I have at least inherited that from him. My mother was a pragmatist who brought us through some difficult times.

So these days not able to do much physically but trying to retain my sanity, no small challenge, I am getting into some interesting if somewhat sad, discoveries about my father.

He designed amazing furniture, they called it cabinet making. He also went into bankruptcy at the start of WW2 when all luxury businesses were forced to close.

He invented a cocktail cabinet which was a must, found in every elegant home during the years leading up to World War Two. My eldest son possesses such a cabinet. In fact, so does the widow of my middle son. It was almost a coincidence that not one but two were recovered, both under different circumstances.

The first was taken to Milan by Anthony who was then GM of CIGA hotels.

One day someone came to do some repairs in their hotel suite. He noticed the Cocktail cabinet, which had been varnished over to look like mahogany! He suggested to Anthony, that he allow him to remove the varnish and recover the original wood.

It was amazing that years after my father’s death, the original was brought up to par!

The second cabinet was discovered in the home of my elderly Aunt Ada who died intestate. My youngest son Micah happened to find the company which was handling the clearance and rescued it.

So at last at least, those two pieces will be almost identical to each other, if separated by oceans.

In this technologically orientated fast-moving society it’s hard to have a conversation with the youngsters about anything that happened in our past.

It’s inconceivable in fact, that my great, grandchildren were not impressed when, while we were eating sweet corn I announced that the first sweet corn factory in Israel had been on Moshav Habonim where we lived when their Saba was a child.

At least all our family keep in contact with each other by WhatsApp.

My granddaughter Anna in Australia, who is also a designer and my grandson Harry in the UK who is an artist also my youngest grandson Ben, is studying environmental, landscape design at Shenkar College in Tel Aviv. They are quite excited and impressed by all the discoveries related to a great, grandfather.

So, all I hope that their memories of me will be that I was not “an old bat” but a fun Safta.

Shabbat Shalom!

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.