Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Father’s day

I didn’t realise that Father’s day was celebrated in Israel but I just saw something written on Facebook.

So lets talk about my father. He was in his twenties when I was born and at the age of 47 he died from lung cancer.

I always thought that he was larger than life, he was 47 and I was 14.

He died on the day that World War II ended May 14th 1945.Our neighbors and the revelers at the Public House which was at the end of our garden, in the main Edgware Road, London were all singing and dancing. “We got the Bloody Nazi bastards, we won they sang.” They also sang the soldiers’ songs about coming home “A long way to Tipperary(in Ireland)” and “We are going to hang out the washing on the Seigfreid Line.”

My father was so funny that my girl friends used to love to come to my home. He would get up to pranks and even once asked “who would like a smoke?” We were about 13 years old. I was shocked horrified, I deplored smoking and for me just to remove an ashtray with butts would almost make me wretch.

Of course they thought it was the most adult and sophisticated thing that they could do, they went into our bathroom so that my mother would not know and there, innocently puffed.

It was he and not Mummy who gave me the most precious things that any child should have, the ability to discuss freely, to function with others of whom I may be shy. To see nature for what it is. “Look there’s a bunny running up that tree.” As we passed the lake nearby, “Look at the graceful swans” as we passed them, he on his way to his workshop and me to school. He also loved to listen to music.

From my mother I inherited pragmatism and to be content with what I had. Not to envy others. During WW2 in Britain all clothing was rationed and we needed clothing coupons to purchase anything, but there wasn’t much available. No imports and no official permits for the production of so called “luxury goods”. My Father Percy, was a brilliant cabinet maker and as the war was coming to an end he re-opened his workshop and once again produced outstanding furniture. There was no seasoned wood available so he made it from dismantling enormous Victorian solid mahogany and walnut cupboards and sideboards and fashioning them into dining and bedroom sets. My mother was sent to the auction rooms to do the buying.

Only in my dotage can I really appreciate how wonderful they were. I am blessed to have children with great talents who are also innovative and yet modest. My father also was a prankster! He also has passed on those entertaining if not sometimes embarrassing traits!

So I look at my family my two sons whose children too, have some of my father’s mishugassim as we called them. Not forgetting my precious Anthony who left us far to soon and the talents of his children and more than that, a regard for fellow human beings, also for dogs!

Fathers and daughters what they mean to each other is different depending on family circumstances and the times in which one lives.

Whereas I adored my Mother who fortunately lived till the age of 89 I did not inherit any of her skills! However her sense of fashion maybe.

I am proud to have had such parents!

I am sure that Daddy up there somewhere, is making the angels laugh!

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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