Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

The big A!

Is it or isn’t it Alzheimers?

Am I forgetting things?. Yes!

Am I talking nonsense?

I have always talked a lot. Have always expressed my opinion on a variety of subjects.

I have always been nosy, interested and constantly seeking involvement in one thing or another.

So why change now?

I feel that its not suitable for an OAP who is living with a Caregiver(as the Americans say!)I say a “mitapelet”, to interfere in family matters in which I can be of little help. On the other hand I want to help because I have experienced so many tragedies in my own life that I can both sympathise and empathise.

Sadly the truth is, that at the end of the day one cannot climb into anyone else’s skin or mind. Some would argue that point!

When the kids were small we could say “come over here darling, Mummy will make it better.’ Nonsense really, but a hug or a stroke and a kiss can do wonders. When I would take the boys to have a injection as the needle was about to pierce their delicate skin I would say “make a strong face” and that would have great results, once they decided which facial expression would fit the occasion!

We try to protect them. Barbara Streisand even wrote a song called “If I could” which always brings me to tears.

Today it is my wonderful sons one in Israel and one in the UK and one who watches from above, who seemingly control my life. Also my grandchildren. Whether it would be in matters financial or decisions which I want to take but am, anxious that I am expecting too much of my body my legs or mind? Finances are another thing. One has at the back of the mind for example… “If I do not spend on what I want now, then someone else will spend it so what”?

It’s like saying “how long is a piece of string” We are not exactly masters of our own fate but when one is the Senior member of a large family one is reluctant to leave emotional and financial decisions to others.

The burial will not be a problem and I would have liked to hear the Hazan from my synagogue singing something like “Don’t cry for me” or My Way!

I have heard that people actually leave instructions. Body for science is one. That causes problems too in our Jewish religion because there are regulations pertaining to body parts. However there are ways around that. This due to the results of military conflict, terrorist attacks and the endless tragedies we hear about daily, many of which are on our roads. Too many also about wife abuse. Something I cannot get my head around!

I used to follow closely those whose minds I felt were greater than my own and enjoyed Amos Oz and David Grossman and also Uri Avneri. When I first heard about Uri I thought that he was a terrible man who was more concerned about our relations with the non-Jews living here. Then I changed my views. I went to all the meetings and found myself agreeing with so much. I have worked for years in the field of Hasbara for Israel and loved the thought of living in a “Jewish” state and not having to be apologetic as I had to in my previous “before Aliyah” life. Having first come to the State in 1949 and with a husband who at a tender age had involved himself in the plight of the “refugees” plitim who were stranded in Marseilles, I was qualified to show others the real life of Israelis.

He had left a comfortable life which included his love of “National Service in the British Army, to join MACHAL(mitnadvei hutz laaretz)in 1949.

When we lived on Moshav Habonim we employed Druse workers who knew a lot more about

farming the land than former S.Africans, Brits and Yanks. What we did not learn was how we came to be there? What had gone before in Tantura and only years later after seeing Mottie Lerner’s play, the name of which escapes me, I bow my head.

I have the feeling that my deep committment to this land is multi- faceted and am happy to say that I have friends of every religious persuasion, some in the major cities others in Kfar Kassem, Efrat and in France and Berlin and Spain etc. Some of whom I have met through activism and others who came as Air Band B guests to my home.

To everyone, I wish a Happy New Year and Joy and Good Health. I pray that the horrors of war will become a thing of the past. Never could I have believed that another bitter and hateful conflict would erupt in the world after Hitler and Stalin, neither in Europe or the FSU. Does anyone learn from the past?

Hazak Veematz: Be strong and of good courage…the first Hebrew saying I learned!

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.