Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

What to write about?

I have been thinking about what to write in a blog, on one of the worst days of the memorials at this period.The Shoah the Holocaust! To make sense of it all, while I am also  figuring out whether to go to join mutual friends in Berlin for a dance work shop.

The first time I went  to Berlin I was alone at my friends’ home. So I climbed aboard a  Berlin tour bus and took my chances. I cried my way through the journey as I passed all those places which I recognised from daily broadcasts during World War Two mostly about where we Brits had bombed or fought battles.. The Reichstag,Brandenburg Gate,Unter den Linden and more.I imagined seeing the long Red Flag with the black swastika on the buildings.Why would it no longer be there?

At the prestigious girls’ school which I was fortunate enough to attend, not because I had well heeled parents, on the contrary, I won a scholarship which paid my fees until 18 years of age. I brushed with anti- semitic remarks and even the girls whom I invited home to afternoon tea were not all admitting to their parents that their friend was Jewish!

The Upper Sixth form was out numbered by German Jewish refugee girls. They were all  brilliant  scholars but dreadful at sports.They kept themselves to themselves. We encountered others whom some of my friends parents had invited(sent them certification) and they were servants or housekeepers.Also the kinder transport which has its own amazing history.

We had an excellent education which included, looking people in the eye. The man polishing your shoes or the housekeeper cleaning your floors yes them ,are all human beings. So admire and respect the way that they earn their keep and so, look at them and talk to them.

So, I have been trying to come to terms with the idea of those in the FSU(I thought they were no longer an element)those who are killing their own  Ukranian brethren. Same language, same food,traditions and history from Tsars to Lenin and Stalin,now what?

My grandparents were from there and 5 of my mothers siblings were born there.

I myself during my return to the UK from 68-1978 was active in the 35’s Womens’ Movement for the Release of Soviet Jewry!

So I am waiting for an answer after listening to Eran Singers’ excellent programme on Thursdays Kan One, where we get to learn about the other, with whom we share this land.

Today Eran interviewed   Noa Eran and Yasmin Kara. Different backgrounds both engaged in public work both erudite and neither having a problem to understand the other because they have made it their business. They have learned to listen to each other.

The answer is staring us in the face yet there are still those out there just waiting for the chance to STIR THINGS UP” Plus they get media attention because they push their despicable selves in front of the camera.

I was once at a prestigious literary festival in Jerusalem and Fania Oz was actually the Presenter, of a session on literature from different countries and angles. Incidentally, she was wonderful. With her inimitable sense of humour she guided all the speakers through presentations, even though, there were many alternatives.  One had an interpreter on hand, another translated his to English as he/she went along,and so on.

However the consensus was that good news, happy stories and so on did not make good books. There always had to be anger ,cruelty,altercation. Fires,Floods and Wars,shootings and of course sex.

Having said that what kind of family lives do these evil dictators have?  What about their offspring,what are their values?Where were they educated?

Looking around at my mixed family, differing pasts and education one could say world apart in behaviour and customs and language,I see trust and admiration and love. We are lucky to have a brilliant shared sense of humour which I like to think emanates from my father at least on our side.

I have been given to believe that the bad seeds are planted in their youth. I know that Winston Churchill had a terrible childhood in that his mother never went to visit him in boarding school..neither did my husband’s! The royals all have stories, the rich too. Thank God my dear Leon was not typical. He was the most caring and understanding father.

On the contrary it seems that those who were ill treated  either, became bullies or the”salt of the earth” like Lucy Mandelstam my dearest friend.  Lucy who survived the Vienna Ghetto,Auschwitz selection by Mengele and  other horrific camps till she escaped to Italy near the end of the war and from there a boat carried her at last to Israel, with only the clothes she stood up in.

Until her last days she was a Viennese lady with all that infers. She loved music and opera,read in English and German was a brilliant seamstress and knitter. One of the most special people who ever lived. Holocaust day for me will always be a personal tribute to her.

I used to say to her that she must have been very loved as a child. She talked of walks along the Danube with her Dad. Her mother had been a nurse and her sister was slightly handicapped. She was a true lady.

I pray that we will learn.

We need a Martyn Luther King type…maybe?

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.