Hello Six readers and follwers!
After bombarding you with my thoughts about the world’s 2013 sum up of movies, I believe you caught your breath
So, this time I’m getting personal now.it’s not going to be, Hopefully, not embarrassingly personal..
This January my mum turned 88 years old. As of now, her mind is clear, she walks unaided, tells dirty jokes in three languages, and understand them in English, she’s still the worst cook in Israel, and she does daily walks of 20 minutes (Used to be 60), My mother sold her Volkswagen , when she turned 83, she’s about years older than her husband, she never married, their 23 years of married lives was great.
My mother belongs to the women who forged during WWII and the Holocaust. It wasn’t easy being Jewish girl in a small town, practically a whistle-stop in the Galicia Basin. which belonged to the Kingdom of Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire, Poland, USSR, Nazi Germany, USSR and from 1992-Ukraine.
Her life is a mixture of Jewish Mark Twain, a grim World War II movie, and a domestic Italian& French Comedies of the 50’s and 60’s.
My mother came from a very small town named Kuty, if you ever ran into Hasidim , know this, they are the direct descendent of the movement who started in the mid 18th century in my own mother’s town of Kuty, which was an open rebellion against the influential and relatively rich jews leadership. Every custom, chant, outlook of life, all started there, in a small whistle-stop nobody knows- Kuty.
My mum came from a very religious mother and an unassuming man, who was an agriculture trader, and a veteran Jewish WWI soldier with a limp. His name was Mordecai(My Brother’s Namesake).
She had other two sisters, Fruma the eldest survived the war, and came to Israel in 1959 with her small family, the youngest Donia, and my grandma Clara starved to death in Kolomeya Ghetto, after an aborted escape plan to Roumania. That was in 1943, a year earlier my grandfather was shot in his bed, since his limping worsened, and he couldn’t get to work repairing the bridge , which connected Kuty with Roumania.
My mother studied in a Girls Polish school, actually she didn’t. My mother played truant, and for a reason. The headmaster and his wife who ran this noble institution, barbed, hit, and harassed the Jewish girls. If you converse openly in Yiddish, you’d be bitten, an insignificant smudge in the ear-You’d be humiliated, your ears were boxed, you were lashed mercilessly with a ruler, no small wonder at all, that my mother decided to quit school, and focus on outdoor activities,she was excelled in sports, fought boys, addressed her opinions openly, and was(still is) opinionated defiant petite 1.53 Jewish girl.
When the Hebrew Zionist Orinted Education Network opened an alternative school called simply”Culture-(“Tarbut”), her parents enrolled her, and pretty soon my mother loved to be there, the reason was simple-All, the good teachers were Jewish, due to Antisemitic regulation, there was a quota, which allowed a pitiful number of Jewish teachers to actually teach at the general non-Jewish school, so the rest simply had to teach at the Tarbut Network, my mother was an excellent straight A student.
Her passion for learning, curiosity, love for intellect, came from these teachers. They taught her a valuable lesson All a kid needs is some modicum of empathy, and he’d be OK .
My mother’s ability to secure alliances and friendship fast came to her at a worst time, and practically saved her life-World War II uprooted her, by now a refugee with her classmates, she trekked across Ukraine and Soviet Asia, fleeing the Nazis, who massacred her community killing her parents and younger sister, she came to Tashkent, starving, barefoot, exhausted, she found a job.
It was a job at an airplane factory, her department supplied fabrics for the Plane’s wings and tails, this fabric was an excellent material for clothes. My mother started to work in a harsh conditions, which resulted in her getting typhoid and losing her hearing in her left ear.
In order to survive, she joined a band of hapless Jews, who stole the material, and looked for a fencer, my mother’s luck and trade abilities, assisted them to find a Jew. Pretty soon my mother developed as a cat burglar, who stole fabrics and sol;d it in the black market, at 16, she started to run the department unofficially, pretty soon she was the department’s indispensable boss.
At 20, she decided to come back top her hometown.She met desolation, hatred from the locals, and frightened jews who told her all about her dead family members. saved from her sister Fruma who was ironically in Tashkent during the war, being a large city, they never met, each assumed she’s the only member of the Krumholtz family.They reunited in Israel her family and ours in 1959.
My mother decided to move to Palestine or Land of Israel as it was known. she was now entering her final phase a Zionist social democrat Jewish woman.
After being with a a group of young refugees, all in late teens early twenties, all orphans, or with one member of a family, they boarded a ship in Bulgaria and headed for the Haifa shores, the British, pursuing their anti-illegal punitive act, as if there was no holocaust, caught them, and after a brief skirmish, the ship towed to Cyprus.
My mother outwitted the Brits, falsified her age and managed to come to Palestine or Land of Israel, as it was known. MY Mother was the generation which created the Israeli State, she was also the woman who taught me a very important lesson I was a Machoistic kid, till one fateful day 10/03/1973. The day my father died, she took two helpless young men me and my brother and quietly told us:”Boys, dad died, we’re all alone and nobody would take care of us, except we”.
And that was the line which changed me to a feminist straight man.
Happy birthday Mum!