Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I made my mother proud

My parents were shocked when I decided to emigrate to Israel in 1964. Nobody in our London community did that. It was hot and dangerous there. Besides, all those Israelis were communists as well.
To cap it all I was going to do manual work on something called a kibbutz . After they had scrimped and saved to send me to a boarding school. After I had passed my A levels and could go to a good university and have a fine career.
Well, those were the kind of things they said. Anyway, I went.
Later I did feel a bit sorry for my mother. She could not brag like the other women when they were playing klaberjass together. My son is milking sheep in the desert, would not have given her a lot of bragging points.

When I was in the Israeli army my father became very ill. My mother went to the Israeli embassy and asked them if they could find me and tell me to come and visit. The embassy contacted the military.
The first I heard about it was when some attractive female officer who had something to do with soldier welfare spoke to me. I was on a special paratrooper course at the time. The only way you could get off it was in a coffin. Which is not really that funny, because the popular name for my base was suicide base.
Everybody was nice about it. No, I could not leave the course, but afterwards they would do all they could to help. Compassionate leave would then be no problem.

My father’s health improved and then the war started. So I forgot about going to London.
The Six Day War was a watershed moment for British Jews. The community suddenly discovered Israel and they were proud.

The Jewish community was always organizing special dinners and dances. They were usually events where the rich and famous could flaunt the fact that they were rich and famous. There was a spate of dinners to celebrate the Israeli victory.
Some bright mind hit on the idea to organize a dinner with the British parents of soldiers serving in the Israeli army (IDF) as guests of honour.

They went to the Israeli embassy to get a list of names. It could not have been very long. I had never heard of another British Jew in the army. The embassy had my name because my mother had been round to see them about my compassionate leave.
My parents received an invitation to be among the guests of honour at some dinner with important people. My mother later wrote me that they had been treated like royalty. The food was not too bad either.

She said it was the proudest moment of her life.

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