Furst Brothers BRATIA FÜRST
After the War
Our Parents’ Story
Our parents were sent from the port of Haifa to the “Shaar HaAliya” absorption camp.
They were accommodated in a tent with iron beds supplied by the Jewish Agency. That was not an easy experience for people of their age – dad was fifty-one, and sick. While still in Bratislava, dad asked his cousin, Mišo Hecht, to rent a room or an apartment for our parents, in order for them to move into it, thus avoiding the expected tiring experience in an absorption camp. His response – on which we do not wish to elaborate – was not too decent. Upon our parents’ arrival, they found out that no arrangements whatsoever were made by dad’s cousin.
Mom and dad’s stay in the crowded, unpleasant camp was quite traumatic. Standing in a line in front of the shower house or the dining hall, together with life in a tent, were very depressing. We both were also shocked when we saw them again in a camp.
One month passed. They rented a room in the “Weiss” Hotel in Haifa. Dad contacted some friends and tried to find ways into some business, but his attempts have failed. Mom engaged for some time in the trade of sewing, but her income was very low. The amount of money at their disposal slipped away rapidly, and dad was very depressed. At the given circumstances of both financial and social problems, the two of us decided that we have to take into our hands the responsibility over our parents’ well-being. On the top of all those problems, mom fell ill. We took her for several weeks to Maanit and Merchavia. She and all of us went through a very difficult period.
In contrast with our parents’ situation, we were very happy, and despite our poor living conditions in tents, future seemed promising. We had our work, learned Hebrew, and were part of a social framework.
In the fall of 1950, Shmuel and his comrades founded Kibbutz Lehavot Chaviva. Shortly thereafter, our family decided that our parents should join the kibbutz, in a status of parents of members. By then, Naomi’s mother and stepfather also lived in the kibbutz (it was before Shmuel and Naomi gor married). That was not an easy decision, because of various shortages, which characterized those days in a young kibbutz. However, our parents’ proximity to Shmuel granted them security and peace of mind. They were put up in a hut, which they furnished with furniture they brought from Czechoslovakia. New life began fro them: dad worked in the carpentry shop, and mom’s job was at the clothing and sewing center of the kibbutz. For them, settling in the kibbutz was the most reasonable way of life we could offer.
Our parents never regretted their coming to Israel. For dad, a decision on a new beginning in life was not an easy one, and it took quite a long time to come to such a resolution. He was not a person who dreamed about going to America or Australia. However, the changing conditions in Czechoslovakia, along with our strong arguments, persuaded him to take such a step. Upon hearing news and rumors on the persecution of Jews in Slovakia and the troubles they faced, we blessed every moment of not having been in that country. All our contacts with friends who lived there were discontinued, fearing their persecution because of their ties with Israel and Jews. Most of them hid their Jewish identity.
In 1950, when our son Eitan was born, a significant change came about in our lives. Our parents were happy to live together with the enlarged family.
We can wholeheartedly say that mom’s life in the kibbutz was fulfilling. In contrast with her, dad was full of criticism. He has never been a socialist, but on the other hand he got along very well with the guys in the kibbutz. He loved jokes, mainly in Hungarian, the language he liked, which he communicated with those who came from Hungary. While dad’s Hebrew was fair, mom spoke an excellent Hebrew, and her overall integration in the Israeli atmosphere was amazing. Her lifetime of ninety years was equally divided: she lived forty-five years in Czechoslovakia, and forty-five years in Shmuel’s kibbutz in Israel.