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Another Israel: The Rosh Hashanah of My Childhood

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On the eve of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we would go to the Meisels – Netka and Josef – my grandfather’s childhood friends. They lived on Shlomo Hamelech Street, and from their apartment you could see the religious girls’ school that became a synagogue on the holidays. We would sit on the narrow balcony and watch from a distance; the shofar terrified me.

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My father wouldn’t come. He detested religion and knew nothing about the Jewish holidays, even though his father headed the community in his city. He arrived in Palestine illegally – in Israel 2019 they would call him an infiltrator. Back then, they called them clandestine immigrants and their infiltration was called Aliyah Bet, illegal because they were Jews who had fled Europe.

At the train station in Prague he said goodbye to his parents and his fiancée, whom he would never see again. He spent five months at sea on an illegal immigrants’ ship (which today would be called a refugee ship), including detention in Beirut, in a facility that in Israel they would call “Holot” – the detention center for African asylum seekers. In Herzliya the........

© Haaretz