Archived site
Read only

life story books
To my beloved mother Written by Sigalit Tamir

Sarah Tamir

Fathers name: Shmuel Levy

Mothers name: Ida Rephael Levy

Country of Birth:


Year of birth: 1933

Places of Residence:

Paraguay, Argentina, Israel

Brothers/sisters: Nisim,Rivka, Moshe, Yehoshua, Hemda

I am sitting in front of a large beautiful window, through which I can see my beloved landscape: the open fields that beckon to us, beyond lies the border of our neighbors, the Palestinians. We have a hostile relationship with our neighbors, hurtful, frustrating. My dream is for us to go back to being a small country, without occupation and without oppression. A country where we could live from the labor of our hands, without poverty and crime. Well, this is a dream. Maybe the future generations will live their lives in our dreamland.

70 years have passed since the day I was born. A lot of time, a lot of achievements and failures. My most important success is my sons. Five descendants and each of them is a unique successor, dear world.

My biggest failure is my marriage, with many ups and downs, and a final breakup after 49 years. It took us a long time. We should have separated a long time ago, and when we did separate it was accompanied by a lot of pain.

Today I'm alone. The children are grown up and have left the nest. My partner for the past 49 years had found a beautiful young woman to love, and I'm sitting near the window, trying to find a reason to live.

As a refuge from the despair, memories surf up, like flashes that remind me of crucial moments in my 70 years.
End chapter 1

I always reminiscence about the large house - six children, father, mother, grandmother and the servant. I was the little girl, in an emotionally crowded home, a work-weary family, miscommunication between parents. The little me stayed out of the house, didn't feel loved, was a bad student, could not learn and could not concentrate.

Grandmother, small, quiet, mother's mother, sometimes came to visit us. She had become a widow recently and was still in mourning. I came home one day and saw her sitting by the water well. Her eyes filled with tears while reading a newspaper.

"What happened, grandma?" I asked.
"In Europe they kill the Jews" she answered.

First encounter with the holocaust. A moment I will never forget. Until then the world was clear, in order. Suddenly such a disaster with the Jews being killed. Why? There is Anti-Semitism in our region, but we are not really suffering from it. I started to get interested; I wanted to know, in my effort to understand. I join a Zionist pioneer group, not a political group. I wanted to know why there is a holocaust. Suddenly I find studies interesting. We study Jewish history. After a few years I become a teacher myself. I have a challenge to face, responsibility. Finally I learn how to learn.
And so, as I found interest in studying, my father decides I don't need more studying after high-school. There's no need, and it's expensive, and I'm not a genius that needs to be invested in. All my brothers studied and nothing came out of it. "The girl will go to learn how to type, and that's enough."

Meanwhile I discover first love. I am not loved in return; I am not that kind of a girl. I'm a clumsy child-adolescent, sloppy, hyper active, not exactly soft and lovable.

I loved my father. A modest religious man, he worked hard and did not see any good from it. He sold clothes on credit to poor women and did not always get his money back. I will always remember when he said,"If my children are not hungry, I can wait for the payment". But things at home were hard. Mother had to feed 9 persons, and on this account there were quarrels in the house.

Until they decided that salvation will come from Argentina- we were moving to Buenos Aires. My elder brothers (Nisim, Moshe and Joshua) planned to open a store for presents and frame-making for pictures. My eldest sister was already married and living in Buenos Aires. The second sister, Hemda, finished High school and they all moved. I stayed with father while he finished his business. Then at 15, I got the first Birthday present in my life. Rebecca and Chaim sent me a book of Poems by Amado Narabu. I was so happy! After some time I went to Buenos Aires by myself on the train.

It was just a dream that went poof - we thought in Buenos Aires our problems would be solved. We were so naive! The store went bankrupt and father didn't have a job. The boys managed somehow. Trouble continued to be our companion.
End chapter 2

I go to a Zionist group. Work. And, again, fell in love with a boy who didn't love me back. After some time I move to another Zionist group, "Forward the Young One' (Kadima Hatzair) and make many friends. I put a lot of work in the Zionist group and besides, I'm working two jobs. From 8 o'clock in the morning to eight o'clock at night, and afterwards go to the Zionist group meetings. The unbelievable happens - a boy fell in love with me, for the first time. I like him and believe that I loved him too.

Meanwhile the Zionist group is preparing us to emigrate to Israel. To pay for the trip, we need to work for 6 months and prepare for Israel. What a lovely time that was. Lots of work but so much happiness. And then Yoshke arrives. He loves me and it became clear to me that I was not in love with the guy I had agreed to marry. It was clear to me for some time already but I didn't have the courage to tell him. I needed to decide, and I chose Yoshke. The guy takes it very hard. At home they are not happy I broke off the engagement. I did not tell them about Yoshke. Father doesn't permit me to go as a single woman to Israel. I work hard at convincing him and finally he signs the permission document. My sister Hemda was already in Israel and had a hard time there.

It was the day of the departure. To my surprise all the family came to say goodbye - parents, brothers, many cousins. I cried and couldn't control my tears. I hadn't considered the loss I was going to experience. It was 1954. We did not think we would see each other again.

Nobody thought that within a few years flying to South America would be as easy. After a short stop in Rio, we continued to Europe on a boat. I was seasick all the time. In Italy we got down and travelled for one month. That's another story by itself and I'm going to omit it here.

Finally, we got to Haifa. My eyes are welling up with tears - I can't describe how excited I felt!
End chapter 3

I am an Israeli citizen! New life begins, I'm happy. After a month in Kibbutz Revadim, we were sent to join a new Kibbutz "Nir Yitchak". It was a young, lively and friendly kibbutz. I would be lying if I'll say it was easy. We were young, strong, impulsive, stubborn and aggressive. There were a few who left, those who couldn't deal with the mundane work. But most of us stayed.

I wanted to work in the dairy barn, but they wouldn't let me. I started working in the chicken coup. I wanted to take care of children and they placed me in the kitchen. That started a long career in the kitchen that included cooking for children, for the kibbutz, managing the kitchen. I always looked for challenging jobs and assignments; I wanted to learn and do better. I took part in many Kibbutz committees, and meanwhile got married in Jerusalem, in a modest ceremony on December 26, 1954.
In October 1955 I gave birth to Gil and Igal. The birth of the twins was a big surprise. I did not know I was going to have twins. From all the happiness I felt that time, the happiness of giving birth to the boys was something else. I can't describe what I felt when I was busying myself taking care of those two little wonders. Those babies were quiet and beautiful, developed well, and gave me only pleasure.

Yoshke's parents and his brother decided to immigrate to Israel as well. They are still young and arrive in Masarik Kibbutz. His father works in the grove, his mother in the kitchen. Arie, his younger brother goes to school. After a year the mother couldn't work in the kitchen anymore. It's too difficult for her to work for 8 hours straight. We applied to transfer his parents to our kibbutz under a "Parents' status", which would give them the right to work only 6 hours a day. The application is accepted and they move to our Kibbutz. Yoshke's father continues to work at the groves; his mother starts working at the sewing workshop and does very well. Everybody was happy except Arie who stayed by himself in Masarik Kibbutz and we learned only years later about his sufferings. He went through the teen age years by himself, without warmth and support, and none of us and not his parents were aware of it. Arie would never forgive his parents that they left him at that time.

Yoshke and I are not happy anymore. The spark of love I saw in his eyes when we were preparing to emigrate to Israel has disappeared. He did not love me anymore. We didn't understand and share our feelings, not about personal problems and not about other problems. I was miserable. I was looking for tenderness but Yoshke was totally indifferent to me. He did not try to understand and get close to me. I was by myself. We separated for a short time, and then went back to live together, but the Yoshke I loved never returned to me - I lost him. Then Ami my son was born. And again the perfect happiness. What a lovely baby. I was happy with the new baby and my twins.

Yoshke busied himself with theater at this time. He did a directors course, but missed the final stage when Ami was born. He works at the bakery and does his theater business. We have no understanding and there's no warmth between us. So the years pass amid the hope that our relationship will get better, and a lot of work in the kibbutz. The kids are great. I did not yet realize then how distant Yoshke had become to me.
With the twins we made many mistakes in their education, which will stay with them all their lives. Ami is an independent boy. And then comes to the world Sharon- a beautiful blonde jewel. Maternal happiness again. Two years and nine months after him Sigalit is born. She develops well - pretty, gentle, smart - what a flower!

I was naive to think that there is hope for me and Yoshke's relationship. I was proud of my children and I thought things would work out.

Only years later did I find out that the kids weren't as happy as I thought. I cannot convince them that the mistakes we made were made from love, in the belief that we were doing the best we can.

Today I'm 73 years old. I divide my life into 3 parts - Childhood and adolescence, adulthood, and old age.
End chapter 4

My father"™s story- Shmuel Levy

My father was born in Bulgaria in 1894. His father and his mother Rebecca had five children: Mazal, Sarah, Rephael, Joseph and Shmuel. My father's father's name was Nisim Levy. They were religious Jews. His wife died and he remarried and had another son Sason.

When my father was 10, he was sent together with his brothers to Israel. They travelled on foot and stayed at Synagogues. I don't know much about this journey. They arrived safely in Israel and settled near Jerusalem. Nisim's wife died, and he went to Israel to join his sons only with Sason and the girls. He married again but his wife ran away with an Arab.

Nisim had a Bohemian spirit. He sang and played an Ud (musical instrument). In Israel he had a small bakery, and he used to bake bread and sell it in the streets. For people who could not afford it, he would just give the bread for free.

Things didn't go so well; the family moved to Tel Aviv. My father started to work in the Anglo-Palestine bank. First as a cleaner, but later he acquired more learning and got a promotion as a clerk. My grandfather Nisim sent my father to Jerusalem at the age of 20 to study the Torah. My father fell in love with the Rabbi's granddaughter. It was a time of great hunger in Jerusalem. My father helped the rabbi's family a lot.
End chapter 5

My mother"™s story

My mother Ida was born in Jerusalem in 1900. Her father came from Greece, and her mother Grezia came from Bulgaria. She had a brother named Eliyahu, and two sisters: Tamar and Sarah.

Life in Jerusalem was tough. Her father decided to emigrate to South America to try his luck. He left the children to the care of his wife and his father the Rabi Joshua Bashan. When he had gone, the First World War started and he got stuck for 7 years in Argentina, without any possible chance to transfer money to his family in Israel. My mother used to tell us that sometimes all they ate was pita (a kind of bread) with olive oil. That's why my father's help to her family was crucial.

My mother said that when she was young she and a bunch of youngsters her age were demonstrating in the streets for the right to speak Hebrew. They were shouting at people "Speak Hebrew!" I just read about those things in books but for her it had been daily fare.

The end of the war ended Ottoman rule in Israel. The British came, and General Allenby took over Jerusalem. My grandfather Moshe returned to Israel. He brought with him many trunks filled with merchandise - he meant to open a store. But when he opened his trunks he discovered them full of stones. Somebody had opened them on the way and stole all the contents. He opened a small shop in Jerusalem in spite of this, but it didn't work well. He got beaten by Arabs and he decided to go back to South America - Israel is not for him. Meanwhile the relationship between my mother and father Shmuel and Ida became stronger. The Rabbi died but he had earlier promised his granddaughter to my Father.
Moshe had different plans for his daughter, but he gave up when he saw how in love they were. My father didn't want to move to South America with Ida. He was a Zionist. He was doing well in the bank and had an offer to manage the Bank's branch in Zefat. But my mother would not think of living away from her mother, and on the other hand didn't want to separate from him. He promised her a wedding. My father gave up, married my mom and moved to South America with her family. He never got to be as well off as he was in Israel. His business in Argentina did not go well. His wife's family mocked him for that. He became religious and was also a cantor in the synagogue. Maybe he looked for comfort in religion.

When my parents returned to Israel they went to a Kibbutz, but my father never regained what he had left. He was miserable, did not get along, he got severe diabetes, and eventually he and my mother went back to Paraguay.

End chapter 6

All my father's brothers stayed in Israel and raised their families here. The only one I was in touch with was uncle Sason and his family, but through the years this connection fizzled out. Today all the uncles and aunts are dead and I am not in contact with any of their descendants.

My brother Nisim (Shimito) lives in Buenos Aires with his family. He is 85. My sister Rebecca and her husband live in Buenos Aires as well. She is 83, he is 84. My brother Moshe lives in Asuncion. He is 81. My brother Salvador (Shoyoto) lives in Israel and he is 78. My sister Hemda lives in Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak and she is 76.

And I live in Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak. The twins Igal and Alon live in the Kibbutz as well. My son Ami lives near Rehovot. His brother Sharon is now in the north, and my Sigalit lives in Tel Aviv. A bright light for me is her daughter Gal, 4 years of age. Their lives are tough, but they are young and I'm sure they'll be okay.
End chapter 7

Old Age

That's it; I reached the third stage - old age. It's been 3 years since Yoshke left. Those have been difficult years and I got through them only because of the support of my children and good friends. Loneliness is hard. A year ago I went to South America. I saw all my brothers and nieces, and I came back ready to live. I renovated my house and made it mine. I get along with my loneliness now and I feel good at home. I continue to work, but not much. I continue to paint, but not much. I read a lot, listen to music. I don't go out of the house much and I don't feel the need to. No drives to restaurants, no theater and no movies. I feel emotionally tired; very few things interest me. It's a kind of quietness, relaxation"¦
End chapter 8