By Eva Feld
Commencement in 1945 in Palestine (now Israel) was not something that was a
priority thing to do or the premiere event to attend. The war in Europe had
just come to a halt but war in Palestine was just starting in full force and
it did not take very long to present itself in its full savagery. The war
had several fronts. Jews were fighting the British. British were fighting
the Jews. Jews were fighting the Arabs. Arabs were fighting the Jews and
sometimes one Jewish militant group against another Jewish militant group.
None of these skirmishes were considered officially a war but the maimed
were just as maimed and the dead, well, they were dead. Small wonder then
that commencement was not on a preferred list of things to do.
I was attending a small school on Mt. Carmel in the District of Achuza. The
school was called Amamee and our class bonded like no other class had ever
bonded before. Many of my classmates were survivors of the S/S Patria
disaster and were Mosad (orphanage-Establishment) children and some where
Holocaust death camp survivors. We had been together for two years we were
not just classmates, we were siblings joined at the hip if you will. We
swore we would be friends for life.
Some of our teachers were survivors too and they told us that we had come to
a crossroad in our lives. That we would part after graduation and probably
never see each other again perhaps only in passing and that was completely
incomprehensible and unacceptable to us. Never see to see each other again,
After lengthy discussion with teachers and the school authorities it was
decided to have a Chagiga - celebration. It was to be an overnight affair
with a lot of food and all the junk food available in those days and soda.
We took our food requests to the parents and our mothers were more than
happy to help us make the event memorable and joyful.
My parents z'l objected to the overnight affair for many reasons. One of
the teachers, a Hungarian sports teacher, convinced my parents that he would
take full responsibility for me personally and begged my parents to permit
me to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event.
The date was set for a Sunday in the middle of June just after the rest of
the classes were dismissed for the summer. The decorating committee was
busy at work. Soon the schoolyard would be filled with the joyful sounds of
mid-teenagers celebrating their last fling. It was mid-morning when the
preparations came to full stop.
Something happened and the British authorities slapped a curfew on the City
of Haifa including Mt. Carmel and the District of Achuza. Frankly, I don't
remember what happened but the curfew was declared severe-extreme which
meant - no one was to be on the streets after 5:00 in the afternoon. Anyone
caught peeking out of a window would be summarily shot to death.
Very few people had telephones in those days. The reason we had a telephone
was because my father z'l was a physician. My parents called the school and
the principal assured my parents that the preparations for the festivities
were continuing that the outdoor activities had been transferred to the
innermost classrooms. We would be locked up by 5:00 p.m and that the police
were notified of the event. There would be nothing to worry about the
children would be safe. My parents found it all unconvincing and
insufficient reason to have me participate.
I was instructed to take the bus to the school get my diploma and return
home as quickly as at all possible. The deadline was tight but it was
workable. Tearfully I turned up at the principal's home and told him about
my mission. He tried to convince me to stay but order was an order.
Reluctantly he gave me the diploma and with that he wished me well and sent
me on my way. I rushed to the bus stop only to see the last bus leave
without me. There was no alternative but to walk home, a walk of
approximately 6 plus miles.
When I failed to emerge from the last bus my parents checked with the
dispatcher and much to their horror were told that the bus had only two
passengers and that there was no teenager aboard. They called the school
and spoke to the principal. He told that I had left in a timely manner and
should have been home.
Wrought-up with anguish my father, who was personal physician to many police
officers, and quite a few of them knew me too - he appealed to their sense
of reason. He told them that I might be running home. He did not know
exactly what route I would be taking. Was I prone to taking shortcuts and
veering off the main road? Of course but exactly where or when I would
choose a by-pass he did not know. The police were apologetic said there was
very little they could do since it was an army issued curfew and they did
not have the authority to interfere. A teenager on the run or walking
alone at a time of severe-extreme curfew was suspect of the highest rank in
If there ever was a Ha-sch-ga-cha me-al (Supervision from Above) that was
the moment. Throughout my six-mile trek I never veered off the main road
nor did I run. I maintained high visibility at all times. No police or
military patrol drove past me. The usually busy road was deserted and I was
its lone human companion. I arrived at home to the loving arms of my
parents safe and sound with the diploma in hand. Why no one saw me only G-D
One thing though did come true just as our teachers had predicted. We
disbursed into our lives and we never saw or heard from each other ever
from the May 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine