ISRAEL AT 40
ed to maintain a regular life. The
children attended school when possible
because "the education was more im-
portant even than water."
Fisher left Jerusalem when the
family received news that her father
had been wounded and was being taken
to a hospital in Tel Aviv. The family
packed up, taking only several days'
worth of clothing, and headed off to Tel
The journey was an adventure for
young Ofra. She and her mother rode
with a special convoy, accompanied by
armed guards. The trip, which takes
about 45 minutes today, lasted eight
On their way, the travelers made a
short stop in Netanya. As the vehicle
slowed, children came running up and
handed Ofra an apple.
"For me, that apple was like caviar,"
In Tel Aviv, Ofra found her father in
good spirits. The wound he had sustain-
ed was to be the first of many.
"But he was one of the lucky ones,"
Fisher says. "He wasn't killed, than _ k
Their stay in Tel Aviv was suppos-
ed to last just a few short days. But
while there, Ofra's family learned that
a shell had fallen on their Jerusalem
home, destroying much of the building.
Then a family friend paid for the pur-
chase of an apartment in Tel Aviv for
"At that time, friendship was of the
highest value," Fisher explains.
Two months after Ofra's arrival in
Tel Aviv, Israel and its Arab neighbors
declared a cease-fire. Yet for months the
food rations continued, and long lines
formed outside almost every market.
Sent to buy bread one day, Ofra
found herself standing in line beside
"Somebody told her, 'But you're the
prime minister's wife. You don't have to
stand in line like everybody else, "
Fisher recalls. "And she said, 'Ben-
Gurion would never allow for that: "
One of the most accessible food
items was fish, imported from the
United States. "We were always eating
that fish," Fisher says. "We had all
variations possible. We had it fried,
cooked, broiled — every way that you
Only by the mid-1950s did the ra-
tioning and the long lines finally begin
to disappear. And what was destroyed
in the war was being rebuilt, slowly and
One of the things repaired was the
home in Jerusalem where Fisher had
lived as a little girl.
In the 1970s, Fisher returned to
that building, bringing her daughter
As she was approaching her old
apartment, she heard someone call,
"Aren't you Ofra?"
CITIZEN'S ARMY: Virtually every Israeli serves in the Israel Defense Forces. Shown here reviewing
early Independence Day Parade are Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and Chief of Staff Yigael Yadin.
It was the woman who, during the
war, had lived next door. Still residing
in the same apartment, Sara had heard
Fisher speaking and recognized her
Walking through their old home,
Fisher was surprised at how small it
was. Even her daughter asked, "How
did you sleep four in here?"
Fisher paused for a moment before
a window in the building through
which she and Sara's son had often talk-
Only by the mid-1950s did the
rationing and the long lines
finally begin to disappear. And
what was destroyed in the
war was being rebuilt, slowly
ed. That young man was later killed in
the Yom Kippur War.
"Nobody in Israel escaped a war,"
Not even Fisher.
Her uncle, Moshe, was one of the
many Israelis who died in the fight for
"He was like a big brother to me,"
Each Shabbat, Moshe would bring
Ofra a treat of raisins and sunflower
seeds. And when she was sick, he would
care for her.
Then Moshe ran off to join the ar-
my. Only 17 years old, he lied about his
age so he would be accepted.
Many years after Moshe's death,
Ofra still refused to believe that her un-
cle was gone.
"I thought it would be like with my
father — I had to wait a long time, but
finally I saw my father," she says. "So
I would walk along the streets, sear-
ching for people who looked like Moshe.
I was sure that if I just waited long
enough, one day I would find him."
SINAI WAR: Israeli army, aided by France and England, occupied the Sinai
peninsula and the Gaza Strip for a week in the fall of 1956, responding to
hostile Egyptian actions. As a result, blockade of the Tiran Straits was
ended and the U.N. created an emergency force in the area.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS