ISRAEL AT 40
Fingeroot's Victory Medal from the movement in Poland. The two fell in
Israel Consulate and a list of Americans love, married and moved to Jerusalem.'
honored at the Israel Memorial Forest.
They settled, with their first
Those named, several whom Fingeroot daughter, Ofra, in a small apartment.
knew, were killed in the War of They had just enough money to survive,
so young Ofra was surprised when one
Fingeroot knows that he could easi- evening her father came home with a
ly have been one of those listed at the large box.
memorial forest, but ignoring his duty
He set it down and began twisting
to Israel during the war was never an and turning the dials. And thus the
"I felt it was something important
to do," he says. "Something just pulled "The Arabs thought Jerusalem
me there — this was a land for all the would be a very easy
Jews, for the Jewish immigrants from
"Together, we worked to help build
Israel, such an important part of Jewish family began their long vigil beside the
history. And we are part of that history." radio on the night of the historic U.N.
I t was deep into the night in
After the General Assembly's deci-
Jerusalem, but almost no one sion in favor of establishing a Jewish
state, Ofra and her parents went out-
It was Nov. 29, 1947, and the side where they joined a jubiliant crowd.
United Nations was about to vote
"All the people were singing and
on the establishment of Israel.
dancing in the middle of the streets,"
In the midst of all the anxiety, a she says. "And some were going door-
small girl named Ofra was doing all she to-door, making sure that everybody
could to get some rest: Only eight years heard the news."
old, she kept closing her eyes only to
The joy of the day was quelled when
hear her parents cry "Wake up!"
the Arabs began an immediate attack
The family sat huddled in their one- on the Jewish residents. Ofra's father
room apartment, listening to the radio. joined the Jewish army and was station-
"My parents kept telling me 'This ed near the Dead Sea.
country voted for us, this one against
The Arab armies, meanwhile, set
us, " Ofra Fisher recalls.
their sights on Israel'sscapital city. With
Today, Fisher is acting superinten- most of the men running off to join the
dent of the United Hebrew Schools.
armed forces, Jerusalem's remaining
Long before Ofra was born, her population consisted of the elderly,
14-year-old mother ran away from women and children.
Poland to help settle what would
"The Arabs," Fisher says, "thought
become the Jewish state.
Jerusalem would be a very easy cap-
"My mother's parents," Fisher says, ture." They were wrong.
"thought she was crazy." Yet they
It's not difficult to understand the
followed their daughter to Palestine and Arabs' confidence. In addition to the
thus almost certainly escaped slaughter fact that most of Jerusalem's remaining
in the Nazi death camps.
population appeared anything but
Fisher's mother came to the kibbutz threatening, they suffered from a lack
where she met another determined, of food and water.
young Jew who had headed the Zionist
The Arabs had destroyed the city's
sewage and water systems, so residents
were forced to use nearby wells — an ex-
perience Fisher has never forgotten.
"To go to the well was very, very
dangerous," she says. "Many times
those who went to get water never came
Most often, this chore fell to Ofra's
grandfather, who had moved in with the
fainily. Once a week, he would carry two
empty pails to the well and return with
water in each. As little possible water
would be used for drinking, Fisher says,
with the rest serving to clean the
dishes, then to wash the floors, and then
finally for the toilets.
Food, too, was scarce. Each person
received small rations of bread and
eggs, which Fisher says served "most-
ly so you can keep alive, that's all."
Yet the Jews of Jerusalem struggl-
THE SECOND DECADE
SECOND PRESIDENT: Yitzhak
OUT OF THE DESERT: Jewish immigrants created villages, towns and cities —
and farm lands — through tireless work.
28 fRIDAY,ARRIL 22, 1988
WAITING FOR BREAD: Food shortages and rationing
were common in the difficult early years.