Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Why I Am A Zionist

My father, G.R.H.S., left Swinchan, Vilna, and came to London over 70 years ago; and a year or so afterwards, my mother, G.R.H.S., followed, with the four children - two sisters,my brother, and myself.
There is still in my mind the memory of mother having to lift us out of the waggon because the horse couldn't pull it up the hill; and when we arrived in London I was just over four years old, so there is little I can clearly remember about Swinchan.
For some time we lived in a garret in Brick Lane, by the railway arch, and later we moved to Booth Street, which is now called Princelet Street.Opposite our house was the old Booth Street Synagogue, and it was there that the Machzike Hadath Congregation came into being.
There was a Chazan named Moshe, G.R.H.S., with a long whitebeard, who taught me Hebrew. It was a pleasure to look at him,and I liked him very much, and he took a liking to me also. After some time the Machzike Hadath moved to its present Synagogue at the corner of Fournier Street and Brick Lane.

My father was one of the first members, and attended all the Services as it was the only Orthodox Synagogue at that time. They had a very learned Rav, Rabbi Avraham Aba Werner, G.R.H.S, extremely clever, and liked and respected by all.
My father worked very hard, day and night, as a cabinet maker, and as he didn't work on Sabbath he had to come in on the Saturday night, after the termination of the Sabbath, to make up the lost time. The workshop roof leaked and the rain came in,and he used to put a sack on his back to cover himself from the rain while he worked.
Now a society was formed which called itself Cyprus, and the members were all those who wanted to go and settle in Palestine. But at that time it was under Turkish rule, and it was forbidden under heavy penalty to sell land to anyone ofthe Jewish race; so they decided to settle in Cyprus, which was as near to the Holy Land as they could get.

My father joined this society, and he paid ten shillings a week to it.He only earned 30/- a week, and mother, G.R.H.S., couldn't manage on the £1 that was left, so she took in lodgers, and cooked meals for them.
It was very hard for her, with four children and another on the way, and in spite of the hardship and poverty it was an open door for any near relatives orlandsmen who came from Swinchan. I remember that on Friday she used to put sand on the floor to make the room look nice for the Sabbath, so you can picture the state of our house in those days - no carpets such as we have today, or even lino, but what could you expect on father's earnings of 30/-a week, of which he gave 10/- to the Cyprus society.
It was decided to send a commission to Cyprus to see the land and the conditions there, and as the members were master tailors and cabinet makers and diamond cutters and many others, they went by votes, and the master tailors were selected to go.

It upset father, he felt that tailors were no use on the land, they needed men who could work on the soil. Anyway, they went to Cyprus and were away for sometime, and when they came back they gave a very bad report,and it seemed that all their funds were lost.
After sometime the PICA, a Rothschild concern, came to their help and paid out a very little for it, and the Society disbanded. They had a Synagogue in Vine Court, which was a very large room, where all the members prayed on Sabbaths and Festivals, and it was in that Synagogue that I had my call-up for Barmitzvah. And the Synagogue also disbanded, and that was the unhappy end of the Cyprus Society.

Now I come to myself, and how I became a Zionist. I saw my father, how he sacrificed himself for Cyprus, just because it was near to Palestine, and how he hoped that one day he would be able to go there, and I realised that I must try for Palestine, and I worked very hard for our cause.
Everyday we pray for Zion and for Jerusalem, without lifting a hand, and I felt praying was not enough. So when Dr. Herzl came on the scene with his idea for a State for the Jewish people, I felt I had to help. I went canvassing every Sunday for the Jewish National Fund, and sold Shekolim. Also at this time I had my own affairs to look after.
My Rabbi Moshe gave me a good Hebrew tuition, and when a Yeshivah was formed in Stoney Lane, Houndsditch, he recommended me to join it. There were two large rooms, with about a dozen boys, and we studied all day and had our meals there. It carried on nicely for some time, and several times we were visited by Dayan Sussman and Dayan Spiers of the United Synagogue, who took great interest in us. After some time passed the Yeshivah couldn't afford to supply us with meals, and they appealed to people to give us a day each with meals at their homes. We tried it for a while, and we were not very popular in some of the homes; we heard such remarks as "The lazy lads are here again" and "Let those lazy boys go and work for a living"; and sometimes in stronger terms. So we dispersed, and that was the end of our study. When the Dayanim Sussman and Spiers heard about it they offered us places at Jews' College free of charge, including my friend Rosenbloom G.R.H.S, and myself. I was very pleased, and so was my father.
But fate ordered otherwise; Dad got very ill, and the family had to be supported, so into the workshop I had to go and do my duty. My new struggle started, and it was not easy. My brother Aleck G.R.H.S. also came into the cabinet making. He was younger than I, and he helped me very much in everything I did.
Mother looked after us bravely. Then we moved to Hoxton Street, as there was more room, and it was more central in the cabinet trade,and we used to go round hawking the furniture we made, on a barrow, to show it and try to sell it. There were plenty of disappointments, in many places we were told to "come back tomorrow". One man even said he thought the goods were stolen,and I told him to call a policeman.
And so we carried on for along time, until we heard that the London County Council was going to cut a new road through Hoxton Street, and our house would be pulled down. So we went to the agent for the Landlord, and begged him to give us a tenancy agreement on the house, so that the L.C.C. would have to give us compensation if they demolished it; and he did give us the agreement.
After a few years had gone by the house was getting dilapidated and a lot of repairs were badly needed, but the agent would do nothing. We wanted to leave, but unfortunately we were tied down by the agreement.
One day, passing through Kingsland Road, we saw that the old Police Station was to be sold or let, so I said "Let us write and ask what rent they want for it."
The family laughed at me and said that we hadn't the cash it would cost. But I begged Aleck,G.R.H.S. to write to the Commissioner of Police to ask the rent, and the reply came back that it was open to offer. So I said: "Let us offer any rent, as we couldn't afford to make it into a workshop anyway." So we sent in the ridiculous offer of £120 a year, and after some months went by and we heard nothing, we forgot it altogether.
Then after a long time, a letter came accepting our offer. We were all stunned with surprise; we couldn't get involved in such an undertaking. So we wrote back and said that to break up the cells and convert it to a workshop would cost a lot of money and we couldn't do it. So the Police wrote back and told us to get an estimate and let them know the cost, and they would pay it. So we signed the agreement and took it; and afterwards the L.C.C. demanded that we install fireproof ceilings on the first floor, and other things, and we couldn't afford it.
So I said "What can they do to us? All they can do is to cancel the lease", which was in father's name.
We wrote to the Police about it, and they came down, and we told them the position. In a few weeks we got an answer to go ahead with the work and send them the bill. And that is the short story of the Miracle of Kingsland Road that happened to us - and the One Above looked down on us and looked after us; as the old saying goes, we were like unto the young fools who stepped in where angels fear to tread.

The reason I mention Kingsland Road is that I was always sorry that I missed my chance of making an easier living by becoming a Minister. The hard work began when Kingsland Road was settled. But Sundays were my canvassing days for the J.N.F., and I had plenty of rebuffs.
One Sunday I called on a Mr. Levene. I had called on him several times to try to get a donation, and he refused me each time; but I worried him each time, and at last he saids "No wonder you have a Police Station in Kingsland Road." He meant that I take the money for myself. As it happened, I belonged to the Bethnal Green Talmud Torah, and he was on the Committee, and the Rev. J. Goldbloom was the Headmaster, so I told him about it. He asked me to attend the next Committee meeting, and the Rev. Goldbloom said to him "How dare you say such things to Mr. Davis." And he made Mr. Levene apologise to me for the insult, and pay a donation to the J.N.F.
One day a man went up to my father and said: "I would never believe that your son should canvass for Zionism. I always took him for a religious young man; how can he do such a thing?" So when I heard of it I went to this man,and said to him: "How can you, a Cohen, talk like this? All our prayers are for a return to Zion and Jerusalem."

And he was dumb, and said nothing.

I went to all the Zionist meetings, and met the great Jewish leaders of those days. I was at the historic meeting that was held by Dr. Herzl in the Queen's Hall, at the back of what is now Broadcasting House, and also at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington.
When Balfour returned from a visit to Palestine I remember hearing him say "We opened the door of Palestine to you, you must work hard to keep it open, and it will not be easy." There were many of the great men of our race at that meeting, a great crowd and a lot of excitement. Then, at the Great Assembly Hall in the Mile End Road, when Israel Zangwill spoke, and Prof. Brodetsky was in the chair,and others of great fame; and many other smaller meetings such as the King's Hall in Commercial Road.
And I was sent to Manchester as a delegate to the Mizrachi conference, where we had a very good reception on the Sabbath in the Great Synagogue, and on the Sunday the conference started in full swing.
Now every Sabbath I went with my father to the Machzike Hadass Synagogue for the Service, and in the afternoon we went to listen to a sermon by a Rav, as this was the only Orthodox Synagogue then. One Sabbath, the lecturer was Rabbi Gold,G.R.H.S., of the Mizrachi movement, and when he started his sermon there was a great uproar.

They said "We do not want to hear anything about Palestine, where they work on Shabbat and eat treifah"; for there was a lot of opposition to Zionism from very Orthodox Jews. So there was a lot of shouting, and it took Rabbi Gold a long time to get their attention, and when he promised to say only a couple of sentences, they quietened down a little, and he said
"The difference between Palestine and London is that in London there are also religious Jews, and in Palestine there are also Jews who work on Shabbat and eat treifah and do other things that are forbidden by the Torah."
And what he meant by that was that in Palestine they are mostly religious, and only a few are not, but in London thev are mostly not religious, but a few do keep the religion. So they let him get on with his sermon.

Now I have an answer to the "Four Questions" why I was always a keen Zionists:

(l) That my father worked very hard for Cyprus and gave up a third of his meagre wages in the hope that one day he would be able to enter the Holy Land.
(2) I had always prayed, morning and evening, for Zion and Jerusalem, and never done anything to help; that is not praying right, work and prayer is the right way.
(3) The prophecies in the Book of Daniel. Two things have already been fulfilled. - theBalfour Declaration, and the establishment of the State of Israel - and I am convinced that the rest will be fulfilled.
(4) I can see a great future for the Jewish race in Israel; and I hope my children will have a hand in it.

I have already mentioned the eminent Rav of the MachzikeHadath, Rabbi Avraham Aba Werner. He had a son-in-law Deichowsky, G.R.H.S., with whom I was very friendly; he used to be of the Chaikin wine business in Brick Lane.
I used to talk with him a great deal on general topics, and one day he told me that Rabbi Werner had told his wife that in her lifetime the Messianic Age would start. I have a record of it, and it is nearly 59 years ago. So I started probing into the dates where the Rabbi Werner got it from.
I started reading and studying Daniel for years, until I got it right. I cannot explain it on paper, because it has to be explained personally in great detail for the person you are explaining it to to understand. But two things have worked out on the appointed dates prophesied in Daniel: the Balfour Declaration, and the establishment ofthe State of Israel.
Both of these have been fulfilled, and I have shown my workings to some Rabbis and Ministers, as well as many learned laymen, and they were all very interested and pleased, and agree with the job.
So let us hope that the rest of Daniel will be fulfilled "speedily and in our days" and in full, and our children will see it all. P.G.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

My First Visit

For as long as I can remember it was always my fervent hope that one day I should he able to settle, with my family, in the Holy Land. And it was in January 1920, thirty-seven years ago, that I took the first step.

I was 35 years of age, full of vigour, and burning with zeal for the Zionist cause. At the time I was in partnership with my late brother Aleck G.R.H.S. and it was with his agreement that I found it possible to embark on my adventure.
I bought woodworking machines with which to set up a cabinet-making business in Palestine, together with a petrol engine to operate them, earth closets such as are used here in England where there is no main drainage, and many other items of equipments and I took Agencies for these various things, in the hope that I might be able to do some business in them. We had everything delivered to Kingsland Road, where we packed it for shipment, and made the necessary shipping arrangements. And so it was on 17th January that I said to my dear wife
"I am going to book my tickets today," and I set off for the travel agency.

It was in Cooks office in Bloomsbury that I made all the arrangements and whilst I was there I fell into conversation with a Mr Gardner, who asked if I was going to Palestine. He said that he was, and so we decided to travel together. I felt it would be nice to have company on the journey, which in those days was a very considerable undertaking, especially to one who had never been out of England before.
For my travels until then consisted of delivering furniture by horse-drawn van, although now that I look back, I covered a lot of England on my journeys! Mr Gardner took me round to see his brother, who lived in Philpot Street. Whilst my new companion was out of the room for a short period, and in conversation with his brother, I learned that Gardner was a married man with children. His brother knew that he was going to Palestine on business, but didn't know what kind of business. When we parted that day it was arranged that Mr Gardner would buy train tickets for both of us for the first stage of our journey, from London to Dover.
On the fateful morning, the whole of my family came with meto Victoria to see me off and as departure time drew nearer, I began to be worried about Gardner's failure to turn up, especially as he had my ticket.
Finally, when there were only a few minutes to go, and I had sent someone to buy me another ticket, he came rushing up. In the panic, I didn't- in spite of all the "build-up of excitement and anxiety -say farewell to my family when we left Victoria, which is one of the things for which I have never forgiven Gardner. I asked him why he was so late, but he snapped my head off, and all I could learn was that he was hungry and had eaten nothing. So I offered him some of the sandwiches that my wife had prepared for my journey, and he attacked them like a starving animal.

I can remember that it was foggy that morning, and the engine was whistling almost all the way to Canterbury, but from then on to Dover it was clear and bright. After Customs and Passport inspection we went aboard the Channel boat, and Gardner wolfed the rest of my sandwiches. We made a good smooth crossing, and in little more than an hour we disembarked at Calais, and, after Passport and Customs inspection, we went to the train which was to take us on to Paris, where we had to change.
We sat in opposite corner seats, and it was not difficult to see from his eyes and his manner that my travelling companion was a very troubled man. I asked him what was wrong, and tried to cheer him up, pointing out that we were, after all, on the way to our belovedPalestine, but the way he looked at me, and his surly answers, decided me to dispense with his company at the earliest opportunity. But I would stick to him until we were aboard ship at Taranto, as for one thing he spoke French, and for another we had booked to share a sleeper on this train across France.

We left Calais, passing through some lovely country, although it was not long after World War I and there was a good deal of devastation to be seen in places, with war debris littering what must have been battlefields. After a stop of half an hour at one station which was badly battered by shell-fire, we finally completed the journey to Paris, arriving just before nine at night. Here there were further Customs formalities, but I didn't have to open my trunks.
I told Gardner that we should try to find out at what time our train for Italy would leave, and for some reason he became furious,and yelled at me. So I found a courier on the platform, wearing the familiar Cooks' cap, and when I found he could speak English, I asked him.
To my dismay, he couldn't tell me anything except that a railway strike had started in France, and the only way to find out was to go to Cooks' office the next morning.
When I gave this news to Gardner he ridiculed it but I told him to ask the courier for himself, and he did, and seemed a little sorry for his behaviour.

I wasn't very pleased at the prospect of having to spend the night in Paris, but Gardner said that he expected it, and had booked, whilst in London, at the Grand Hotel. When we arrived there in a taxi, it was to learn that they had no accommodation, the railway strike had filled them up. We had quite a job finding a Hotel room, but eventually we did, in a suburb, or so it seemed to me, and I was glad to get to bed.
In the morning I washed, and put on my Tallis and Tephillin to say morning prayers, when Gardner looked at me and said "You're not for Palestine, they don't say prayers there!"
I told him to mind his own business and to be a little more civil. Later we set off for Cooks' office to make enquiries about our journey to Italy. It took us a good hour to get there because the Hotel was a long way from the centre of Paris. To my horror, it turned out that there were no trains leaving Paris for Italy that day, and that it wouldn't have helped if there had been, because we had missed the ship, which had already sailed from Taranto.
And as the ships only sailed fortnightly, I realised that I was going to be stuck in Paris for two weeks, until the next sailing. I didn't find the Hotel at which we had spent the night to my liking, and wanted to change, but it suited Gardner, and he refused to move to another.

I didn't know my way to Cooks' because we had previously gone together, and I couldn't converse in French with the Hotel porters so whilst Gardner was out I took a taxi, and asked the Cooks' clerk to direct me to the Jewish quarter. When I finally found my way there, it reminded me a great deal of the East End of London. I didn't know whom to ask, so I went into a shop with Hebrew books in the window, feeling that the bookseller would be able to guide me, I went in and told him my story, how I was going to have to stay in Paris for two weeks, and wanted to be amongst Jewish people and have kosher food.
He asked me where I had stayed last night, and when I gave him the Hotel card I had picked up at the reception desk he seemed shocked at the address! I don't remember, after all these years, where it was, but apparently it was not the place for a respectable Jew!
I asked, him what I could do, pointing out that Gardner had booked the room for both of us, that he held the receipt, and that I couldn't speak French.

Mr Samuels very kindly called his son, who returned with me to the Hotel in a taxi and spoke to the Manager, explaining that Mr. Davis wanted to pay his own bill and leave.
There was some argument, but finally they agreed to release my luggage, and young Mr Samuels took me back to his father. I had a very nice meal with them, and they wanted me to eat with them for the whole of the fortnight, but I couldn't agree to that. They booked a room for me at an Hotel nearby, and they did prevail on me to have meals with them on Shabbos.
Thus it was that I was free of Gardner all the time I was in Paris.
The Samuels were very nice to me, and their son took me round and showed me a great deal of Paris. One Shabbos he took me to the Rothschild Synagogue, which is very beautiful, with everything ornately carved and gilded. I have never seen so much gold and silver in a Synagogue, it was more beautiful than I can describe.
For all that, I thanked God when I was finally able to leave Paris, and Mr Samuels saw me off at the station. I will cut short the tale of the journey across France, and just tell you that I finally reached the port of Taranto, in Italy, and boarded the ship that was to take me to the Land of my dreams.
No sooner had I settled my things in my cabin than I saw Gardner, who wanted to speak to me. I was strolling shortly after on the promenade deck of the ship, which had not yet sailed, when a lady with whom I had got into conversation suddenly said "Can't you see our Messiah overthere?" I asked her what she meant, and she pointed out Dr.Chaim Weitzmann walking along the sea-front.

Later, when he came aboard, I met him on deck, gave him a Shalom, and we got into conversation. He asked me where I came from and what my plans were. When I told him I was going to set up in business as a cabinet maker he said that I should do well inPalestine to make chicken coops. He was very friendly, and I arranged to meet him when we arrived in Palestine.
The ship finally arrived at Alexandria, Egypt, and as there was to be a delay of 48 hours before the Customs inspection we all went by train to Cairo. This is how it comes about that I have seen the Pyramids and Sphinx, and the Museum of the Old Pharoahs, and the old Jewish quarter.
And so back to the ship, and after the Customs inspection I booked a room at an Hotel. There was still martial law operating, as it was not long after the war, and it was necessary to get a Permit to travel to Palestine. I still have this document, with a passport photograph on it, and details of my name, age, place of birth, nationality, and so on. One of the printed questions reads "If returning to Egypt, when ?" and the Intelligence Officer who made out the Permit had written "Not returning"
Yes, I really did intend to settle in Palestine! It was not only a Permit to Enter, but it also permitted me to travel on what was then the Palestine Military Railway.

It was in Alexandria that a woman came to me with a most pitiful story. She was trying to join her husband, in Tel-Aviv, but couldn't get there. She had travelled to Beirut .and they wouldn't let her proceed to Palestine. She had been by boat to Jaffa but they couldn't land on account of rough weather; and she couldn't get a Permit to go by train as she was not a British subject.
She was crying bitterly all the time, and begged me to help her, but I realised that there was nothing I could do. But I remembered that Dr. Weitzmann was still in Alexandria, so I took her to meet him, and told him of her unhappy position. He said that although he personally could do nothing, the Jewish Agency would help her on his recommendation. I met her, some time later, in Tel-Aviv. She was most grateful for what I had done, and I like to think that I played a part in reuniting that couple.

The journey from Alexandria was quite interesting, although there is little to see when travelling through the desert except sand and sky. We crossed the Suez Canal and at Gaza there was a stop. Here there were Arab women selling oranges and hard-boiled eggs to the passengers, and I bought some for the rest of the journey.
So we reached Lydda, where it was necessary to change on to a branch line for Jaffa and Tel-Aviv. At Lydda station I thought I was in trouble when some Arabs started pulling my trunks out of my hands. A young man called out to me
"Watch out or you will lose them."
He yelled out to the Arabs in their own language, and they left my baggage alone. I spoke to the young man who had helped me, and thanked him, and said if he should ever be in London he should call at Kingsland Road.

I didn't think, at the time, that I myself would, be there to receive him, because the time did come when he called, and told me he was stranded in London.
It seems he was in flight, a marked man by the Arabs because he had been doing good work helping Jewish immigrants. I kept him whilst he was in London, and when he finally heard from Palestine that it was safe for him to return, I provided his ticket.
So in my modest way I had managed to do another good deed, and united him with his family there.

And so I finally arrived at Tel-Aviv, and it wasn't the city we know now, but a poor place, mostly sand dunes. I was certainly not very impressed by my first sight of Tel-Aviv, but I booked in at an Hotel and was glad to have somewhere to rest after my long journey.

There was an interesting coincidence at dinner time in the Hotel, a number of people who had recently arrived were telling all about their travel to Palestine, and what excitements and experiences they had to describe, but I didn't find their stories very thrilling or even interesting.
And there was another man also who got a little impatient, and said
"You call that a story? I will tell you a story of bravery and courage."
And he told of awidow he knew, who had made her way to Palestine, with three little children, with no man to accompany her, with very little money, with only her burning desire to get to the Holy Land, and so she had dragged all the way from Central Europe, some of the journey on foot, through Odessa and the Dardanelles, the hard way, on a tramp steamer.
And he compared this brave widows journey with ours, pointing out that we had come by comfortable trains and sleeping cars, had good food and cabins on a good ship, but she had suffered real hardships in making this journey. And I think the rest of them were very impressed.

After the meal I asked this man who the woman was and where she came from. He said she came from the Swinchan area of Vilna, and her name was Simcha Frieda Rothstein.
I told him that she was my Grandmother. He was very moved. He said we were cousins, and embraced me, and then he lifted me up and stood me on a chair and shouted
"This is the grandson of the Mrs Rothstein I have been telling you about."
I really felt I had been honoured, I don't think it would have meant more to me to be lifted on to a throne than on to that dining room chair in the Hotel at Tel-Aviv that day.

His name, incidentally, was Mr Huglin of Liverpool, and I think we were third or fourth cousins. For many years we continued to send one another New Year cards, until I left London for Israel.

I met my late Grandmother and was very proud of her until her last days, I promised her that I would carry out her last wishes, and it was I who made the final arrangements for the burial ground and the tombstone, and to say prayers for her soul, and up to this very day I still pay for the up keep of her grave.

Later I began to look around me, and to see more of Tel-Aviv. On one of my walks I came upon a lot of people crowding round a man. I strolled over to find out what it was all about, and they told me it was the celebrated Baylis, who had been falsely accused in Russia of murdering a child for blood for a Passover ritual.
It was a much-publicised case at the time, but he was found innocent and set free, and came to settle in Palestine. Conversing with someone in the crowd, I was asked the standard question - "From where does a Jew come?"
When I said London, they told me that by a coincidence a London man was being married that day to a local girl. Out of curiosity I asked the man's name, and it turned out to be Gardner - my Gardner!
I said that he could not marry as he already had a wife, and asked to betaken to the girl's parents. They were most grateful to me, and insisted I have a drink. So it was that I saved a girl from bigamy and shame and put an end to Gardner's affair.

I went to Jaffa, to see my old friend Mr. Chaikin and find out from him how things were. I told him about the equipment I had shipped, and he was quite pleased and thought I had a good chance of success.

It was a little before Purim when I arrived in Tel—Aviv, andI didn't want to enter Jerusalem until Passover.
I was getting a bit anxious over the delay in the arrival of my goods. At the time I could have sold them before they arrived and made a fifty per cent profit, but I turned down the offer because I wanted to start a business, and I began to look around for a place.
I was eventually told of a factory a man had built and then had to abandon through lack of funds, and I went to see it.
It was in a place where there were no roads, only sand dunes, but I thought it might have suited me, and I told the man, who was asking £600 for the whole lot, that I would see him when I came hack from Jerusalem and come to terms with him.

I don't know what I missed, because although at that time it was off the beaten track, for all I knew then, and for all I know now, it might have been in what is now Allenby Road!
So the time came for me to set out on my first visit to Jerusalem, the Holy City.

I travelled, by bus over good roads, and arrived at the Amdursky Hotel, close to the JaffaGate, just in time for the Passover Seder service. I am not an author or a journalist.
I only wish I could describe toyou my feeling of elation when I first set foot in Jerusalem, and what a thrilling experience it was!

The Seder was a delightful one, and I met many friendly English-speaking people, a number of them from South Africa. One knew Charlie and Dora, another knew Ray and Max. And it was at this Seder in Jerusalem that I learned that Betty had been cured - this good news alone would have made the trip worthwhile for me.
They kept the Seder going till very late, and I went to bed very tired and very happy.


Up early in the morning, I had a cup of tea and made my way to the historic Choorvah Synagogue, the oldest one in Jerusalem, for morning prayers at 7.30. The sermon was preached by Rabbi Kook, and afterwards I wished him Good Yomtov and he remembered me from the Machzikei Hadass - theSpitalfields Great Synagogue in London.

The whole congregation went after shool to Mussaph service at the Wailing Wall. It was a very moving Service at that holy spot and all of us shed tears. Afterwards we returned to the Hotel, where Rabbi Kook made Kiddush, and he invited me to his home. I enjoyed my meal, and set out on a walk, to see more of Jerusalem.

I walked for hours, and it was worth all the trouble of the journey, just to see the Holy City, and to feel that I had managed to get there, and to pray that one day we should have it back as our own, in accordance with the Divine promise.

I walked, unhindered, taking everything in and. in fact, I was about to enter the Mosque of Omar when my attention was drawn to a notice saying it was only permitted for Moslems to enter, so I withdrew.

On the second day of Passover I went walking again, and I saw a lot of Arabs singing and dancing and jumping in their wild manner, but it didn't seem specially strange to me at the time. I returned to the Hotel for breakfast, and afterwards as I stood on the balcony I could see a large group of these Arabs, with knives and daggers and sticks, still screaming and yelling and dancing, making for the Jaffa Gate, which was the entrance to the Old City.

One of the visitors to the Hotel, Mr. Slod took a snap of this Arab mob from the balcony of the Hotel, and I still have a copy of it. My companion was a Mr Davis - no relation - from London, and I remember that his brother was a jeweller in Bayswater Road. It was on this second day of Passover that I suggested to him that we should visit Bethlehem, to see our beloved Mother Rachel's Tomb, and he agreed to go with me.

The keys of the Tomb are kept at the Synagogue in the Old City, so we had to go there first to get them from the Shammas, but to my surprise, the Synagogue, which is always open, was on this morning locked up. I realise now that the Shammas must have got alarmed by this mob of Arabs, who hold such a procession once a year, and here they were doing it again, so he had locked up the Synagogue and left the Old City for safety.

As we made our way back towards the Jaffa Gate, to return to our Hotel, we came up with this wild mob of Arabs, who were jumping and screaming like wild beasts. We were in a difficult spot, as they were in an ugly mood, but the streets of the Old City are built with arches, and very narrow, so only two can walk abreast.
We were pushing our way, in fear, through the Arabs when someone opened a small door in the side of the wall, and we slipped in, to let the mob pass. No sooner had we got in than some of them began to hammer on the door, yelling like mad.
We asked the man who had taken us in what they were shouting, and he said it was "Kill the Jews!". So we held the door fast, and you can imagine how we felt. But it was our good fortune that the street was so narrow, because the mob was pushing further ahead, and those now passing our little door didn't know we were there at all. I made a vow to myself that if I should be saved from the peril I was in, I would build a house for myself and my family in the Holy Land.

As you now know, I have redeemed my vow, and 82 Balfour Street, Bat Yam, is its fulfilment.

We heard screams from outside. Our poor brethren were being attacked but we couldn't help them. After the mob of several hundred screaming Arabs passed on we heard groaning outside the door. Opening it a little way, we dragged in a Jew, covered inblood and almost unconscious. There was nothing we could do for him in the Old City - there is no water in the houses, and we dare not yet go outside. He lay there for some time, and, when it was quieter, we opened the door again, but some Arabs began shouting and we took fright. We saw some soldiers a little way off and shouted to them, but they appeared not to notice.
We ran to them but they made no move. Still, we felt safer, and we went out of the Old City.

I said to my friends "We must find the officer in charge and report what has happened."
We did find him, and we told him all about it and that we had left a badly wounded man, and also that there was bound to be trouble at the Wailing Wall where there were always a lot of Jewish worshippers. He gave us an escort of ten soldiers to accompany us back into the Old City, and I must mention that although the officer was English, the soldiers were Indians.
Why they kept the English soldiers in barracks and had these Indians patrol the city I do not know, but it may be because they were Moslems and so wouldn't make trouble for their Arab brothers.
I ought to say that at this interview with the officer there were Dr.Weitzmann and Mr. Usisskin and many other Jewish leaders, whose names are now famous, and they were protesting and shoutings and some, including Mr.Goodman, were arrested.

We went back into the Old City with our escort of ten Indian soldiers. We couldn't find the wounded man but the sights we saw were terrible. Shop doors were torn off their hinges, windows smashed, everything looted, and there were bloodstains everywhere, like a battlefield. Not a soul could be seen as we marched through with our escort towards the Wailing Wall, and there was still nobody to be seen when we got there.
It was hard to believe, as there must have been many when the Arabs were on their way. On each side of the Wailing Wall is a house in which live Arabs who make a living from the Jews who come to pray by hiring stools, providing drinks, and so on, and I think they were friendly to the Jews.
We knocked at each door in turn, but we heard no reply. So I thought that there might be people inside who were afraid to open up because they thought the Arabs had returned. So we called out "Shema Visroel" - "Hear, 0 Israel", and in Hebrew and Yiddish we called on them to come out, that we were their brothers come to save them and that we had soldiers with us.

So they came out.
Old men.
Old women.
Some were younger, and there were even some children.
They were so weak from terror they could hardly stand. And they said we were angels, we had saved them, and they showered us with blessings.
They wept bitterly, and we wept with them.

Then the soldiers pushed us forward, to get us back to the Jaffa Gate and out of the Old City. I gave my umbrella to an old lady who could hardly stand, let alone walk fast, but I couldn't make the soldiers understand English, and they pushed and hurried us forward, on towards the Gate.

When we got there we found more soldiers, and they let out our group of 70-80 Jews, and then closed the Gate, and nobody could come out, and only the American Jewish Medical Unit, and the Red Cross could go in to bring out the wounded and the dead.
They brought out cart-loads, and I shall never forget the terrible sights I saw that day.
I could see it all because our Hotel was used as a depot for the wounded. We stood by in case there was anything we could do, but the military wouldn't let us help, they pushed us away.
I cannot describe the awful scenes, my blood was boiling the whole time. One thing which upset me more than anything else was that a woman, inside the Old City with a child, was screaming hysterically at the Jaffa Gate, crying "Let us out,they will kill us."
It was pitiful to hear, and I spoke to her and asked her to wait and I would go again to the officer who had helped us earlier. I did find him, and I thanked him and blessed him for making it possible to rescue some of our people, and I pleaded with him to allow the Gate to be opened to bring the woman and child out to safety. But he said it was too late, Storrs, the Governor of Jerusalem, had issued an order that nobody should be let out.
What happened to this poor woman and her child I don't know, but it was terrible to be unsuccessful in saving her.
Altogether it was a dreadful day, and the day was too long for me, and I was glad when the night came; although we were up all night because our beds were full of wounded.


At about 6 in the morning they let out of the Migdal David prison, opposite the Hotel, a lot of Arab criminals, and they were let into the Old City, and the screams could be heard again.
I went again to the officer and asked him why the prisoners had been released, and he said they had to pray at the Mosque of Omar.
I protested, and asked him if we released prisoners in England when they wanted to pray, but he said that things are different here.
So there was nothing to be done, and there was more murder done that day. We were allowed to walk freely as we were staying at the Hotel, so we saw everything. As it seemed there was nothing more I could do to help my brethren I decided to return to Jaffa, and to do this I had to get a Permit to leave Jerusalem, as martial law had been declared. However, as I was a British subject I had no trouble ingetting the Permit.

On reaching Jaffa I found a shock awaiting me, a telegram from London saying I should return at once as my wife was dying. I was in a worried state of mind, and I called on my friend Chaikin to ask his advice.
The goods had not arrived, I had made no settlement about the Tel-Aviv factory, and my mind was confused.
I wanted to stay, but of course without Ray my plans amounted to nothing, and I would have to return to London.
But again, I wondered if they had heard about the rioting, and the telegram might have been a trick to get me away from the trouble. I thought I would wait for the post, to see if there was a letter confirming the telegram. But as it happened, the rioting had upset the postal arrangements and there was no mail. So I had no alternative but to make my way sadly back to England. I left instructions that if a letter came for me they should wire, and I would return to Jaffa.