Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 25 - April 21, (1919)

Zionist Commission to Palestine

Dear Family,-

Today is the last day of Pesach, so our office is not working. Dr. Friedenwald and Szold are in Jerusalem, Bianchini is in Egypt, and I’m here alone. Last evening I ad a very nice time at the home of Mr. Lewin-Epstein and his family. His son and one of the Medical Unit nurses are getting married next Sunday at one of the neighbouring colonies, Rochoboth. Miss Eiga Shapiro also lives with him and her mother and two brothers. Dr. Roman, the unit’s pathologist and thoroly fine man, was also there. Altho still a young man he is supposed to be among the foremost scientists of his kind. He is an American who has spent most of his time abroad—until 1917 he was a lecturer at Prague University. Personally he is most attractive. Enclosed is my invitation to the wedding.

This morning I took a walk into the country with a cute little neighbor of ours—Miss Gordon. Several days ago we had rain, the country was quite beautiful. The air was clear and when we reached the summit of a high hill the chain of distant mountains was clearly visible. Behind us lay crowded Jaffa and pretty little Tel-Aviv, looking exactly like a child’s village made of card-board, built on the sand, with its red tile roofs. The deep blue Mediterranean was murmuring lazily on the left. Directly before us lay the now almost deserted village Sarona, spattered with beautiful flower gardens. The sun was hot but a cool breeze was coming from the ocean, which somehow seemed to gather the inevitable scent of orange-blossoms en route. This is truly the country for which Nature seems to have reserved her choicest charms.

This afternoon I feel quite lazily contented. It is too hot to go out yet, later I have promised to show the town to a new arrival from Alexandria, the niece of a local Mr. Margolis, and a grand niece of the New York rabbi of that name. This evening there will be a private concert at one of the houses by some Italians from the local detachment. I’m most thankful for this opportunity to come here. Really, Father and Mother, on these rare occasions such as today, of complete relaxation and inactivity, where I have a chance to selfishly think of myself, I cannot help feeling that you may have given me everything that any son could possibly have. I hope that I may always be worthy in every way of being your son.

Politically things are not so bad as we paint them. It is natural tat so long as this remains Occupied Enemy Territory with a group of Colonial soldiers as its Administrators that it is not going to be administered in a manner which will be completely favorable to s. There are bound to be prejudices. One of the local generals very aptly stated that the Balfour Declaration meant everything to the Jews and nothing to anyone else. And he is right. They cannot afford to show any favoritism on the strength of so vague and indefinite a document as that—besides they are not interested in policies; they are soldiers interested in keeping order. And then, the inherent hatred of generations cannot be outlived in a moment; often among the less clever it cannot even be well disguised.

The famous Dr. Eder and family are arriving tomorrow. He is one of the nicer types Englishman, likable tho unfortunately locally disliked. While here in the capacity of chairman of the ZC he apparently disregarded all advice from the representatives of the population and then made several bad blunders,- which irrevocably sealed his doom. Another of his failings is the dainty way he has of carrying his menus for several weeks back on his vest front. At present we have no idea what will become of him. It is rumored that he desires to spend his time studying medical conditions in this country. If not it is possible that he will be our representative in Haifa.

One of the local standing jokes is a telegram sent several months ago from Paris to America by De Haas. Here’s a part “Conditions of life in Palestine demand robust physique course food plentiful but eggs butter milk unavailable sanitation bad…etc”. The poor man must have been laboring under the delusion that if Paris is as bad as it is Palestine must be infinitely worse. He should see our breakfasts of fresh butter and eggs and taste our good milk (of which I am decidedly an authority) and see the way we live!

Well-- I’m glad to have the opportunity to be here and meet people and see things, and do things- may you all share them some day

Lots of love,


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