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07/02/2008

Merav and Fadia in Givat Hayim

A meeting as part of the project: "Knowing is the Beginning"

To the meeting in Givat Hayim Fadia came with her mother, Nazira. The two came from their village Zbabde through the Jalame checkpoint. The first thing Nazira said to Merav was - I recognize your voice and face, we met before. After searching in their past they came to the conclusion that probably they met in "Haemek" hospital in Afula where Nazira used to work and Merav's father was hospitalized. Nazira worked in Haemek for fifteen years until the first Intifada broke out.

Merav and Fadia both told their Family narrative during the meeting. Fadia asked Merav to start and so she did.

In 1904 Eliezer and Sara Pepper, Merav's great grandparents immigrated to Israel (then part of the Turkish Empire) and became one of Tel Aviv's establishers. They had 13 children and only six of them survived. Two of them stayed in Russia; Nahum, Merav's grandfather and his sister. Nahum was imprisoned because of  Communist activities and his sister stayed in Russia near him due to their parent's request. After his release they both immigrated to Israel. When they arrived, Eliezer came to meet his children and saw Nahum was dirty, with long hair and no shoes. Immediately he took him to clean up and wash himself before meeting his mother. In the evening Nahum went out and saw a pretty 18 years old  girl, eating ice cream. Nahum didn't know how to court her so he snatched her ice cream and ran away, and as Merav's aunts used to say: "and that's how the love affair began". Fania and Nahum got married and went to study in France because there weren't any universities in Israel in those days.

Fania's father was the owner of Tel Aviv's first printing press and stationery shop. Tel Aviv was at first just one new neighborhood named "Ahuzat Bayit". Fania's parents took part in the "Shells Draw". In this draw the founders took from the beach as many shells as the number of the participants in the draw. On each shell they wrote the name of one of the new neighborhood's streets and a house number. Fania's parents drew 19 Yehuda Halevi Street.
   
Nahum was one of the first land surveyors in the country and worked in an English Iraqi Oil Company: IPC. As part of his job he was also in Iraq. On one of his visits there he decided to shorten his trip in order to return on time to Tel Aviv to listen to the first Philharmonic Orchestra concert. The flight back was all booked and a woman gave him her seat. On the way back the weather was stormy and the plain crashed near Afula. Nahum was badly wounded and died from his wounds.

Merav was born after two boys; Nahum who was named after his grandfather and Yaal. Yaal was killed in the 1967 war. Merav was then eleven years old. Yaal used to practice for 3-4 hours a day on his French horn he was also a guide in a Youth Movement. He didn't want to join the IDF but decided to join an elite unit. Merav used to follow him everywhere. On his twentieth birthday people from the military came to family to inform them that Yaal had been killed. Merav was informed by the Kibbutz nannies who told her that her brother had been killed. She felt that it took her forever to find within herself the courage to ask which one of her bothers was killed; Nahum or Yaal, because both of them were in the war.

Merav's father was a musician. After Yaal was killed he stopped writing his music. Merav's mother decided to live her life according to Yaal's spirit. Merav told us that she felt herself shrinking in the corner. For years she thought that she was  not allowed to feel any sorrow and that she must be strong for her parents. Only today she let herself feel the pain of losing her beloved brother.

Fadia started her family narrative with the story of her clan the Daeybes. The head of the clan came to Ramallah from Lebanon in 1800. In those days the Turks ruled the area and movement from one place to the other was easy because there were no borders. He came to Taiyiba, near Ramallah, didn't like it and moved with his mother and brother to Zbabde where he established the village. Each and every one of his family members who wanted to find refuge, came to Zbabde and that's how the clan grew. Zabd in Arabic means a stork. In the beginning there were only Christians in Zbabde, today Christians and Muslims live there. The majority is Christian.

Nazira's parents earned their living from agriculture; olives and barley. Nazira was the oldest daughter and when she was fifteen she stopped going to school and stayed at home to cook and work at home while her parents went to work in the fields. Her three big brothers (Nazira is the fourth child) studied.

In the year of 1967 when Nazira was twenty years old she worked in a monastery which was also a hospital, in Jerusalem. On the third day of the 67 war, Israeli soldiers broke the gates of the monastery and entered the building through the windows. At first the people at the monastery thought that they were Iraqis that had come to help. Everybody was afraid of the Israeli soldiers and the nuns ordered the people to sit near the windows with the legs underneath mattresses to protect their feet. Nazira remembers the soldiers telling everybody to raise their hands in an act of surrender and one Jordanian soldier didn't want to. This soldier was taken out and then there was a gun shot. For days they weren't allowed to leave the monastery and she remembers herself crying from hunger in the fourth day.

Nazira's Hebrew is fantastic. After the war she went back to the village. When she was 25 years old she worked in an Israeli Pharmacy cleaning bottles. One of the workers taught her Hebrew on a daily basis and that's how she learned to speak. In 1968 her oldest son Jubran was born and Nazira started to work in Israeli hospitals to provide for her family. She worked 18 years in hospitals. Most of the time her husband was sick and she provided alone for her family. Her mother-in-law used to help her a lot.

In the first Intifada, Nazira was discharged from the hospital like many more Palestinian workers, not because they weren't good, but because the curfew stopped them from arriving on time at the hospital. Nazira opened a grocery store in her house in the village. The store has provided for her family over the last twenty years. Jubran helped in the store and at home by washing dishes.

Jubran studied to become a male nurse. On Easter 1992 he decided to go and study another profession. Nazira asked him not to go during the holiday. On the way there, a soldier's jeep skidded, and according to evidence the driver aimed the car at the Palestinian car in order to stop. After the car crash the army jeep kept on going, leaving the wounded behind. Jubran was injured and died in Ramallah hospital when he was 22 years old.

After his death Nazira said that she was like a madwoman. Fadia was nine and a half, she fainted when she heard that Jubran was dead. She remembers him picking her up and giving her sweets.


Merav's husband came from work to join us and listen to the stories and so did her children. After hearing the stories we ate lunch together, walked around the Kibbutz and went to the sea. At five P.M. the taxi driver came to return Nazira and Fadia back to the checkpoint before the rush hour.  


Sharon Kalimi Misheiker
June 2007  








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