Aziza Elbaz

My name is Aziza Elbaz, I immigrated with my husband and his family from Algeria in 1954. The dream of our lives was to come to Eretz Israel.

My grandmother was on her deathbed and about to die in her home in Algeria, and when she saw the gathering around her bed for reading the Shema prayer, she stood up and shouted that she was only willing to die and be buried in Jerusalem.

We loved and dreamed of coming to this country. We arrived via Marseille to Haifa and from there to Jerusalem. We thought we would come to Jerusalem, like my aunt who came before us in 1948 but we were transferred to Ksalon, where there was nothing and we were transferred again, this time to Rantiya, where there had been an Arab village in the Lod area.
There we lived in abandoned houses.

Since I was already pregnant when I came, I was sure that I will give birth in Jerusalem and so I dreamed, but in the end we reached Rantiya and there I got the contractions and felt the birth. We had no means of communication and relatives and acquaintances had to break a window of an office or a house in the area in order to call an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived and my aunt accompanied me In order to look after me, the baby was born in the ambulance. We continued the trip to a maternity home in the Lod area, where we were hospitalized for five days, the baby and me. I called her Mazal.

But they didn't register her anywhere, neither her, nor the birth, nor that I had ever entered the maternity home. My aunt accompanied me because she knew a little more Hebrew and then we returned home.

At home, my aunt told me that after giving birth, you should do a routine check-up with the doctor, as is usual in the country. I listened to her and so I did, we went to the doctor for a checkup and he said that the baby had jaundice and that we should go to Beilinson Hospital. We went to Beilinson and there she was taken for treatment and we were not allowed to go near her her. I came to visit her every day and they only showed her to me through the glass, they did not let me touch her, even though I came every day for two weeks.

On the penultimate day, I arrived and saw that she was the only girl who was left there. The nurse took pity on me and said "Come in, play a little with her". That way I came in and laughed with her, picked her up and made funny faces to her, she laughed and was very healthy and strong and when I came out from the hospital in the evening it was clear and certain for me that the next day I would take the girl out.

The next day I arrived and I saw nothing. I saw neither a bed nor the girl. I asked, I cried, I shouted. I was told "Mrs., your girl is dead!" I didn't understand how it could be, she was healthy. I started raging and crying that I wanted to see her body and that I would bury her, not them. They didn't let me. I cried and cried so much, and my husband at the time received a recruitment order to the army, and they told him to pay for the girl's burial, so we asked to see the burial. We were told to go to Segula Cemetery the next day to see the girl's burial, we arrived the next day and there was no one there.

We returned home, though we wholeheartedly believed that the girl was alive. We sat Shiva because they told us to but we didn't believe it at all. My husband sat Shiv and then he went to the army. For entire months he was away from home and I didn't understand anything about the country.

We did not know where to go and who to complain to, I didn't understand Hebrew. My aunt also did not know the places to go because all day she worked the land and returned to her home.

My husband also did not forget the girl Mazal until his last day, I promised him that I would find her and come with her to his grave.

I hope that now that I'm older, maybe I'll get to see her even for a moment before I pass away.