My name is Aaron Shalom, and I am from the Duran region, Aden district, Yemen. We immigrated in 1950 travelling by donkeys and on foot till we reached Hashed Camp, where we spent four or five months. We were provided with prepared food and did not cook our own. We used to take our dishes to a food distribution line. During Passover we were flown to Israel . After arriving in Lod we were transferred to an immigrant camp in Rosh HaAyin.
The lists of people were far from orderly. I, Aaron, was about 14-15 years old, still single, in Rosh HaAyin camp. I went to school there. They admitted me to sixth grade, for I could already read and write because I learned the Torah in Hashed. I could make up sentences from the Torah and speak Hebrew, so I adapted quite well. I was even employed as a translator in the camp office occasionally. My wife to be lived at the time in Ein Shemer Camp. After a while, in 1951, my family and I were transferred to Moshav Drom Yavetz as it was called then, before it became Azriel. We lived in the camp in shacks, each family was given 500 square meters of land to live off of, and slowly began to grow our own food. Some received from the Jewish agency a blanket, others got a job, and there were public works projects for the unemployed. I too used to work to help support the family, to help my parents. We lived together then, my parents, my brother, me, and another little brother that I used to carry around.
We cultivated the land and started building houses. It was a time of austerity, and we were given food rations, chicken only once a week. Later we were moved to a house that we received through a lottery. At 16 years of age, I was living with my parents and had no profession. I helped my parents on the farm and went to school in Petah Tikvah. I used to ride from Azriel to Petah Tikvah on my bike to arrive on time to night school, until one principal noticed I was studying hard but struggling. He wanted to help me advance. He got me a kind of scholarship which allowed me to attend daytime school. I studied there for a year and learned to weld and be a locksmith.
Later I enlisted and became a paratrooper in Motta Gur's Battalion, 88 (Light Warfare School, a camp near Akir (Kiryat Ekron)). We were called the Nahal Paratroopers. I took a parachuting course and jumped off a plane 15 times. While in the army I became interested in getting married. My wife was also from here, from a Moshav and her family also came from Yemen at the same time we did. It was close by, we knew each other, they were in the Moshav from the start like us. Over time our farm developed, we got 2000 square meters and an irrigation system. Before that we each had to irrigate ourselves the 500 meters we received. We grew tomatoes, later we were given cows by the Jewish Agency, tools, and other farm animals.
In the first year after the wedding (August 1959) we had our first child. He was not well, and we went to the doctor and then took him to the hospital. We were told he had pneumonia, meningitis. We were so traumatized, they did not let us see the boy, nor his body, or a death certificate.
Miriam adds: I gave birth to the boy here at home, my mother-in-law was my midwife. We wanted to call him Uri, we had not yet circumcised him. He vomited and had a fever. We took him to the doctor who sent him to the hospital. There we left him; I remember his weight was 2,800 kg. The next day they already said he was dead. We were two youngsters; I was still a teenager. We did not know what to do.
A year later I got pregnant again and gave birth, this time it was in the hospital at Kfar Saba. I gave birth to a baby girl; we called her Michal. Pretty she was, pretty with a lot of hair. She also contracted a fever when she was two or three weeks old. She weighed 3 and a half kilos. We went to the local clinic, to Dr. Egozi. We arrived at 12 and could not be admitted, he told us to come the next day. We returned home but at night her fever spiraled, so we drove to Beilinson. She was hospitalized and, in the morning, when we came, we were told she had passed away. We were in shock. We sat on the stairs and wept.
We didn't even have the presence of mind to demand a certificate, a death certificate or to see a grave. She was about two weeks old and really healthy; we had already entered her name in the registry and had an ID card for her. For two babies to die one after the other? Miriam adds that she was afraid she would not have children again. Aaron says that they left everything else and focused on that: We started to visit doctors, healing men ... We went to one great Rabbi in Yad Hamaavir for him to make good luck charms. We did what he told us to do. We went to a doctor, a specialist who was recommended to me by the people I worked with, a gynecologist from Tel Aviv. She examined Miriam and told her that it was totally possible for her to have many children until she gets tired. And indeed, thank God, we had kids afterwards. At first, after the birth of our third child, we were afraid to let visitors in the house. We didn’t want our daughter to catch anything or risk a fever, lest she too expire. We trusted the doctors and believed everything they told us. Only when we heard about other families' experience did we realize that we all had the same story. Now that we think about it, we understand. How could a child die so quickly from one day to the next?
He vomited and had a fever. We took him to the doctor who sent him to the hospital. There we left him; I remember his weight was 2,800 kg. The next day they already said he was dead. We were two youngsters; I was still a teenager. We did not know what to do.
at night her fever spiraled, so we drove to Beilinson. She was hospitalized and, in the morning, when we came, we were told she had passed away. We were in shock. We sat on the stairs and wept.