The testimony of Shoshana (Toledo) Idesis
My name is Shoshana (Toledo) Idesis and my brother is called Nissim Toledo. We were both born in this country
In 1997, I approached Mr. Leon ben Ezra, who was on the Jerusalem-based Yemenite and Balkan Children's Inquiry Committee. Following this, our mother, the late Nelly Toledo, was invited to provide testimony to the committee and judges. And so, the name of her eldest daughter (our sister) Rivka Toledo, who had disappeared in 1948, entered the list of the (missing) Yemenite and Balkan children.
After more than fifty years of silence, our late mother gathered the courage to give us the birth certificate of her eldest daughter who was born in Israel on the date as specified on the certificate: December 17, 1948.
Our parents, Yosef and Nelly Toledo, were held in a detention camp in Cyprus in 1947 (at that time, illegal Bulgarian immigrants to Palestine were detained) and our then pregnant mother, Nelly Toledo, was sent to Palestine to give birth. Initially, she arrived alone to the immigrant camp in Kiryat Shmuel, and gave birth to Rivka in the Molada hospital of Haifa.
After around three weeks to a month after her birth, the maternity nurse of the hospital at Kiryat Shmuel requested to take the baby girl to a hospital (Rothschild or Rambam in Haifa, we are not sure) due to a health condition (she cited an unspecified illness but did not disclose any details). Our mother later testified to the committee that she did not take note of anything that would indicate her daughter was in poor health, but as this was her first birth and she was alone in the country, she did not fully comprehend the situation.
When she (our mother) brought the baby to the hospital, she was not allowed to stay with her child and was forced to go home. After some time that the girl was hospitalised, my father Yosef arrived in Israel. Soon after, a nurse from the camp told them the child had died. When they approached the hospital, they were given only a bundle of clothing and were not able to speak to anyone or even request a certificate of death or a note. The hospital did not explain anything to them, nor did they show a body or provide an update regarding the cause of death. The hospital solely handed over the clothing. My parents were never provided with details of the date of Rivka’s death, her place of burial, or her death certificate.
For years, my parents never mentioned this at all. Specifically, our late mother stayed silent and never spoke about what had happened, though we all could see that she experienced much sadness. In 1994, following a massive cardiac arrest experience, she was admitted to an intensive care unit, having breath through a ventilator and undergo anesthesia. It was during Hannukah. Suddenly she opened her eyes and despite all the various devices to which she was connected she asked: “What day is it today?” The doctor froze! He did not understand, but then we told her the date: December 15. The next day, while still connected to a breathing machine, anesthetised, and unconscious, she opened her eyes and asked again: “What day is it today?” The doctors who were by her side 24/7 could not believe what was happening. We told her the date. On the third day, she opened her eyes and said clearly: “Today is my daughter Rivka’s birthday.” The date was December 17. Her eyes closed and she returned to an unconscious state. The doctor on duty was astonished and asked to make note of the event as he could not understand how an unconscious, anesthetised, and breathalysed woman could be capable of talking. Of course, we then told him that her daughter had disappeared, and he was very touched and recorded everything, but said something very important, that it seems that the trauma she endured from losing her baby will forever be part of her subconscious. Mother was able to overcome the difficult situation and recover. In the year 1997 she gave her testimony at the Cohen- Kedmi Committee and on October, 8, 2001, she passed away.
After her passing, I contacted the Knesset Member Nurit Koren, who was dealing with the issue, and I provided her with a DNA test.
I keep on wondering what became of my sister. When an acquaintance asked me if I had been present at a particular place he had visited because he saw someone who looked just like me, I wonder if he saw Rivka. Who knows?
Addition after reviewing the documents of the committee that were available to us (Amram Association):
The committee found, on one hand, documents attesting to the death of the baby at Rambam hospital at the age of one month, but on the other hand - documents regarding the burial of the baby at at the age of one day. The committee did not consider this to be a serious contradiction and simply concluded that the Rambam hospital’s documents should be taken as truth and that it could be confirmed that the baby, Rivka Toledo, had died.
After some time that the girl was hospitalised, my father Yosef arrived in Israel. Soon after, a nurse from the camp told them the child had died. When they approached the hospital, they were given only a bundle of clothing and were not able to speak to anyone or even request a certificate of death or a note. The hospital did not explain anything to them, nor did they show a body or provide an update regarding the cause of death. The hospital solely handed over the clothing.