Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Feldman Icikson - October 23 & 29, November 5 & 12, 2001

Israeli Army

Did your brother join the army?

My brother was in the army, he fought in Israel Independence War and after the war he was liberated and he came out. He went to work for El Al. This is my older brother. He had a very nice job in El Al. And uh, my dad was working in Tel Aviv and we were like a f...I mean, normal family suddenly, you know. Uh, my mom had a few chickens in the yard and she would go out early morning and cut some grass only in the fall and in the winter, summer there was no grass to cut. Uh, everything is dry in Israel, very hot, very hot. But um, she would feed the chickens, they would lay eggs, so you have already an egg in the morning. Uh, it's kind of nice. You paint your uh, house supposedly--two rooms, but it was nice. I mean, there, there was a bathroom at the end of the yard, like, uh. Not a real bathroom but uh, it, it still, it was closed in and had a door. It was nice. And a little kitchen. And uh, you cook on a Primus, which is--do you know what a Primus is?


No. It's, it's a little--it's not a stove--it's a round thing, you put--it's a round container. You put in gasoline inside and the flame comes out in the top.

Sounds like a hibachi.

Well, I, maybe a hibachi. No, it's not like a hibachi.

Like a small, okay, it's a small stove of some sort.

It's a tiny, it's like a, it's almost like a lamp, but it's a large container and it's tall. It's like uh, maybe a foot tall. It has a round container on the bottom which has the gasoline. And then it has a uh, cube and that's where the um, rig goes in, pulls out the gasoline and then you, you have a fire coming out on the top. You had tiny little legs that you can put something on top. That's how you cook on it. I don't know how to call that little gadget in English really.

Was that a brand name or was it just a generic?

A Primus, maybe a brand name, I don't know.



So that's how you cooked.

That's how we cooked--and baked on it too actually. Made very good cakes and cookies. And, and soup and all kind of good stuff, I mean. So here we could cook already and make things and uh. So we, we stayed in Israel and we, we were a family. We had family there, my aunt and uncle and my--our cousins and uh, we found some more family and here already I had friends.

And your sister and brother-in-law were here.

My sister came from Germany with her husband to the United States with one child, Harold their oldest. Um, and they lived here in the United States. And uh, my sister kept on writing letters that my parents should come to the United States. Life wasn't easy there either, I mean, it, it was, it was life. But uh, my dad used to get up at four and traveled...


...in the morning, travel to Tel Aviv to do his work. And uh, then he'll come home and eat something and work until two in the morning. Because he would make-- he was a tailor, so to earn extra money he would make jackets out of old clothes, old coats, like. And he worked for this man, he had a tiny little store on a main street and he would buy up old coats that came from the United States. And then my dad would take them apart and redo 'em into short jackets. And you know, everybody that came to Israel was poor, most everybody, and came from Europe. Most of the people were newcomers, or ??? newcomers. And they didn't have anything, you see. So everybody needed something. So a little jacket like this was a special thing. In the winter it gets pretty cold in Israel too, in the winter, when it starts raining. So that's how my father subsidized the income so we would have a little more money because I was still a youngster, I went to school, my brother went to school and my older brother didn't earn so much money, so.

Did you want to leave?

I did not want to leave Israel actually. Um, I came to the United States with an understanding that I will go back. I'll just come and see what it is like. I came legally to this country, after I came out from the army. I was in the army for two years. Before that I worked in a bank and uh, after I came out from the army I came to the United States in '58 with my older brother. My older brother wanted very much to come here. And I really--I wasn't that interested because I had a, a--I had established a life for myself. I had a very good job in the bank, I had friends, I had a place to live. I mean, I knew the language, I felt free. I felt--I really felt good although I went through in Israel uh, the Sinai campaign uh, the war, you know. I was in the army at the time. It wasn't easy.

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