Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ben Moche - April 24, 2009

Starting Over

Okay. So you come to Israel and it's not so easy, it's, it's a hard life in the beginning.


But you felt this is your home, your homeland. You didn't have to be afraid of the neighbors...

Oh right! Yom Ha'atzmaut, the first Yom Ha'atzmaut and all those...


Cer...ceremonies, you know.

Uh-huh. Can, what do you remember about the first Yom Ha'atzmaut.

Well, the firecrackers, you know.


And uh, as kids we, we had a, not a demonstration um, what do you call that, I don't know how you say that and a parade.

A parade, uh-huh.

You know, and we had the Jewish flag, you know. And you know and e...e... everything, even a, a holiday like uh, you know, like Tu Bishvat , you know.


It was a big deal because we were planting trees, you know. And the songs in April, you know, and everything else, you know. And was freedom, you know, we, we, we celebrated Purim, you know, and we'd celebrate Pesach. We didn't have to worry where the matzahs are gonna come.


You know. I mean uh,


We were Jews, you know.

Yeah. How did your parents react to being in Israel? Your parents, your grandparents?

Well, it was hard.


But uh, very hard. My father didn't have any work, you know, or things like that. But I never ever heard of him say. "I wish were living in Romania." This never came up. It came up, "maybe, maybe we should have gone to America," you know, things like that, but never ever did we want to go back to this land. And a matter of fact, my parents never went back there.

Mm-hm, never. They never wanted to go back?

No, no.

What did they, looking back, what did they think of Romania?

Well, it's, it's, it's not what they thought about Romania as, as, as about the situation of Hitler.


And things like that and, and basically, even though we are Romanian and my nationality is Romanian because I was born in Romania, you know, the goys have a hard time understanding that Judaism is a religion.


And--not a, a nationality.


I think they felt betrayed...


By the Romanian, you know. They, they, they let uh, the Germans take advantage.


You know, and, and, and the Jews and things like that.

Mm-hm, okay.

And not just the Germans took advantage, actually, they took advantage because the labor camps were mostly, I understand, for the Romanians who were working by the train, building, you know, train tacks...tracks or things like that.

Mm-hm. They were used.

They were used.


Used and abused.

Used and abused. Okay, uh...

But there are things, you know, like, like uh, there are things there I have in my memory that no Jewish kid today can have.


And that's positive things, you know. Uh, like a kid here, if you tell them the chicken has got to be killed by slaughtering the throat, "yuck!"


They not gonna eat chicken, you know.


But when you hungry, you take the chicken, you bite a chicken and shuk, and you want to be the big shot to take it to the shochet, you know.


And watch the shochet kill the chicken...


You know, sounds crazy, but it's a big thing.


You know.

It was food, it was a chicken

It was.

It was special.

Right, right.

Yeah, yeah. You appreciated it.

Right, right, we, you didn't think you, you know, about uh, you know, like we in Hebrew ??? because you kill a chicken. Uh, the chicken was grown, you know, and when we got in Israel actually, we starve because we didn't have no work. And my grandparents start selling milk, you know.


And uh, we start raising chickens and geese, you know, and we had a horse...ses.


And, and things like that. And, and I was a business man when I was eight years old.

Really? How, how do you, how were you a business, what do you mean?

Well, a couple things. Um, in Israel when I was eight or 10, there was rationing of things. Meaning, you know, there they will give let's say uh, one liter of milk for a family that's kids, or for every kid. So you had to ???, you had to register yourself.


And you had to get coupons.

Mm-hm, mm-hm.

And the people that sold the product had to show the coupons to the authorities why they getting so much milk, because it was rationed, so they give them so much. So since I'm the only one that know how to write and read Hebrew, I was the one that filled out and stamped and did all that, okay.


And, and, and later on, you know uh, after school I used to go to the shuk you, you know, with my grandfather then they let me alone. And I used to sell the chickens.


And things like that.


So, I grew up fast, you know.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And what did your father, in, in Israel, what kind of work did he do eventually?

My father uh, ended up uh, working uh, you know, maintaining the tracks for the train.


But this wasn't the easy for him to get this job either, I mean, you need uh, how you say uh, you know, I don't know if you know this word protectia.

Protectia, what does protectia mean?


Connections, mm-hm. You had to know somebody...

You have to know somebody that can get you in there and then, since his eyes were not 100% they wouldn't uh, they wouldn't, they, they used to hire him and lay him off every 3 months, you know.

Mm-hm, mm-hm.

So he didn't get benefits.

I see

Till after a while, you know, we worked it out somehow.

Mm-hm. So it was not an easy life. And what city did you grow uh, where did you grow up?

Around Tel Aviv.

Around Tel Aviv.



Ramle , right.

Okay. And then you had the wars of the, with the tensions with the Arabs going on,



We'd been through uh, the most emotional thing I think, was in the '50s, I can't remember exactly when. I don't know if it was '56, no, it had to be '56 uh, end of, end of '56 because in '58 I went to the army. Um, a group what we called F...Fedayeen, went and killed about, I don't know how many, about 28 kids. In Kfar Chabad, you know. And uh, it had to be '56 because I remember, because I started working when I was 14 and I did all my schooling after uh, you know, in the evenings. And I remember I came home from Tel Aviv and I heard there uh, you know, they are shooting on a bus and they went in and they killed uh, kids.


But I was older already.


I was 16.

This was uh, Kfar Chabad

Kfar Chabad, yeah.

How far away was that from you?

Hm I don't know, eight miles.

Eight miles away. Scary, scary.


© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn