Beno & Iulia
Beno and Iulia Azriel

My father had been tortured a lot in prison. In the camp, because he was frequently being beaten and tortured he got very ill. He developed a serious kidney condition. Fortunately for him, in the same camp, there was a Jewish doctor who, without any medicines, managed to cure my father. He couldn?t help himself though and he died in the camp.

I left for Israel in 1961. Meanwhile I had already met Iulia. We were trying to obtain the emigration papers for her and for family as well. Iulia?s parents secretly filed the papers (that was the expression used back than), hoping that way Iulia wouldn?t be kicked out of college. We also got married in secret. The wedding was in Podu Iloaiei. We were to get back together with Iulia and her parents after three month at the most. These three months turned into two years and three month. We were already thinking that it would go on like that forever. Now when you retell this story it doesn?t seem like such a big deal. But the lack of certitude we were experiencing back then meant a lot in our lives.

Iulia:I was born in a labor camp in Transnystria. I personally don?t have any recollection about the camp, but my family memories and my mother?s pain and sufferance soon became mine as well.

I got to Iaşiin 1945. There I led a happy, quiet life, away from the political and economic reality, just like all the other children my age. I had a lot of friends. I was from a modern, open-minded family. School and college went smoothly for me. Iaşiwas my entire universe. Israel was something I didn?t know much about and I wasn?t thinking of. I had Romanian friends and my life was similar to theirs. It was completely different from Beno?s. From time to time I was hearing that some people filed their papers and that they were leaving the country. But life went on for me unchanged until 1958. That year, while I was still a high-school student I met my future husband. Due to him I learnt a lot about Israel. He told me that he had been waiting for ten years to live the country. We decided to get married in secret. We didn?t want anybody from the college to find out. I was a student in Letters, at the French Department. We were afraid I would be kicked out. That was what happened to the ones who filed for emigration. In the end they did find out and I was expelled in the middle of my junior year. All of a sudden my life became much more complicated. My friends kept on being students while I was becoming more and more confused. I had all sorts of jobs. I had to do all kind of things I hadn?t been prepared for during my overprotected adolescence. I was a teacher in the countryside, I was a model, I taught private French lessons, I worked in a co-operative?All my Romanian friends stood by me the entire time. In 1963 I was finally allowed to leave for Israel.

Beno:  I got to Israel in 1961. Israel was an extremely poor country. Life there meant a lot of work. Like all the newcomers we had nothing in the beginning. The state gave us a small apartment in a flat. We started working and we got to live in Jerusalem. I had the advantage of already knowing Hebrew. I had learnt it home, in Romania. I also knew a lot of things about the history of my people. We were contended about living in Jerusalem. The climate was good and the city was beautiful. Back then, the only university in Israel was also in Jerusalem. I tried to get back to school. It was very difficult to get back to Med School and I was advised to go to Italy to finish my studies. However, I didn?t have that kind of money and I stayed in Jerusalem. I studied biology for one year at the university. In ?62 they told me I was allowed to take the admissions exam for Med School. That was when I decided that since I had to start all over again I ought to give up Med School and choose something more productive. This is how I chose Economics.

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