Beno & Iulia
Beno and Iulia Azriel

Slowly, our family started feeling at home in Jerusalem. We were not rich, but we had a decent, civilized life. We were working and we were settling. In 1963 Iulia came and we started our life together. The state gave us an apartment and both of us enrolled back in college. I was working over the summer. That is how our life together started. I felt like everything was coming back to normal. I was in Israel, I had a family together with Iulia, I was working and hoping. I met many college students our age. Most of them were from Romania, from places like Transylvania, Bacăuand Bucharest. Fewer of them were from Iaşi.

We were all young, with similar preoccupations; we were all going through this struggle to adjust and to forge our future. Then children came, we graduated colleges and we started working. We were getting more and more concerned about the country, about its future and about ours. Wars started, in 1967, 1970, 1973 and so on?I took part in them. Life became more and more predictable and comfortable.

Until 1971 we had almost no connection with Romania and with our friends there. Only after 1971 the former Romanian citizens were allowed to go back and visit. Until then there were only the letters, as many as the authorities allowed.

Inside the house and with our friends we were speaking in Romanian. It was only natural. I met Iulia in Iaşiand our language was Romanian ever since childhood. We kept on speaking Romanian to each other. This explains the joy we both get from having and using Romanian dictionaries. Our eldest daughter learnt Romanian before she learnt Hebrew.

As soon as the opportunity of going back to Romania came up Iulia went to visit her friends in Bucharest. I was on a business trip in Frankfurt and I joined her in Bucharest after a while. We happily retied the old connections. I was very moved and amazed to discover that it was as if we had left just the day before. My mother was very worried about my returning to Bucharest. I didn?t think there was a problem. And I was right. The first visit to Bucharest meant re-bonding with our friends.

We are friends with very many Romanians who are now settled abroad in Israel, Germany, Canada, South Africa. Most of them left Romania after 1971. In spite of the distance we remained very good friends. To this day we still speak Romanian, we visit, we talk on the phone?

After 1971 and until 1978 Romanian citizens were not allowed to get out of the country. That is why we were coming to Romania as often as we could. Starting with 1978 our Romanian friends started coming to visit us in Israel as well. They came almost every year. We stopped coming to Romania until after 1989. We couldn?t stand seeing the pain and the torment of the people from Romania and not be able to do much about it. As long as we could see them in Jerusalem it was better for us. It was better especially for them. They could have a small timeout and experience a normal, civilized life. Things changed after 1989. We come to Romania and our friends come to Israel. Things are back to normal, the way they must be. The important thing is that the ties among us remained strong in spite of hardships and troubles. Going back to normal after 1989 was a well-deserved price for all of us.

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