When I got married in September 1969, Dina was loaned an old refrigerator by a relative of hers. Although it was a reasonably small model on Israeli standards, it was suitable for us at the time. As we were then living in one room, our “kitchen furniture” was allocated to just one corner and this refrigerator received pride of place near the door.

In the flat above Dina’s aunt in Jerusalem lived an elderly woman, She had recently bought a gas stove top - in those days many people in Israel had just gas stove tops without ovens - and she had found that it had a slight leak. She therefore gave it to us and we brought it to Hebron. In Hebron, as in most of the rest of Israel, there is no piped gas and as a result, one uses gas cylinders. We therefore obtained some rubber tubing, a regulator and a gas cylinder from a shop in Hebron. The gas cylinder was placed just outside our door. Fortunately we found that the fears of a gas leak had been exaggerated and there was only the faintest smell of gas.

When just before the following Pesach, our small kitchen was installed in a neighbouring room, we moved our refrigerator there, but on arrival it refused to work. Instead it made all sorts of weird sounds. I hurried down to Hebron to find a technician to see if he could repair it. An Arab came up to the Memshal and after he had made his diagnosis, informed us that the motor was broken. He told us that we could obtain a new motor from Izra-ael (as he pronounced it!) and he would then fix it. We worked out that it was not worth putting in a new motor into this old refrigerator and we decided that we would be far better off to purchase a new one. Since it was only a few days before Pesach, we would have to wait until after the Festival to do so.

I decided that in the meanwhile I would try and rent a refrigerator and when someone went to Jerusalem with the settlers’ tender, I would accompany him and go to a refrigerator rental shop. It happened that on that very day, one of the settlers had broken the windscreen of the tender and he was taking it for repair to Jerusalem. We travelled together to a Jewish repair garage which had been set up in East Jerusalem - it was important to patronise places which had opened in the liberated areas. They informed us that they had no windscreens in stock but that they would arrive later that day from Tel-Aviv and that we should leave the tender there.

Meanwhile we went to a refrigerator rental shop but I could find nothing which was really suitable. They all looked so filthy. In the end, one of my neighbours who had a very large refrigerator kindly offered to allow us to keep our food there.

I had intended going soon after Pesach to purchase a refrigerator but this got put off week after week, mainly as a result of discrimination by the Customs against new Olim Yeshivah students. (see Appendix I for details.)

At that period, we also decided that a refrigerator was not the only machine we needed to buy, since, after its thorough Pesach clean, our gas stove’s leak got noticeably worse. In addition to all this, Dina was in an advanced state of pregnancy and we realised that we would also need a washing machine to deal with all the nappies and other clothes babies soil so rapidly. (Disposable nappies were still a thing of the future.)

We therefore decided that we would purchase the whole lot together and we obtained catalogues from the various manufacturers to enable us to make the best choice. At that time Dina went into hospital to give birth and whilst she was there, there was a sudden sharp rise in the price of various commodities.

I quickly realised that this would probably cause a rise in the prices of washing machines and refrigerators and so I rushed off to an agent selling these machines. He showed me a telegram he had just received from the manufacturers putting up the prices of these things. For the models I had decided upon, the difference would have been about 500 lirot (a considerable sum in those days). I therefore told the agent that I would purchase the washing machine and refrigerator from him on condition that he would put yesterday’s date on the order. He readily agreed and I paid him a deposit to seal the deal. In the limited time that I was in the shop, there were other callers and telephone calls by people who also wanted to buy things “yesterday.”

After I had completed the sale, I instructed the agent to tell the manufacturers to deliver these things to Hebron. He then informed me that a few weeks previously, this manufacturer had decided not to sell anything more to Hebron. In all fairness the agent then told me that he would refund my money if I wanted.

I then made some inquiries to ascertain why they had stopped selling to people in Hebron. Could it be ideological? No, the reason was far simpler than that. When one purchased a washing machine or refrigerator, one received one year’s free service. The technician who worked for this manufacturer was frightened to travel to Hebron! The manufacturer could not unilaterally cancel his service contract to those who had already purchased them but they decided not to sell any more machines to Hebron.

My further inquiries in Hebron had revealed that when another settler had recently purchased from them, they made it a condition of sale that they would have to bring their machine to Jerusalem if it needed service. I was not prepared to buy under such conditions and so I worked out the following stratagem.

This stratagem turned out to be far more complicated than I originally anticipated and caused to “my blood pressure” to “oscillate violently”! Since this incident illustrates an example of how we had to deal with suppliers, who for some reason refused to deal with the settlers in Hebron, I will go into great detail on how my refrigerator and washing machine made their tortuous journey from the manufacturers to my apartment in the Memshal:

A cousin of mine named Vivien was living in Jerusalem. She had received a degree at Sussex University in England and had gone into the teaching profession. However, she had soon given this up and come to Jerusalem to sell furniture. At that time she had rented a furnished flat in the Yemin Moshe area of Jerusalem. The streets there were very narrow and as a result in a number of them one could not bring in vehicles. When Yemin Moshe was built, there were only horses and carts!

I explained to Vivien my problem regarding the delivery of these machines and received her agreement to use her address. My plan was to have these things delivered to her address in Yemin Moshe and receive the service contracts. I would then bring the machines to Hebron and then inform the manufacturers that I had “changed my address.” I had already verified that there was no clause in the service contract to enable them to cancel it should a person change their address.

It didn’t make the matter easier that one could not take a lorry up to her front door and also that there was a long narrow staircase leading to the door of her apartment. There was a road at the back of the house but one could only enter the house from this road after passing through a tortuous “garden” and then climbing through a very large window! Alternatively, one could reach the front door of this house from this road by walking along a footpath which had steps along its way. To summarise, to transport a heavy object from the road to the house was to say the least, not easy. In fact, when I gave Vivien’s address, I had not realised the difficulties involved.

For her part, Vivien had assumed that it would be sufficient just to use her address and that an actual delivery of the machines would be unnecessary. I told her that the manufacturers would insist on their delivery to her apartment since they want to make sure that the machines arrive safely. She replied that the whole thing was ridiculous. What was the point of bringing these heavy machines into her apartment and immediately afterwards taking them out again! She then suggested that they deliver them to the back of her garden and I collect them from there to take to Hebron. I replied that I could not imagine for one moment that they would leave them at the back of a garden Who in their right mind, is going to spend thousands of lirot on a refrigerator and a washing machine and then ask the delivery men to leave them at the back of his garden!

As pointless as it might sound it would be necessary to take these machines into the apartment and almost immediately afterwards take them out again. As we shall soon see, it was not “almost immediately” that they were moved to Hebron.

Thus I gave instructions to the agent to deliver these machines to Vivien’s address in Yemin Moshe. He found out the day that they would be delivered - the Thursday of the following week. They were unable to tell me at what time they would be delivered but said I should telephone closer to the delivery date. According, I telephoned the manufacturers and they informed me that they would be delivering at eight o’clock that Thursday morning.

Meanwhile I asked Eddy Dribben, who had connections with Arab carriers, if he could arrange for one to transport these machines from Yemin Moshe to Hebron and he promised to arrange what he could.

I told Vivien that I would arrive at her apartment a little before eight o’clock, in order to receive the machines when they were delivered. Eight o’clock came, half past eight came, but still no delivery. Vivien went off to work to sell furniture and I continued waiting. Still no delivery!

There was no telephone in the apartment but there was a public telephone just down the road. I therefore went along to telephone the manufacturers and ask them why they had not yet delivered. Did they not say eight o’clock? They explained to me that at eight o’clock they loaded up all the machines they were delivering that day in Jerusalem and that they could arrive at any time that day. A little later that morning the delivery van arrived.

Although two men were involved in the delivery, only one of them did the actual carrying and he would carry each machine on his back. After ascertaining that someone was in the apartment, the man who did the carrying, first brought in the washing machine, which was by far the lighter of these two machines, on his back along the footpath, up the steps and into the apartment. He then went back to his van and brought the refrigerator on his back. The door of Vivien’s apartment was at right angles to the top of the stairs and so it was necessary to turn through this angle before entering the apartment. With the refrigerator on his back he found that there was not sufficient room to manipulate this turn. Meanwhile there was this very large heavy refrigerator strapped on his back and it was surely “breaking his back” by this time. He called to his mate to help it with it or he would drop it down all the steps. Finally they succeeded in getting it into the apartment.

As soon as the carrier had taken the refrigerator off his back, he sat down in an armchair and asked for a drink of water. They then handed me over a service agreement and left a note that someone would come in a week’s time to demonstrate how to use the washing machine.

Unknown to these carriers, we would almost immediately have to reverse the entire operation and having seen the difficulties experienced by these carriers, I was dreading the thought of having to move these machines to Hebron.

I waited several hours in the hope that Eddy had succeeded in finding an Arab carrier to bring these machines to Hebron but no-one arrived. When it was obvious that no-one would arrive that day, I told Vivien that I would try and get a carrier the following morning. She particularly asked me to do this since her parents were arriving on holiday from England that day and she did not want them to see her flat with a refrigerator and washing machine in the middle of her lounge.

I had overlooked the fact that the following day was Friday, the Arab day of rest and it would be near impossible to find a carrier on that day. About noon, I received a telephone call from Vivien asking me when the carriers would be arriving. I pointed out that it was impossible to find any carrier that day and I regretted that it would have to wait to Sunday. She told me that her parents would be arriving in a couple of hours time and could I at least arrange to have these machines moved into the corner of the room, since they were too heavy for her to move.

I reluctantly concluded that the only way to do this was to go to Jerusalem myself and move them. There were no Egged buses at that time of day going to Jerusalem but I fortunately managed to get a lift in an army lorry just leaving for Jerusalem. It was a large lorry and it travelled fast and I can recollect being tossed from side to side as it went along the winding road to Jerusalem. I arrived at Vivien’s apartment and found she had succeeded in moving the machines herself. She had explained that she had done this by sitting on the floor and pushing them with her feet. I promised that I would try first thing on Sunday morning to obtain the services of a carrier to take them to Hebron.

On the Sunday morning, I again spoke to Eddy and he suggested the following method of bringing these machines to Hebron. He would allow two Arabs who worked in his carpentry shop to travel with me by Arab taxi to Jerusalem. We would go to Shechem Gate where Arab drivers of heavy lorries would ply for hire and we would arrange for one of these to go to Yemin Moshe and collect these machines. Eddy’s two Arabs would help in the carrying of these machines.

We did this and on the way I collected the keys of Vivien’s apartment by going into her furniture shop. No trouble was experienced in getting the washing machine out of the apartment and into the Arab lorry. However when it came to moving the refrigerator it was a different matter. Just as there was trouble moving it in around the right angle between the door and the stairs, there was likewise trouble moving it out. However, fortunately at that time, the neighbours were in and by opening their street door, which was at the opposite side of the top of the stairs, made this manoeuvre much easier. None of these Arabs were able to carry the refrigerator on his back unaided. Thus the method used to carry it was for one Arab to put it on his back, a second walked behind him supporting the bottom end and the third walked backwards in the front with his hands up supporting the top. Finally they reached the lorry and the refrigerator was loaded in.

The two machines were strapped in and off we sped to Hebron. However, our troubles were not yet over. When we reached the gates of the Memshal, I explained to the sentry that we had some big machines in the lorry and would he therefore let the lorry go in and up to our wing. He replied that no Arab lorries were allowed in and we should therefore carry these machines!

About a week previous to this, the family who had brought a refrigerator, waiving their rights to service and carriage, had had to have it carried from the gates of the Memshal to their apartment. Whilst arguing with the sentry about the stupidity of carrying such heavy machines when we could just as easily take it in with a lorry, he replied that they managed to carry a refrigerator the previous week. I, however, was not prepared to have these machines carried and managed to arrange with this sentry’s superior to allow the lorry to enter. It then went in and was able to go as far as the door of my room. We then unloaded these machines and took them into my room.

I immediately plugged them in to check that they had not been damaged during all this transit. Having verified this, I breathed a sigh of relief. All this “charade” had been necessary because the manufacturers had at that time refused to sell their merchandise to Hebron.

There were still a few loose ends to tie up. I had decided to wait a few weeks before informing the manufacturers about my “change of address.” As I mentioned when they delivered the machines in Jerusalem they had left a note that they would be coming in a week’s time to demonstrate how to use the washing machine. Dina therefore gave them a telephone call and said that the date was inconvenient and she would “let them know” when they should come. Incidentally they still turned up at Vivien’s apartment on the appointed date to give this demonstration. Vivien was at that time at work but a neighbour afterwards informed her about this.

A few weeks late, I wrote a note to the manufacturers informing them about my “change of address.” Happily, we can end this incident on a good note. Several months later, this manufacturer realised the error of his ways and resumed making sales to Hebron. In the meanwhile however they lost some trade since settlers who would have bought their washing machines there went elsewhere.

At the same time as I bought the refrigerator and washing machine, I went into the gas company to buy a gas stove with oven. They were quite happy to deliver to Hebron. This was important, since unlike a refrigerator and washing machine, a gas cooker requires installation of pipes and consequently, one cannot move it so easily. A few weeks later they came to Hebron and installed the cooker. It was placed by the wall which was near to the window. Outside the window they set up the piping with two large cylinders. Normally in a private household, small cylinders are used but to avoid them having to deliver frequent refills all the way from Jerusalem, they installed large cylinders.

Our kitchen was then a “luxury” kitchen - not quite the standard of Savyon or Caesarea - but “luxury” for us!

to continue

to contents

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

to view "The Collected Writings of Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons" please click here