“One time we were at a lecture of Martin Buber, and when we came outside, there were several boys waiting for us who asked us if we would be willing to take part and do something together, because they had started a new movement called El Al. It was Zionist, and I did really believe that the Jews needed their own country. That’s Herzl’s Zionism, not the Zionism of Eastern Jews, who longed for Zion. We didn’t long for Zion in any way, but we believed that the Jews needed to have their own country. So we joined El Al, we held meetings, each week someone came to talk to us about Israel. About the first efforts, how the swamps were drained. We had a community house, and we spoke about the problems we did or didn’t have.”
“I had a friend there from Nahalal who was from Holland, and she knew of one kibbutz with Dutch people, and she said I should go there with her. So I did. It wasn’t called Sde Nehemya yet, it was called Chuliot. There were very few people there, and it was rather primitive, but the land there was amazing. I remember I was thrilled by how it looked there. Life was hard to begin with, but I didn’t mind that at all because we were prepared for hardship.”
“I remember it was the movement Tchelet Lavan. They claimed that El Al was too bourgeois, that we weren’t proper. We went on trips together, we also went dancing together. I didn’t feel that it had anything to do with Zionism. Why shouldn’t we go dancing? Their view was that we should also have to be socialists. That is, as far as my opinions went, I actually was a socialist, just not the kind that can’t dance, can’t smoke, and can’t drink anything.”
“[Q: Do you remember the name of the ship?] Yes, the Galilee. It was a rather primitive ship, but we had a cabin together, just me and Růža, which our parents paid for. Then, when we came to Israel, we arrived in Tel Aviv, not Haifa, and Tel Aviv looked so primitive that I thought it was some pitiful town. We were awaited there by two friends who had already been living in Israel for a while; they took us on an outing, and then we drove to Nahalal, to the school.”
“We were terribly unhappy to begin with. I remember that we went for a walk, and I think we had tears streaking down our cheeks the whole time. [Q: How long were you in Nahalal?] Two years, but the second year wasn’t so bad. We learned about agriculture there, the theory and so on. [Q: Could you speak Hebrew?] We had learnt Hebrew in Prague, there were lots of students there from Carpathian Ruthenia. There was the Hebrew Grammar School in Mukačev, so they could speak Hebrew and Czech as well, of course. Then they went to university in Prague and earned some extra on the side by giving lessons in Hebrew. I remember I could already speak Hebrew when I arrived here.”
We believed that the Jews had to have their own country
Věra Jakubovič, née Hahnová, was born on 26 February 1921 in Prague. She comes from a wealthy, irreligious Jewish family, she has a twin sister Eva and an older sister Edita. Her father Viktor Hahn owned a fish importing company, and her mother Margaret was a housewife. The family spoke both Czech and German. Her father died unexpectedly in 1938. Věra attended grammar school in Dušní Street in Prague and was one of the founding members of the local Zionist organisation El Al. She began to prepare for emigration to Palestine, she undertook a months-long Hachshara course, and departed for Palestine in December 1939 together with other El Al members. She spent two years at a school in Nahalal, where she learnt the basics of agriculture. She then moved briefly to the kibbutz of Neot, before settling down in the kibbutz of Sde Nehemya. Both her sisters, her mother, and other relatives were deported from Prague to Terezín; only her sisters Eva and Edita survived the war and later also immigrated to Israel. Věra‘s husband Josef comes from the family of the rabbi and librarian of the Prague Jewish community, Tobias Jakobovits, and he also moved to Palestine in 1939. They raised two daughters in Israel. Věra Jakubovič worked at an agricultural laboratory, she is now retired and continues to live in the kibbutz of Sde Nehemya.