Wednesday, March 18, 2009

41st anniversary of aliyah

March 18 is always a beloved day for me. On that date in 1968 I first reached the shores of Israel, making aliyah. (More about why in my 40th aliyah day post from a year ago.)

Just out of college, I had almost no money and found the cheapest route: a standby flight from Chicago to New York, Icelandic Airlines via Reykjavik to Luxembourg, buses and a train down to Genoa, and a ship to Haifa. Phew!

Imagine my surprise when the ship left Genoa and headed west instead of south! We were going first for a stop at Marseille, it turned out. And then back to another Italian port. Then through the tight Straits of Corinth, docking in Piraeus (with several hours ashore to see Athens), over to Limassol in Cyprus. Finally, as the sun rose over Haifa, I reached the promised land!

Photo from Maritime Timetable Images, from the collection of Björn Larsson, with thanks.

This was my home on the Mediterranean Sea for seven days--the good ship Enotria!
A tiny cabin with bunkbeds in the nethermost part of the ship, with a porthole just above sea level. I remember one stormy night the three girls in the cabin were seasick. I stayed on deck, hanging on for dear life, letting the salty spray refresh me, loving every minute of the rocking and rolling.

Today I did some research, out of nostalgia and love.
The Enotria and the Messapia of the Adriatic Line were built in the early 1950s. This pair of small ships sailed around the Mediterranean out of Italy. In 1975 both ships were sold out of the fleet as Muslim pilgrim ships. The Enotria was lost in 1980 when she was driven against the Piraeus breakwater. Her sister followed her later to the wreckers.
Poor Enotria. God rest her soul. She brought me home.


  1. I read both posts. A fascinating story indeed and I feel bad about poor Enotria. Was your degree in archeology? Did your family eventually follow you?

  2. Congratulations on reaching 41 years. How many changes to our little country you must have seen. I often marvel at how different things are now to when I came, and that was a mere twenty years ago...

    I met a woman in the middle of her life last night who just arrived a year ago. I too arrived fresh out of school when I was young and idealistic. I can't imagine what strength of character it must take to make the move when you're closer to retirement than to college...

  3. A Happy and Blessed "home-coming" anniversary to you, Dina.

  4. Pasadena Adjacent, thanks. My parents and brothers thought I was nuts to buy a one-way ticket to a "war zone" so no, I was the only one of the family to make aliyah.
    My degree from UofM was in foreign languages. My learning about archaeology has been informal; no classes (yet).

    Robin, "a mere twenty years ago," ha! You are right about the rest, though.

    Pat, thank you. "Home-coming"--that's a good translation of aliyah. I'll have to remember that one.

  5. The world is such a big cocktail party, isn't it? It's anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia. I hope we shall not forget those old days..
    I was pretty excited to read your articles, dear Dina. Yes, may she rest in peace. You're here, and will be. Thanks for sharing, I felt I'm learning and growing each day.
    Could you pls kind enough to pop over my page when you can. Who doesn't love surprises:)

    Good Evening wishes from chilly Ist'l~

  6. Nihal, you say that so well. You are such a poet. Thank you for the award. I appreciate our new blog bond. Shalom!

  7. You fulfilled more longing and destiny than just your own.
    Thank you

  8. "poor Enotria. She brought me home". I hear such Melancholy in that sentence.
    Nice story. MB

  9. You are incredibly brave, Dina! It just boggles my mind that you went forth on your own as a young woman to make a new life across the ocean.

  10. Dina, thanks for another great personal story! I too came to Israel just after high-school; it was "only" 15 years ago :) but I can definitely relate. Congratulations on your Aliyah anniversary!.. and enjoy your family reunion!!!

  11. what a touching post, all my cousins are injerusalem, from south afirca, i am in london, my only brother is still in south africa, how families are dispersed the days...

  12. What a journey! It must have been a fantastic experience!


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