Showing posts from May, 2012

Gulag survivors in Israel: How my uncle survived the war.

My uncle, Fritz Stern, came from Vienna. He emigrated to Israel around 1948, met my aunt (my father's sister, who was from Nuremburg) and together they went to live in Nahariyya, a small seaside resort in the North of Israel which was famous mainly for being full of German-speaking Jews. Fritz had several friends who were also called Fritz Stern.
In 1990, a year or so after the collapse of the USSR, a middle-aged Russian man knocked on their door. when my uncle answered, the Russian gentleman informed him that "I am your son from Latvia".
It emerged that when the Austrians voted to unite with Germany in March 1938, Fritz had managed to get out and go to Latvia, which was then an independent state. It had been part of the Russian Empire until 1917 and managed to win independence during the Russian revolution.

Fritz met a woman in Latvia and married her, I don't know the details but I suppose it had the added benefit of allowing him to stay there at a time when anti-Je…

Ten percent of Israelis don't know their date of birth

As part of the Israeli governments efforts to make our buildings resistant to earthquakes, it was made possible to sell the roof to contractors who would get an easy ride to adding an extra floor in return for strengthening the building as a whole and adding a couple of rooms.  To do that you need to persuade all the apartment owners  to sign a contract transferring ownership of the roof.  There are twelve apartments in my building. Four are owned by one person, six by two and one by three people. The twelfth is owned by the government.

Its a great deal and everyone signed on, but it has been beset with delays. One of the apartments is public housing (the government owned one) and it proved almost impossible to get an official signature on the deal.  There were also difficulties getting preliminary municipal approval for planning details.  However, despite the problems, we have now reached the point where the contractor is ready to submit plans to the planning committee and it emerge…