My Mother’s Family — Part 3

They stayed almost a month in Alexandria while my great-grandfather sold the few goods which he brought along and then they decided that he should join a group of Jews who arrived from Romania on their way to check the possibility of absorption in Israel and sail with them to Jaffa. Meanwhile grandfather was to remain in Alexandria. He found work as a goldsmith right away and waited for the return of his father. The group of Jews, most of whom were quite wealthy, having toured Israel, decided that the conditions for colonizing and living there were unbearably difficult and therefore they all returned to Romania. Dov Schönberg who joined them on their tour of Israel did not like what he saw and heard in the Galilee and in Baron Rothschild’s settlements. Most of the Jewish settlers were starving and stricken with Malaria and other diseases. He found out that many families, mostly those who came from Romania, lost what little money they had by the fraudulent and deceitful conduct of the Pioneering Committee in Romania and Jewish veterans in Israel. He returned to Jaffa. He was favourably impressed by the German colony “Sarona” which by this time was already a long-standing colony which was established and populated by gentile Germans who were farmers at their homeland and went on farming here. He looked around and found close to the Arab village of Sumeil a plot of land of 33 dunams (8.25 acres) which was offered for sale. He wrote to his parents in Iasi and requested their advice but having waited long for their answer and losing patience he bought it for 300 Turkish Gold Pounds from its owners who were Christian Arabs named Dimitry Saliva and Stephan Turk. The transaction took place in July 1882 and in August Dov Schönberg sailed out of Jaffa and back to Iasi so as to collect his father Yoseph, his mother Zivia, his wife Hana and his niece Golda and bring all of them to Israel. He arrived in Iasi in September and in October the whole family sailed by ship to Alexandria, arriving there in November. The three women remained with my grandfather Moritz who was earning well from his work as a goldsmith and in December 1882 Yoseph and Dov Schönberg sailed to Jaffa and went to settle at the land which Dov Schönberg had bought.

They rented an Arab house which stood on the land of a Jew called Feldman and was close to their own land and started removing the stones which were strewn all over and cleaning up the whole area.   They trimmed the vines which they found growing there and ploughd the land ready for sowing and planting. In February 1883 Dov decided to return to Alexandria so as to bring all of the family to Israel. This was quite strange for his son Moritz who was 23, resourceful and successful and whose earnings probably covered all the expenses which were made thus far, could by himself bring the whole family over. However – Dov left his father by himself on the land and sailed to Alexandria.

The period during which my grandfather Moritz Schönberg spent in Alexandria, from May 1882 until September 1883 was a good period economically. Working as a goldsmith and silversmith he made in Alexandria several times over the income which he ever made in Romania but the political and civil-safety situation was extremely bad. Fortunately his workshop and dwelling were centrally located within the European quarter of Alexandria which had within it a reasonable number of soldiers from several European Powers,mainly Great-Britain, France and Austria. Besides that: My grandfather was armed, a good shot and very brave. The Schönberg family brought along quite a number of firearms and a lot of ammunition after Dov Schönberg’s early tour of Israel. The arrival of the British and French naval vessels in May irked the Egyptian hotheads and on June 11 they performed riots in Alexandria, murdered a large number of Europeans who were outside of the European quarter and who had their shops and business outside, throughout the Arab quarters. All those shops and offices were ransacked and burnt. Britain and France demanded that Khedive Taufik hand over to them the criminals and their leaders as well as hand over an immense sum in compensation. These demands were not even answered. Therefore the British government in London ordered Admiral Beauchamp Seymour on July 10, 1882 to hand the Khedive a 24 hour ultimatum and when this was not answered either the British warships bombarded the coastal and harbour fotifications and turned them to dust. However, Arabi Pasha did not give up and went on attacking the Europeans and therefore one month later the British invaded Alexandria and brought in a large army which took over complete control of all of Egypt. All these riots, bombardments and fighting which lasted three months caused a large number of dead which the Arabs were not quick enough to bury in the scorching heat of Egyptian summer. The result was a cholera epidemic and a naval medical blockade (quarantine) on Alexandria which started soon after the arrival of Dov Schönberg.

No ship was allowed to depart from Alexandria to Jaffa and the family remained stuck. The head of the family, old Yoseph Schönberg was the only one who was working hard on the land which was recently purchased. The quarantine lasted many months. In August the family received a telegram from the Austrian Consul in Jaffa telling them that Yoseph Schönberg died on August 9 after being ill (either from dysentery or typhus).

It was then decided that Dov and Moritz Schönberg should travel to Jaffa, even if the trip is not a direct one, with the first ship which will be allowed to depart from Alexandria. The women will remain there with a local Jewish family. The quarantine lasted 6 months and the first ship sailed in September for Izmir. Well before reaching Izmir the Captain disembarked the passengers at a small port called Urla where the Izmir quarantine was found and there they were quarantined for 15 days, sleeping on the bare ground. After that they went on to Izmir and from there with another ship back to Jaffa which they reached in October, one month after leaving Alexandria. As soon as they disembarked they went to visit the grave of Yoseph Schönberg who was buried at the old cemetery of Jaffa. Next day they arrived at their own land which lay between Sumeil and Sarona and started to prepare for more plantations

They went on working during the winter months from November to January although this was a very rainy winter and on January 21 they had a heavy hail storm. Towards the end of January Dov Schönberg decided to go to Beirut as it seemed possible to achieve some business there. He did go to Beirut on the 28th of January 1884 but nothing substantial became of it and so he sailed from Beirut to Alexandria and on February 11 he arrived in Jaffa with the three women who were left there for 5 months and lived on the money which my grandfather, Moritz, left them. Finally the whole family, except for great-grandfather Yoseph who died, were on their own land.

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