Magazine

Perseverance pays off

After Arne Rabuchin's parents escaped from the Nazis in a fishing boat, he made aliya and learned Hebrew.

Arne Rabuchin 521
Photo by: GLORIA DEUTSCH
For Arne Rabuchin, settling in Israel in 1984 was not all smooth sailing. He faced many problems over the last 28 years and there were times when all he wanted was to go back to Denmark.

Looking back now, from the vantage point of being in a job he enjoys, in a second marriage that makes him happy and with his three children grown up to be contented and contributing Israelis, he is thankful he never did give up and go back to Copenhagen.

Two years away from retirement as chief financial officer of the Multinational Force and Observers, he has filled his life here with several other activities besides his work, all of which have added to the satisfaction of having come here all those years ago.

He was born in Sweden during the war, as his parents were among the thousands of Danish Jews who escaped the Nazis, ferried to neutral Sweden in fishing boats by their non-Jewish countrymen.

Growing up in Denmark, he was active in a Jewish sports club and participated in the Maccabiah Games many times.

“My sport is handball – but I’m no longer one of the champions,” he says with a smile. “The next Maccabiah games I participate in will be my 10th!” He emphasizes that he will be there as a team leader and not as a competitor – although he is still a very keen walker.

He found his good connections with the Maccabiah World Union – he was team leader many times – to be a help when he made aliya, finding work almost immediately in his field of bookkeeping and auditing.

It was his first wife who took the initiative in wanting to come to Israel. Their three children were nine, eight and a newborn baby at the time; after a few years the couple divorced. Eleven years ago he was introduced to South African immigrant Nydia by mutual friends and they are now happily married. Nydia works as a clinical research assistant and is a mother of two. They live on the fourth floor of an attractive new building in Kfar Saba and Rabuchin loves to sit on his balcony after a day at work and enjoy the view of Rosh Ha’ayin and Petah Tikva in the distance. The workday can be stressful, especially with the new reality in Sinai, where the MFO is deployed.

Although his work is confined to the Bnei Brak office, he is involved in the day-to-day workings of the MFO and cares deeply about the welfare of the 1,800 soldiers from 12 countries who make up the force. It’s been exactly 30 years since the MFO was established after the signing of the Camp David Accords with Egypt, and the soldiers are there to supervise the peace. They are a familiar sight in their orange caps, and everyone connected with the force hopes that the situation will remain as stable as it has been in the last 30 years.

Work aside, Rabuchin has many other activities to keep him occupied. He is the treasurer of the Friends of Denmark in Israel and is proud of the fact that very few Danes go back once they have made aliya.

Once a year they meet to celebrate the anniversary of the bold rescue of their parents in 1942, and a few hundred Danish Israelis turn up.

One of the main reasons he is so grateful to have been able to make a good life here is that his children grew up happy and have all succeeded in their chosen fields.

“Intermarriage in Denmark is very common, something like a 90-percent rate. I’m happy that even though I had a very hard time in the beginning, at least I know my children won’t marry out. I am not religious but very traditional, and that would have been hard to accept.”

His older son, Sammy, is a mechanical engineer and is married with two children.

His daughter, Irit, is 37 and works in fashion, and the “baby,” Rami, is now 30 and has his own business.

One of the hardest things for him was learning Hebrew, and it took him years to become proficient.

“I can speak five other languages, but Hebrew nearly defeated me,” he says. He wonders if there wasn’t some psychological block because he was so unhappy at the beginning.

Fortunately he persevered, and today he speaks “tolerable” Hebrew; he refuses to say it is good.

He still volunteers every month in the Civil Guard and did reserve duty in the army for many years, even spending time in Lebanon soon after arriving.

“I’ve not had an easy time here, especially at the beginning – but I’m glad I stayed,” he says. “For the last 20 years there was no longer any doubt in my mind that this is the place for the Jews to live – especially me.”


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