anna nered 88 224.
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Name: Anna Nered
Aliya date: 1997
Family status: Married, two daughters, grandchildren
Anna Nered spends most of her days in her sitting room, which is also her dressmaking workshop, with the television in the background tuned to a Russian channel. She misses her native Ukraine and even after 10 years dreams of returning. When I take repairs in to Anna, I ring the bell in the building which is near my house. After a while the front door opens and I go up the flight of stairs. Anna is at the top, waiting to greet me with a big smile. She is seriously incapacitated with a handicap which makes walking difficult for her.
She lives in this rented apartment with her Jewish husband, Yefim, who used to be an engineer but now works, if he can get work at all, sorting shelves of produce in a large supermarket. If there's no work, National Insurance helps out. But Nered works from morning till night on her dressmaking, doing repairs for many of the boutiques around town. She shows me a book of pictures of her native Ukraine and tears fill her eyes.
"People think it's cold and bleak, but it's very beautiful," she says.
Before they married in 1969, they were both university students. He studied engineering and she physics and math. When they decided to get married her parents were not happy about it.
"People don't like Jews in Ukraine and there has always been a lot of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately there are stereotypes about Jews - that they don't like to do manual work, that they always argue about the price of things - but after a while my mother liked him because he worked hard, and finally she was happy with my decision to marry him."
Later Nered took another degree which qualified her to teach handwork and dressmaking. The couple was blessed with two daughters and when both girls decided to come to Israel, the parents followed.
Part of the reason they chose Israel as their home was that their town was quite near to Chernobyl.
"There were a lot of health problems and there were freakish things that happened in nature - cherries as big as apples, enormous fish and yellow water dripping from the trees. We decided that as we had the chance to leave we should take it."
They arrived straight to their Kfar Saba apartment in the middle of a cold, rainy winter with practically no furniture.
"There was no work and no money, but the Jewish Agency paid the rent for six months and the neighbors were helpful. Some even gave us the odd piece of furniture. My husband needed shoes and he found a pair in the Ezra second-hand shop for NIS 8. I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was dreadful."
Nered quickly found work with a dressmaker who was helpful and kind to her. When that job ended, she went to work for another dressmaker in the town who had no patience for painstaking work.
"You work like a Russian," she was told. "Here we don't bother with the inside as long as the outside looks okay."
This woman, she later learned, criticized her work long after she left to be independent and work from home.
After some time here, Nered took a course in dressmaking and has a diploma from a Ramat Gan college. She has also participated in dressmaking exhibitions, showing some really unusual creations which now hang around the room, displaying her undoubted talents.
Most of her day is spent at work, cutting out materials, sewing and doing the many odd jobs that come in from the fashion shops around town. She works quickly and cheaply but is always ready for a heart-to-heart.
Her cat looks on in that supercilious way cats have and commandeers the only easy chair so one has to perch on the table. I often take my dog Bertie, and the two of them have reached an uneasy truce.
One daughter lives in Holon and teaches high-school math. She converted, but the second daughter has no interest in conversion. She had an unpleasant experience during her army service which embittered her.
"It was Friday night and my daughter was asleep in the tent," says Nered, her eyes filling with tears. "It was very cold and the rabbi or the kashrut supervisor - I'm not sure which - came and woke her up and told her to put on some heat. After that she said she wouldn't convert. She said she loves Israel and that's enough. What will happen if she falls in love with a Jewish boy? Frankly I don't know."
"I don't have any friends. You know why - friends are time, and if I have any spare time, I prefer to read or spend time with the grandchildren. There is one Israeli woman who invites me, but I often work into the night, so how can I socialize?"
"We manage, but now the rent may go up and my husband may lose his job. It's not easy."
Nered can express herself quite well in Hebrew, having picked it up over the years from clients. She also attended ulpan for three months at the beginning. Her husband doesn't speak Hebrew at all.
"My mother died last year and I so much wanted to go to church and say prayers for her. I believe there's a Ukrainian church in Tel Aviv but it's hard for me to get there. So I went to the synagogue [the main Sephardi synagogue of Kfar Saba] opposite. What difference does it make? God hears the prayers anywhere. I sometimes go on Shabbat too - there are so many people there no one notices me - although I'd prefer to go to church. In church the priest conducts the service and gets people to join in. In synagogue I don't know what to do. But I pray anyway."
"I don't know. Sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I could go mad. I want to go back and visit Ukraine - I still have a sister there - but I have to organize a passport. I went to the embassy once and there was a huge queue, but because of my disability the guard helped me get to the front. I wouldn't stay in Ukraine - I've got used to living in Israel - but I really would like to see it one more time."
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