Doland Gough 521.
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
If every potential immigrant could be guaranteed as happy an aliya as Donald Gough and his family they’d be knocking at the gates in their thousands to come here instead of trickling in by the tens and dozens.Before Aliyah
“I’ve never had the slightest problem,” says the 68-year-old retired curtain maker from Manchester who came here in 1984 with his wife, Joanna, and three children.
The ingredients for what appears to be a flawless transition from England to Israel would seem to be strong motivation, having a skill which was still fairly rare in Israel, determination to succeed and a good dose of luck.
With his cheery and positive attitude it’s inspiring to talk to someone who loves living here this much, regards it as a privilege to be here and has absolutely no complaints.
He was born in Manchester in 1943 and left school at 15 to
go to work. His father had died when he was born and he needed to help
his widowed mother.
“We were poor, but most Jews in Manchester were poor in those days,” he
says. “I never felt bitter that I had to start work so young. We had no
money but there was plenty of love.”
He went into curtains because there was a job going and he realized he
could make money at it. He was the lowest ranking worker, but he learned
the job well and after he made aliya and established himself he made
gorgeous drapes for the super-luxurious mansions of the rich and
noteworthy of this country.
At the age of 24 he opened his own business in Manchester, three years
later he met and married, Joanna, and settled down to a bourgeois life
in the second biggest Jewish community of Britain after London. They
bought a house, had plenty of friends and a good social life. They
visited Israel as tourists but living here was not yet on their minds.
As his two sons got older he began to worry about intermarriage.
It became something of an obsession for him, especially as many of the
Jewish neighbors in the high-end Salford suburb where they lived had
children who had married out.
It got to the point where he didn’t want them to attend high school in
England as this would have led to university and at that point he says,
“we wouldn’t have been able to extricate ourselves.”
So they sold the house, booked an ulpan in Kiryat Yam and came to Israel.Aliyah
Joanna flew here with two of the children; Donald drove with his
younger son in his new Subaru that he’d bought for Israel, through
Holland, Germany, Yugoslavia and Greece, taking the ferry on the last
leg of the week-long journey to Haifa. Even on this long and potentially
difficult drive, “I never had a single problem,” he says.
At the end of a year in ulpan, he decided he had better start work
and the plan was to open a curtain business as he had done in England.
Here he ran up against his first setback. He would walk around the
furniture and fabric stores on Herzl Street in Tel Aviv and try to find
out about suppliers and curtain accessories but was unable to get
information from any of the store owners.
“No-one was willing to tell me anything,” he recalls.
One day he was outside the premises of a big curtain manufacturer, just
observing, when a van drew up delivering fabrics and accessories.
“I got hold of his order book from his open van when he went into the
shop,” recounts Donald, “and I was able to find out all I needed to know
about suppliers, prices and the lot.”
Perhaps one should add a good dose of chutzpa to the necessary prerequisites for successful aliya.
He set up in a shop – Manchester Curtain Company in Ramat Hasharon – and
was there for 28 years. He worked hard but the business flourished and
the company became a byword for beautiful drapes and the last word in
blinds. He retired only recently and the business is now run from home
by his daughter, Katy, who has a degree in education and an Internet
business selling curtains and blinds.
The two sons, Eli and Adam, both received higher education, run
successful businesses and, perhaps most importantly for their father,
married Jewish girls, one from the United States and one from Russia.
Donald and Joanna live in Netanya and keep very busy with synagogue
activities – he is the gabbai (warden) of his shul – and the active
social whirl of a community with many other retired Anglos.
He manages to walk 10 miles a day to keep fit and looks back on his aliya as one of the best decisions he ever made.
“I thank God every day that I was born at the best time possible,
towards the end of the war, and into a generation that saw the birth of
the State of Israel,” he says. “I still can’t quite believe how lucky we