June 11, 2020: Extraordinary lady

Readers of the Jerusalem Post Magazine have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
I was pleased to see among the “Porch-raits” in the June 5 cover story one of Livia Bitton-Jackson in Jerusalem. Livia is a very special lady whom your readers might like to know about. Her life was saved in Auschwitz by none other than Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death.
When she was standing in line at Auschwitz with her mother and younger brother, Mengele himself came over to her and asked, “Are you Jewish?” He must have doubted that she was because she had light blond hair in plaits and blue eyes and was dressed in a typical German folk costume.
When she said that she was, he asked her how old she was, and she replied 13. He said, “When you get up to the front and they ask you, tell them you are 15, remember that, 15!” and he walked away.
When she did, they told her to join the other line, but she said only if she could take her mother and brother with her. They would not let her mother go, but they compromised, they let her brother go, and so her life and that of her brother were saved.
This story is told in her memoir I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing up in the Holocaust.
She later moved to the US and became a professor in Judaic and Middle East studies at CUNY. I am so glad to see her looking well and surviving in Jerusalem. Sincere regards to her.
Regarding Barbara Sofer’s latest column (June 5): My wife and I certainly remember Ephraim Geffen’s Thank Goodness It’s Friday program. Though we were both quite fluent in Hebrew when we made aliyah in 1979, like many Anglos, we still enjoyed programs and entertainment in English, and were avid listeners of Israel Radio’s English news and other programs, the most memorable being Thank Goodness It’s Friday.
And since in those days we still worked on Fridays, listening to the program as we prepared for Shabbat was particularly significant. I even remember the last broadcast, and though the English division of Israel Radio at the time did not lack for varied and interesting Friday afternoon programming, nothing could replace Thank Goodness It’s Friday and the legendary voice of Ephraim Geffen!
Hatzor Haglilit
I enjoyed reading Neville Teller’s “British Jews’ expectations of an Israeli ambassador” (June 5). As a born and bred Londoner, I have often heard the remark “What a cute accent,” even from Americans, when addressing audiences in Israel and abroad.
There was, however, one name missing from Teller’s article: that of my late brother-in-law, Yehuda Avner, the first British-born ambassador to the Court of St. James. His diplomatic skills and experience, as well as his spoken and written English, earned him world renown, as witnessed by his stints as ambassador to the UK and Ireland and later to Australia; his reputation as close adviser to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, who referred to him as “my Shakespeare”; and his international best-selling book The Prime Ministers.
Personally I can attest to the tough reputation of BBC’s Hard Talk program, on which I was interviewed in the year 2000 on the publication of my book An Unlikely Heroine, in which I relate the story of my late sister Esther, who fell in the last battle for Jerusalem’s Old City in the 1948 War of Independence.
I am 83 years old and my husband is 90. We live in Haifa near the Carmel Medical Center and have made good use of Egged’s excellent bus service.
Starting a few years ago, when entering the bus, I would ask the driver to please allow my husband to sit down before starting to drive. The drivers have usually been polite and cooperative, some even saying, “I’ll wait until you sit down, too.”
Now, with the new ticket machines in the middle of the bus and a new policy, we are no longer able to safely use the buses, as drivers request passengers to enter the bus by the back door only.
This is not suitable. The driver can’t see or hear us, and immediately starts to drive. We are afraid of falling – one of an elderly person’s worst fears. And we are in great danger of doing so.
Senior citizens and the disabled are the most vulnerable segment of our population. We are disciplined and have been following all of the Health Ministry’s corona rules.
Allowing us to continue boarding from the front door is plain common sense and would protect us. Surely the Health and Transportation ministries and Egged can agree to that. (And this “common sense” solution doesn’t cost a penny!)
An Egged spokeswoman responds: Egged makes it a priority to be sensitive to the special needs of passengers, such as the elderly. Regarding entry to the bus through middle and side doors instead of at front, drivers are required act in compliance with instructions from the Transportation and Health ministries.
Egged encourages passengers (such as the writers of this letter) who have a comment, suggestion or complaint regarding safety or any other issue pertaining to a specific route or driver to contact Pniyot Hatzibur. Info at: inyurl.com/yc7bss46