"Did you come out of personal conviction or are you from Germany?" was the question German Jews were asked when they arrived in Palestine in 1933. Few came out of conviction. The majority of 60,000 German Jews who took refuge in the then British mandate came because they had no other option. Palestine was not the land of their dreams, but rather a place of asylum where one would have to start life anew. Doctors became bus-drivers, lawyers raised chickens, and artists worked as waiters. For the young however, immigration to Palestine was a great adventure, the beginning of a new life free from old conventions and, sometimes, the beginning as well of a life or death battle.
Gad Granach still went by Gerhard when he arrived at Haifa Harbor in 1936 at the age of 21. The son of a famous actor in Berlin and of a politically engaged mother, he was not one of those who came out of conviction. He made the best of it whether working as a reserve policeman for the British, a construction worker in Tel Aviv, or a locomotive driver along the Dead Sea. He encountered a land of neither milk nor honey, and took part in five major wars and a number of smaller ones, wishing all the while that that God would 'choose' another people and leave the Jews in peace.
"This land is like a magnet. There is something that attracts people from all corners of the world for all kinds of reasons, everybody looking for his own God and master, especially in Jerusalem."
"Everybody here is searching for themselves. I don't know why everyone has to go searching for an identity. For me, they told me my name and that was all I needed."
"Of course there are people who always think of the future, who prepare for it, like a squirrel getting ready for the winter when its still summer. I have never prepared for winter, and now winter is here, but I am not cold."
"In Israel, everyone lives close to God and everybody can speak to him directly. Somebody should ask him why he had to create the world in just six days. What was the big hurry? From the looks of things here sometimes, it would have been better if he'd taken a bit more time with it."