Married at last, we couldn’t wait to become parents as soon as possible. But the task was not as easy as we had hoped. We turned to experts and professors, and tried this treatment and that remedy — all for this one sacred purpose.
Gollar: After our marriage, my father bought us a small apartment, but it was not ready, so we ﬁrst moved to a room in our friends’ apartment. Sasson had a small salary at this time; half he sent to his father in Israel to help him, and we lived from the other half. When we moved into our own apartment, I was still going to school. I wanted to ﬁnish school, but ended up going only up to 11th grade (in Germany there are 13 grades). Sasson didn’t want me to continue my studies after 11th grade because I had trouble getting pregnant, and one of the possible reasons was the stress created by school. However, I loved studying very much and was interested in everything, so I bought books and taught myself. You don’t have to go to school to acquire vast knowledge, you only have to be interested. But studying medicine was a dream I didn’t fulﬁll. It didn’t ﬁt into my life anymore.
I started helping Sasson, working together with him, and trying to motivate him to succeed in his business. I read both literature and professional books. I wanted to be up-to-date on whatever I was doing, and read a lot, took courses and consulted professionals in the business and tax ﬁelds.
Agha Youssef also went to a fertility specialist to ask for his opinion. The secretary was very surprised to see a man waiting alone in the Gynaecologist’s waiting room, and Youssef assured her that he’s not a woman. When he ﬁnally walked into the doctor’s office, he asked: “Why is my daughter not getting pregnant?”
The doctor didn’t even ask to see the real patient. He told Youssef: “The couple is young, leave them alone! They’re under too much pressure, and pressure is never good for conception.”
Youssef wanted to send us on vacation, but without letting us know it was for fertility reasons, so as not to add to our stress. He presented the trip to Canada, to the Montréal World Exhibition, as a business trip. He asked us to meet a speciﬁc person, with no further tasks.
New York City, here I come!
Our “fertility trip” to the US and Canada was actually an organized tour with a group of Europeans from different countries, and one of the points of interest was New York City.
Sasson: In New York, we had an acquaintance who was also a carpet dealer. I had bought worn out antique carpets from him once or twice. One day, we had a few free hours on the tour program and took advantage of this opportunity to go see the carpet dealer again, and maybe buy a few carpets. He offered to take us back to the hotel, and we set off together. He had a luxurious Rolls Royce! We had never ridden in a car like that before. When we reached the hotel, our friends from the group saw us and I felt like showing off a little bit. The driver stopped, and I pompously put one foot out… which sank knee deep into a hole full of dirty water!
Gollar: You should have seen this! Our whole group eyeing us in admiration, and then Sasson steps into the mud!
Sasson: It was so embarrassing, but it was a very important lesson I learned for life: You have to be yourself, and not show off for nothing!
The Six-Day War brings some good tidings
When we came back from the three-week trip, in June 1967, all Jewish eyes around the world were locked on the Middle East with apprehension. Egypt had mobilized forces across the Suez Canal and closed the Staits of Tiran to Israeli ships. War was imminent. What fate will befall the young state, surrounded by enemies? And then the Six Day War broke. A blood donation campaign was launched for IDF soldiers who risk their lives in the front. We, too, went to the Israeli embassy in Germany to give blood. Sasson, who always loved Israel, also enlisted to be sent to the front if needed.
Gollar: And amidst all this personal excitement, national stress and general hassle, we forgot to worry about our fertility problems! Two or three weeks later, we announced to the family that my blood test came out positive. I came back from the trip to Canada and the US pregnant! What happy tidings for everyone, and especially for Sasson, who was soon to achieve the desired status of a father!
Sasson: Margrit Khanom, Gollar’s wise mother, interpreted this as a good omen meaning that I should go and serve Israel. I joined a group of young men who went to Frankfurt and from there to Tel Aviv, prepared to be recruited and sent to the front if needed. When we took off from Frankfurt, we didn’t know if the Lod Airport (present-day Ben-Gurion, or Tel Aviv Airport) would be there for us to land in, or closed due to enemy air raids! My fears were alleviated when we ﬁnally landed safely in Tel Aviv. Our group was taken by a bus to Kibbutz Hazorea. All the men from the kibbutz had already been sent to the front, and the young volunteers, who have come to Israel from all ends of the world, were trained for agricultural work: ploughing the ﬁelds, picking fruit from trees etc. My friends and I felt very welcome on the kibbutz. We got up very early in the morning, had breakfast and took our baskets to pick oranges and other fruit. Among the volunteers there were also women and girls, mostly from the USA and Canada, who have come to Israel to aid and serve their forefather’s land. For me, and for other men from conservative countries, this was extremely odd, yet completely praiseworthy.
But with all my love for the land of Israel, my heart was in Germany. I constantly thought about Gollar, how she was doing, our child in her womb, the child I have been longing for for such a long time — I couldn’t wait to be a father!
The war ended after six days, but my volunteer program was three weeks, so I had to miss Gollar for two whole weeks without a proper war before going back. But I knew she was in good hands. Margrit and Saltanat Khanom took care of her around the clock, together with her sisters Louise and Jany; even when I was in Hamburg, sometimes they wouldn’t let me interfere!