Until July 1993, I believed that Golda and her daughter Tzippora arrived in Palestine in 1947, the year that Laibel died.  Israeli records confirm that Tzippora arrived in March 1949.  These same records do not account for her mother travelling with her.  It is unlikely that Tzippora, then not quite 5 years old, came alone or with another person. 

Golda and Tzippora came to Israel, not Palestine.  Had they arrived in 1947, it would have been as illegal aliens to a British mandated Palestine unreceptive to Jewish immigration.  Before May 1948 an illegal 'return' was virtually the only way to get in.  'Returning' to Palestine was usually a three-stage operation.  First, Jews had to be helped from Eastern Europe to one of the occupation zones in Germany or elsewhere.  Laibel and his family made it to a displaced persons (DP) camp near Munich.

Next, they had to be moved from the DP camps to the places where ships were waiting at ports in France and Italy.  The last phase was a sea journey, usually in a decrepit, overcrowded ship that would bring its illegal cargo to an isolated Palestinian beach or more usually to Cyprus.  By the summer of 1947, Cyprus was full of illegal Jewish aliens who only wanted to go to Palestine. Illegal immigration to Palestine flourished.

Instead, Tzippora and presumably Golda came to the new nation of Israel, only months old at the time of their arrival.

What occurred between Laibels death in May 1947 and February 1949?  Tzippora was not yet three years old at the time of her father’s death.  What happened to Golda and Tzippora?  Did they spend all that time in the same DP camp?  Were they delayed because of Laibel’s death?  Supposedly the family’s immigration was imminent prior to Laibels' sudden death.  If the United States was no longer an option available to them, they would have little choice but to wait or attempt an illegal immigration to Palestine.

Some answers to the above questions came in a letter dated November 4, 1998 from the International Tracing Service of the International Red Cross.  It declared  that Golda and Tzippora emigrated from Lechfeld DP Camp to Israel on February 7, 1949.

Once more the discovery of answers to key questions has in turn triggered more questions.  Every time I discover a piece of the puzzle, I realize that 'the puzzle' is bigger and more complex than I thought.

In August 1999 I visited Israel to attend a family wedding[1].  I met with both Golda and Tzippora and learned that 3 months prior to immigrating to Israel, Golda married a fellow DP Camp resident, Schmuel Hayenko.  The three of them traveled to Israel together.  Schmuel Hayenko subsequently adopted Tzippora.  He has been the only father she has really known.

At the festive wedding Tzippora told to me that when my parents first visited Israel in 1956, she was then 12 years old and living with her family in a tent for new immigrants.  Times were very hard for them.  Seeing her and the living situation, my father wanted to adopt her and take her back to the U.S.  He attempted to have legal documents signed while he was there.  This is a new slant on the story about whether the family was to come to the US or Israel before Laibel’s' death.  The ‘truth’ may never get sorted out.  Maybe there are multiple truths. 

I can envision my father being deeply moved by the sight of his niece, her living conditions and his wanting to do something   At the same time being insensitive to the reality that his jester would mean taking a 12-year-old girl away from the only family she had ever known.  But had not that happened to him?  

[1] The marriage of Merav Eisenberg, daughter of Uzi and Rena Eisenberg.