We moved to Israel in November 1971. When Israel was established my wife Rose-Marie and I were faced with the dilemma of supporting the country from afar or join the rebuilding of the state, after 2000 years of exile, from within. I had received a traditional Jewish upbringing which influenced my considerations to move to Israel, but one of the decisive factors was the experiences of World War II, and the realization of the extent of the destruction in Europe.
We got married in 1948. When the children had completed school the decision to move had matured. This decision was made in spite of the fact that I had never experienced anti-semitism in Finland but equality, especially during my army service and after the war.
In Finland I worked in a family company as a technical director. I studied to become a tailor and later a ready-to-wear technician. When I arrived in Israel I worked for a buying office in this field.
One day I was at a carpentry shop in Bat Yam for necessities we needed in the house. When the workers heard that I was from Finland, they wondered why I was not in the wood business. They got me thinking about a career change and for over 30 years now I have worked with wood. It took some time before I learnt the vocation, but slowly I did. The work strengthened my ties with Scandinavia, especially Finland. It was useful to know both national languages.
In Israel many social activities are done around cultural events, so it seems that we have a busier cultural schedule here than we used to in Finland. Otherwise, if you compare everyday life between the two countries, bureaucracy is less cumbersome in Finland. A simple phone call is sufficient to get things done punctually, which is not always the case here.
During the 40 years that we have lived in Israel tremendous changes have taken place here. Large immigration waves have altered the population structure and social norms have changed. Previously the country was characterized by idealism and volunteerism. Now a sense of self-centeredness and materialism has slowly taken their place. Last summer’s social protests have shown that Israel has reached a limit and has to rethink.