This book analyses the role of social networks in the process of migration. Based on stories of Polish Jews who migrated between Poland and Palestine in the 1920s, the author presents all stages of the journey and shows how networks of friends and families spread in different countries contributed to the migration experience. Presenting these stories through correspondence, she shows how migrants were not only motivated by traditional push and pull factors, or ideology, but also by dependence on other members of their social network. This book shows the process of migration from the perspective of their international social ties.
Chapter 2: “Who May Go to Palestine?”: Information Campaign about Palestine in Poland in the mid-1920s
When Isaac Kumer,215 the main character in Agnon’s216 novel Only Yesterday, decided to leave his shtetl and immigrate to Palestine during the so-called Second Aliyah (1903–1913), his knowledge about the country was based on his own idealistic images rather than on factual information. Isaac’s father, Simon, an anti-Zionist, was even less familiar with the country, especially with the weather conditions in the Middle East. Before his son left, Simon provided Isaac with new clothes that were inappropriate for the weather in Palestine: “He bought him clothes and ordered him shoes and a hat. Clothes of wool, shoes of sturdy leather, a hat of black felt, for they weren’t yet experts on the climate of the Land of Israel and didn’t know what clothes that Land demanded.”217 Providing his son with heavy clothes that would be of great use in the cold winter of Eastern Europe but were too warm for the Palestinian climate resulted from a lack of knowledge of the distant region’s conditions, common among the Jews of Galicia.
Because of his limited experience in traveling in general, Isaac brought food that soon became inedible. Three days after he had left Trieste in Italy, he started suffering from hunger: “So Isaac went without food until his knees buckled with hunger […] and here the sea air stirred his appetite more than on all the days when he was on land.”218 He eventually survived the journey, thanks, in part, to the generosity of...
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