RITA Migdal viewed a new documentary about the Exodus last month. Saddened and moved, she suggested her daughter Eva Migdal also watch the film. But when Eva attempted to find the video online, she could not have anticipated what she would uncover.
In her quest, she stumbled across a newly printed article about children born on the Exodus by Israeli news publication, Ha’aretz. Included in the piece was a notice about an upcoming ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Exodus that would be held on September 7 at the Naval Museum in Haifa.
“Through the magic of Facebook and Whatsapp, within 20 minutes, we were speaking to the organiser of the event in Israel, Israel Waiman, whose mother had also been on the Exodus,” tells Eva.
An excited Eva told Rita about the ceremony. But with the short timeframe to plan, and chronic arthritis pain, her response was a firm “no”.
Then, the following morning Eva received a phone call from her mother:
“I have decided. If I could survive the Exodus, I can survive this trip to Israel – even if it is painful and difficult.”
Last Thursday, Rita, along with the two sons of her brother, Yosef (who was also aboard the Exodus, now deceased), their wives, and one granddaughter attended the event in Haifa.
“This was most exciting for me. Those young ones will carry on the memory and stories of the Exodus into the future,” mused Rita from Israel.
More than 1000 attended the ceremony, including 100 Exodus survivors and their families, together with German youths, and descendants of the British soldiers involved in the Exodus incident.
“They came up to me to say sorry. One by one, they said how sad and how sorry they are. They said: ’It was so unfair, we want you to know how we feel, it was so terrible what happened to you’,” Rita said.
“It was beautiful, all the love that I got from all the non-Jewish people.”
Rita explained that when they sang Hatikvah, it reminded her of “being that little 12-year-old girl singing and hoping that we had finally arrived home.”
“I am so proud 70 years later to be part of the creation of our country,” she added.
MORE: ‘Rita’s story of Exodus’