Hamama Hubera

One day my grandmother Hamama (Yona) felt her contractions starting. She waited until nighttime when everyone was sleeping, and then she gave birth with a friend helping her in the delivery.

And in the morning when everyone woke up, they heard the cry of a baby.

She got on the plane to Israel with the assistance of a Jew who was helping to organize the register of people boarding the plane. When he heard she had given birth, he went and requested that she get on a plane that same day.

Before they boarded the plane, the villagers who were in the area told them that they ought to remove the traditional clothes they wore. They told us that the clothes were heavy because of the jewellery sewn onto them, and because of it the plane would not rise. They believed them, and everyone changed clothes and left them everything.

They boarded the plane and a few hours later were on the way to Jerusalem, to the immigrant camp in Talpiot.

In the camp their names were catalogued, and they had blood tests to make sure everyone was healthy.

Then some nurses arrived who requested that anyone who had a baby, turn it in. They took her infant daughter as well, and told her to come in the morning to nurse her.

All the adults stayed outside to sleep, and the babies were taken to an indoor space.

Because it was chaotic, my grandmother and grandmother could not find each other, and they only ran into each other the following morning.

They stayed in the Talpiot camp for about a week, and then they were taken to the immigrant camp in Ein Shemer.

On the way to Ein Shemer, they let her hold the baby on her lap until they arrived.

All of the mothers with babies travelled by ambulance rather than with the general transport, and when they arrived at Ein Shemer they had already beds for them to sleep on, and the babies they put in the nursery.

The beds they slept in were inside the tents, and the babies’ area was directly across from the place where everyone slept.

She called her baby Masha, because there was a nurse named Masha who really loved her baby, who was very beautiful with blue eyes. The woman wanted to hold her and feed her all the time, and she asked her to name the child after her because she had no children.

This is what my grandmother said when we spoke with her: "I am certain that she was complicit in the child’s disappearance."

In Ein Shemer, they used to go nurse their babies every day. Until one day, she saw some women wearing necklaces and fancy clothes.

They women looked wealthy, and when she asked one of the nurses who they were, the nurse told her that they were Americans who donate money, and that they came to see how the babies were being taken care of.

She and her sister-in-law stood to the side; they didn’t fully understand what was being spoken about, but they saw that they were pointing at some of the babies, ones that later disappeared.

Three days later, they summoned her and a few other women and told them that their babies were sick and would be taken to the hospital urgently.

My grandmother told them that her baby was eating well, smiling, and looking healthy and she did not agree for her to be taken before she could get her husband.

The nurse told her to go get her husband.

She ran to get him, and when she returned to the nursery with her husband they told her that the baby had already been taken to the hospital and would be returned to her in three days.

One of the nurses, who was the interpreter and spoke in the Yemeni language, was collaborating with them (the American women) and she said to her, "What, do you want her to die?! She’ll be returned to you in three days."

Three days later, they heard a call on the loudspeaker: "Hubera family, come immediately to the nursery.”

She and her husband were so happy, because they thought the baby was being returned to them, and when they got there, they were told that the baby had died and been buried the previous night, along with a few other babies, and that they must sign some document. Her husband said that he is not signing and he wants to see the deceased child.

They told him that it was impossible to open the grave, and there was nothing to be done. They both cried, and her husband said that the child was not dead and they would not observe shiva [ritual mourning].

Another family who had the exact same story did observe shiva in the camp and eight days later the baby was returned to them; they began to understand that something was happening that was not right.

And that family took the baby and ran away from the camp.

A friend of hers also wanted her baby back and she began following after the doctor; she pulled at his robe constantly and screamed that she wanted her baby back. She did not give up until one of the nurses told her that there was a room off to the side that it was forbidden to open, because the babies were contagious; she should go there quietly and check if her baby is in there. She entered the room quietly and saw five babies, one of which was hers; she took the baby quietly and she too ran away from the camp.

Another friend of ours went to the offices, turned over tables and chairs and said he would not leave until his baby was returned. After a few minutes they told him that he could go to Tzrifin, because there were sick babies there and maybe he would find his son. He went and found him on the floor with a few other babies, playing.

Her sister in-law who gave birth to a girl in the camp concealed her under the bed, and only when there were no nurses in the area would she take her out.

They didn’t make a big scene, but they insisted on seeing the dead baby girl; they were told to come the next day and she would be brought.

The next day she was summoned to come in and they showed her a staircase going down; she was told to descend the stairs and there would be a crate with fabric that the baby was wrapped in.

Frightened, she went downstairs and got to the crate with the rags. She started to lift them out carefully, one rag and another rag and another rag, until she got to the bottom and there was no baby.

She went upstairs and cried that there was nothing there and she wanted her baby; they told her that it was impossible to open the grave.

Her husband, when he saw her crying so much, soothed her and said that nothing could be done; they had to make peace with the fact that the baby was gone.

For two years, every baby's cry she heard would remind her of her daughter; she peeked into every baby carriage that passed by her and continued to search for her, until she bore a new child, and from that day she decided to forget.

Her son Amnon decided to search for her in 1985 and discovered that she had left the country in 1963.

She called her baby Masha, because there was a nurse named Masha who really loved her baby, who was very beautiful with blue eyes.

They women looked wealthy, and when she asked one of the nurses who they were, the nurse told her that they were Americans who donate money, and that they came to see how the babies were being taken care of.