During all this time, Miriam kept receiving letters from her Aunt Ana, inviting her to visit her in Brazil. However, since Miriam had decided to live in Israel, she thought the trip would happen only in the distant future. With Aunt Ana’s insistence however, she discussed the issue with her friends at school. They tried to convince her to accept the invitation as it would be better, they said, for her to go now that she still had one more year until graduation. After graduation, she would not be able to leave her job at the hospital.
She then wrote to Aunt Ana, who immediately began to arrange the documents for her to obtain the Visa. Miriam considered herself privileged to have such a dedicated family, both in Israel and in Brazil. Although she intended to spend just a couple months abroad, her uncle Moshé told her, as workers were planting seedlings by the road on the way to the port of Haifa: “Something tells me that these seedlings will have become high trees before you return to Israel.”
After days of anxious waiting for her visa at the Brazilian Consulate in Genoa, Italy, she finally got aboard the ship bound to Brazil. The view of the Guanabara Bay in Rio was magnificent, and in the next morning the ship moored in the port of Santos.
A large group of relatives came to greet her at the port. Miriam could recognize a few of them who had left Luck when she was still little, including Aunt Ethel, her mother’s sister, who had come to Brazil in one of the last ships that had left before the war.
Miriam went to spend some time with her Aunt Ana in the city of Ourinhos, in the countryside of São Paulo state. They had a prosperous business and their big, beautiful house was always full of people. Miriam was not used to such welfare, or to the social life of São Paulo, where she went a few times to stay in the apartment of her cousins. She thought that the Israeli youth had by far much nobler aims in life than the young people she had met in Brazil.
Although her family did their best to make her feel at home, the only thing she thought about was returning to Israel. One day, she decided to go to São Paulo and arrange the documents for her return. But the Israeli officer who talked to her said something that would change her plans: “We are trying to educate the younger generations about our language, culture and traditions; we want to open new schools, but we do not have enough teachers. We are trying to bring teachers and educators from Israel, but that is difficult and expensive. Since you are already here, why don’t you began to teach, and help us in these endeavors, and later go to Israel?” Miriam then changed her mind, and accepted the invitation.
In the following four years, she worked as a teacher in different Jewish schools, teaching Hebrew and Jewish traditions. She was now living in the São Paulo apartment with her cousins, in the traditional Jewish neighborhood of Bom Retiro. During all this time, she kept exchanging letters with her relatives in Israel, and although she felt she was being useful in Brazil, she still had the desire to return to Israel and participate in the construction of the country.
She remained undecided between the two countries until the day she met Ben Abraham.
Continue reading: Life in Brazil