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13:42 (07/01/13)
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15:48 (18/11/17) אילנה כהן

Every time I visit the Tel Aviv Journalists` Association at Beit Sokolov and "meet" the printing machine, which stands at the corner of Kaplan and Iben Gabirol Streets, I remember my grandfather's printing machine. In a one-and-a-half-room apartment on Shalom Aleichem Street in Tel Aviv, in the small bedroom, opposite the double bed stood my grandfather's printing machine. My "Zeide" and "Bobe" Yitzhak and Gisella Seidman*, immigrated to Israel in 1948 after living in Egypt for more than 40 years. My grandfather arrived in Egypt at the age of 22, in order not to enlist in the Romanian army. He studied printing technology and together with his partner Liskowicz established a printing and lithography house in the center of Cairo. Since they immigrated to Israel when they were already over fifty, with no knowledge of the Hebrew language,my grandfather became the only hope for employment and livelihood in Israel. So my grandmother had to agree to install a huge, monstrous printing machine next to their bed in their very small room so that there was hardly any passage left. When I came to them, my grandfather was often hunched over with tweezers over the drawers, choosing tiny metal letters, examining letter by letter, returning wrong ones and placing them in the engraving tray. After checking and printing, he would transfer the pages and covers to the living room, placing the piles in a straight row, cutting with paper saws, and stapling to receipts and paper letters binding them to packages. Another new problem fell upon them when the neighbour complained about the noise the machine made. After a compromise negotiation the neighbour "allotted" a limited number of hours a day when he could operate the machine. At first my grandfather managed to get printing jobs for labels for cans, notebooks, and stationery. From one of these he received boxes of black and green olives that my grandmother would serve every day as a MEZE appetizer with radish and a glass of cognac, before lunch. Over the years my grandfather's sight went down, my father bought him "helmet glasses" with a magnifying glass but it helped only for a short time. It was hard for him to distinguish between the lowercase letters and spelling errors were found in his work especially as he didn't know the language. This is how the orders from the olive company, as well as the letter pads of Paramount film company in Israel stopped. My mother ,who worked there as a public relations manager, tried to hide and cover the mistakes and tried to continue the orders, as much as possible. One day the printing machine disappeared from the bedroom. My grandfather must have sold it for a few Liras,just as he had sold too cheaply the lot in Bat Yam he had bought while still living in Egypt to a buyer who had inside information of plans to build on it the town hall. My grandfather, after shaking hands with a buyer would not retract his promise . My grandmother Giselle was maybe relieved by the extra space in the bedroom, but not in her soul.  Grandfather was sadder, and she worried about how would they make a living now. They continued to sit in the living room, to eat, to listen to the radio for Yiddish programs, and to the French news on Israel Radio.  After afternoon siesta, they went to sit on the veranda,drinking a cup of tea with sugar cubes,talking and staring into the yard, at the flowering sycamore in spring and at its fallen leaves in winter. When my grandmother died, my grandfather avoided sitting on the balcony because he was embarrassed that the neighbors would see his loneliness. This is the story of my grandfather Yitzhak Seidman, and his printing machine who were both "victims" of embarrassment. ******************************************************************************************** *In memory of my grandfather, Yitzhak Seidman,  a man whose soul and name were soft as silk Zeidman - means silk man in Yiddish.** Many thanks to my cousin Lana Wolf from Australia who helped with the translation and enriched it with a poetic flair.