On July 6, 1946 the SS Josiah Wedgwood was thirty miles from the Port of Haifa. I was an eighteen-year-old crewman on that vessel, which was carrying 1,257 Holocaust survivors from camps in Italy to Palestine. Passengers and crew alike were on high alert, watching for two things: British vessels and Haifa. The British had set up a blockade of Haifa and ships caught running it were forced to return their Holocaust survivors to the same countries that had refused them entry.
Our Haifa gambit ended happily. We made it into port and our ecstatic passengers disembarked to singing and cheers of Eretz! Israel! How I came to be caught up in one of the great events of the twentieth century is an improbable tale. I was not an experienced sailor, had no technical qualifications, and a lackluster past. Most of the blockade runners were Jewish veterans of World War II. Life has a way of sending me down roads I never dreamed of taking, some the last ones I would have chosen. Maybe Bashert explains it. It means destiny or what must be. Maybe it helped that I was open to life, for life has been open to me. It has sent me mostly the good, sometimes the bad, and occasionally the ugly.