By Ron Karpel

Haya Karpel, circa 1940

Haya was born in Poland on October 22, 1921, to Yitzhak and Hannah Bornstein. Hannah and Yitzhak had four children – Tuvia and Tzipor were older than Haya, and David was her younger brother. The family was financially secure, but their commitment to Zionism led them to make Aliyah to Israel in 1925 when Haya was just three years old. They settled down in the growing town of Haifa, designated by the British Mandate as the main port of entry into Israel. As work began to construct a breakwater for the new port, Yitzhak bought a cart and a mule and made his living transporting large rocks for the construction. The work on the port continued from 1927 to 1933. He also transported construction materials used for building the new neighborhood of Hadar Ha’Carmel, higher up on the mountain. Yitzhak passed away on December 13, 1934. To support her family, Hannah opened a grocery store in Hadar Ha’Carmel and lived in an apartment opposite the store on 11 Yosef St. Haya, who was only 11 years old at the time, had to drop out of school and help her mother take care of the home, her little brother David, and assist with the store.

סבא יצחק

Grandfather Yitchak Fine

Hana Borenstein and sisters

Hannah Borenstein (standing) with her sisters (sitting) in Poland before making Aliyah to Israel


Zeev Fine trained as an auto mechanic and driver, skills that were in high demand in 1930s Israel. When they met, he was employed at a bus company’s repair shop. Haifa boasted several cooperative bus companies: “Chavr”, “Hakesher”, and “Mishmar Ha’Mifratz”, each serving different parts of the city and its surroundings. Eventually, these companies merged into a single cooperative named “Shahar”. Zeev was in charge of the repair shop at the Shahar bus company when he fell in 1948. Haya and Zeev tied the knot in 1941. At the garage where Zeev worked, there were also a few British citizens. They expressed interest in attending the wedding to experience a Jewish ceremony. However, Zeev and Haya preferred not to have foreign guests at the ceremony. Therefore, they sent out two sets of invitations: one for relatives, specifying 6 PM as the time of the chuppah (Jewish bridal canopy), and another invitation for the British guests, indicating 7 PM as the time of the reception following the chuppah. The British guests were disappointed not to witness the chuppah. At the time of their marriage, Haya was 20 years old, and Zeev was approximately 22 years old.

חיה קרפל

Haya karpel. On the back it says “For you Zeev 28/6/39”

The date on the picture above is June 28th, 1939. In Hebrew, the date is written day/month/year. She wrote “For You Zeev 28/6/39”. This indicates that they were likely dating at the time the picture was taken.

זאב פיין

Zeev Fine

Yitzhak was born in 1944, and Erela in 1947. Zeev and Haya worked and saved until they could afford to buy a share in the transportation cooperatives “Shahar”. Formed in December 1947 from a merger of the cooperatives “Chaver” and “Mishmar Hamifratz” operating in the Haifa area, “Shahar” later merged and became the cooperative “Egged” (Greater Haifa Services). Today, it is known as the “Egged” Transportation Company LTD. “Shahar” was a cooperative company, and by purchasing a share, Zeev became a full-fledged member of the cooperative with all associated rights.

זאב במוסך עם אנשי מנדט בריטיים

Zeev center in overalls. When Haya and Zeev got married the chuppah was at 6 and reception at 7. The British friends from the garage were invited for 7 and were very disappointed to have missed the chuppah

During the civil war (30 November 1947 – 14 May 1948) between Arabs and Jews, prior to the outbreak of the War of Independence in May 1948, Haya and Zeev resided in Kiryat Haim near Haifa. Zeev worked full-time as a mechanic at Shahar. Some records indicate he was the head of the repair shop during the day and volunteered to serve in the Haganah at night. On the day before Pesach Eve, Zeev, accompanied by his co-worker Shraga Goodes, was dispatched to retrieve a bus that had broken down on Mount Carmel. While returning from Mount Carmel, between Nesher and Kibbutz Yagur, they inadvertently found themselves in the midst of a battle between the forces of Kaukji, who had come to assist the Arabs in Northern Israel, and the Haganah’s Battalion 22, which had been sent to halt them. The Haganah won the battle and drove Kaukji forces away, but Zeev and Shraga were killed. Haya was left alone to care for her children, Yitzhak, aged 4 1/2, and Erela, just 9 months old.

מימן - זאב, יצחק וחיה

Left to Right – Haya, Yitzhak, Zeev. Yitzhak is 10 months old.

The next day, the Arabs fled from Haifa, including most civilians. Although the Jews emerged victorious, 24 individuals were killed in the battles. Haya received an invitation to a large room in a house on Nabiyim St., where all the fallen soldiers’ bodies were laid out on stretchers. Relatives came to identify their loved ones. Since it was the eve of Passover, the fallen soldiers needed to be buried that day. The funeral procession passed through Herzl St., and then they boarded buses to reach the cemetery near Tirat HaCarmel. Almost all of Haifa’s residents at the time attended the funeral, everyone who could. Aunt Tzipora recounted accompanying Haya during the funeral procession, sitting behind her on the bus journey to the funeral. Given the ongoing danger of traversing the city center, as not all Arabs had fled, and uncertainty lingered regarding whether those who remained would continue to harass Jews, the buses ascended Mount Carmel and descended the unpaved Derech Ayam road to reach the area of Tirat HaCarmel. This account is drawn from Roni’s recollection of Haya’s story.

Haya with Yitzhak and Erala

Haya with Yitzhak and Erela circa 1947-early 1948 probably on the roof of the house in Yosef St No 10.

Passover eve after Zeev fallen…

Haya moved back to live with her mother Hana at 11 Yosef St. for assistance with raising Yitzhak and Erela, as well as to support Hana at the store. Her full share at the bus cooperative company provided some financial support during this challenging time. Hana’s grocery store, while a source of income, was insufficient to sustain the extended family on its own.

Haya and Simha Karpel Wedding, Haifa

Haya and Simha Karpel Wedding, Haifa


Simha and Haya met at a ball organized by the Jewish Agency of Israel for widows of the Israel War of Independence. At the time, Simha was grappling with an ulcer, which he attributed to inadequate nutrition at the Soviet gulag during the Second World War. He contemplated traveling to his brother Gershon in Canada, seeking better medical care than what was available in Israel at the time. Simha found himself torn between marrying Haya and traveling to Canada. During one of their dates, Haya told Simha that he needed to get serious. She was not willing to continue dating him unless he offered her marriage. This conversation took place as they were walking up Ha’Tzionut Avenue, a road that ascends steeply on Mount Carmel. After saying he needed to be serious, Haya walked quickly up the road towards the bus stop near the Baha’i Gardens. Simha, realizing the gravity of the situation, hurried after her and proposed marriage at the bus stop—an anecdote recounted by Zeevi, Yitzhak’s son.

רוני במרפסת לפני החלונות ששמחה בנה

Ronny on the enclosed balcony with the windows Simha built.

Haya and Simha tied the knot on the eve of Passover, coincidentally just one day after the anniversary of Zeev’s passing. During the wedding, Erela and Yitzhak stayed with the Moses family, their neighbors in the building. Haya did not tell them about her marriage to Simha. One morning, Erela woke up early and was surprised to find a pair of unfamiliar legs poking out from under the sheets of her mother Haya’s bed. Erela was startled and ran to hide in her bed. They lived with grandmother Hannah at 11 Yosef St. in Haifa. The children, Erela and Yitzhak, slept in the bedroom with Grandma Hannah and Haya and Simha in the living room. When Moti was born in 1952, he slept in a crib in the living room. To accommodate the growing family, Simha constructed iron frames and windows, and enclosed the porch, which was then converted into Yitzhak’s bedroom. This was before the Sinai War of 1956. Erela mentions that during a recent visit to the area, she noticed that the same windows built by Simha 70 years ago are still in use today. Grandma Hannah passed away in 1953. Ronny was born in 1955.

Moti, Simha, Ronny

Left to right, Moti, Simha, Ronny. Location not recognized, maybe 11 Yosef St, Haifa. Circa 1956-7 based on Ronny being 1 year old or so.

When Moti was born, Grandma Hannah still ran the store, and Haya assisted her there. When Ronny came into the world, Erela would take him for walks in a stroller along the street. Passersby would often stop and admire the baby, asking, “Whose cute baby is this?” Erela, who was around 8 years old at the time, proudly replied, “Mine.”

3 children on a roof of a building

Yitzchak, Erela and Herut Svorayi on the roof of the house at 11 Joseph St. Haifa

Building a new family from two broken ones, especially for the children, is a challenge. Yitzhak, who was older, advised younger Erela, “He, Simha, is not really your father. You do not need to do as he says. ” Simha embraced the children with immense love, treating them as if they were his own. Even wanted to adopt them formally. However, Haya objected, wishing to preserve Zeev’s memory and surname in Erela and Yitzhak. Simha never made distinctions between the children. Erela says she has never felt discriminated against. I too have never felt discrimination, only when I grew up did I learn that Erela and Yitzhak have a different father. When Erela married her husband Haim, Aunt Malka, David’s wife, said to Simha that the wedding was very beautiful. Simha replied “I am marrying her (Erela) like a princess, because she is an orphan.”

Haya Kitchen

This is the back part of the kitchen that was converted from a balcony. Note the old stove that came from the old apartment on Yosef St. Note the parrot cage that Simha liked. Note the metal bread box. circa 1960.

In 1956-57, they relocated to Mount Carmel in Haifa, settling into a 2-bedroom apartment on the 1st floor of 26 Havradim St. (now Halilach 3), offering 90 m2 of space, which was a considerable upgrade for the expanding family. The building had only one other apartment on the 2nd floor, and the entrance was shared with a similar, mirrored building, Havradim 24. A few years later, a significant remodeling project was undertaken, adding a 3rd bedroom for Yitzhak, enclosing two of the balconies, and expanding the living room and kitchen. The neighborhood was still in its early stages of development and sparsely populated. In the nearby wooded valley, wildlife, particularly jackals, was occasionally spotted. There were only a few other apartment buildings in the area, along with a couple of single-family homes. Haya resided in the same apartment until her passing in 2013.

שמחה בכניסה של הבית ברח' הורדים 26

Simha in the entrance to the apartment on 26 Havradim St.

Reluctantly, Haya allowed Erela to reside and study at Kibbutz Mizra with her cousin Mati, who was the son of Shmuel, Zeev’s brother. Many joyful weekends were spent with Simha driving the entire family in the Chevrolet truck to visit Erela at the Kibbutz. The kibbutz boasted a meat factory, and Simha always made sure to purchase products from the factory shop. As a child, I particularly enjoyed the sausages from Kibbutz Mizra. Grandpa Shlomo, Zeev’s father, lived in Afula, a short distance from Kibbutz Mizra, so naturally, we stopped by his place as well. Despite being religious and refraining from travel on Shabbat, Grandpa Shlomo understood the importance of flexibility in maintaining family unity and agreed to have Simha bring the family to him on Shabbat. It wasn’t until I grew older that I learned that Grandfather Shlomo was not my biological grandfather. Nevertheless, he was the only grandfather I had ever known

ביקור אצל אראלה ומטי בקיבוץ מזרע, מימין - שמחה, אראלה, מטי, רוני, חיה, ו??? אשתו של מטי

On a visit to Mati and Erela in Kibutz Mizra. Left to right – Mati’s wife, Hay, Ronny, Moti Mati, Erela, Simha

Trips to Europe…

Erela officer graduation…

Simha passing…


Grand Children and Extended Family…