Daniel Golan was 15 years old at Partition

Karachi, Pakistan
Kfar Blum, Israel

Like other Indian Jews, Daniel Golan’s ancestors had lived in the subcontinent for several generations. His family migrated to the State of Israel after its creation in 1948. Before that, Partition forced the family from Karachi to Mumbai. Even though Golan left Pakistan in peace, he carries his childhood memories from Karachi — where he spent fifteen years of his life — to this day.

A home by the sea

Daniel Golan’s first memories of the Partition are of processions in Karachi: he was 12 years old, in awe and fear of the large groups of people outside his window. They were carrying sticks and marching through the streets, shouting slogans like ‘Jinnah Zindabad!’

Golan’s family lived among diverse ethnicities and religions; Chinese and Burmese families had settled here after the Second World War. Golan played cricket, hockey and hopscotch with children from varied backgrounds. Down the road from his house was a mosque, a temple and a synagogue.

Although their neighbourhood by the sea was not as affected by riots as other parts of Karachi, Golan’s parents felt unsafe. They were afraid to send the children out during processions. Rampant looting and killing had already forced many families out of the city. Golan’s parents were unharmed thanks to their Afghan neighbours, who slept at Golan’s doorstep to protect them from an attack.

By 1948, the family could no longer stay. They sold their house and most of their belongings. Carrying very few personal items, they travelled to Mumbai, which was then Bombay, where Golan’s parents had friends. Two weeks later, they prepared to move to Pune.

Pune — One more separation

It took two years for Pune to become Golan’s second home — after Karachi. Families had migrated to the city from all over the subcontinent, hoping to rebuild their lives.

Golan’s family stayed in his late grandfather’s house. It was nothing like their house in Karachi, where his mother grew turmeric, ginger and flowers on the porch, and Saturday mornings were spent with his grandmother collecting eggs and grinding wheat.

As was the habit, the family found a synagogue in Pune they could visit regularly. In Karachi, the Jewish community had been tightly-knit; Golan’s aunt and her large family lived next-door, and sometimes the priest from his Catholic school would join them to play cricket. On Fridays, Golan would wear the Jewish cap provided by the synagogue, and meet other Jewish families during prayer.

During this time, a movement called Habonim, or “The Builders-Freedom movement,” was gaining momentum. It wasn’t long before they arranged for Golan and his elder brother and sister to move to Israel. Golan would be the first to migrate; his brother would join him six years later.

Kfar Blum — A new life, a third home

Golan flew from Mumbai to Tel Aviv, carrying only his clothes. Upon arrival, he was taken to an immigrant camp in Haifa, then to a boarding house for three days, and finally to Kfar Blum.

Here, Golan was adopted by a family originally from Russia. At the time, Golan knew enough Hebrew to communicate with his foster parents. His schools in Karachi had only taught in English, but as he got older, he learned how to read and write in Hebrew. Even then he did not understand all the words and struggled to keep up with the Rabbi during prayers.

In Kfar Blum, Golan started a new life. He found work as a farmer, growing crops like wheat barley and alfalfa, or fruits like apples and grapes.

It made sense for him to settle in Kfar Blum. This is where he would meet his wife, a nurse from Eastern Europe, and where the rest of his family would eventually move. After his brother migrated, his parents joined him, and stayed in Israel until their deaths.

Before moving to Israel, he and his family mostly had Anglo-Saxon names: his parents were called Joshua and Sarah Goslan. ‘Golan’ is a Hebrew name, Golan said, but he is unsure of the origin of Goslan.

69 years later

Golan’s days are now spent going for walks or listening to music. It has been a long time since he moved to Israel – since then, he has worked in factories, witnessed three wars, and seen both his parents die.

In 1989, he started delving into massage healing, reiki, aromatherapy, crystal healing, and acupuncture. Today, the 84-year-old still treats friends and family in Kfar Blum, where he lives with his siblings and one son. He is still in touch with many of his friends and family in India, and misses them dearly.

This interview was conducted by Citizen Historian Ranjanpreet Nagra.