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[Pages 231-232]

Yosef Parnes

Translated by Barbara Beaton


Yosef Parnes


Letter of Condolence Sent to us from the office of the Prime Minister
State of Israel

With deep sorrow we announce that Yosef Parnes z”l
Fell while serving on the day 24 Adar 5708 (March 5, 1948) in Haifa.
The Israeli government, Israel Defense Forces and the Hebrew Nation will always bear the memory of
YOSEF who fell defending the homeland and in the battle for its freedom and independence

D. Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister

He was born in the year 1915 in Lopatyn in eastern Galicia (then in Austria). He was the son of Gershon-Koppel and Yehudit and the youngest of nine brothers and sisters. He finished Polish secondary school and did office work, but found meaning in his life through the pioneering movement, which he joined in his youth. He was a member of “Gordonia” and “Hachalutz” and in his youth aspired to make aliya. In the year 1939 after much traveling, he successfully arrived in the Land. He had traveled by ship through the heart of the sea for three months. He worked as an agricultural hand in Rechovot. He was amongst the first to enlist in the British army and served in the excavation corps in the western desert, Greece and Crete. He escaped from Crete to the Land at the last moment, then joined the Hebrew brigade and once again demanded combat roles for himself. While still in the army, he dreamed of founding a Hebrew fishing village and went through appropriate training in Italy and Holland. After his release, he was one of the founders of Machmoret, a settlement of army veterans, and for a brief time, he was one of the best fisherman. He fulfilled his role in modesty, and stood on guard at all hours of the crisis. He had no children but his friends saw him as a father to everyone.

He fell in Haifa, while working as a fisherman on March 5, 1948 and was buried in Kfar Vitkin.


Above, from the right: Uri, Elimelech and Moshe Parnes, Yaakov Leider and his wife and their children


Above, from the right: my [David Parnes'] brother-in-law Yaakov Leider and my brothers Elimelech, Uri and Zalman
Below: my sister Breintzy and my sister-in-law Ester nee Thieman and their children


[Page 233]


by Chana Lehrer

Translated by Barbara Beaton

One of the most beautiful memories of my youth is the summer I spent in Lopatyn. That same summer I completed seven grades at the elementary school in my small town Berestechko and I did not know what to do. In the town there were no opportunities to continue studying. Traveling to another city caused problems because there were other sisters of school age and my parents were sickly. And then the teachers of the school suggested that I go to Lopatyn to teach Hebrew to a group of youths in the town. I accepted the offer with the willingness and boldness that only adolescents possess.

One day two boys, David Parnes and another boy whose name I think was Bardach, came, towering over me in their cart with a pair of horses. With my parents' blessing and anxiety accompanying me, we set off together. At the entrance to Lopatyn, the strong scent of acacia trees, fine houses, each one neat and clean, surrounded me. In the house where I was supposed to live that summer (the Diener's house), my future students began to arrive: four or five girls and boys from every house, of all ages, beautiful, healthy and neat.

The lessons started and suddenly I began to feel a sense of inferiority in the presence of the students even though I was more fluent in the Hebrew language than they were. Nevertheless, they were the best youths: proficient in Polish and German literature, and they had full command of other languages. They took classes very seriously. A few months later when I left Lopatyn with the goal of continuing on with my studies, I received letters in Hebrew from these students. I cannot testify to the knowledge that they had gained in that short period of time, but I can testify to their intelligence and the seriousness with which they studied.

Here I would like to mention one of my students, Yosef Parnes, may G-d avenge his blood, who was laid to rest in a cemetery in a village in the homeland (Kfar Vitkin). He was murdered by Arabs at the port of Haifa while on a mission for his settlement of Machmoret, neighboring us.

This short article shall be a memorial to young men and women, the finest of the Jewish youth of a small town in the Polish diaspora, who also passed through the cup of bitterness.


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