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Section Five:

In Memory of the Fallen

  • Those Who Fell in Israeli Wars

  • Outstanding Luminaries in Israel

  • Personalities and Characters

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In Memory of Those Who Fell in Israeli Wars

Translated from the Hebrew by Naomi Gal

 

A Prayer


Give us the strength to forget
The revenge and the blood.

Give us the strength to return from fighting to holidays and regular days
To saw tomorrow's wheat in yesterday's battlefield.

Tirzah (Sha'ar HaGolan)

 

Israel-Uli Schwartz

Drowned at sea as a result of a German military operation during World War II on September 9, 1940

Israel, “Uli” as his family and friends called him, was the son of David and Ester Schwartz. Their home was a famous Zionist one in Yedinitz, one that yielded many pioneers. Following the daughters, Pessia and Hanna and the son Yitzhak (who left for training together with Eliyahu Naor-Bitchutsky, z”l, who died in Kfar-Ata in 1965) who made Aliyah during the 1920s, the whole family followed and made Aliyah in 1934, and coming with them, was 14 years old Uli. His mother Ester died in Israel in 1936. His father David, May God Avenge his Blood, traveled abroad in 1937 meaning to come back, but was held in Yedinitz and his fate was like one of most of the Jews who remained in town; he perished in the Holocaust.

Uli studied and worked in Israel. His dream was to work at sea aboard an Israeli ship. In 1939, he fulfilled his wish and became a sailor on board the SS “Har Zion” which belonged to the company “Maritime Lloyd Eretz Israel”. Meanwhile, World War II broke out and the ship that ran a regular line for passengers and goods between Haifa-Tel Aviv and Constanza (Romania) by way of Constantinople and other Mediterranean ports was enlisted to the war effort and transferred the military and civil equipment on lines to England, USA, and Eretz Israel. It was a maritime line where the enemy's warships and submarines lurked. On August 28, 1940, “Har Zion” left the port of Liverpool and sailed into the open sea with other supply ships, accompanied by guarding ships of the British Royal Navy.

On the night between August 31 and September 1, the caravan was dispersed

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Israel – Uli Schwartz

 

due to an intense storm and poor visibility. At dawn, at 5 o'clock, the ship was hit by a German torpedo. Part of the team was killed on the spot and others quickly left the sinking ship and descended into lifeboats, but the raging storm upended the boats and everybody, except one, a Cypriot, drowned in the deep sea, among them was Uli Schwartz, a Yedinitz native.

The energetic and smart Uli, full of life and hopes, loyal to the people and the country, was 19 years old when he lost his life.

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Israel-Yaakov Berman

Fell in the Independence War in the battle on Ramat-Yohanan on April 15, 1948

Israel-Yaakov, the son of Ovadia and Bluma Berman, was born in Yedinitz in 1929. He made Aliyah with his parents in 1935. He fell in the line of fire in the battle on Ramat-Yohanan on April 15, 1948. He is buried in Kfar-Hasidim. according to the book “Yizkor”

 

Meir Tepper

Fell in the Independence War in the battle on Nabi Samuel on April 22, 1948

Son of Yaakov (“Yekel”) Tepper, one of Yedinitz's first pioneers in the days of the first training branch, and Lea Tepper, a native of Marculesti. The parents made Aliyah in 1923. His mother Lea died in Yagur in 1957 and his father Yaakov lived his last years in Rehovot until he died in 1970.

In the “Book of Yagur ” we read:

“Meir arrived with his parents at a very young age, studied in the local school with the other children, and became deeply attached to the place. While still a student he began his work with livestock. He liked the animals and became attached to his vocation. He continued to work with cattle despite the hardships of getting up in the middle of the night and the long hours of work in the evenings. He went on working there after completing his studies. He was a pleasant and polite youngster, modest, and was well-liked by all his friends and acquaintances. In the storms of the Independence War, he enlisted in the Palmach after being delayed

 

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Meir Tepper, Kibbutz Yagur

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for a long time because he was needed with the livestock. He was working as an underground man and was an exemplary commander due to his quiet and brave demeanor.

During the raging combats he was transferred from one mission to another, and in one of the bitter battles near Jerusalem, in Nabi Samuel, while leading a battalion, he fell on April 22, 1948. He was 19 years old.

 

Reuven Pittal

Fell in the line of fire during the Independence War in an attack against the murderers from Kfar Tira on May 5, 1948.

Reuven, the son of Hanna (the daughter of David Schwartz from Yedinitz and Michael Pittal), was born in 1928 in Petah Tikva. His parents,

 

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Reuven Pittal, Kfar Hess (on the left, Reuven as a guard)

 

Hanna and Michael are veteran pioneers from the fourth Aliyah. His father Michael belonged to the Halutz in Yedinitz at the time of the “Carpentry Shop” and the first local pioneers and Ukrainian refugees. He made Aliyah in 1923, and two years later in 1925, Hanna made Aliyah. The family had a dire struggle for its livelihood in different locations in Israel. During the financial crisis of the late 1920s, the family lived in Petah Tikva. In 1929, Hanna, Michael, and Reuven settled in Kfar Hess as part of the “Settlement of the Thousand.”

Reuven was a well-liked youngster and a devoted son who helped his parents with the farm, even while studying in Tel-Mond high school, then in the Herzliya Gymnasium and later at the teachers' seminary in Givat HaShlosha, from which he graduated cum laude. He also served as a youth educator in Tel-Mond and excelled in all areas. He served, too, as a guardian in Tel-Mond.

When the hostilities increased on the eve of the declaration of Israel as a state, he enlisted in the Haganah. On May 13, Arab bandits attacked Kfar Hess arriving from Tira, the murderous village in the Sharon. 120 young men, Haganah's people from the whole area, rushed to push back the attack and in their turn attacked Kfar Tira. In the battle that ensued 25 youngsters,

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Haganah members lost their lives. Among them were five from Kfar Hess; Reuven Pittal was one of them. Only during the ceasefire that was declared three days later, members of the Red Cross were able to locate the bodies of the fallen. Three fighters are missing to this day and Reuven is one of them. His name is engraved on a tombstone in Tel-Mond cemetery with the names of his brothers-in-arms who fell at the same time. Reuven was 20 years old when he died.

His grief-stricken family left Tel-Mond and moved to Bnei-Brak. Michael, Reuven's father, died from severe heart disease in August 1971, he was 68 years old.

 

Raziel Rosenthal

Fell in the Independence War, at the entrance to Negba on July 10, 1948

Raziel Rosenthal was born in Tel Aviv in 1929 to his father Yitzhak Rosenthal (the son of Avraham Shlomoles) a Yedinitz native, a Second Aliyah member (see separate article), and to his mother Tova (who came from Poland).

Like his father Yitzhak, Raziel was a member of the “Haganah” in his youth and was training as a combatant while in high school. As soon as the UN declared the founding of the Jewish State, he went out to protect the suburbs of Tel Aviv.

He was caught by the British in the Hatikvah Neighborhood, was tried, and condemned to five years of jail, and was sent to Atlit's prison. He was released only after the declaration of the State, and per his demand, was sent to the front. He fought in the Negev, excelled in his heroism and his self-control. He fell during the battle on the Ibdis village, next to the Kibbutz Negba on July 10, 1948. Beforehand, he was able to incapacitate a few Egyptian armaments. He was buried in Beer Tovia. After his death, his father changed his name from Rosenthal to Raziel.

According to “the Pioneers' Encyclopedia” by David Tidhar.

 

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Raziel Rosenthal, Tel Aviv

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Eliyahu Rosenberg

Perished in Hanita from an enemy mine on December 5, 1948

Eliyahu Rosenberg fell in Hanita a short while after he made Aliyah, following many trials and tribulations during the war in Russia.

When I have to commemorate a friend whom I have known in childhood and adolescence and who was able to sample only the beginning of a national and personal redemption, I often wonder about the cruelty of fate and its upheavals.

 

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Eliyahu Rosenberg, Kibbutz Hanita

 

He was born in Yedinitz, Bessarabia, in 1920 when the Zionist pioneering activities were fermenting, many of its members are now in Israel. He was a member of Gordonia and was extremely devoted to implementing the ideas on which they were educated and in which he believed.

While active in the youth movement, even when hardships and dangers were abundant, he saw himself taking care and struggling to maintain training platoons as the only way to change the values and way of life of every member, preparing them for a life of labor in Israel.

When World War II began, he was thrown to the depths of Russia. While many were unable to sustain their lives in harsh conditions of remoteness and suffering, his youth movement training helped him, as his belief in eliminating the dark powers and the hope for redemption for himself and encouraging friends who were his companions on this bumpy road.

When the war was over, he was not tempted to stay in the diaspora and be a partner in building “a new world.” He remained loyal to his Zionist beliefs and was determined to reach his friends in Hanita, who were lucky enough to get there nine years before him and build their home on this mountain.

When he arrived, he enthusiastically immersed himself in life and work and was awed by the beauty of the area and its nature's splendor; since he had no separation between thought and action, he chose to be a shepherd and combine work with the love for nature every hour of day and night.

When he was standing guard on the Lebanon Ridge, he often expressed

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his joy that after everything he'd been through, he was granted the privilege of witnessing the creation of the state and the redemption of the nation.

But he was not granted the privilege of building his life with his friends, and fell at the beginning of his road, stepping on an enemy's mine on Hanita's border, on December 5t, 1948.

He was granted only a few weeks in the homeland he so loved two weeks before he was about to get married, being only 28 years old when he died. He had a poetic soul, when he visited Yedinitz in 1945, he took many photographs, and on the back of each photo, he wrote a few powerful sentences, some of these photos and his writings, are in different portions in this book.

Moshe Salzman, Hanita

* * *

World War II pushed him to the depth of the Soviet Union, where he had a long, difficult road. We were a small group of friends in this sea of foreigners and cruelty while thousands of kilometers separated us. Eliyahu initiated a sort of a “center of correspondence between friends.” Friends from Novosibirsk, Ordzhonikidze, and Moscow exchanged news that bolstered and uplifted the mood.

In the winter of 1942, the great forces of nature did not stop us from walking at night dozens of kilometers in snow that reached our waist in the bitter cold – 40 degrees Celsius below zero to reach the coal mine in Donbas to save two female friends who worked there and were almost lost.

A letter from Hanita in 1944 gave us a fresh breath of air and hope. Eliyahu contacted the Jewish writer Ilya Orenburg and the Anti-Fascist Committee asking them to help him get to Bessarabia, to the “liberated” areas, to collect news about the destruction of Judaism there but he received no answer. And again, postponement for an unknown time, again fog on the way to the wished-for dream – The Land of Israel.

For a certain time, he wore the uniform of the Red Army, fought, and took revenge for “the blood of our victims,” as he phrased it.

Despite all the temptations after the war for a quick recovery, and promises and cajoling of the Soviet Union, his wish to make Aliyah grew and increased. On his way to Israel, he was able to fulfill his obligation in the diaspora as an organizer of the training activities in Romania, where he trained a group of young members who eventually made Aliyah and are nowadays part of the state's life. He reached Italy and was there as a youth leader and was active in recruiting. Before his Aliyah, he wrote to his family: “I am ready and willing to give my blood for my homeland, the land of Israel.”

He made Aliyah and found himself working and defending Hanita, where he fell stepping on a mine set by the enemy while searching for a stray sheep.

Yasha Navon, Hanita

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Yona Shkolnik

Fell while guarding the Jordanian Border in 1951

Yona Shkolnik was just 27 years old when he fell while guarding what was back then the border with Jordan, next to his home in Yehud. A bullet shot by a murderer Arab infiltrator who came from across the border hit him from an ambush on the night of August 3, 1951. The ceasefire border with Jordan was back then was quite unstable c and Arab infiltrators and murderers were swarming all over the place.

 

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Yona Shkolnik – Yehud

 

Only two years had passed since Yona, his wife and child arrived in Israel. In Yedinitz, his native town, Yona studied at the Romanian school known as “Gruevski” and was active in the Beitar youth movement, which was making its first steps in the village. Together with his parents Mendel and Raisa Shkolnik (they lived on Patchova Street. His father was a carriage builder and an innkeeper), they were sent to Transnistria. Yona was 17 years old.

His parents perished in the Bershad death camp. Yona for a while was e in death camps next to the Bug River and was rescued.

When he came back to town, he was enlisted in the Labor Soviet Army. However, his dream was to get to Israel. In Yedinitz he married his girlfriend Bruna, the daughter of Uziel Gendelman, who was with her family in Transnistria, too, but they were lucky and survived. Her parents arrived in Israel in 1969, about a year later her father died.

In 1946 Yona and Brunia began the long road to Israel, they crossed Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Italy. The family arrived in Israel only in 1949. Two of his brothers arrived in Israel before he did, and a brother and sister after he did.

In Italy, their first son Menahem was born, in May 1951

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their “Sabra” daughter, Kochava. The family settled in Yehud (where his brother and sister live). Yona worked in construction. Like all other civilians, he participated in guarding against Arab murderous infiltrators who came from across the border. About three months after the birth of his daughter Kochava, Yona fell.

The son and daughter of Yona, z”l, and Brunia, may she live a long life (she is now Shlechterman), as well as Brunia's mother, live now in Netanya.

 

Lieutenant Eitan Harari

Fell in the line of duty, in 1956

Eitan was the oldest and the apple-of-the eyes of Tova (previously Feldman from Czernowitz) and Sender Harari (Shlomo's son aka as “Kalachnik” and Dinah Goychenberg, or Hochberg), a citizen of Yedinitz, one of the first members and activists of the Gordonia who made Aliyah in 1931.

 

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Eitan Harari, Kibbutz Masada

 

Eitan was born on October 27, 1934, when the Masada's group was still in Hedera waiting to settle in the Jordan Valley in March 1937. Eitan, together with Tovia, the son of Eliyahu Naor-Bitchutsky, z”l, were among the first four children of Kibbutz Masada.

Eitan excelled in his studies, he loved nature and was good at all subjects, literature as well as math. He became stronger during the Independence War while Masada was in the line of fire, had to be evacuated for a few days, and was reconquered and destroyed by the Syrians, was then liberated by our army, and flourished anew.

He was active in the youth movement and when he was a high school senior,

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he oversaw the youth in all the Jordan Valley the Kibbutz and settlements. Since he was educated and well-mannered, was serious, a book lover, and a deep thinker, his friends nicknamed him “Old Man” and also “Grandpa.”.

He graduated from a military course for youth and became an instructor. He served as a role model with his integrity, devotion to others, and strength.

When his turn to enlist in the IDF came in 1953 while his friends went to the Nahal, he chose the paratroopers. “It is the hardships and danger that attract me” he explained to his parents. One of his women friends said about him when he began his military service: “A nice combination of a man and a boy. Physically a man as well as intellectually, his capacities and awareness of his responsibilities, a boy for his innocence, generosity, his modesty, and his smile.”

He served in the military for three years because, after his mandatory service, he willingly prolonged his service for another training so that he would be ready when the day came. Soon after, he became an officer and was known as an exemplary one. “He was a friend to his subordinates and never gave orders, still, all went well with his soldiers, no one ever disobeyed him.” as one of his soldiers said.

This was the period of the IDF's big reprisal operations. Lieutenant Eitan Harari participated in some of the battles in the south and the north, had many fire baptisms, always led his regiment. Among other operations, he took part in the famous reprisal operation in Nahalin.

“He was an example to his unit, we saw him stand tall in the many battles he was part of, we saw him serene and taking care of his brothers-in-arms,” said his commander eulogizing him.

He lost his life because of a sad mishap. At 2:30 AM on May 10, 1956, while commanding a unit of rangers, walking ahead, as usual, he stumbled upon a disguised military object that remained in the field due to spoilage. A bullet from the guardians hit him.

He was about to go back to civil life in a few months and return to work in his kibbutz, which he “missed so badly,” as he said. It was a few months before the Sinai War. He is survived by his parents, his sister, and young brothers who were left broken and bereaved. He was 22 years old when he fell in the line of duty.

From a booklet to his memory published by Masada

 

Dov Markovitz

Fell during the battle on Gaza, in the Six-Day War

Dov Markovitz was the husband of Dina, a Yedinitz native, (born in 1929) the daughter of Aharon (the son-in-law of Haim Yankel Halers, a poultry export merchant), and Rachel Gun. The whole family was exiled to Transnistria, the parents perished, Dina survived and returned to Yedinitz. However, she soon left and made Aliyah aboard the “Haganah” Ship.

On the ship, she met Dov Markovitz, who was born in the village of Husi, in old Romania

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Dina Gun-Markovitz and Dov Markovitz, Rehovot

 

(1929), during the Independence War both fought with the Palmach. They lived for a while in Kibbutz Mesilot and later in Rehovot. Dov worked in a bakery and Dina as a knitting instructor. Dov Markovitz fell in the line of duty on the first day of the Six-Day War on May 6, 1967, in the combat on Gaza.

Dina died from a broken heart while still young on February 14, 1970. Two sons survived them. One is serving right now in the IDF and the other one, 15 years old, is at school.

A. Bard, Yagur

 

Zalman Yitzhaki

Fell in line of duty in the combat on the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War

Zalman is the eldest son of Chava Shapira, a Yedinitz native and a member of Kibbutz Yagur (since her arrival in Israel in 1936) and Shmuel Yitzhaki, z”l.

Zalman, the namesake of Chava's father, was a good student, a loyal friend, and was devoted to his parents, to the Kibbutz, and the movement. Like his father, he loved life, loved good literature and light-reading, too. He loved classical music and songs and hits as well, he loved folk dances and modern dances. A well-liked young man, a youth instructor who loved his young cadets, no wonder he was sent to organize the youth movement in Yad-Hana.

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A year before his draft to the army his family suffered a great loss when his beloved father, Shmuel Yitzhaki, died. Zalman was very close to his family, especially to his father, and it was expressed in the bitter and moving eulogy the 18 years old wrote for his father. After his father's death, Zalman took care of his widowed mother and Ron, his younger brother. He tried to spend as much time as possible with his mother, also while he was serving in the army.

When he was drafted into the IDF he was soon liked by his commanders and brothers-in-arms. He served for six months before the Six-Day War broke. On June 8th (the third day of the Six-Day War), Zalman was in a campsite across the Golan Heights and the Syrian army. In a letter he wrote from the camp while waiting for the war to begin, Zalman wrote to his mother and young brother: “IDF believes in us…We all are ready…. Many would probably die if there will be a war…A war is a war.” and then he discloses in his letter home a big secret: “Today they are putting us to action…The mood is good”.

 

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Zalman Yitzhaki, Kibbutz Yagur

 

In the battle on Tel Azziat and later on, the Banias Camp, which was back then in the hands of the retreating Syrian, Zalman was among the Israeli attackers. Suddenly, the unit was hit by a heavy Syrian shelling in which some died, and others were wounded. Among the wounded was Zalman. He died from his injuries in the helicopter that evacuated him from the battlefield.

Taken from a booklet to his memory, published by Kibbutz Yagur

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The brothers Amos and Oded Schwartz

Fell in line of fire during and immediately after the Six Days War

During the Six-Day War and in the following month, Sara Wiener-Schwartz, a native of our town, now a member of the Nir-Am Kibbutz, lost two sons, Amos and Oded – both in one month.

I remember Sara, the sons' mother, and the daughter of Yitzhak, and the late Gisele Wiener since her childhood when she came to the Gordonia Chapter in Yedinitz. A girl with braids, rosy cheeks, blue eyes, and full of life. Many years had passed since. She made her way stubbornly and with determination, like a loyal daughter of Israel in a time when the people were fighting for its existence and rebirth.

She made her home in Kibbutz Nir-Am with her husband Mordecai (Mocha) Schwartz, a Bucharest native, and also a member of Gordonia. They had two sons and a daughter, all three grew to be strong and beautiful like the trees their parents planted in the Negev Desert. (Ofra, the daughter, is Amos' twin, she married a native of the Kinneret Village where she raised her family, they have three sons).

The Schwartz home was a warm and happy household and then, the Six-Day War broke, and the two brothers fell 30 days apart from each other.

Lieutenant Amos Schwartz was the eldest, born on October 10, 1944. He died on June 10, 1967, on the fifth day of these historical six days. He was 23 years old. He went out in a jeep for an excursion with the unit's commander and two other soldiers along the train tracks between Rafah and Khan Yunis. The jeep drove over a mine and all of them were killed.

A month later, exactly on July 10, 1967, Oded, the younger brother, lost his life. He was just 18 years old. He was about to be drafted to the IDF. On the morning of that day, he was driving a tractor for work near the kibbutz. The tractor encountered a mine set by Arab terrorists from the Gaza Strip. Oded was killed.

I believe there is no greater disaster for a family than losing two sons.

I live close to that family in the kibbutz, and I am filled with admiration for the greatness of the souls of Sara and Mordecai and the way they carry their grief.

From the words of friends who eulogized the sons, I chose passages from Zerubbabel Seker's words who were said two months after the older son died and thirty days after the death of the younger one. They were published under the title “The Pain Memorial of the Six Days.”

Pinchas Mann, Nir-am

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From the eulogies for Amos and Oded

It was springtime in Israel. Independence Day. First news: enemy's legions are on the border. We were still complacent. We said: it is just a showoff. Empty threats, we reassured ourselves. Until the days of great anxiety arrived.

 

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The brothers Amos and Oded Swartz, Kibbutz Nir-Am

 

During those famous two weeks, I ran into Amos one evening walking on one of the lanes. He greeted me, as he always did, and concluded by saying:
“There will be problems, this time, serious problems. It is not simple.” He looked at me and added: “It will be fine. Do we have a choice? We can trust our guys,” he turned away, and I heard him sigh.

This was our last conversation and what I was left with, are the promise and the sigh.
On the day of the calamity, I was hurrying home and all of a sudden, I felt something strange happening to me. I cannot see him. I am unable to see Amos. I can only see a small, small child.

A little room, here across this dining hall. One of the two houses that stood there recently. The class of “Alumot.” Ten children, maybe eleven. And next to the class what is nowadays known as the nursery.

One evening the toddler ran to me: “but Zerubbabel, it is not OK! How could he do this? He was Avraham, his dad? So why didn't he take pity on the baby? Why did he expel Ishmael? It is not right!”

His outburst against injustice came back to me in another encounter, many years later.

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Amos grew up. He became a kibbutz member. He was drafted into the army. One day he came home with officer ranks on his shoulders.

“Amos was our favorite,” his commander told me on the “Shivah” day at Kibbutz Be'eri's cemetery, “Among us were old soldiers, filled with personal problems, family woes, and livelihood worries, Jews from every flock, all classes. We were hesitant to approach them. Amos took upon himself the mission. We smiled. Even pitied him slightly. One day Amos gathered his soldiers, loaded them with battle equipment, and took them on a trip. We waited curiously for their return. They came back in the evening. He told us: “It's very simple. I did not give them any problems, so they did not make any in return. They are good people. Look!”

It is very simple; it is very natural to be a human being – Amos thought because that was the way he was.

Things I thought I was going to say on the 30 days after Amos fell, were not said.

That day the words were muted. That day no one spoke. A whole community was walking on their toes. A kilometer of people walked at twilight following the coffin of the other son. Walking and weeping. People came from all over the country. I saw them one by one. Near and far. Some still had the dust from the desert emplacements. They were broken. They cried. Shamelessly. They were mourning the two. Amos and Oded.

That day the country and its institutions were shaken.

If he had the opportunity, I believe that Oded in two years would have been like Amos. It seems as he was growing up, he was setting his brother as a role model.

On his last Shabbat evening, if I am not wrong, I saw Oded having dinner with his family at the dining hall. I saw him from the corner of my eye, it seemed as if I was seeing the older brother.

Indeed, in this month, this one month, Oded was an only son, as if he grew up and matured, stretching out to fill the horrible void in his home, but this was not granted to him.

He got, so it seems, another role.

Amos and Oded, our sons, will be with us as long as we live, deep, deep in our hearts, immersed in endless affection mixed with grief and a mute protest against the dreadful tragedy and the deprivation inflicted on them, on us, and on the family, mixed with impotent fury at this too severe ordeal, at the too horrible exaggeration as if by diabolic maliciousness. The pain howls from the depth since the pain is so great.

But despite it all, Amos and Oded, with their deaths, because of their deaths, were expropriated from us, they departed from the private domain and were at once lifted to a place where many hearts are beating because they are the altar. Because they are the perfect sacrifice.

That is the horrific glory. There being spread farther away from us, they are not only ours.

Zerubbabel Seker

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“The Brothers' Home” in Kibbutz Nir-Am

Five years after the brothers Amos and Oded Schwartz fell, the cornerstone was set in Kibbutz Nir-Am for a memorial house. Prime Minister Golda Meir participated in the ceremony. In the picture: the meeting of the prime minister with the mother of the brothers, Sara Wiener-Swartz, a native of our town.

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In Memory

Translated from the Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov

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Monument for the sacrifices of the land mines
Dori, Naor, Stoller and Sigali – all fell on March 29, 1968
Shmuel Mizrachi, a soldier in the reserves, fell from a land mine in the same place several weeks later.

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The monument in the cemetery of Kibbutz Masada, over the graves of its three members

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In Memory of Those Slain by a Land Mine
In the Fields of the Jordan Valley
The Three from Kibbutz Masada

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The three of them were like trees, rooted in the garden of our communal life: Avraham Stoller, Eliyahu Naor (Bitchutzky), and Dov Dori (Dondushansky). Each one of them, with all their uniqueness, was a cornerstone on the foundation of the building of our cooperative society.

Our paths met already in the morning of our childhood in the “Gordonia” movement in Bessarabia. The continuous connection between us extended like a thread of kindness throughout our entire life in the kibbutz.

Avraham (From Beltz, one of the first members of Masada, born on April 16, 1913) was like a large tree in our communal scene. His hand was in everything: in the beauty and in the yard, in the settlement, and in the community. He always pulled the yoke; he was vigilant, active for years in matters of work. Before he immersed himself in the production of bananas, he cared for the water, the refrigeration, the steam, and planting of the groves. The same way he knew to do good for a friend in an hour of need, he also knew to demand from him; but no less demand of himself and to exist.

Eliyahu lived all his days in high tension, faithfully without compromising his principles. His life was a long chain of activities in our lives in the movement. He struggled for his right to serve the public cause. He felt inside the fateful events of our times in his entire being. He strived for and spoke of excess perfection, while he himself symbolized an expression of supreme effort, sometimes beyond his physical ability. His position at work and in the community did not come to him by accident, but with efforts and suffering. He gave from his heart and soul to matters of the community and for education.

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In his activities in the movement, he saw the willingness to serve as a messenger of the community, faithful to those who sent him, as a link in the chain. How great was his pride to know that when he would end his activity in the union, a place will be reserved for him in the chapter where his tumultuous soul found complete satisfaction. But he did not merit to fulfill his soul's desire for very long, to work at a full speed for years in the most essential activity of our farm's existence: the bananas. His attitude toward this work was, in his eyes, a holy work, and on this holiness, he fell slain.

Dov - His work in establishing the chapter and his management will stand for us for many more days. His soul was satiated with many distresses. The troubles of life did not pass over him. He was full of aspirations and desires that were not satisfied. Outwardly, he was excited, energetic, and very active, but from inside and secretly, he always yearned for something that was impossible to obtain.

When his wife died, he knew the bitter taste of loneliness. When he stood on the threshold of closing himself into his loneliness, he met Lioba, who also yearned for a family nest after she suffered in forced exile during World War II, beyond the Iron Curtain.

We were happy that they were able in a short time to arrive at a harmonious relationship, and here, at the beginning of their path to their souls' content, the hard blow came upon us.

The images of the three will not be quickly erased from our memory.

Yissaschar Rosenthal, Masada

[Page 609]

The Two Who Went Out to The Road…

Eliyahu Naor (Bitchutsky) and Dov Dori (Dondushansky)

Sacrifices of the land mine that Arab murderers placed in the fields of Kibbutz Masada, on the 29th day of Adar, 5728 – March 29, 1968.

* * *

Eliyahu Naor (Bitchutsky)
Born on May 20, 1907

Eliyahu, or Eli, as we all called him, was one of the eccentrics who broke through the fence in our city, soaked in conventional traditions and the communal conservative way of life. After his brothers, who were older than him, scattered to all ends of the world, he remained as an only son in a house that enjoyed a satisfying economic situation, where life flowed, apparently, on calm waters: he decided to get on the unusual road.

He learned in the local gymnasia for only one year, where he obtained for himself a position among his friends and succeeded in his studies. He was a member of the youth organization “Hatechiya”, which did not obligate his personal fulfillment. He notified his parents and family that he was going out to the hachshara (preparation for Aliyah) for pioneers. After staying in the “Hachalutz” farm in Yelichan for several months, he returned to the town and joined the youths, younger than he was, who in the meantime had established the “Gordonia.”

From here, Eliyahu was drafted for a certain period as the main leader of the movement. Before him was a bold path: to make Aliyah to the Land of Israel. But since the gates to the Land of Israel were locked, he was forced to go out to serve in the Romanian army.

Also, during the years of Eliyahu's service in the army, the “Gordonia” branch was his home in his spare time, spending most of the time he had there. He spoke with us a lot; he was interested in every detail. He advised, he adapted plans of action and even did it when he was in service, keeping a close connection with us and Ido, the counselor. His understanding and influence helped us from afar in the operation of the branch, especially when the older members went out to the pioneer preparation.

When he was released from the army he could no longer continue living at home, and despite being the only child to elderly parents, he packed his belongings and made Aliyah together with his wife Batsheva, of the Fichman family, from Czernowitz. Here, he joined the core of the kibbutz in Hadera, and afterward, he was among those who set the foundation of the kibbutz in the Jordan Valley, which bears the name Masada.

Eliyahu was very active in the cultural area, and he took care to give an image of the holidays and celebrations in the kibbutz. He conducted the local choir or would help a professional conductor who would come to the kibbutz. He loved singing and playing music, and even sometimes composed tunes of his own, which he did not reveal because of his modesty, because they were the fruit of his spirit.

And he was active in the Hagana. In the days preparing for the attack, in the War of Independence, when the farms in the Jordan Valley and Masada were a target for the cruel attack on the part of the Syrian army, who slid down from the Golan, Eliyahu was among the commanding officers.

[Page 610]

Yed0610.jpg
Eliyahu Naor (Bichotsky) and Dov Dori (Berl Dondushansky) in the yard of the Masada settlement

Masada and Shaar HaGolan were conquered then by the enemy, and after several days, our forces returned and freed the place. Eliyahu was among the first to rehabilitate the settlement, which flowered anew.

In the beginning, Eliyahu worked as a baker, a job he inherited from his father's house in Yedinitz. He was happy that the members ate tasty bread, the fruit of his vast experience at his father's house.

He was very happy when he succeeded in bringing his father to Israel. His mother did not live to merit this.

When he brought a friend to replace him at the bakery, he began to work in the banana sector. He quickly became one of the expert workers in the branch, and he worked there until he was drafted on behalf of the movement to work in the Aliyah department for two years (1964). He traveled twice as an envoy abroad on behalf of the Jewish Agency and the movement.

When this time ended, he returned to his business sector – the bananas.

And one clear day on March 29, 1968, when they were traveling home from the field to have breakfast, the frightful tragedy happened, and our three friends – Eliyahu Naor and Dov Dori (from Yedinitz), Avraham Stoller (from Beltz), and the youngest son Chanan Sigali, of blessed memory, who came to us to the core and for the preparation from Haifa, all fell slain by a land mine that exploded under the wagon in which they were traveling, hidden on the road by murderers.

They remained orphaned: the wife of his youth, Batsheva; his first-born son Tuvia; people from the Kibbutz Yotvata in the Arabah, where he served as a music teacher and worked in cattle. His daughter Tsvia married and mother of children – of Eliyahu's grandchildren.

[Page 611]

Dov Dori (Berel Dondushansky)
Born on September 20, 1911

I also knew Dov Dori (previously Berel Dondushansky) and his family very closely. The father, a crops trader, took care that his children would learn, acquire knowledge, and become educated in the Jewish national spirit. The children learned with the best and most accepted teachers in the town.

The house was large and surrounded by a yard and storerooms, and even though it was a kind of gate to the large market (theTorhobitza), it was quiet and prevailed the peace, leaving a good spirit upon all who came to visit there.

The Zionist spirit was part of most of the streets and homes of our town, but in Dov's house, it was on the highest level, and the very fact was that a few years after Dov made Aliyah to the Land of Israel, his parents, Hersh and Golda, decided without any doubts to liquidate their possessions and go in his footsteps (1936) – it proves how much Zionism and Aliyah to the Land of Israel were not carried in their mouths in vain.

Dov was active in the Zionist youth organizations in the town. Since the “Hatechiya surrounded members who were older than Dov, he established along with youths of his age, a branch of the organization called “Hachaver, the center of which was in Czernowitz. When the “Hachaver joined the worldwide “Gordonia movement, Dov was found among one of the builders of the movement's new branch in our city. Dov stood in the center of activities of the branch and of its leaders, especially at times when Eliyahu was absent, at the sides of Yisaschar Rosenthal and the writer of these articles.

At the beginning of the 1930s, Dov goes out to hachshara to the pioneer farm Masada near the city Belz, and after a year of preparation on the farm, he makes Aliyah to the Land of Israel (September 1931). Dov, like Eliyahu, joins the core of the kibbutz in Hadera, and not like the rest of his friends, he did not go to work in an orchard, but only paving the roads. Even though this work was more difficult, he became an expert doing this job. He received a job as a contractor, and in this way, he brought additional friends to do this work. Also, the income from working on the roads paid twice as much, and more than what he earned at other work.

Also, Dov went with the nucleus to the Jordan Valley, and was among the layers of the foundations and the faithful builders of Kibbutz Masada.

With his going up to the settlement, Dov dedicated himself already from the first year, to the growing of bananas. He felt that this would be the central economic branch of the farm, considering the economic development of the Land of Israel.

For years, he was the representative of the farms in the area organizing fruit growers –in the banana area. In this role, he traveled once to Russia and met with the sorrowful Jews. He returned full of impressions and told us here what he saw sharing with us his experiences and feelings.

Dov was an active participant in all the areas of our lives, in the choir, in the dramatic club, and in every action and performance. He always took care that his part would not be missing and tried to also make others become active.

Dov married Riva, nee Roizman, from Ackerman, and they established a beautiful home in the kibbutz.

[Page 612]

His house was always noisy with visits of friends and family relatives, on the side of his wife Riva, and on his side. It was pleasant to enter their house and always be received cordially, and with a bright face.

Dov was active all his days in the Land of Israel in the Hagana, and he participated in many protective operations, among others, on the famous “Wingate nights.” Also, after he established a family, and a faint light of an organized life was seen at the horizon, he was sent from time to time on various missions, some to conquer and some to help with guidance and building.

His brother Chaim (from Hadera) tells gently:

“When he began, finally, to see contentment and happiness in raising his children, and when he brought his first-born daughter Yona to the marriage canopy, his wife Riva became ill with a malignant disease. He served her with all his love and was a help and comfort to her until the end of her days. During that period, he carefully took care of his elderly mother, who was with him at the kibbutz. The death of his mother caused him great pain and suffering. A short time after that, his wife also passed away (1966). He was not broken, and devoted himself more strongly to his work, until his friends stood over him and begged him to marry again.”

His father died in Hadera, in the early 1940s.

Dov received the blow of fate. He did not complain, and tried to return and enter the circle of life and creativity. He met his friend Liuba (Liubale Fridman, the widow of Gama Ailbirt, from Yedinitz, who made Aliyah to the Land of Israel in August 1966: see list below). With his influence, Liuba agreed to come to the kibbutz with her two sons. And so, they joined nicely in our lives, at studies and work. This was after the Six-Day War.

A period of happiness came down on the new family, making all the members happy. The children of Dov and Riva, Yona and Zvi, grew up and flourished. Yona married a friend from another kibbutz. Zvi was drafted into the military service, in the Navy. Both are married and parents of children, Dov's grandchildren. Dov was a good father to Liuba's two sons as if they were his. He was by nature talented at this and felt that he was filling a very important duty.

The period of happiness did not last for long. Less than a year since the family was established, the cruel tragedy occurred, the one that cut the fuse of his life, together with his friends. A lot of hopes and joy of life were cut off and they are here no more. Woe to us, the friends who were the witnesses to that.

Sender Harari (Hoichenberg), Masada

 

The Dream That Disappeared

It was a pleasant dream, lovely and sweet, but too short!

At the end of August 1966, I made Aliyah to the Land of Israel with my two sons. The pains of absorption of my sons were hard so that they regretted we had come. I was unable to influence them because even I regretted coming. And here, one day, someone knocked on our door. Someone from our town came in – Dov, of blessed memory. I didn't know him before, because at the time he made Aliyah I was a 12-year-old girl. Dov was then a counselor at Kibbutz Gezer.

When Dov suggested I move to Masada with my sons and build there our shared home, it was very hard for me to decide after living 23 years of family life with my first husband, Gama Ailbirt, of blessed memory,

[Page 613]

who was from our town, and who passed away untimely in 1964. But I recognized Dov as an honest man, intelligent, and a faithful friend. I believed he would be a future good father to my sons. I was prepared to marry him, but I worried about a new stumbling block of absorption into the kibbutz, and I suggested that he leave the kibbutz. He admitted the difficulties expected for us, but he could not accept the suggestion of leaving a framework of life in which he had invested more than 30 years of hard work. He believed that with a common will, we would be able to overcome all the problems. He argued we should rely on fate, which caused us to meet after it had been cruel to us in the loss of our most dear ones. Against the luck of this fate, he said, we are left without an answer, and we cannot change it. We can promise only this, that we will not forget those who were dear to us in their lives.

So, the days passed, and on Independence Day, in 1967, when I came to visit Masada and get to know those who live there, I found out that Dov could not be taken out of the framework of his life, from the kibbutz.

[Page 614]

After the Six-Day War, after deliberations, hesitations, and struggles, I decided that Dov should not be taken out of the kibbutz and that we should move there to live with him. Work was found in my profession for me, in which I find my soul's satisfaction. We established anew a warm home with love and mutual understanding. We were happy.

And suddenly, the pleasant and short dream disappeared…

Dov went out early in the morning to work, healthy, and in one piece. Friends told us he was happy and in a good mood, as usual. And he did not return.

An honest man fell. He was a good friend and a dedicated husband, a dedicated father to his children and mine.

Again, I lost a loving husband and loyal friend, and my children were orphaned a second time from a devoted father. In these difficult moments, nothing remains for me to say, except this: I will guard in my heart and memory the shine of his good and happy face and the memory of my dear husband Dov, together with the memory of my first husband. My sons also will remember him forever, and they will guard his memory in their hearts because he deserves that.

Liuba Dori, Masada

[Page 613]

Eliyahu Naor (Eli Bitchutsky) and Dov Dori (Berl Dondushansky)

by Yosef Magen-Shitz

Translated from Yiddish by Pamela Russ

The victims of mines that Arab murderers placed in the fields of Kvutza Massada on 29 Adar 5728, March 29, 1968.

Kvutza Massada was founded in Hadera and established on its own soil, becoming an independent settlement in1937. During the War of Independence in 1948 the children and all those people who were not fighters, evacuated the Kvutza and the other settlements in Emek Hayarden. Despite the heroic resistance of the fighters, the Syrians looted the area and plundered and destroyed everything. But in a few days, the area (the Kvutza Massadaand the Kibbutz Shaar Hagolanof Hashomer Hatzair) was overtaken by the Tzahal (IDF) and very soon became one of the most flourishing places in the country.

Until the Six-Day War, this region was the calmest in the country even though it lay on the border of Jordan and Syria.

[Page 614]

It only became unsettled a few months later after the war when the Fatah terrorists began to rage. Their base was on the other side of the borders with Syria and Jordan. Their main activity was to cross into the region at night and place mines on the roads where the following day the calm toilers of the Israeli settlements would pass.

Understandably, the Israeli powers did not leave this without any response; the Arab villages on the other side of the border became empty and abandoned. But this is exactly what the terrorists wanted. From the other side of the border, they shot with light rifles, threw mines, and fired Soviet Katyusha rockets. Victims fell but no one abandoned the settlements, and life between one attack and another continued with the children sleeping in bunkers.

Among the victims of the Arab terrorist and frightening attacks on the non-fighting population were two natives from Yedinitz. The leaders of the “Gordonia” settlers in their entire essence, founders of the Kvutza Massada: Eli Bitchutsky (in Israel: Eliyahu Naor), and Berl Dondushansky (in Israel: Dov Dori).

This happened on March 29, 1968 (29 Adar 5728), ten months after the Six-Day War.

[Page 615]

Before dawn, Eli, Dov, Avraham Stoliar (a native of Belz), Chanan Sigli (an 18-year-old young man from Haifa, an orphan who completed Hachshara and prepared himself to join a kibbutz “granary”), and others who worked on the banana plantations of the kibbutz went out to work though they knew that terrorists had “visited” the area during the past night. Nothing happened on the way to work, but on the way back, on the way to breakfast, the wagon hit a mine and the above-mentioned four, devoted agriculturalists, lost their lives.

* * *

Eliyahu was born in Yedinitz on May 20, 1907. His family ran a well-known bakery. He was a member of “Hatichya” and studied in the gymnasium. But he left his studies, went to the Hachshara, joined “Gordoniaand became a leader in surveying the land. After his military service, he moved to Israel. His settlement was in Hadera before it returned to Emek Hayarden. Eliyahu married Batsheva, became a father to three children, and had grandchildren. He was active in the cultural life of the settlement, conducted a choir, composed songs, and melodies, and was a central figure in the settlement. He brought his elderly father to Israel (his mother did not merit this). He managed the bakery in the settlement; then he went over to the banana plantation. He managed a whole line of missions and for a time directed the Jewish Agency of the “Union of Settlements and Kibbutzim.”

In his time, he was very active in the area of security.

Eliyahu was one of the active initiators of the Yedinitz Book and a member of the editorial board (see his outstanding memoirs of the times during World War I). He was 61 years of age when the murderous hands found him.

* * *

Dov was born in Yedinitz on September 20, 1911. His parents' home in Yedinitz was well known for its hospitality. He founded the organization “Hachaver,” which later joined the “Gordonia” movement. After he completed Hachshara he immigrated to Israel, and two years later his parents also immigrated there.

[Page 616]

Like Eliyahu, he was first in Hadera and then among the founders of Masada. He also created the banana branch, was active in the union of banana growers, and as such was a delegated to Russia at an international conference. From there he brought back greetings from the tormented Jewish people.

Dov was active in many areas in the social and economic life and the security areas.

His house in Masada was always busy with visitors just like the house of his parents in Yedinitz. He would fill many of the social and economic missions.

Dov Dori experienced a personal tragedy. Riva, the wife of his youth and mother of his daughter Yonah (married and living in a different Kvutza) and his son Tzvi (an officer in the navy), became ill with an incurable sickness. His elderly mother died suddenly and shortly after Riva died.

Sometime later he met Lyuba. In Yedinitz she was called Libele Friedman and was also a member of “Gordonia.” She was married in Yedinitz for about 23 years to Gamme Eilbert with whom she experienced the horrors of Transnistria.

Gamme died suddenly from a heart attack in 1964. In August 1966, Lyuba–Libele and her two children immigrated to Israel, where they experienced a difficult absorption process. After much hesitation, Lyuba agreed to move to Masada. Here, she and Dov reestablished a family. Dov became a devoted father to Lyuba's two sons who loved him in return. This was just after the Six-Day War.

But the joy did not last long. Lyuba writes about this in our book in the article (in Hebrew) “The Dream that Disappeared.”

“It was a beautiful dream, a beautiful and sweet one, but a very short one.”

A few months after the wedding, Dov passed away, and once again Lyuba became a widow.

Dov, like Eliyahu, was active in the Yedinitz Book and took part in it with several memoirs.

* * *

The settlement and the families remained orphaned and the same is true for the large Yedinitz family in this country and abroad.

 

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