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Purity of Arms

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Reuven (Red) Schiff  E-mail
Reuven SchiffThe son of Sarah and Moshe, Reuven Schiff was born in February 1926 in Toronto.

During the World War II, at the age of 17, he decided to enlist.  At the enlistment office, he changed his date of birth and forged his father’s signature, and thus was accepted by the army.  As part of his service he was sent to Europe as a sergeant machine gunner in the infantry.   He participated in the triumphs and the conquests of war, was wounded in Germany and discharged in 1945.

At the end of the war he returned to Canada, where he worked in his brother’s restaurant.  He could not settle down after the Zionist spirit was awoken in him, and he decided to make aliyah to Palestine.  Reuven joined the Aliyah Bet crew aboard the ship “Geula.” On November 19th 1947 he was amongst a group of sailors from the "Geula" and the Jewish state who escaped from a bus convoy taking them to the Atlit detention camp on their arrival from Cyprus.

In January 1948 he was accepted onto Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch during those difficult days of fighting in the Galilee.  He remained on the kibbutz, where he bonded both with place and the people.  His friends there nicknamed him “Red.”

Those were hard days of fighting at Ramot Naftali, and Reuven volunteered to go there and help, and after a short time he decided to join the army.  After his recruitment, he was assigned to the Palmach, to “Hativat Hanegev,” in the “Beasts of the Negev” unit.  He knew no fear and in all situations he was quiet and relaxed.  He was used to fighting after his experiences in WW II, but he never spoke about what he went through during the fighting in Europe.

Reuven fell in the attack on Bir Abu-Jabar on July 17th 1948, and was buried at Kibbutz Ruchama. His name is inscribed on the memorial at Maayan Baruch.

On May 16th 1950 he was re-interred in his final resting place in the military cemetery in Nachlat Yitzhak.


Translated from the Yizkor Web site, with excerpts from the book “The Jews' Secret Fleet.”