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Purity of Arms

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"Suddenly, After 40 Years"  E-mail

BY AMIR GILAT – 9TH NOVEMBER, 1987

published in
Maariv and The Jerusalem Post about the Brit Milah of Modechai Rosenfeld on the Aliyah Bet ship "The Jewish State." at the time of Israel's 40th anniversary

Translation of the Ma’ariv newspaper interview with Yedidia (Eddy) Kaplansky in Haifa, Israel

baby

Mordechai Rosenfeld on board “The Jewish State”

Mordechai Rosenfeld was born 40 years ago en route to Bulgaria, where his parents were to board an immigrant ship, “The Jewish State.” The brit milah was performed on the ship's deck.  Eddy Kaplansky was one of those who were present.  From then on, he often wondered, what was the child’s destiny?  Two weeks ago they met at a reunion in Haifa, an exciting and emotional meeting.

Mordechai Rosenfeld

Mordechai Rosenfeld in Haifa in 1987

 

Eddy:   “All these years, I remembered that ceremony, held on the Mediterranean Sea while British warships were patrolling.”

 

Eddy remembers that 40 years earlier, he had given the baby to the godfather (sandak), Irving Meltzer, the communications officer.

 

Eddy:  “I remember the mother; she was very excited.  She wanted the baby to be named Mordechai, after Mr. Meltzer’s father.”

 

Mr. Kaplansky always wondered what happened to Mordechai.  Finally, after 40 years, for the first time in his life Mordechai Rosenfeld could hear details he had never before heard about his birth.  His mother died shortly after arriving in Palestine.

 

Kaplansky, Canadian-born, is a resident of Haifa today. He served as a volunteer on the deck of the immigrant ship “The Jewish State.”  They sailed from Bulgaria on 23rd September 1947, carrying 2,644 immigrants.  Eight days after the baby was born, a brit milah was held, as required in the Bible.

 

The “Mission Impossible” that Kaplansky managed to accomplish occurred recently.  A few days ago the phone rang in his house.  Mordechai Rosenfeld was on the line.  Rosenfeld works as a welder for the Soltam company, a munitions manufacturer.  He said, “I think I am the man you are looking for.” After some clarification, they discovered that on Mordechai’s ID card, his place of birth is given as “Born on the way to the Jewish Land.”

 

Two weeks ago, Kaplansky visited Rosenfeld’s house in Kiryat Haim.  For the first time, Mordechai heard after whom he was named, and how and where his first days were passed.

 

Shortly after landing in Haifa, some of the immigrants were deported to Cyprus.  Among them was Eddy Kaplansky.  The Rosenfeld family was sent to the immigrant camp at Kiryat Shmuel.  Two months later, Mordechai’s mother was “accidently” killed by a British soldier’s bullet.

 

Mordechai:  “I was sent to an orphanage in Haifa, where I grew up.  I knew very little about my family and what happened to them, because my father remarried and preferred not to talk about the Holocaust and the immigration to Palestine.  It is really exciting to hear details from a person who was there at the time, someone who can give me a detailed account of how I was born”.

 

Eddy Kaplansky immigrated to Israel, and joined the Israel Air Force. Today he deals with research on the immigrant period in general, and “The Jewish State” in particular.  He maintains contact with a few crew members and immigrants from the ship.

 

He is very happy that he had the opportunity to “close the circle.” The “baby” whom he hadn't seen since his brit milah is now in touch with him.

 

Jewish State

How Eddy found Mordechai Rosenfeld

Copy of Eddy Kaplansky’s letter in the Jerusalem Post – 1987

To the Editor of the Jerusalem Post

Sir – A few days after Yom Kippur 1947, there was a brit milah ceremony aboard the Aliyah Bet ship “Medinat Hayehudim” (The Jewish State) while it was sailing towards Eretz Yisrael and its inevitable encounter with the British Royal Navy blockade.  The child was born on the special train taking some 2,700 refugees from Bucharest to Burgas, Bulgaria, where our ship was awaiting them.

 

In a gesture of appreciation to the crew, the mother named her son Mordechai, in memory of our radio officer’s father.  But perhaps later in life he was known by another name.

 

Now, 40 years later, we would very much like to meet Mordechai and find out what happened to him.  Anyone able to help us in this quest should contact the undersigned at P.O. Box 211, Haifa 31001, or phone 04-533-147.

 

Eddy Kaplansky

Haifa

 

Link to Eddy Kaplansky personal story