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Purity of Arms

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Machal Memorial service at Sha’ar Hagai on Yom Hazicharon, Monday 9th May, 2011  E-mail
Guard of Honor

Guard of Honour of Machalniks from abroad currently serving in IDF’s 16-month program, together with (left to right), Migdal Teperson, Smoky Simon, Joe Woolf, and Ruth Stern

Photo: Tzemach Bloomberg: May 2011

This year saw several changes to our program for the Yom Hazicharon service. Zippy Porath our faithful M.C. was visiting the USA, and her fellow M.C. Rafi Seroussi, was recuperating from a bout in hospital. We were fortunate to have the services of Machalniks Ruth Stern from South Africa who served as a nurse in the Medical Corps, and Meir Haberman, from Argentina who served in Haganat Ha’emek, both of whom did a splendid job.

The memorial Our service commenced with the Israeli Reveille (“Taps”) performed by bugler Elazar Brandt, an immigrant from the U.S.A. French Machalniks Yehoshua (Jacky) Drai and Jacques Feldman, lowered the flag to half-mast. U.K. Machalnik Avi Grant and Argentinian Machalnik Moshe Amiran lit the memorial flame, and Gordon Mandelzweig and Sim Manor, brothers and Machalniks from South Africa, laid the wreath. Representatives of Mador Nachal laid wreaths on behalf of the IDF.

This year, Maurice Fajerman brought a delegation of 20 Machalniks from France, and he read out the names of the French and French-speaking Fallen. Joe Woolf read out the names of the Fallen from other countries, and gave us a few interesting statistics concerning the Fallen – 13 of the Fallen were married, 12 were had been decorated for bravery and distinguished service in World War II, 11 were non-Jewish, 4 were women, and 6 of the Fallen were only 17 and 18 years old.

Rabbi Ephraim Shach who has carried out the religious aspects of our services for many years, was unable to attend due to ill health. Rabbi Daniel Segal, officiated in a religious capacity, and took the time and effort to research the Machal story, relating a story about one of our Fallen Belgian Machalniks, Moshe Grinblatt, who fell close to the area where Rabbi Segal was raised as a child. He read several Psalms in Hebrew and in English, and concluded the religious part of our ceremony with El Maleh Rachamim and Kaddish.

U.K. Machalnik Phil Harris, at 94 years of age, gave us a wonderful rendition al capella of Adon Olam, and Leon Silverman, Machalnik from the U.S.A. completed our service singing “Hatikvah” in his splendid voice.

The Guard of Honour at this year’s ceremony were 19 young Machalniks from abroad who are currently serving in the IDF’s 16 month program for foreign volunteers. After the service they met with the 1947-49 Machalniks and heard the stories of their activities in Israel’s War of Independence.

Our service was also attended by photographer Fazal Sheikh from the U.S.A. and his Israeli associate Talya Rosin. Fazal is in Israel to photograph Machalniks for a book he is publishing. He met with several Machalniks following the ceremony, and will meet with others during his stay in Tel Aviv.

Happily, despite the direct quote from Smoky Simon, Chairman of World Machal that “Machalniks are an endangered species”, this year’s Yom Hazicharon service was attended by 114 people, which included Machalniks veterans and, in some cases, accompanied by their children and grandchildren.