|Elana Overs' Speech|
Firstly I would like to extend a warm welcome to all present today – those associated with the Lone Soldier Centers, Telfed, Machalniks, family and friends.
At this time I would also like to wish Smoky Simon, the Chairman of World Machal, a speedy recovery to good health so that he may continue the sterling work he and his wonderful assistant Doreen have done for Machal worldwide.
Two years after the end of World War II, over 4,800 men and women - Jews and non-Jews - left the comfort of their homes and came to fight for Israel during the War of Independence. They were known as Machal, volunteers from abroad.
My father traveled from Kenya via South Africa and fought alongside his Machal comrades in what he described as the most significant episode of his life.
World Machal was approached by the South African Zionist Federation to become involved with the Lone Soldiers Centre in Tel Aviv, and my family agreed to contribute to a room in the Tel Aviv Centre in my father’s honour.
To this end, Doreen, Doddie Gordon, and I have worked hard to design this permanent exhibition telling the story of Machal from 1948 to the present day.
There are over 5,700 lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF. About 45% of these soldiers are new immigrants, coming from Jewish communities all over the world. The others are Israelis or orphans who come from low socio-economic backgrounds. There are some that come from ultra- orthodox neighborhoods who are shunned by their communities and their families because they decided to go into the army.
The Lone Soldier Centers in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheva offer these lone soldiers a base during their free time, with guidance, moral support and company. They do indeed provide a wonderful support system for the lone soldiers.
Tomorrow on May 5th, together with my family and Marion, my father’s partner, I will be attending the Yom Hazicharon service at the Machal Memorial site in the Yitzhak Rabin Forest at Sha’ar Hagai. The site for the Memorial was chosen for its close proximity to the “Burma Road” – built by hand, at night, to relieve a besieged Jerusalem.
This beautiful memorial was the dream of my father and was dedicated by Yitzak Rabin in April, 1993. It was built in partnership with the KKL in memory of the 123 Machalniks who gave their lives in Israel’s War of Independence.
6,000 Jews, military and citizens, lost their lives in that crucial war. Yitzak Rabin said in his speech at the dedication of the Memorial that this was was the one which decided whether there would be or not be a Jewish State.
Every year Machal veterans read out the names of their Fallen comrades at this memorial service and this year I will proudly unveil a plaque to my father.
It is my enormous pleasure to inaugurate the “Stanley Medicks Machal Room” in the Tel Aviv Lone Soldiers Center.
My father would have been delighted to have been honoured in this way. His name and deeds will now have a permanent place in the country he fought for and loved.
Elana Overs (Stanley Medicks’ daughter)