Aliyah Bet & Machal Virtual Museum

 

Machal Monument Rising

machal-memorial-rising

The Machal Monument was installed on Thursday, December 14th (26 Kislev)!

Please donate on the Machal Memorial page and ensure that the Machal story is told for generations

Machal Overseas Volunteers Memorial to be Dedicated in Jerusalem 12/17/17

The Jerusalem City Council set Sunday, December 17, 2017 as the dedication date for the Machal Memorial now under construction adjacent to the Historic Ammunition Hill National Memorial Site. The striking sculpture (photo below) will honor the legacy of 4,800 Machal overseas volunteers who served in Israel’s War of Independence (1947-1949). The American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp and the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation are collaborating with the Jerusalem City Council in the execution of this project. 

The day’s events will begin at 3:00 pm with an opening ceremony at the Western Wall (Kotel) followed by a Torch Relay Race commencing at 3:20 pm. Hundreds of officers and soldiers from various IDF units will participate. The route through Jerusalem will encompass many of the city’s renowned landmarks, winding up at the Machal Memorial on Machal Street.

The dedication program will start at 4:00 pm in the Ammunition Hill auditorium.  Prominent participants will include Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, Yoav Galant, Minister of Housing and Construction, IDF and police commanders and heads of veterans organizations among others.  The Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony will take place at 4:30 pm with the traditional blessings, entertainment program and the unveiling of the Machal Memorial monument.  

The dedication program ends at 5:15 pm

To donate and be a part of the memorial, please go to Jewcer.

 

U.S. Contacts

Jerry Klinger - jashp1@msn.com

Donna Parker - donnakparker1@gmail.com

Si Spiegelman – spiegelsi@aol.com

 

Program Information (Israel)

Benny Katz, Director, IDF Relations/Liaison Department

Shirley - 0526994990

Moran - 0535222127

Jerusalem Machal Monument Planned

The planned Jerusalem Machal Memorial honors the legacy of the 4800 Machal volunteers from 59 countries (1100 from the United Sates and Canada who served in the creation and defense of the State of Israel during its War of Independence (1948-1949). It carries a powerful message furthering Jewish unity for all generations, present and future.

Adjacent to the Ammunition Hill Memorial Site, work has started on the project. The striking monument and narrative markers are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perpetuate the legacy of Machal and Aliyah Bet. It will be an enduring Machal footprint in the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

AVILC is implementing the Jerusalem Machal Memorial project in collaboration with The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation (JASHP). The Jerusalem City Council has unanimously approved the project. The expected dedication date has been set by the Council for December 17, 2017.

In July 2017, JASHP unveiled a monument to the 1947 Exodus ship, part of the Aliyah Bet operation bringing holocaust survivors to Israel. Located in the Haifa Port, it was the first monument to the Exodus in Israel.

Please donate at our Jewcer fundraising page.

Machal Memorial Description

Honoring The Ship That Launched A Nation

2017 Dedication of Exodus Monument

By Daniel Fliegler

The elderly man recounted how as a child on board the Exodus 1947 he could see the port of Haifa and the Carmel mountains in the distance. Being so close to Israel he was filled with joy, but the men next to him started to cry. He asked them why were they crying. The reply was that they would be forced to go to Cyprus. Yet the knowledge was there that they would return. No one on that ship knew the future events that would lead to their return and how their determination to return would set into motion the final steps for the United Nations recognition of the Jewish state. 

This was elaborated in Haifa port on July 18, 2017, seventy years to the day that the British brought the Exodus 1947 to this port after capturing her. Now on this fateful day a fitting memorial was dedicated to this event with an appropriate ceremony.

After the Second World War, the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust wanted to leave Europe and come home to Israel which was then called Palestine. The British controlled the area through its League of Nations Mandate. It was the British intention to keep control of Palestine as a necessary step for the preservation of their empire. Thinking it more expedient to appease the Arabs, the British through its 1939 White Paper forbade the immigration of Jews into Palestine except for a monthly quarter of 1500. The Jews of Palestine through the Jewish Agency and the underground armies of the Hagana, Irgun, and Lehi brought in Jewish refugees none the less as part of a movement called Aliyah Bet. Since 1946, surplus war ships were brought cheaply in the United States and Canada. They were manned by crews consisting mostly of Jewish volunteers. The ships would sail from the US pick up hundreds and thousands of refugees waiting in Europe and continue onward to Palestine. The British navy succeeded in capturing most of the ships. British policy was to intern the refugees in camps in Cyprus. The Exodus 1947 was to be different. Formally called the President Warfield, it was originally  a pleasure boat transporting passengers and freight between Norfolk and Baltimore. It saw action in WWII with first the British and then the US navy being stationed off Normady, France. It returned to the US and was sold to a dummy company of the Hagana for scrap. The ship was taller than the average British warship making it harder to be boarded and seized by British Royal Marines. The plan was to openly land the refugees in Palestine in defiance of the British navy. With a stroke of genius Moshe Sneh head of immigration in the Jewish Agency came up with the name Exodus 1947 So the ship picked up 4515 refugees in Marseilles and headed to Palestine with the British shadowing it. Two British destroyers rammed the Exodus and the marines managed to board the ship. On the ship, the marines were met with stiff resistance by the refugees who threw everything including potatoes at them. Three people were killed as a result of the assault. One of them was Bill Bernstein an officer on the Exodus who tried to prevent the marines from capturing the wheelhouse which controlled the ship. Instead of being interned in Cyprus the refugees were imprisoned like animals and sent to France. The refugees refused to disembark in France and the French authorities refused to force them. The British decided to send the refugees to Germany and force them to disembark there. Expecting negative publicity, the British were totally unprepared for the firestorm of condemnations that followed. Reports by journalist Ruth Gruber and eyewitness accounts by the Reverend John Grauel who sailed on the Exodus as an official observer convinced the United Nations that this state of affairs could not continue. On November 29 of that same year the United Nations voted in favor for the establishment of the Jewish state. The Exodus 1947 truly earned its nickname as ‘the ship that launched a nation.

Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, learned that there were monuments for the Exodus 1947 in Italy, Germany, France, and the US but none in Israel where the main historical events occurred. It is entirely due to Klinger’s efforts that a monument now stands in the port of Haifa where the ship was taken to by the British. The monument, sculpted by Sam Philipe consists of an anchor behind or ‘launching’ a three dimensional map of Israel. A fitting monument for ‘The ship that launched a nation’.  The ceremony was most fitting going on for hours. Speaker after speaker spoke of their connection to Exodus, while on a screen behind the podium were video clips of the ship and the land of Israel. One of the most moving connections of the Exodus came from Natan Sharansky, former refusenik and now chairman of the Jewish Agency. When he was a refusenik in the former USSR, Sharansky would ask visitors to bring with them copies of the novel Exodus. Although the novel gave the story of a different Aliyah Bet ship it still had an impact on the refuseniks in their struggle to maintain their Jewish identity. In an irony of history, most of the American volunteers for the Aliyah Bet crews kept their involvement a secret for fear of criminal prosecution by the US government. At the ceremony, was Michael Snowden representing US Ambassador Friedman proudly recounting that most of the Exodus crew were American.

Singing icons Noy Sassover and Shuli Natan sung song after song with Natan including her famous renditions of Jerusalem of Gold and Captain My Captain. 

Representing American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp were, Donna Parker, Jerry Klinger, and this writer.

 

Also See

Baltimore Jewish Times Article

Jerusalem Post Article

Video of July 18th Dedication Ceremony

Augustine L. (Duke) Labaczewski

Duke Labaczewski

Augustine L. (Duke) Labaczewski, 89, the cook aboard the American Aliyah Bet ship Tradewinds (later named “Hatikvah” – Hope), died in Williamstown, New Jersey, on June 29, 2017.   His daughter, Mrs. Theresa Forbes, said the cause of death was lung cancer, contracted during his 40-year career as a cook, able-bodied seaman and boatswain aboard American commercial ships. He was buried on July 5 in Manahath Cemetery, Glassboro, NJ, next to his wife, Myra. He is survived by his daughter, his son William Labaczewski, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Duke was born April 21, 1928 in Camden, NJ.  He was Roman Catholic, yet fluent in Yiddish,  learned from Jewish neighbors. At 19 he was one of the youngest Jews or non-Jews to participate in Israel’s War of Independence.   The Tradewinds, a former U.S. Revenue cutter, was refitted on the Miami River in 1946 and 1947.  It departed Miami in 1947, sailed to Baltimore and crossed the Atlantic taking aboard 1,414 Jewish refugees in La Spezia, Italy.   It was intercepted and rammed by a Royal Navy Destroyer on May 17, 1947.   The crew, including Duke, and the refugees fought the British boarding party, but were overwhelmed.  They were transferred to a British Prison ship and interned in Cyprus.  Duke was later freed and returned to the U.S. in December, 1947.

When asked what impelled him to join the Israeli cause, Duke said, he had returned from sea [in 1947] and his friend Mike Perlstein said, “Duke, we need sailors to help bring my people to Israel.”  “I was always for a Jewish state,” Duke recalled, and responded to Mike, “I’m your man.” He joined Mike as a crew member on the “Hatikvah” and on many occasions later stated that it had been “the right thing to do”.

Duke participated in almost every reunion of Aliyah Bet and Machal.   He was once asked what benefit he derived personally from his experience with Aliyah Bet.  He responded, “I believe we brought over the people needed to fight for a free state and freedom from all the persecutions around the world.  It makes me feel very proud that I had a part in it, no matter how small.”

We will miss our friend and comrade-in-arms, Duke.

Zichrono Livracha (May his memory be for a blessing)

Duke Labaczewski
Duke Labaczewski
Duke Labaczewski and Marcel Berkowitz at the 2016 Mickey Marcus Memorial
Duke Labaczewski and Paul Kaye
2016 Mickey Marcus Memorial Group Photo

American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp

2017 Celebrate Israel Parade

AVILC Celebrate Israel Parade 2016

AMERICAN VETERANS OF ISRAEL

LEGACY CORPORATION

CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017

COME AND MARCH WITH US ON FIFTH AVENUE

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL

PAY TRIBUTE TO OUR LOST MEMBERS

LINE UP ON WEST 55th STREET Between Fifth and Sixth Avenues (Behind the Scouts formation)

PARADE ENDS ON FIFTH AVENUE AND 74TH STREET

ASSEMBLY TIME: 10:30 am

STEP-OFF TIME: 11:00 am

Wear Dark slacks or skirts, white shirts, blue berets or caps Wear comfortable shoes and carry a bottle of water Bring Family and Friends

********************************************

NEED TO RIDE IN THE LINE OF MARCH ? RIDE THE VETERANS TROLLEY IN THE PARADE

QUESTIONS?..... CONTACT :

Si - spiegelsi@aol.com

Donna - donnakparker1@gmail.com

Exodus 1947: 70th Commemoration: Project Update

Exodus Baltimore Memorial

Congressman John P. Sarbanes of Maryland has entered into the U.S Congressional Record recognition of the famed Holocaust Rescue Ship, the Exodus 1947. (see copy below). The ship, out of Baltimore, was American funded and crewed.  Its historic voyage in running the British naval blockade of Palestine made it a foundation story of the modern State of Israel.  Ruth Gruber called the Exodus 1947, the "Ship that Launched a Nation". Nine other largely US manned ships sailed from the U.S. among the 66 ships that ran the British naval blockade to bring remnants of European Jewry to the shores of Eretz Israel between 1945 and 1948.

Seventy years have passed since July 18, 1947, when the battered Exodus 1947, with 4,454 Holocaust survivors on board, was towed into the port of Haifa by British destroyers that rammed her in international waters. The Second Officer, Bill Bernstein, was clubbed to death on the bridge by the British boarding detail when he refused to abandon the wheel.  He was the first Machalnik who gave his life in the struggle to establish the Jewish State.

This iconic episode in modern Jewish history will be remembered and honored at the AVILC Mickey Marcus Memorial taking place at West Point on May 7, 2017. Among the speakers  are Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel; Ambassador Vasilios Philippou, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus; NYC DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte and Mr. Jerry Klinger, President of JASHP. There will be an  exhibition portraying the “Aliyah Bet” or clandestine immigration that daringly confronted the British destroyers engaged in the naval blockade. There will also be a photo display of the refugees and crew apprehended by British authorities and shipped to internment camps on Cyprus.

This year being the 70th commemoration of Exodus 1947, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation (JASHP) and Jerry Klinger, its president have launched the Exodus Memorial Project. A permanent historical, informative sculpture memorializing the Exodus 1947 has been commissioned and will be sited with supportive panels in the plaza of the port of Haifa. Jerry Klinger was instrumental in the restoration of Bill Bernstein’s  grave site with honor and dignity in  a Haifa cemetery.

Our purpose is to remember and reaffirm the saga of the Ma’apala (Clandestine immigration) and to tell  the story of the Exodus 1947 as emblematic of the Aliyah Bet operation and the creation of the Jewish State.   A dedication ceremony is being organized to be held at the port of Haifa on July 18, 2017, the day Exodus 1947 docked seventy years ago.

Those planning to travel to Israel and attend the July 18 dedication of the memorial in Haifa are asked to please contact Donna Parker at donnakparker1@gmail.com

Those interested in knowing more about the Exodus Memorial project in Haifa may contact Jerry Klinger, President, Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, directly at Jashp1@msn.com

Donna Parker

Rafi Marom

Si Spiegelman

 


 

Congressional Record, Jan. 24, 2017

HON. JOHN P. SARBANES

OF MARYLAND

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mr. SARBANES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the extraordinary events surrounding the SS Exodus 1947, to which a historic memorial will be dedicated in the Port of Haifa in Israel this coming July.

The SS Exodus 1947, originally known as the President Warfield, was a passenger ship operating on the ‘‘Old Bay Line’’ between Baltimore, MD and Norfolk, VA. The ship served in that role for nearly 15 years before being repurposed during World War II, when it served both the Royal Navy and the United States Navy. Following the war, the ship returned to the U.S. and was placed in the Naval Reserve Fleet in Virginia, where it was to be sold for scrap.

Before the ship could be scrapped it was sold to the Haganah, the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces. The Haganah intended to use it, amongst 9 other ships, to evacuate displaced Jews from Europe to what was then Palestine, at the time under British Control. Before undertaking this mission the ship was towed to Baltimore, where it was refitted and crewed, primarily by volunteer Jewish-American ex-soldiers.

Once in Europe, the ship originally designed for 400 passengers was loaded with 4,454 Holocaust survivors and departed from the French Port of Se`te. The ship was intercepted in international waters by a task force of eight British Naval vessels and was boarded by Royal Marines. While the unarmed crew and passengers fought back with whatever could be turned into weapons, they were eventually overwhelmed and taken back to France and then to displaced persons camps in Germany on British prison ships.

The events on the Exodus garnered international media attention and are considered by historians to have played a role in the passage of United Nations Resolution 181, which established the State of Israel. The mayor of Haifa in 1950 dubbed the Exodus the ‘‘Ship that Launched a Nation.’’

Memorials and historical markers for the Exodus have been placed in the Baltimore Harbor, as well as France and Germany. I am proud of the small role that Baltimore played in these historic events and also commend the work of my constituent, Dr. Barry S. Lever, with the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation to dedicate a memorial to the Exodus in Israel, and I congratulate them on their successful efforts.

 


 

Further reading:

1.  For reference information and lists of North American volunteers that served on the U.S-sourced Aliyah Bet ships, see Murray Greenfield’s The Jews’ Secret Fleet… (Gefen Publishing House).

2.  For a global perspective on all the Aliyah Bet ships (1938-1948) see Paul Silverstone’s Our Only Refuge; Open the Gates…. http://paulsilverstone.com/aliyah-bet-project/

Exodus 1947: The Ship that Launched a Nation

Exodus Ship

The S.S. Exodus was an American Aliyah Bet ship crewed by American volunteers together with Haganah operatives from pre-state Israel. Her mission was to rescue Holocaust survivors trapped in Europe after the murder of 6 million Jews, bringing them to British Mandatory Palestine. Despite the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British prevented Jewish immigration to Palestine through a naval blockade. 

July 18, 1947, the unarmed Exodus, carrying 4,515 Holocaust survivors, tried to breech the British blockade. In international waters, two British destroyers rammed the ship, threatening to sink the Exodus. British Marines boarded, killed three, including an American Mahal crewman- Bill Bernstein. 147 refugees were injured. The Jews resisted bravely. 

Captured, the Exodus was taken to Haifa port where the brutalized refugees were transferred to British prison ships and forcibly returned to camps in Germany. World news captured the pathos in Haifa, garnering international sympathy to the Jewish plight. 

In Jerusalem, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine was deliberating the Palestine question. They declined to consider Holocaust refugee testimony. An eyewitness aboard the Exodus was American Methodist Minister Reverend John Stanley Grauel. The Haganah smuggled Grauel to Jerusalem to tell the Committee the story of the Exodus. The Committee agreed to go to Germany and consider Survivor testimonies. That testimony changed the Com-mittee’s recommendation to the United Nations from against to in favor of Partition. 

November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to end British control of Palestine, setting the stage for the rebirth of a Jewish State and a new Arab State. American journalist Ruth Gruber named the Exodus, "The Ship that Launched a Nation.” 

August 1952, the Exodus was scuttled near Haifa harbor after a disastrous fire. She lies there to this day. 

 

RUTH GRUBER, Z"L

Ruth Gruber in 2007

By Daniel Fliegler

‘If a tree fell in the forest and no one heard it did it really fall?’ a proverb

Ruth Gruber, a trailblazing journalist, author and humanitarian passed away on November 17, 2016. She was 105 years old.

Her earliest encounter with Holocaust survivors was in 1944, when she escorted 1000 refugees from Europe to the United States. Ruth Gruber in her own way was a key member of Americans who helped in the establishment of the State of Israel, despite the fact that she was not a military volunteer in the struggle for independence. As a reporter and a photographer, Ruth gave a voice and an image to many important events in Israel’s struggle for independence thus influencing them and hastening independence.

In 1947, the New York Herald assigned Ruth to cover the Aliya Bet Ship Exodus 1947 as it made its journey to Haifa. It was a converted pleasure boat carrying 4500 Jewish refugees to Palestine defying the British naval blockade. Ruth witnessed the Exodus being escorted to Haifa by British naval boats after they had rammed her causing severe damage to her hull. She then flew to Cyprus to witness the refugees being interned there. However, this time the British decided to ship the refugees to Port de Bouc, France. Ruth went there to cover the refugees' refusal to disembark. She was given permission to visit the refugees in the prison ship Runnymede Park. There she photographed them in wire cages with barbed wire on top of the cages for good measure as they held a Union Jack with swastika drawn on it. Her reportage of the refugees being forced to go to Germany created such a world uproar that the British gave up their mandate of Palestine setting in motion the UN decision on November 29, 1947 to establish the Jewish state.

Not resting on her laurels, at the age of 74 Ruth visited the Jews of Ethiopia in 1985. Her account of their rescue was published in her book, ‘The Exodus of Ethiopian Jews’.

For years Ruth had been a friend of the AVI. With her health permitting, she attended and participated in many AVI functions and events. She will be sorely missed.

May her memory be a blessing.

Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, by Daniel Goldis

Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, a new book by Daniel Gordis, describes the history of modern Israel through the eyes of thinkers, leaders, immigrant groups, and soldiers. Giving equal weight to the dream of Zionism with the realities of a tough defense environment, this book provides a feeling history. Songs and poems await each depiction of tension, survival and victory. The reader gets a sense of the creation of the Israel we know today as a breathtaking miracle, one with nuanced and bittersweet chapters.

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