Aliyah Bet & Machal Virtual Museum


Mickey Marcus Memorial Service - Sunday, May 7, 2017

The 51st annual Mickey Marcus ceremony will take place on May 7, 2017 at the Jewish Chapel of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


10:00-10:50 - Coffee hour in the Chapel Social Hall.

11:00-12:15 - Memorial Service in the USMA Jewish Chapel led by Chaplains and choir; Jewish War Veterans-Rockland/Orange District presenting the Colors. CH (MAJ) David Ruderman(USMA) and guest rabbis officiating. 

PROGRAM:  To be announced. 

THEME: Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the "Exodus 1947" saga; the ship that launched the State of Israel. Bill Bernstein, who hailed from Passaic, N.J was the 2nd officer of the ship and the first American Machal volunteer to give his life in the creation of the State.


12:45-1:15 - USMA Military Cemetery. Honoring Col. David ‘Mickey’ Marcus  among the fallen volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence.

Mourners Kaddish and wreath-laying ceremony at the graveside. Firing Salute and Taps by the USMA Honor Guard. 



Gino Narboni, Machal Pilot, Dies at 92

Gino Narboni

We remember Roger Nathan "Gino" Narboni, a pilot who served three nations, including Israel in 1948, and died on July 16th, 2016. He was born in Constantine, Algeria, the son of a prominent physician. As a teenager with a thirst for action, he enlisted in the Free French Air Force and a few years later became a MACHAL. He received word of the newly created state of Israel's need for pilots and voluntered because he "felt strongly about our Jewish heritage." After emigrating to the United States, he served as a surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and retired with the rank of Colonel.

Narboni Obituary, from Peter Loring Mortuaries

Image from Peter Loring Mortuaries


Below is Col. Narboni's obituary in the Jerusalem Post.


“Gino” Narboni, Machal 1948 pilot, dies aged 92:


Roger Nathan « Gino » Narboni, one of the legendary Machal (foreign volunteer) pilots who helped turn the tide in Israel’s 1948-1949 War of Independence, died at his home near San Antonio, Texas, on July 16, his family said. He was 92.

Born in the now-extinct Jewish community of then-French Algeria on November 18, 1923, Narboni was later one of the first pilots of Israel’s El Al and Arkia airlines.

His remarkable career also included flying for the Free French Air Force during World War Two, and a 25-year-career as a chief flight surgeon with the United States Air Force which he left in 1981 with the rank of full colonel.

Narboni, the son of a prominent physician in the eastern Algerian city of Constantine, had planned on medical studies, but wars long kept getting in the way.

He joined General Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Air Force in May 1943 and was sent to the United States for flight training late the following year, qualifying as a pilot on B-26 twin-engine bombers.

But, by the time he got back to Europe in mid-1945, the war was over and he began his medical studies in Paris.

In 1948, he was contacted there by the pre-state Haganah Jewish underground recruiting Jewish pilots with experience in Allied armies to help the incipient state of Israel which did not then have a single combat aircraft and only a handful of pilots.

Narboni was asked to fly a single-engine Norseman aircraft secretly from Paris to Israel because of an international arms embargo imposed on belligerent Middle East states but which only affected Israel since Arab armies already had standing air forces.

“Why did I come to Israel in 1948? I was not brought up in a religious atmosphere, but my family and I felt strongly about our Jewish heritage,” he told the Jerusalem Report newsmagazine in July 2014. “We believed in the case of the Jews. I had a skill that Israel could use, so I decided to use it. Today, I am still attached to Israel which has an importance in my life and in that of my wife.” He then spoke on return from a visit to Israel where he was officially received at Tel Nof air force base from where he flew in 1948-1949.

Narboni was one of some 4,000 volunteers who came to Israel in the framework of the Mitnadveï Hutz l’Aretz (Volunteers from Abroad, or MAHAL, programme) from the United States, Canada, South Africa, Britain, France, Scandinavia and 20 other countries. They were joined by a couple of hundred non-Jewish volunteers.

The role of the Mahal volunteers was especially crucial in the Israel Air Force where they made up the near-totality of flying personnel during the War of Independence.

After his ferrying flights to Israel, Narboni served as a transport pilot, flying supplies and evacuating wounded soldiers. “In those days there were few formalities. I don’t remember signing any papers or being sworn in, but I was given a commission and reported to duty as Captain Narboni.

After his stint as a civilian airline pilot in Israel, Narboni was drawn back to his first love, medicine, and returned to Paris to complete his medical studies.

When he graduated, he found post-war Europe too drab and emigrated to the United States where he embarked on a long career in the U.S.A.F. including medical evacuations under fire in Vietnam.

Retiring from the air force in 1981, he long directed a clinic in San Antonio, Texas specialized in oncology, his medical specialty. In 2013, Dr. Narboni’s wife Charlotte published When I grow up, I want to be… his memoir as he recounted it to her.

Dr Narboni, an inveterate world traveler and classical music lover, is survived by his wife and by daughters Nicole and Cecile.

(By Bernard Edinger, Paris)

Machal Contributions Recognized in U.S. Embassy July 4th Celebration in Israel

Zipporah Porath and Amb. Daniel Shapiro

Ambassador of the United States to Israel Daniel Shapiro continues to recognize the contributions of the Machal in his Fourth of July reception. In his speech in front of 2,400 people at his residence, he remembers pilot Lou Lenart, Z"L, as "the man who saved Tel Aviv."

Below is the full text of the speech.


June 30, 2016 - Remarks of Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro at the Embassy’s Fourth of July Reception



Good evening everyone, and welcome! 

Tonight is a celebration, but before I begin my remarks, I must acknowledge the terrible tragedy and outrage that is on all of our minds.  The murder of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel, z”l, was an unspeakable act of terrorism.  I want to restate my government’s and my personal unequivocal condemnation of this terrorist act, for which there can be no justification. Our hearts are heavy and they are with Hallel’s family, and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured in the attempted rescue. 

Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Netanyahu, thank you for being with us this evening; thank you for your decades of friendship to the United States; and thank you for your personal kindnesses to Julie and me and our family.  

You honor us with your presence at our celebration. 

We feel privileged to host you in our home. And it is only a small measure of the hospitality you have shown me. I come through your offices so often – with the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress, or my own visits – so often that I am tempted some days to ask for my own desk and cubicle and parking place.  

Don’t worry, I won’t.  

But I do feel very much at home and want you to equally feel at home here in our house. 

Ministers, Members of Knesset, Leader of the Opposition, representatives of the Israel Defense Forces and the National Police, other Israeli public officials and religious leaders, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished guests, to everyone who came from far and wide, welcome to America’s home in Israel. 

Let me also welcome our special guests from the United States, including Congressman Ted Deutch from the great state of Florida. 

On behalf of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry—and on behalf of the entire American people—we thank all of our Israeli guests for their partnership and their friendship. 

Julie and I also want to personally thank you for joining us and our colleagues from the U.S. Embassy for this celebration of America’s independence. 

Let me briefly acknowledge our generous sponsors, who helped make this beautiful event possible. You will see a list in your program, a list that includes our fireworks sponsor—Boeing—which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. Please join me in thanking all of the sponsors. 

Let me also offer Ramadan greetings to our guests who are celebrating the holy month. Ramadan Kareem

I also want to thank all of the musical talent we heard tonight, including our anthem performers, Brett Loewenstern, Amitai Levin, and Kinneret Hendeles; one of Israel’s hottest bands, the great A-WA; Niv Harnam and Tal Ardity of the Rimon School of Music; and a special thank you to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band – Flagship. 

To our entire U.S. Embassy staff, Israeli and American, I offer an enormous, heartfelt thank you for this amazing event, and for everything you do year round. 

You hosted so many high-level visitors this year; you welcomed so many American navy ships and armed services personnel; you renovated and built so many facilities; you protected all of us and countless official visitors; you engaged with dozens of local communities in every corner of this country; and you hosted numerous trade visits. Trust me, it's a challenge just to keep track. 

And since we do not take enough opportunities to thank our dedicated Embassy community – the spouses and partners who make enormous sacrifices, including interrupted careers, yet who contribute to our mission in innumerable ways, and our family is no different – let me also offer a special acknowledgement to our spouses and families. 

One of our staff’s many accomplishments this year is featured at our event tonight — and I hope the folks at the buffet in the back can hear me — and it is American kosher beef. 

At this reception, we are pleased to be serving the first American beef imported to Israel in over twenty years. Our governments have worked hard over a long period to re-open this trade channel and I know Israeli consumers will be delighted as the first imports—from the great state of Nebraska, I should add—reach Israeli kitchens, b'ezrat ha'shem, later this year.




Tonight, we are fortunate to have with us so many special guests from all walks of life in Israel, so many agents of change: 

·         community leaders from the Galilee and the Negev who are expanding access to higher education, building economic opportunities and strengthening Israel’s shared society 

·         philanthropists who are reaching deeper into communities on the periphery to ensure equality of opportunity; 

·         innovators and business leaders who are fueling Start-Up Nation and transforming our strategic alliance into a partnership for prosperity; 

·         soldiers and security professionals who are standing guard to keep Israel safe and who are deepening the extraordinary security partnership between our two nations; 

·         and civil society leaders from every one of Israel’s communities who are working to protect Israel’s environment, promote the rights of women and children, support migrants and asylum seekers, empower those with disabilities and promote Middle East peace. 

You represent the best of our shared values. And you also carry forward the legacy of Israel’s founders – dor ha’meyasdim – those fearless, wise and innovative pioneers who established Israel. 


Some of Israel’s founding generation and those who built this nation from its infancy are the Embassy's frequent guests and our partners. They continue to provide me with valuable counsel. 

People like Moshe Arens, former President Shimon Peres, and many others. Your engagement and your friendship is a blessing. Some of these founders are even with us this evening. All are in our hearts. 

Still, others were lost this past year, like Lou Lennart, z”l, “the man who saved Tel Aviv.” 

Lou was an American and part of MACHAL, the overseas volunteers who came to Israel in its most dire hour. I stood at the MACHAL memorial at Shaar Ha’gai two months ago, on Yom HaZikaron


It was there that I met Tzipora Porath, an American who fought for Israel in 1948. Tzippy—who at 92 still has all the vigor of a young Hagana recruit—was among about eight hundred Americans who came here, including the first commander of Israel’s navy. 

They risked everything to fight for an ideal. Their sacrifice, their values and their vision laid the foundation for the U.S.-Israel alliance of today. These courageous freedom fighters also harken back to America’s founders. 

Unlike Israelis, Americans long ago said goodbye to their founding generation. But I suspect if our founders could meet up with Israel’s founders, they could find much in common – a love of freedom, a commitment to principle over personal gain, a willingness to take risks, and an ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 

For most of the past two centuries, our founders have been with us only as legends and as guiding lights. 

Yet they remain as honored today as they were in Philadelphia on that momentous July day in 1776. 

When they gathered to declare our independence, our visionary founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. 

These were not empty pledges. Many lost their lives, their family members, their homes, or their fortunes in the terrible, costly war that was necessary to achieve our independence. 

Yet our founders demonstrated that through personal sacrifice, through the defense of universal values, and through their vision and leadership, they could bestow upon future generations an endowment of freedom and an inheritance of democracy. 

Americans feel a deep bond to our founders to this day. Biographies,  films and musicals about the founders continue to be hugely popular; their homes and museums remain some of our most visited destinations; and anyone who has been to New York the past two years knows that Broadway is experiencing a whole new love affair with the founders. 

Alexander Hamilton, who left an indelible imprint on our constitution, on our armed forces, and on our financial system, can now claim no less than eleven Tony awards. 

Our first President, George Washington, is still revered for his stoic resolve in the face of adversity, and his steady, calming hand guiding the fragile new country through its birth and infancy.  

Thomas Jefferson, our third president, penned the Declaration of Independence, which is the cornerstone of the values we consider at the very heart of our democracy, “that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

The intellectual James Madison, our 4th president, is often referred to as “The Father of the Constitution,” as he authored the first drafts, was one of its principal defenders in “The Federalist Papers,” and was a chief sponsor of the Bill of Rights. 


Many of our founders, by the way, were immigrants, like Hamilton, who arrived in the thirteen colonies from the Caribbean islands. Others were signers of the Constitution and some of the first justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Immigration, openness, and opportunity, have always been among the values at the very heart of America. 

“Our Founders conceived of this country as a refuge for the world,” President Obama said last week. “And for more than two centuries,” he added, “welcoming wave after wave of immigrants has kept us youthful and dynamic and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character, and it has made us stronger.” 

At this time when we are witnessing unprecedented waves of migration, at this time when millions are fleeing war and despair, we are renewing our commitment to the vision of our founders – a vision of a nation that welcomes with open arms all who want to build with us. 

Our founders were not perfect, of course, which they knew and acknowledged. They were flesh and blood. They reflected the prejudices of their time. Their vision had its limits, and even their greatest accomplishments fell short of extending the gifts of freedom to all of America’s inhabitants. 

Yet they led with a deep awareness of the frailties of human society and had the wisdom to establish a system of government that could protect its own institutions and principles against human weakness. With great foresight, they understood that they needed to establish a system that could evolve and adapt in order to ensure “a more perfect union.”  They gave us the tools to make that happen. 

Subsequent generations of Americans have stood on their shoulders and improved our union by abolishing slavery, establishing universal civil rights, ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and minorities, empowering persons with disabilities, and enshrining marriage equality into the law, to name just a few examples. 

Our work to fulfill the vision of our founders continues. 

Even as we celebrate our independence, the great gift of freedom, we are deeply aware that here in Israel, the struggle to enjoy all of freedom’s gifts – peace, security, and recognition – still continues. 

As does the struggle against terrorism, a scourge we condemn without equivocation, and call on all others to do so. 

We are perhaps even more attuned to this struggle as we also mourn our own painful losses, like the dozens murdered and injured in Orlando two weeks ago. 

The United States and Israel are partners in all of these struggles. 

Whether it is the edge we provide diplomatically in international fora; or the edge we provide on the battlefield through next-generation systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and our extensive support for Israel’s missile defense; or our steadfast commitment to seek and promote peace between Israel and its neighbors, including the Palestinians; we are Israel’s partners. 

Fighting for Israel—for its security, for its freedom, for its prosperity, and for its ability to live at peace with its neighbors—this was a commitment President Obama has demonstrated from his very first day in office. And he will carry forward until his last day in office. 

It is a commitment, in its essence, to enable Israelis to live their founders’ vision of “being a free people in our land.” 

And it is a commitment rooted in the story of the birth of our own nation and the great sacrifices we made to secure our own freedom. 

This commitment to freedom is at the very core of the American story, and it remains at the center of the special friendship between our nations.


Thank you again for joining us tonight.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro Delivers Moving Speech at Machal Memorial

Dan Shapiro Speaks at Machal Memorial

On May 10th, at the Machal Memorial in the Judean Hills, as part of a somber and nostalgic Yom Hazikaron service, U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro gave a great speech. The event included talks from Smoky Simon (South Africa), Chairman, World Machal, Zipporah Porath (United States), and Rabbi Judith Edelman-Green, who shared an emotional and inspirational sermon. Ambassador Shapiro, who earlier in the day also attended a service at Har Hatayasim (Air Force Memorial), visited the Machal memorial, addressed the crowd, and laid a wreath. We are honored to share his moving thoughts on the day.

“The Sorrow and the Glory, the Bitter and the Sweet”

Dan Shapiro, Ambassador of the United States of America

From my years here as a student, and the past five years serving as U.S. Ambassador, the uniquely Israeli Memorial Day-Independence Day combination has left its mark.

With so much to celebrate – 68 years of the Jewish State, free and strong – Israelis first take the time to mourn their losses and contemplate the price of that freedom.

Today, I will also experience the bitter and the sweet.  As the siren sounds, I will join the Israel Air Force, representing the United States at the memorial ceremony at Har Hatayasim.  There, the loved ones of pilots downed in wars that took place decades ago, and those who fell in more recent battles, all fighting for Israel’s security and freedom, will sit and mourn together, enveloped by the embrace of their Air Force family.  Attending this event is a sobering honor, which I consider one of my most sacred duties – to join our Israeli allies in their time of mourning.

Later in the day, I plan to drive to another hillside memorial not far away.

In a small wooded park at Sha’ar Hagai stands the MACHAL (Mitnadvei Chutz L’Aretz) memorial, where over a hundred fighters – all foreign volunteers, who fell in Israel’s War of Independence – are honored for their bravery and dedication.

MACHAL soldiers arrived from nations far and wide.  The largest number who fell, 30, came from the United States, out of more than 800 Americans who volunteered.

As I join Israelis reflecting on the thousands who fell in defense of this country and its values – including so many victims of terrorism – and on my own country’s unshakeable alliance with Israel, I feel drawn to this place to reflect further on our common battles, which have produced shared losses and shared victories.

The memorial sits where “sorrow and glory live together” as Haim Guri wrote in his iconic poem, Bab el-Wad.  And the MACHAL fighters themselves, like these two so different days, represent the sorrow and the glory, the bitter and the sweet.

Serving with distinction in all branches of the young Israel Defense Forces, and especially in the Air Force, they played an instrumental role in the re-born Israel’s survival at precisely the moment when its fate hung in the balance.  The stones of this memorial speak to us of the high price they paid in doing so.

But the flourishing country that exists today tells us of the deep commitment to the safety and security of the Jewish state they shared with the comrades they fought beside, which together they bequeathed to subsequent generations and which has enabled Israel to thrive.

One can draw a straight line from Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus, who fell in the War of Independence in 1948 and is buried at the US military cemetery at West Point, and Lou Lenart, “The Man who Saved Tel Aviv” in that same war, and who we lost this past year, to Sergeant Max Steinberg who fell in Operation Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge) in 2014 and is buried among the heroes of the IDF on Har Herzl in Jerusalem.

These are American and Israeli heroes.

Just as Israelis experience the sorrow of Memorial Day and the glory of Independence Day, may the families of the fallen MACHAL soldiers and their fellow citizens, while remembering the bitterness of their loss, take comfort in the sweetness of the knowledge that their lives and their service have strengthened this country and also the bond between America and Israel.  Their legacies are a reminder that individual lives and personal resolve from the core of what has become an unprecedented and intricate alliance between nations.

The Memorial Day and Independence Day, as I reflect on the legendary contributions of MACHAL, I do so with the firm knowledge that our common values remain our most effective weapon in our struggles against enemies near and far, and our greatest strength in building the societies we can proudly pass on to future generations.

Today we grieve.  Tomorrow we celebrate.  

Thought-Provoking Article Offers Insights into Mickey Marcus's Illustrious Career, Character, and Courage

Veterans in front of Mickey Marcus Tombstone

An article in the The Jewish Link of New Jersey does not just cover the 50th Annual Mickey Marcus Memorial, it also provides a short biography of Mickey Marcus and offers glimpses into his heart and mind. In this excerpt, for example, the author, Leonard Grunstein, goes beyond mere fact-reporting. He looks at Marcus's public service bent, his first-hand experience with the Holocaust, and his Jewish concept of doing the right thing.

From The 50th Annual Mickey Marcus Memorial Service at West Point by Leonard Grunstein:

Mickey contacted a number of retired generals, but he discovered that they were unwilling to serve in the IDF without assurances that their army status, careers and citizenship would not be jeopardized. Mickey, though, had seen the results of Nazi atrocities in Dachau. He knew, first hand, the suffering of the Jewish Displaced Persons. He understood the urgent need of Holocaust survivors to be in a homeland of their own. It would appear he followed Hillel’s adage (in Pirke Avot 2:5), "B’Mokom Sh’Eyn Ish, Hishtadel L’Hiyot Ish" (In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man). Mickey Marcus, therefore, determined to do the job himself. He reportedly said that he may not be the best man for the job, but he was the only one willing to go.

Grunstein offers inspiration as well, noting that "We live in troubling times, with terrorist threat and actions seemingly a part of the new normal. The brave heroes we honored did not take these kinds of perils lying down."

Read the Full Article

European Nation Honored as Savior during 50th Mickey Marcus Memorial

Proclamation from Israel to the Czech Republic, Slovakia

As we look back at Israel's history during this 68th Anniversary month, we remember that the nation was in a dire situation as soon as it declared independence. An event that took place on April 17th, 2016, at the US Military Academy at West Point not only memorialized Colonel Mickey Marcus, the American graduate of West Point who became Israel's first modern general, but also thanked the Czech Republic and Slovakia with a proclamation signed by Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, stating that without Czechoslovakia's assistance, Israel's existence would not be likely today. 

Continue Learning about this Historic Event

Read President Reuven Rivlin's Proclamation to the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Also, a Letter to President Rivlin from Smoky Simon, Chairman, World Machal

USMA West Point Jewish Chapel Sign
Mickey Marcus Tombstone
West Point Ceremony


Mickey Marcus Memorial Service - Sunday, April 17, 2016

The 50th annual Mickey Marcus ceremony will take place on April 17th at the Jewish Chapel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.



10-10:50 - Coffee hour in the Chapel Social Hall

11:00-12:15 - Memorial Service in the USMA Jewish Chapel led by Chaplains and choir Jewish War Veterans-Rockland/Orange District presenting the Colors. CH (MAJ) Henry Soussan (USMA) and guest rabbis officiating. 

Musical renditions by the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, SAR High School Choir and Shapiro Family Choir.

Tribute to the Czechoslovak People; Recalling their Support During Israel’s War of Independence

Message from the State of Israel: Ambassador Ido Aharoni

Distinguished Guests: 

Consul General of the Czech Republic: Hon. Martin Dvořák

Consul General of the Slovak Republic: Hon. Jana Trnovcova        


12:45-1:15 - USMA Military Cemetery. Honoring Col. David ‘Mickey’ Marcus  among the fallen volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence.

Mourners Kaddish and wreath-laying ceremony at the graveside. Firing Salute and Taps by the USMA Honor Guard. 



Valid photo ID such as driver’s license, passport or college ID must be shown at the gate by everyone.  Minors will be vouched for by adults.


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