Making Japanese Washi Paper

The members of the National Library's Conservation and Restoration Department make sure they are constantly up to date, even when it concerns the most ancient traditions; recently, they attended a workshop dedicated to the secrets of making Japanese washi paper

The Conservation and Restoration team making Washi paper in the traditional method

The National Library’s Department of Conservation and Restoration is in charge of preserving and restoring rare items in the Library’s collections, as well as halting processes of deterioration and erosion, in order to conserve the items for future generations. This delicate work is an art form in itself, with techniques and knowledge that have evolved over centuries. Our Conservation and Restoration department, like many conservation departments around the world, uses Japanese washi paper to restore various items. Marcela Szekely, the department’s director, explains the many uses and advantages of washi paper: “Every item that arrives at the department is carefully examined and the Japanese paper used for repairs is strictly selected according to it thickness, coloring, and fiber length. Washi paper is very versatile and has many uses in restoration: patching together paper tears, filling in missing parts, and even restoring book covers. Other disciplines in the world of restoration have also discovered the wonders of Japanese washi paper and it is also used in the restoration of objects, ceramics, textiles, and more.”

Marcela Szekely, director of the Conservation and Restoration Department, tries her hand at papermaking

Members of the National Library team recently met with Izhar Neumann from “Izhar Neumann Paper Making Studio,” at his workshop in the village of Yanuh-Jat in northern Israel. Izhar is an artist who specializes in creating washi paper. He lived in Japan for many years, where he worked with master paper-makers and learned traditional techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Izhar brought these methods to Israel, where he opened his workshop and planted paper mulberry trees – otherwise known as Japanese kozo (楮) plants – which are then made into flexible, strong paper with delicate, natural textures.

Japanese washi paper can only be made by using either kozo plants or close substitutes like the mitsumata shrub and the gampi tree. In any case, the first step towards creating your own washi paper begins with the planting of a tiny seed! – These perceptive words are my own; to the best of my knowledge, they were not uttered by a wise old Japanese man, but who knows? – So if you’ve read this far, you already understand that washi paper isn’t made of rice, as are other forms of Japanese paper used in art. It is extremely important to maintain a strict production process, especially if you want excellent results. If the process is completed correctly, it produces a very strong and flexible paper characterized by long fibers which can blend wonderfully with the original paper of the item being restored.

The department members with the finished product; Izhar Neumann Paper Making Studio, Yanuh-Jat

It is very difficult to make paper at home, and it’s important to remember that this is a process involving various substances. Therefore, if you don’t have the knowledge, we suggest you don’t try this at home. Nevertheless, just for the sake of accumulating new knowledge – here is how you prepare washi paper using the traditional method:

The first step, as alluded to earlier, is to grow the paper mulberry trees until they reach the right size. It is important that they reach a precise stage in their growth – on the one hand, not to over-grow them, while on the other hand, giving them enough time to reach the appropriate size.

Hagar Milman from the Conservation and Restoration Department separates the paper from a bamboo mat using the traditional method

After showering love and attention on the branches of the kozo tree, we prune the pinkish branches and cut them. This must also be done in a very precise and focused manner. Then, it’s time to start “cooking” the paper.

First, we handle the raw material. After collecting the kozo branches, they are soaked in water and treated with various substances.

The Japanese prepare the paper mainly during the winter, as the cold water helps soften the wood fibers during the production process. This is why the National Library team chose a wintry, overcast day to travel to Izhar’s workshop. Izhar recalled that when he studied the technique in Japan, the students would work in the workshops during the winter for hours in order to make use of the cold water. After that, they would plunge their hands into hot water, in a pot placed on the oven, in order to warm them quickly. The library staff members were seated around a low wooden table and Izhar began working with the group on the various stages of paper preparation. The method remains the same. The only difference is that a group of Israelis sat around the table, instead of a group of Japanese.

After soaking the branches, we separate the bark from the branch, and collect the fibers at its core. Although Izhar does this quickly and mechanically, we must keep in mind that he’s highly experienced and that he’s using a sharp, dangerous tool. So don’t try to peel the bark without going through proper training.

After collecting the core strips of the kozo branches, which look like long white hairs, soak them in water, stir occasionally, and then, take out a cluster of fibers and squash them together. After that, squeeze the mass with your hands to extract the water from it.

Now comes the fun part: pounding the pulp with a meat tenderizer or some other wooden hammer. Just take out all your frustration on that poor pulp, (“Take that! And that! That’ll teach you!”) before it is then placed in a big tub filled with water where it is boiled with the required substances – don’t forget to mix!

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty.  At this point, grab a bamboo mat which has been attached to a wooden frame and start making paper! By using a distinctive movement that consists of pushing the frame into water, tilting it at a certain angle, pulling it out, and straining the water – the kozo wood fibers are extracted from the water, and in turn merge into a beautiful strip of paper. The person performing this action also controls the thickness of the final paper.

After achieving the desired thickness, take the frame out of the water, and by using skilled movements and a specific technique (which we thought bore a resemblance to working with a sushi mat), separate the bamboo mat from the frame and place it on the drying paper. After accumulating a pile, the papers are pressed in order to get rid of the excess water. Now all that’s left to do is place the damp paper onto upright wooden boards and wait for it to dry.


At the end of a long day at the workshop, the Conservation and Restoration team returned to the library with a cache of practical knowledge and with their own stock of washi paper, which they can use in their various assignments. This traditional technique of paper preparation is hundreds of years old, and to this day, many workshops like Izhar’s can be found in Japan. Experiencing how to make paper from scratch, and understanding the complicated process and the necessary amount of hours required, contributed greatly to the knowledge and experience of our Conservation and Restoration team, who now have a new-found appreciation for the material which they paste into various restored manuscripts and books. The ctrl+p keys on our keyboards will never again be taken for granted!

Japanese paper of varying thickness prepared by the members of the Conservation and Restoration team
Video and photos: Haim Shushan, the Conservation and Restoration Department at the National Library of Israel


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Marcia Freedman and the Fight Against Domestic Violence in Israel

Transcripts of the first-ever Knesset session dedicated to domestic violence against women reveals how indifferent, detached and even cynical Israeli politicians of the 1970s were when it came to this subject

Marcia Freedman, GPO

“The Knesset took a short break yesterday from the “heavy” topics to hear (with a half-grin, for some reason) about a particular kind of violence: ‘Women battered by their husbands’.”

Maariv daily, July 15th, 1976



Member of Knesset (MK) Avraham Givelber, the Deputy Speaker, who chaired the session:

Members of the Knesset, we move on to the next item on the agenda, presented by MK Marcia Freedman, regarding ‘women battered by their husbands.’ Permission to speak is granted to MK Freedman.

Marcia Freedman (Independent Socialist Faction):

Honorable Speaker, honorable Knesset – – –

Mordechai Ben-Porat (Alignment party):

What about the other issue, husbands who are battered by their wives?

Meir Pa’il (Moked party):

If a woman beats her husband, the husband should be arrested.

Marcia Freedman (Independent Socialist Faction):

I’m surprised you find this matter so amusing, and this proves exactly what I have to say today.


At the Knesset: ‘Women Battered by Their Husbands’… Discussion held in an unserious atmosphere…Davar daily, July 15th, 1976. Click to view the full article

Though it may be hard to believe, this was how the first discussion ever to be held in the Israeli parliament on the topic of domestic violence against women began. When MK Marcia Freedman raised the issue, she surely did not imagine her colleagues at the Knesset would find it entertaining. The minutes of the session show that instead of dealing with the problem, the MKs repeatedly responded with ridicule and laughter, raising “objections” by interjecting that women too, beat their husbands.


Minister of Health Victor Shem-Tov (Alignment party):

If a woman reports to the police that her husband beats her, do the police open a case file?

Minister of Police, Shlomo Hillel (Alignment party):


Pesah Grupper (Likud party):

And if the case is the other way around, and a man reports that his wife beats him, is a file opened then, too?

Meir Pa’il (Moked party):

There are some husbands it might do good to be beaten by their wives.

Minister of Health Shem-Tov:

MK Grupper, you don’t look like the kind of guy whose wife beats him.

Minister of Police Hillel:

You haven’t seen his wife – how do you know?

The minutes show how Freedman had to convince those present there was even a problem at hand. Even the minister responsible for these matters didn’t see what there was to discuss.

Minister of Police Hillel:

In all seriousness… I cannot say that there is a specific problem of violence inflicted by men against their wives.

Marcia Freedman (Independent Socialist Faction):

That’s the problem – that you don’t see it.

Yitzhak Golan (Independent Liberals party):

This has been a problem since the days of Ahasuerus and Vashti.

Minister of Police Hillel:

As I said, this problem is one of the many issues of violence in our society.

Mathilda Guez (Alignment):

It seems this is a very amusing topic.


‘The Knesset Discussed the Matter of Husbands Who Beat Their Wives’ Maariv daily, July 15th, 1976. Click to view the full article


Despite the “light” atmosphere and the common belief that the phenomenon was not one that required any special attention, Marcia Freedman did not hesitate, and  gave a riveting, shocking speech that created an opportunity to deal seriously with the matter for the first time in Israeli history:


In Shakespeare’s day, the law stated: ‘If a man beats a criminal, a traitor, an apostate, a villain or his wife – it is not considered a violation of the law.’ Today, the law and the police rightly protect all people from violent assaults, including criminals, traitors, apostates and villains. However, a married woman is still left forsaken, at the mercy of her husband, who may beat her more often than we may imagine.

Because of the conspiracy of silence regarding this issue, we do not have substantiated information as to the extent of the problem in this country. The police do not keep a record of most reports because, according to them, most injuries are limited to ‘bruises’, causing no bleeding or broken bones. Therefore, according to police policy, this kind of violence is not considered a matter of public interest.

Despite the conspiracy of silence, the estimated number of battered women in Israel is in the thousands rather than in the hundreds. A British parliamentary committee investigated the issue in England and found that one in a hundred men regularly assault their wives. There is no reason to assume our situation is any better. It is important to understand that violence against women is not a phenomenon restricted to poor neighborhoods or development towns.


Freedman did not hesitate to confront the police who demonstrated a forgiving approach to such violence:


When a woman turns to the police, she faces humiliating, belittling treatment. She is usually told, ‘This is not an issue of public interest. We don’t deal with domestic matters.’ Sometimes, if an officer considers himself something of a psychologist or moral keeper, he may say, ‘If you had behaved, he wouldn’t have hit you. Try to be nicer to him.’


Upon conclusion of the discussion, two proposals were put forth: The first, proposed by the Minister of Police himself, was that the topic not be included in the Knesset’s agenda. The second proposal was to assign the matter to the relevant Knesset committee. The result of the vote was 20:9, and Marcia Freedman’s proposition was accepted. And so, the issue of battered women went from being regarded as a matter “unworthy of public interest” to an official problem acknowledged by the Knesset and state authorities.

For MK Marcia Freedman, promises alone did not suffice. She was among the founders of Israel’s first shelter for battered women and a pioneer in the field of women’s rights in Israel.


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The Rebel Woman Who Fell in the Battle of Tel Hai

When asked to help the residents of Kfar Giladi, Devorah Drechler did not hesitate. When instructed to move on to Tel Hai she went gladly—and there she met her death


Portrait of Devorah Drechler from the Schwadron Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Everyone knows how it ended. Today, children in Israeli elementary schools are taught about the iconic Battle of Tel Hai which took place on the 11th of Adar, in the Hebrew year 5680 (March 1st, 1920). They are told of how the settlers held their ground in the famous courtyard of Tel Hai, despite all the hardships. How the dispute over the borderline between the British Mandate in the Land of Israel and the French Mandatory territories in Syria and Lebanon had turned the upper Galilee into a wild, no-man’s land. How the conflict between the French and the troops loyal to the deposed king of Syria created a particularly tense situation in the region. How armed Bedouins surrounded the courtyard of the Tel Hai settlement, demanding to search it for French soldiers. How the Bedouins eventually found a woman holding a gun and tried to take it from her, and how a riot broke out when she refused, marking the start of the great battle.

That woman was Devorah Drechler.

Drechler was born in the Ukraine in 1896. Though hers was the only Jewish family in her village, they nevertheless maintained Jewish traditions and were sympathetic to the “Hibbat Zion” Zionist movement in Russia. In 1913, Devorah arrived in the Land of Israel, to join her sister, Chaya, who had immigrated several years before and married Eliezer Kroll, a member of Hashomer (“The Guard”), the Jewish defense organization. Because of her sister and brother-in-law’s connections, Devorah also joined a group of Hashomer members who settled that year in the northern community of Tel Adash, known today as Tel Adashim.

Drechler quickly integrated into the group.  It was in this setting that she found a sense of purpose and satisfaction, a fulfillment of her dreams and ideas. Like most of the (very few) women in the group, she was assigned jobs that were considered “women’s work”. This entailed cooking, cleaning and laundering, while the men undertook the agricultural work, and in the case of Hashomer — security duty. The pioneers of the Second Aliyah (Zionist immigration wave) were certainly conservative in matters of gender and the local farmers, who had arrived earlier, were also reluctant to allow women to undertake these positions. Nevertheless, Hashomer women were usually capable of riding horses and firing weapons. These were important skills for women left on their own, at home, while their husbands and the rest of the men traveled to other settlements for work or guard duty.

A group of Shomrim (Hashomer guards) at Mesha (Kfar Tavor). At the center is the leader of Hashomer, Israel Shochat. From the Postcards Collection, the National Library of Israel

Drechler and the other young women were dissatisfied with the exclusion of women from matters of security, from secret committee meetings, and by virtue of that from full membership in Hashomer. The protest led to the decision to divide the organization’s women into two groups: active female members, who would have full and equal rights including voting rights in the organization’s meetings, and passive female members who, while being members, could not vote in the meetings or for the council. In the first group were the wives of the organization’s founders, such as Manya Shochat and Rachel Yanait, both of them women of high stature regardless, who had been part of the group for many years. The second group consisted of women who had married male members as well as single women, such as Devorah Drechler.

Zipporah Zaid, among Hashomer’s leaders, demonstrating her horse riding abilities

That was still not good enough. Drechler was one of the women who subsequently led the “women’s revolt” in the Hashomer organization. Ahead of the group’s annual meeting scheduled for the end of 1918, Devorah and two other women published a letter addressed to all members in which they announced that they would not be able to continue working unless their demands for equal and full rights were met. “And as we have been members in daily manual labor for years, so shall we be members in every aspect. There can be no meeting held without us, no secrets hidden from us. And if the male members do not have enough confidence in us for this, they must say so openly. Then we will know where we stand, and we will seek other ways to complete the work that brings us closer to our goal, which is the same as yours.”  At the meeting that followed, it was finally decided to accept all women as equal members in the organization, a decision that remained in effect until the final dissolving of Hashomer about a year and a half later. Although only two meetings were held after that meeting until the organization’s dissolution, researcher Dr. Smadar Sinai says it was still a considerable achievement for the young female members, among them Devorah Drechler.

Devorah Drechler, from Kovetz Hashomer, Labor Archive Publishers, 1937/8

The struggle for equal rights during those years was not just the concern of the women of Hashomer and Tel Adash. In the settlements and kibbutzim set up at that time, women fought for their right to take part in the “prestigious” agricultural work in the fields, and we mention here as well, the struggle of Miriam Bratz, “The First Mother” of Kibbutz Degania, whose story will be told in due course.

Devorah did not shy away from difficult tasks, as can be seen in her struggle for equality in her organization. During World War I, despite the fear imposed by the Turkish regime, she made daily visits to Hashomer’s prisoners in Nazareth, bringing them food and information. She also did not hesitate when the group sent her as reinforcement to Kfar Giladi, or from there to help defend the Tel Hai settlement: “On the front you go where they send you, no questions asked,” she was quoted as saying by fellow member Pinhas Schneerson, who assumed command of Tel Hai after the fatal wounding of Joseph Trumpeldor.

Portrait of Sarah Chizik, the second woman killed in the battle of Tel Hai, from the Schwadron Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

This was how Drechler came to be at Tel Hai and how she found herself assigned to a defensive position on the top floor of the courtyard’s main building. The fact that she carried a gun at such a tense and critical moment is indicative of her ability to use it if needed and the level of trust her friends placed in her. In that top floor room with Drechler was another woman — Sarah Chizik. According to the story, their bodies were found in an embrace, alongside the three other members of the group who were killed in the room. Both were exemplars of women who fought for their rights and did their part, whether toiling under the hard sun or fighting on the battlefield.



Thank you to Dr. Smadar Sinai for her assistance in the preparation of this article.



Further reading:

“Women and Gender in ‘Hashomer’: The First Defence. Organization in Eretz-Israel 1907–1939”, (Hebrew) Smadar Sinai, Ramat Gan, 2013

“The Book of Hashomer: The Words of Members”, (Hebrew), Dvir Press. 1957


Israeli and Egyptian Soldiers in a 1948 Group Photo: The Story Behind a Picture

How an Israeli soldier risked his life to retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades from behind enemy lines, and the incredible photos that captured an unlikely encounter

Yaakov Yaniv in the center of the picture taken during the encounter between the Israeli and Egyptian soldiers, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

The story of Operation Yekev (“Winery” in Hebrew) begins in October 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence; when an entire brigade comprising three battalions – the Beit Horon Battalion, the Moriah Battalion, and the 64th Battalion – was sent on a mission to conquer the town of Beit Jala, which lies south of Jerusalem and north-west of Bethlehem. The commander of the operation was Moshe Dayan.

The Beit Horon Battalion managed to get past the railway tracks, which served as the separation line between Israeli and Egyptian positions (near what is known today as Ein Yael and Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo). The 64th Battalion launched an attack on the village of al-Walaja. Our story’s hero, Yaakov Yaniv (Novak), was a squad sergeant in this battalion. He was 20 years old at the time and had arrived from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to serve in the Haganah only a few months earlier. The 64th Battalion did not engage in battle in this case, but the force was exposed to friendly fire by a mortar unit. Fortunately, none of the battalion’s soldiers were hurt. The Moriah Battalion launched its own attack during the night but was unsuccessful in crossing the railway tracks and advancing towards the hill occupied by the Egyptians. A single Bren machine gun persistently shot at Moriah’s vanguard unit, preventing its advance. Operation Yekev was a harrowing military failure.

Late at night, the brigade’s three battalions were given the order to retreat. Six soldiers from the Beit Horon Battalion were killed in action. The battalion’s soldiers managed to retrieve four of the bodies, but two remained in the field.


The Bodies

A month and a half later, on December 3rd, 1948, Yaakov Yaniv and his men were manning a position on Malcha Hill overlooking the railway line below, and observing the nearby Egyptian force. Today, the homes of Jerusalem’s Malcha neighborhood fill the entire area that was then a bare hilltop adjacent to an Arab village.

A few Egyptian soldiers suddenly stepped out of their post and shouted to Yaniv and his men: “We have two bodies. If you want, come and take them.” Yaakov Yaniv heard this and was stunned. He and a few of his men headed down the hill and reached the British Mandate railway which ran from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where the Egyptians waited for them. They agreed that Yaniv and a few of his men would go to the Egyptian post to retrieve the bodies while two Egyptian soldiers would remain at the bottom of the hill, in the custody of the other Israelis who would watch them until Yaniv and his men returned safely.


The Recovery

Yaakov Yaniv crossed the railroad and made his way to the Egyptian outpost on the mountain in front of him, carrying only his Kodak camera. A grove of trees covered the route up the mountain. Yaniv walked through the trees as one of the Egyptian soldiers followed him closely; he was a tall, thin soldier of Sudanese origin, armed with a Tommy gun. Yaniv would later learn that this was the machine gunner who had thwarted the Moriah Battalion’s attack. They proceeded to the Egyptian position known as “The White Trench”, an old Turkish fortification from the First World War, built as a defense against British attacks.

Who were the Egyptians who barricaded themselves there in 1948? These were units affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood organization. How did they get there? The Egyptian army had invaded Israel earlier in the year, heading for Tel Aviv, but they were stopped at Ashdod on the southern coast. From there some units headed east towards the Judean Mountains, eventually making their way to Jerusalem; the Muslim Brotherhood unit was among these.


Yaakov Yaniv in the center of the photo taken during the encounter between the Israeli and Egyptian soldiers, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

When he arrived at the trench, Yaakov Yaniv met the commander of the Egyptian force and was surprised to learn that he was in fact a local Palestinian Arab from the nearby village of Beit Safafa. They spoke in English and eventually, the Palestinian commander told him, “You can take the bodies,” gesturing toward the human forms sprawled on the ground a few dozen feet from where they stood. The sight of the completely exposed corpses was disturbing, but after taking a closer look Yaniv realized they had not been abused but were in dire condition as a result of the time that had passed since the soldiers were killed.

Yaniv sent for blankets and stretchers to carry the fallen soldiers’ bodies over to the Israeli side. Meanwhile, the Palestinian commander offered him a cup of tea, and they sat down to drink together. The commander told Yaniv he had led the force that attacked the Mekor Chaim neighborhood from Beit Safafa a few months earlier. Surprised, Yaniv told him that his commander, Danieli, a Palmach member who was born in Mekor Chaim, led the force that protected the neighborhood against the attacks.

Sitting in the Egyptian post, Yaniv was not afraid. He was treated decently, he said. After all, they had offered him tea, and  they were happy to drink along with him. Some might call it a miracle or perhaps just a moment of absurdity in the midst of the terrible battles of the War of Independence.

As they sat and drank, soldiers gathered around them, and when the stretcher and blankets arrived, the Palestinian commander stood up and said, “I’ll help you carry the stretcher.” He walked over and grabbed one end of the stretcher with both hands. Yaniv held it from the other end and together they walked down the hill towards the railroad. The second stretcher was carried down by other soldiers.


The Pictures

When they arrived at the waiting point with the bodies of the fallen soldiers, men from Yaniv’s unit had already arrived to receive the bodies. This was when Yaniv took out his Kodak camera, bought with his first salary when working at the Central Post Office on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv before the war. The moment was captured for posterity as soldiers from both armies posed for the photograph, enemies at war who were briefly partners in an operation to bring the bodies of IDF soldiers to burial in Israel – an operation in which all participants put their lives at risk.

After his return, Danieli, Yaakov Yaniv’s commander, confiscated the camera film and threatened Yaniv with a court martial. Danieli considered the operation initiated by his subordinate a grave violation of military procedure– though it had ended peacefully, Yaniv’s life and possibly the lives of his comrades had been endangered. Yaniv took on the operation alone, without asking anyone’s permission. Certainly, had he asked for it, he would never have been permitted to carry out such an operation in an Egyptian outpost in the middle of a war. To Yaniv’s surprise, the film was returned to him a few days later, and the court martial never materialized.

Right to left: The Egyptian force commander, Yaniv (the camera strap on his shoulder) and the Sudanese machine gunner. Sitting: A Haganah soldier, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

The Pardon

Years later, Yaniv asked Commander Danieli why he had not been put on trial at the time, and Danieli replied that the day after the incident, Moshe Dayan, the regional commander, arrived in the sector. Danieli told Dayan what happened, and the latter replied with a typical dismissive gesture and instructed Danieli to let the matter go. It seemed that to Dayan, Yaakov Yaniv’s heroic act outweighed the offense. When the film was returned to him, Yaniv hid it and had the pictures developed as soon as he could. He kept them with him ever since. One day, he received a phone call from military historian Dr. Nir Mann, who heard of Yaniv while conducting historical research on Operation Yekev. When they met, Mann saw the photos and suggested that Yaniv donate them to the National Library of Israel due to their great historical value.


The Fallen Soldiers

Many years had passed, but Yaakov Yaniv could not stop thinking about the soldiers whose bodies he brought to burial in Israel. He wished to know who they were. He began to investigate and search for answers but encountered many difficulties as he was not from the same battalion as the fallen and had very little information about them. He contacted the Department of Families and Commemoration at the Ministry of Defense and told them his story. The information he received included the names of the soldiers and some documents but it was only partially accurate. According to the ministry’s records, only one body was retrieved that day.

Finally, Yaniv decided to go to the cemetery himself and look for the graves. At the Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl, where the fallen soldiers’ graves are arranged by war and date, he searched for the graves with the names he received. He discovered that one of them was located at the top of the mountain and the other closer to the bottom. Both graves had the same date on them. Yaniv could not understand why two people who were killed in the same place, who served in the same unit and whose bodies were recovered together, by him, were buried in different places. He told the Ministry of Defense about this and asked that they be buried side by side; the Ministry officials promised this would be done.

Finally, Yaniv was able to discover the identities of the two fallen soldiers whose proper burial he had risked his life for: They were both Holocaust survivors who arrived in Israel shortly before being sent to the frontline. Neither had any known relatives anywhere in the world. They were the last survivors of their families.

Since then, every year, on the eve of every Israeli Memorial Day, Yaniv goes to the Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl and places flower wreaths on the two graves.


צבי קנר

Zvi Kenner was born in the city of Iasi in Romania. He worked as a carpenter and was waiting to immigrate to Israel when World War II broke out. He survived the war, unlike the rest of his family. In 1948, he arrived in Israel on an illegal immigration ship that was caught; he was detainedin Cyprus for a few months before enlisting in the Israeli army on August 8th, 1948. He was killed on October 20th, 1948 at the age of 21.



שמואל שימנסקי

Shmuel Szimanski, born in Poland, was a young tailor recruited to the Polish army. He later fought with the Russians, making it all the way to Berlin, receiving honors and medals for his service and courage. Before the war, he was a member of Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, and after the war, when he discovered that none of his relatives had survived, he again contacted members of Hashomer Hatzair and joined a kibbutz to which he immigrated on one of the last illegal immigration ships to arrive in Israel. He arrived in Israel in 1948, enlisted in the IDF, and was sent on Operation Yekev to join the battle against the Egyptians, during which he was killed at the age of 29.


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