Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 17

Volume 4, Issue 17
February 6, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 373,759

Snow Paralyzes Jerusalem, but Doesn't Stop the Parashat HaShavua

The dedication of the Parshat HaShavua regulars last week recalled the famous phrase: "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail". One hundred of them braved the snowfall in Jerusalem and the impassable side roads to attend the weekly lecture in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium. It was given by Rabbi Yuval Sherlo who used the occasion to talk about Social Justice as the portion of the week was Parashat Mishpatim. He noticed when he walked in to the Center that every part of it was accessible to people with disabilities and made a point to mention that this kind of social justice is what is meant in the Torah.

The Begin Heritage Center withstood the weather well. There were a few minor leaks in the building, which were readily repaired and all is back to normal.

"Elitzur" Friedman Memorial Lecture

The annual "Elitzur" memorial lecture will be held on Sunday, February 24, at 6:00PM at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

"Elitzur", the nom de guerre of Yitzchak Friedman, was a young Irgun officer who participated in many of the major Irgun operations until the end of the struggle against the British.

In November-December 1948, the Irgun commander, Menachem Begin, made his first visit to the United States which was an exciting event for a large part of the American Jewish community who ha d actively supported the struggle to end the British Mandate and help pave the way to the creation of the Jewish State.

The distinguished Zionist leader Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver had declared "the Irgun was a factor without which the Jewish State would not have arisen." Menachem Begin was received by statesmen, public figures and some leaders of the Jewish community. Nearly a million persons lined Broadway for the motorcade in his honor in Manhattan.

Begin took with him a number of young Irgun officers—among them "Elitzur" Friedman—and wounded Irgun fighters who needed medical treatment.

"Elitzur" was then asked to remain in the US for a while to advance the interests of Irgun veterans who were denied recognition and assistance by the Provisional Council and Government headed by Ben Gurion. Later he remained to further his own studies and eventually became the Dean of the School of Engineering and Science, which became the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Pratt Institute.

"Elitzur" died in 1997. His wife Estelle and his children Jonathan and Wilma have acted in recent years to perpetuate his memory by an annual memorial lecture which is connected to Jewish Heroism.

The first lecture was in 2006 and given by Sharon Brown of the Forensic Department of the Police who spoke about reconstructing the diary of Ilan Ramon that dropped from the skies above Texas in the Columbia disaster. The second was last year when Dr. Ido Netanyahu launched his recently published book about his brother Yonatan Netanyahu in the presence of a large and distingui shed audience.

This year, the "Elitzur" tribute is combining with another story of great heroism in the 20th century marking 40 years after the beginning of and on behalf of the struggle for Soviet Jewry. One of the young refuseniks, who is now a member of Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, will speak of his experiences and the general struggle. A short movie will be screened. THE PROGRAM IS IN ENGLISH.

Avraham "Yair" Stern Honored

The leadership and death of Avraham ("Yair") Stern, who was the head of the Lechi (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel organization) and its inspiration was commemorated in the Knesset on Tuesday, 29 January, at two events—one in the Knesset auditorium and the other in the actual Knesset chamber. The short session in the Knesset chamber was addressed by the Prime Minister and Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu who said "It was not the decision by the United Nations that established the St ate of Israel; Israel arose in the merit of the Aliyah and the settlement enterprise, and in the merit of the struggle by the Lechi and Etzel, the Hagana, and even HaShomer and Nili. But above all, the State of Israel was established in the merit of those who continued – the warriors of the Israel Defense Forces, who repulsed the Arab attack after the declaration of the State."

Among those who took part in the special session were MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism), who served in the Lechi himself; MK Limor Livnat (Likud), whose father was an underground fighter who was exiled to Eritrea for his actions; and MK Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael (Kadima), both of whose parents were Lechi members.

The session was organized by Prof. Aryeh Eldad (National Union), whose father Israel Sheib, was one of the triumvirate of Lechi leaders.

The event in the auditorium was addressed by Dr. Udi Lebel whose recent book on the establishment's refusal to recognize the underground fighters caused a stir in many circles.

The above events were part of the program to mark 100 years after the birth of Avraham Stern whose son, Yair Stern, was on one of the principle organizers of the commemoration.