Thursday, April 26, 2007

Center Bulletin, Volume 3, Number 28

Center Bulletin, Volume 3, Number 28

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 276,401

60 Years Later:

Feinstein's Bible Returned to Family

The setting was unusual. The night was unusually cold. The audience was unusual. The ceremony was unusual.

It was all taking place in an open courtyard of the old Jerusalem prison in the Russian Compound, which is now a museum of underground heroism. The audience comprised mainly the families of those young men who were hanged by the British in the last years of the struggle for the creation of the State, as well as former Underground members themselves who had been incarcerated in that prison.

It was exactly 60 years to the day and the hour that two of those young heroes defied the hangman and blew themselves up in their cell by crudely created grenades placed in two oranges which had been smuggled into their cell by their comrades.

This was the night to remember Meir Feinstein of the Irgun and Moshe Barazani of Lechi.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he had grown up hearing their heroic tale. "Their images are deeply engraved in my memory. They who were in fact so young became the heroes of our youth." He then recalled the story of Meir Feinstein's illustrated Bible which he handed to the British guard who was a "decent fellow" minutes before they died. "Today the wife and son of the guard, Thomas Henry Goodwin, are here with us to return the Bible to the Feinstein family. ; One cannot help but be moved."

Harry Hurwitz, Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, stressed that Menachem Begin was so proud of these two young men that he requested in his Will that he be buried next to them on the Mount of Olives—and so it is. Mayor Uri Lupoliansky said that Jerusalem was honored that the ceremony was taking place in this ancient, holy city which is the capital of the modern State of Israel. Meir Feinstein's nephew, Eliezar, received the Bible on behalf of the family an d recalled his uncle's youth in the city of Jerusalem, his enrollment in the Irgun and his great heroism. The head of the Underground Prisoners' Museum, Mr. Yoram Tamir, told of the Goodwin's family appeal to them and their instant response and readiness to host the ceremony which was arranged in cooperation with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and the Finance Department of the World Zionist Organization, represented by Mr. Dubi Bar El. The event was largely planned and organized by Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al, head of the Events Department of the Begin Center.

In his speech, Dennis Goodwin, the son of the late Thomas Henry Goodwin, said that his father treasured the Bible and was very proud of it. "It was his wish that if he died before my mother, she should try to return the Bible to them."

Herzl Makov, Director General of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, presided over the whole event with great ability and much feeling. Mr. Benjamin Barazani, brother of Moshe Barazani, recited Kaddish and the Chief Cantor of the Army, Lt. Col. Chaim Weiner intoned the El Malei Rachamim.

Pictures can be seen here.

Holidays at the Begin Center

Close to 500 persons visited the Menachem Begin Museum on Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). They came from abroad and from all parts of Israel and many had made prior reservations. The people from abroad needed the use of the highly sophisticated, technological translation system which gave them the translations of the commentaries in English, French, Spanish and Russian. Many expressed gratitude for this most advanced facility.

* * * * *

On Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day), the staff and volunteers of the Begin Center, joined by an important group of visitors from the United States who had just completed their tour of the museum, were gathered around the olive tree and the Yizkor candle in the Hurwitz Family entrance hall as the two-minute siren was sounded and the country stood still.

The Head of the Center, Harry Hurwitz, welcomed the tourists and explained the ceremony to them on this day which was "the saddest in the life of the nation. The 22,305 people who had died in the underground struggle and the State's wars, each had families and close friends which meant that several million might have been affected by their passing. This is the price Israel pays for her liberty, for the State's security and for its citizens' safety."

Herzl Makov, speaking in Hebrew, spoke of the significance of remembering and recalled his own earliest memories until the time he was losing comrades in the armed services and close personal friends and family members. Gaby Mizrahi read a poem by the poetess Zelda called Every Man Has a Name.

Soldier Day at the Begin Center

Last Sunday the Begin Center was filled with IDF soldiers, cadets of the Officers’ Training School, who participated in an all day program that included tours of the museum, the archeological site, nearby locations of Yemin Moshe and the King David Hotel, visits and lectures in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium, the Hasten Library, and some of the lecture rooms.

The lectures were given by Herzl Makov, Bruria Romanov-Ben Senior, Yisrael Medad and Snir Zaidel. A very interesting lecture, supplemented by slides and video clips, was presented by Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al about Jews in the Polish Army from the beginning of the eighteenth century until World War II.


Henry and Carol Kaganoff, originally from South Africa (Germiston and Durban) and now Sydney, Australia, thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the Begin Museum and their meeting with Harry Hurwitz.