Sunday, February 15, 2009

Center Bulletin No. 5 No. 17

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 17 12 February 2009



The Annual Itzhak "Elitzur" Friedman Lecture, sponsored by the Friedman Family in conjunction with the Begin Center, is dedicated to a man who was not only active as a youth in the Betar movement, but committed himself also to leadership roles in Betar in Europe and the US, leadership roles in the Irgun in Palestine and being a leader in the Herut Party in Israel. In his honor and memory, the theme of these annual lectures commemorates Young Heroes.

This year's lecture will be given by Prof. Moshe Arens, whose research work has illuminated the Betar role in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and also brought to light the heroism of Pavel Frankel, the Betar leader in the Ghetto. He will speak in English about his research which has been published in Hebrew as Flags Above the Ghetto. Previous lectures have been dedicated to unraveling the mystery of Ilan Ramon's diary that survived the Columbia disaster, new evidence on the Entebbe rescue mission and, last year, the journey of Soviet Jews who fought the odds to come to Israel.

Elitzur Friedman was born in Czechoslovakia, joined the Betar movement progressing through the ranks to a leadership role. With the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Germany in 1938, with other Betar members Elitzur escaped to Hungary and participated in the illegal immigration to Palestine—both helping others to escape, as well as eventually joining the group on the ship Sakarya that landed in Palestine on February 14, 1940.

After a 6-month stint in the detention camp at Atlit, Elitzur was released and subsequently disappeared from the radar of the British while he operated as a commander with the Irgun Zvai Leumi. Even though the British were looking for him and even captured him and sent him to Latrun, they never realized that they had him in their hands. Due to his successful assumed identity, they thought he was someone else and continued to search for Itzhak Friedman, sending every Itzhak Friedman they found to prison or to exile in the prison camp in Eritrea. In 1947, Elitzur escaped from Latrun in the trunk of a car. He fought in Jerusalem during the War of Independence and in the autumn of 1948, he was chosen by Menachem Begin to join him on his trip to the United State for a mission for the Herut Party.

He stayed in the US at the invitation of American Betar to help develop a new generation of Betar leaders. He met and married his wife Estelle during this time and they returned to Israel in 1951. In 1953, Elitzur decided that he would end the 15-year interruption of his studies and began his journey to academia in the US. His second career as an academic was as successful as his first as an activist and fighter for Israel (though he never stopped his activities for Israel). He completed his degree in chemistry, continued his studies earning himself a professorship, and finally became a Dean at the Pratt Institute. He was very popular with his students and he loved teaching. Even as a professor, his thirst for knowledge continued to drive him in many disciplines and he never gave up his quest for learning. Elitzur suffered a heart attack and stroke in 1989 and died in 1997.

This event will take place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center next week, Monday, 16 February 2009. 5:30pm Reception, 6:00pm Lecture. Please call 02-565-2020 for reservations or reply to this email.


The Menachem Begin Heritage Center used the Election Day holiday to encourage people to come to the Begin Center. A special advertisement was printed in the Israeli press encouraging people to visit the Begin Center after they had voted. It was a good opportunity to remind voters to exercise their right to vote and remind the people of Israel of Menachem Begin, a leader of integrity, vision and the first one to sign a Peace Treaty that continues to hold today.


The Menachem Begin Heritage Center was approached by a French production company who intend to make a movie about the Peace Process between Egypt and Israel for the 30th anniversary of the signing of the treaty. Their researcher arrived this week from Paris to start work in the Begin Center's archives. The researcher is focusing at this time on the oral history project that the Begin Center undertook to record interviews with the main characters who were there throughout the Peace Process.


The documentary Tammuz about the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak was named one of the top ten history movies of 2008 at the annual "History Makers" ceremony in New York.


18 February 2009
"Yair"—An evening about Avraham "Yair" Stern

7:00pm The evening's events begin

An evening to remember Yair Stern, founder of the Lechi, who was shot by a British CID officer in 1942 on 25 Shvat, will be held. There will be films shown as well as a lecture, interviews and underground songs.

This event is in Hebrew and is already fully booked.

1 March 2009
Yarzheit of Menachem Begin

5:30pm at the Begin Center

This year marks 17 years since Menachem Begin passed away. The Begin Center will be holding a commemoration event in the evening that includes a multi-media presentation in conjunction with Nahum Heyman who will lead sing-alongs with audience participation.

This event is in Hebrew and is open to the public.

3 March 2009
Thinking after the Holocaust: Voices from Poland and Israel

5:00pm at the Begin Center

Co-sponsored with the World Jewish Congress Research Institute, this is a conference about Jewish life after the Holocaust, with Dr. Sebastian Rejak, Bureau for Polish–Jewish Relations, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Rabbi Sam Kassin, Dean Shenbar Sephardic Center, Jerusalem; and Prof. Daniel Grinberg, Prof. of History, University of Bialystok.

This event is in Hebrew and reservations must be made to (click on the email address to send an email to reserve a place).
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