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Center of photo: Yoram Hamizrachi [East] with his reserve Paratroopers Unit


by Rhonda Spivak, posted June 5th, 2017, originally written on June 23, 2011

 I’ve been thinking about  IDF Colonel Yoram Hamizrachi (East) who passed away in October 2010 . I ’ve been thinking of the fact that fourty five years ago this month Yoram  participated in what is one of the most historic battles of Jewish history--the capture of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six Day War.

Yoram must have been the only Jew in our Winnipeg Jewish community to have fought in this most significant battle in East Jerusalem to liberate the Western Wall, something which it is difficult for my generation to fathom  as ever having not been under Israeli control. It was a battle that changed the course of Jewish history, the consequences of which continue to reverberate today. 

In June 1967, a twenty-five year old Yoram Hamizrachi, a native of Jerusalem born in 1942 in what was then British Mandatory Palestine,  was a soldier in the paratroopers reserve brigade. On June 7, 1967 the Paratroopers were the ones to capture the the Western Wall , and Temple Mount, considered an historic moment of the war due to the sanctity of these places to the Jewish People. The Western Wall and Temple Mount had not been under Jewish sovereignity for 2000 years.

If we had been  forward thinking as  a community, our Jewish Heritage Centre and/or our Jewish schools would have video taped and documented Yoram Hamizrachi describing this historic battle and recounting so many details that only he would have known. That video tape could have been shown to generations of our school children  and adults every Jerusalem Day for time immemorial. Yoram's knowledge of this most defining battle in modern Jewish history was a treasure trove that unfortunately has been lost because to the best of my knowledge no one in our organized Jewish community had the wisdom to make sure Yoram's account of the battle was told and perserved. It is sad, but true.

From what I can see, Yoram's name, is nowhere recorded in Al Levine's book about our community,"Coming of Age", probably because Yoram didn't quite match the criteria (although it would be interesting to know if his name even came up as a possibility for inclusion in the book). Yet Yoram's story was part of a story of international stature. If it weren't for the paratroopers like Yoram none of us since '67 would have been able to visit the Western Wall, place our notes in its cracks, have life cycle clebrations there, visit there on missions and birthright--etc. If there is one place Jews will be ready to die for in any possible future battle (which hopefully won't happen)--it is the Western Wall.

After 1967, Yoram's own military accomplishments rose and in the 1970's  he achieved the distinction of becoming the IDF Colonel in Southern Lebanon, the first Israeli officer to ever work with the South Lebanese Army under General Haddad, a Lebanese Christian. Yoram's military career  in Southern Lebanon would easily in my view have been a ripe subject for documenting and preserving.  His knowledge of South Lebanon  would have been something to document and video tape as a tool for teaching Israeli history to our children.

In writing this article I contacted the Jewish Heritage Centre a couple of weeks ago about Yoram and the Six Day War in their archives, but I never heard back. If they have something, I hope they'll let me know. 

 I also contacted Yoram's ex-wife Beate Zahn to see what she remembered of Yoram's part in the battle for the Old City in1967 (which never would have occured had Jordan listened to Israel's plea to stay out of the War).

"Yoram and I were living in Jerusalem in Kiryat Yovel , in Rehov Uruguary 1," at the time the war broke out, she said.

Beate remembers that she was an ambulance driver in Jerusalem during the war and by chance she ran into Yoram during the battle

"I drove to  the Old City through the Mandelbaum Gate which doesn't exist now to pick up wounded soldiers and all of a sudden I stopped as I heard someone call my name. He was in the Old City. It was Yoram. It was the second day of the battle," she said.

She remembers that there was a "picture of Yoram on the Temple Mount" taken during the war,but it would take time to see if she could re-locate it.

Beate recalls that "there were a lot of dead and wounded", and remembers "transporting a wounded Jordanian soldier to Shaarey Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem." She  remarked to me that there was "no way" the Jordanians would have taken wounded Israeli soldiers to Jordanian hospitals had the Jordanians won the battle.

Beate also remembers there were Israeli "bystanders  who looked into the ambulance [ I was driving] and wanted  to take the wounded Jordanian soldier out of the ambulance (and deny him medical assistance) but I stood and blocked  the ambulanced door until the police came."

Unfortunately, as Beate says, she has memories of her own experiences of what she was doing during the war, and only Yoram could have given  me more details about the battle he went through as he experienced it.

Carol Merhav, Yoram's widow, was able to find this photo of him and his reserve Paratroopers unit which particpated in the fateful battle for the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the photo you see here. 

Beate remembers that after capturing the Old City, the soldiers in Yoram's unit " were on the way to the Golan Heights but they were too late-it was already conquered. They got to the Golan, but when they did it was end of the war.”

This article,on the 45th Anniversary of 1967, was written as a small tribute to Yoram Hamizrachi [East].

If anyone reading this has more information about Yoram and the 1967 battle in East Jerusalem, please contact me at [email protected].  

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.