Aza’s Story: Chapter 5, Part 1

Chapter 5

: Page 1 of 2

The Allies were finally victorious in 1945, but the end of the war did not bring an end to the Jewish struggle for freedom. The war left many Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) refusing to return to their former homes and searching for new homes, and many now believed intensely in the need for a Jewish state. Aza’s mother and many others volunteered to travel to Europe to help the refugees and their children with the process of immigration.

The British, however, maintained strict limits on immigration to the Mandate for Palestine. Any boats destined for Palestine were captured and their passengers were sent to an internment camp on the island of Cyprus. Unwilling to accept this policy, the members of the Haganah and Palmach fought back against the British.

At this same time, the members of Kibbutz Ein Harod sensed an increase in tension with their Arab neighbors with whom they previously had very good relations. In essence, this struggle with the British was the beginning of a call for Jewish liberation and independence, and led to the beginning of a serious conflict between Jews and Arabs.

One day in 1946 while Aza was still in school, a Palmach group passed through Ein Harod. The bravery of the fighters intrigued Aza and her peers. Friendships soon formed, and Aza developed a romance with a young soldier from Jerusalem named Rafi. Over the years of conflict in the land, Aza gained comfort from her relationship with Rafi, even as she feared for his life while he was at battle.

On November 29, 1947 Rafi and Aza were overjoyed to hear the United Nations proclaim a solution to the struggle with the Partition Plan, a proposal to divide the land into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. In the immediate aftermath of the proclamation, however, the discontent of the Arabs grew into violence. At age 19, Aza had also enlisted in the Palmach and worked in an office where she received daily reports of wounded and fallen soldiers. Each day she worried that she would also hear a report on the loss of her own loved ones.
Tragically, Rafi fell in battle on March 1, 1948.

By May 14, 1948 when David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel, the newborn country was attacked by its Arab neighbors on all sides.

When the fighting finally ended in 1949, Aza reflected on her own personal suffering and on the suffering of the Jewish people as a whole in the process of establishing their homeland. She remembered the young German refugees who came to the kibbutz through the Youth Aliya, she remembered her connection with Poland through Dr. Janusz Korczak and Ms. Stefania Wilczynska, and she remembered the orphaned “Tehran Children” who came from all over occupied Europe on a long journey full of pain and loss. Remembering all this, Aza decided to travel to Europe to help the survivors in their efforts to reach the new Jewish state, serving as a counselor for the Dror youth movement. There, though she knew she would never forget Rafi, Aza met and eventually married a man named Joseph.

When she returned to Israel, Aza became a teacher. During her studies, she wrote an important paper about the educator who inspired her as a young girl, Dr. Janusz Korczak. She learned about and was inspired by a simple letter that Dr. Korczak wrote to Ein Harod shortly before the war broke out in Europe.

Letter from Janusz Korczak to his friends on the kibbutz, 1939.

Letter from Janusz Korczak to his friends on the kibbutz, 1939.

Letter from Janusz Korczak to his friends on the kibbutz, 1939.

Letter from Janusz Korczak to his friends on the kibbutz, 1939.

Chapter 5

: Page 1 of 2


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