Survived the Holocaust and Joined IAF

“The goal of the project is to document the stories and pass them to the following generations” The Holocaust survivors who arrived in Israel and volunteered the IAF joined for their annual, moving gathering – proving that spirit can overcome the worst experiences

Shachar Zorani | Translation: Eden Sharon

“From Rebirth to the Skies” is a special project which gathers the holocaust survivors who were a part of the IAF in its early days. The six years old project is the product of Colonel (Res.) Eliezer Cohen’s aspiration to document the stories of the holocaust surviving air crew members whose past remained unknown.

Colonel (Res.) Cohen joined forces with Colonel (Res.) Chaim Nave and Colonel (Res.) Yeshayahu Harsit and the three began working on the initiative. “We are talking about brave people who overcame the horrible difficulties of World War ||, came to Israel and decided to join the IAF”, says Colonel (Res.) Harsit. “The common denominator of the members is that none of them has ever spoken of what he went through”.

“The project is the most important thing now”
Harsit talks about the terrible war days, his following service in the IAF and the important organization. “The project is the most important thing now”, he says. It seems that in spite of his impressive life story, which could easily fill out many pages, Harsit and the other project members focus mainly on the future of the project.

“The goal of the project is document the stories and pass it to the following generations”, he explains. “These stories prove that the mental strength of the children back then enabled them to overcome even the worst of experiences and even achieve things no one thought are possible”.

The project has expended over the years. Its members, who previously focused mainly on collecting data regarding the holocaust surviving air crew members, are now setting themselves many new goals.

They work night and day to raise funds for the project and at the same time investigate and document the personal stories of those IAF pioneers – heroes who took part in many operations and filled important positions in the force. Colonel (Res.) Harsit shares his feelings as a young boy in Israel: “Deep inside, I’ve always wanted to prove that I’m better than those who laugh at me, despise me and see me as different. We’ve always tried to outsmart the native Israelis and we indeed managed to reach high-ranking positions”.

IAF Thanks the veteran
Each year, the members are gathered for exciting event attended by IAF high-ranking officers, representatives from “Yad Vashem” (World Center for Holocaust Research) families and the most important people – the members of “From Rebirth to the Skies”. They reminisced about the destructive war and talked about rebirth and individual and general growth.

IAF Commander, Major General Amir Eshel, thanked the members of the project during the evening. “The meaning and the depth of the project is priceless – a great example for a human spirit that rose and reborn”.

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