Arieh Eldad

Rabbi Levin pointed at the Western Wall, which was barely visible, and told Eldad "you will get there."

When the Six Day War broke Arieh Eldad was an 11th grade student. He and his classmates had trained in the Gadna, a pre-military program, to serve as stretcher bearers and they were stationed at “Bikur Cholim” hospital. Their job was to transfer the injured from the ambulances arriving at the hospital, and carry them from place to place inside the hospital building. He spent the days of the war in the hospital, working in shifts. Eldad and the hospital crew heard news about the progress of the battles from the injured, but the information was not always accurate.  As time went on, they realized that the Old City was under siege and that it would soon fall. And then one day there was silence. The bombings and the shootings stopped. And then, the announcement was broadcast on the radio- the Old City was liberated.

Eldad left the hospital and went back home for the first time in days. He and his father went to see Rabbi Arieh Levin, known as the “Father of Prisoners”, who was also his godfather, to inform him of the great news. When Eldad was 13 he celebrated his Bar-Mitzvah by reading Torah on Mount Zion, which was the closest location to the Old City in divided Jerusalem. During the prayers, Rabbi Levin pointed at the Western Wall, which was barely visible, and told Eldad “you will get there.”

The day after the liberation, Menachem Begin, who was a minister in the government at the time, arranged a visit to the Old City for some of the commanders of the Jewish pre-State underground organizations.  Among them was Arieh Eldad’s father, who had been one of the leaders of the “Lehi” underground group. The young Arieh joined him. He witnessed his father walking on the Temple Mount and photographed him next to the Western Wall.  Standing there he experienced the feeling of promises fulfilled, that his own generation had made dreams come true, dreams that the generation of underground fighters and Independence War soldiers could not achieve.