Shlomo Dreizner

And so he took that name as his own. Eilon gave Dreizner a gift - a lighter that played Hatikvah when lit.

Shlomo Dreizner was a Zionist Jew in the Soviet Union, at a time when people were sent to jail for many years if they dared to demonstrate their Jewishness or to voice their desire to immigrate to Israel. He was a member of an illegal Zionist organization in Leningrad. Some of his friends had been arrested and sent to prison because they had contact with the Israeli Embassy in Moscow and received books from them. The members of the organization learned Hebrew as best they could and secretly maintained their Jewishness – Dreizner married Lilia at a secret Jewish wedding ceremony held in his apartment. But Dreizner hid some of his Zionist activity even from of Lilia, to keep her from danger.

After Khrushchev’s rise to power in the Soviet Union, there was some relief for the Jews and the Zionists, although it was still dangerous to publicly display Jewish symbols or speak openly about Zionism. In May 1967, a few months after the wedding of Shlomo and Lilia, members of the organization noticed posters promoting a concert of a Jewish singer who had been banned from performing for five years, and they also learned that an Israeli delegation would be in the city at the same time for a UNESCO conference. Some of the organization members, Dreizner among them, decided to take the risk of trying to make contact with the members of the delegation at the same concert, and during the break Dreizner noticed a group of people carrying small Israeli flag pins and went to speak to them. He spoke to David Bartov, from the Israeli embassy, who introduced him to Yigal Eilon. When Eilon asked him his name, Dreizner said” Solomon”, and Eilon corrected him:” Shalom”. And so he took that name as his own. Eilon gave Dreizner a gift – a lighter that played Hatikvah when lit.

During the war the members of the organization were constantly listening to the radio. Despite the disruption of foreign broadcasts  and  the official Soviet propaganda, they managed to assemble the details and learn about the Israeli victory, and their spirits lifted. After the war, the Soviet Union severed official relations with Israel, and took a harder line against the Zionists, but in the midst of the joy of victory, Dreizner created a sculpture symbolizing the victory of Israel. When one of the members of their group got permission to immigrate to Israel, Dreizner dismantled the statue and camouflaged it as an innocent lamp, and sent it as a gift to Yigal Eilon.

On the eve of the Yom Kippur War, in October 1973, Dreizner’s dream came true and he was given permission to immigrate to Israel. Eilon invited him to his office, and at the meeting he showed him the gift he had sent years before, which he had placed in a spot of honor in his office.