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2018-05-04 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


May 4, 2018  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Tampa area woman recalls childhood in Israel at dawn of statehood

Malka Isaak is a retired attorney who now resides in Odessa with her husband, Sam. But in 1948, she was a 12-year-old living in Israel and a witness to the historic birth of the Jewish state.

Born in 1936 in Czechoslovakia, her family moved to pre-state Israel in 1938, which coincided with the ascension of Hitler and Nazism in Germany and the intensified threat to the Jewish people throughout Eastern Europe.

Isaak grew up primarily in Netanya, along the Mediterranean coast. Her parents were part of Etzel, an underground organization that rose up against the British army. She recalls hiding guns and learning how to shoot at a young age – a necessary part of growing up at this time.

Although there was a shortage of food, Isaak said she and her family all came together to do their part.

Isaak told her story as part of the weeklong community celebration of Israel at 70. The program, which also featured a talk, via Skype, with ABC newsman Martin Fletcher, was held at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC. The program was moderated by Debbie Doliner.

She shared an emotionally charged story of when she and her neighbors first heard that the UN voted for Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, to become a nation:

“It was already past midnight. Many people didn’t even have a radio, but the radios were blasting out the vote, ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘yes,’ ‘no.’And the minute there were enough votes for the establishment of the State of Israel - I’m going to cry – My town, Netanya, had 40,000 people (and) at least 20,000 people were there, everybody started dancing the hora. And they danced and they danced and they continued to dance.”

The Tampa JCCs and Federation collaborated with Misaviv LaMedura (Around the Bonfire), to bring the program to the community. The Around the Bonfire project is an initiative which began about two years ago with the purpose of connecting Israel’s founding generation and its younger generations and to increase awareness and knowledge of the stories of the early years of Israel’s statehood. The project uses these inter-generational connections to create awareness of the courage and resilience of the founding generation.

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