This is an announcement by Yaffa and Eliyahu Levanon regarding the cancellation of the their son Yitzhak Reuven’s bar mitzvah party due to the recent deaths of two of his older brothers, who were killed in battles during the War of Independence. The announcement appeared in the newspaper Hatzofeh on December 8, 1948, about a year after the outbreak of the war. Instead of the party, Yaffa and Eliyahu Levanon asked their friends and family to express their sympathy, greetings, and encouragement in writing, and they provided their address for that purpose. The older brother, Yaakov, was one of the defenders of the Old City of Jerusalem; the younger brother, Moshe, was a Palmach hero who fought in the area of Nahal Iron.
The text of the announcement demonstrates the extent of the private and public tragedy of the War of Independence. Approximately ten percent of the Jewish population of Israel at that time were killed in the war. Many of the fallen were new immigrants, often Holocaust survivors, who had just arrived in Israel. This chilling advertisement illustrates a painful war story about the loss of two sons in one family. Moshe died on March 27, 1948 at the age of 17. Givat Moshe in Nachal Iron was named in his memory. His older brother, Yaakov, died in a battle in the Old City of Jerusalem exactly two months later, on May 27, 1948, at the age of 19. The announcement was published in the last stages of the war, before the ceasefire talks began in January 1949.
Would You Like to Know More?
War of Independence – The War of Independence broke out in 1947 after the approval of the UN Partition Plan which envisaged a new Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the Land of Israel. While the Jews accepted the plan, the Arabs side rejected it and launched a war to defeat the Jewish state. The first stage of the war took place from November 29, 1947 until the actual creation of the state on May14, 1948 with Arabs from within the borders of Israel fighting against the Yishuv (the Jewish population of pre-state Israel). Arab and Jewish forces fought for control of the roads, which was crucial strategically, with the Arabs mostly having the upper hand. The next stage of the war began after the declaration of the State of Israel. The various military groups that were operating in pre-state Israel, such as the Haganah, Etzel, and Lehi, combined to form the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The surrounding Arab countries declared war against the new state and fought alongside the local Arab militias. The IDF succeeded in conquering the Arab forces and setting the borders of the state. As of February 1949, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt signed armistice agreements with Israel. The war officially ended on July 20, 1949 when Syria also signed an armistice agreement. The War of Independence consisted of 39 military operations throughout the whole of the country. Over 6000 Israeli soldiers were killed and 15,000 wounded.
HaTzofeh - HaTzofeh was the newspaper of the Mizrachi movement and the National Religious Party (NRP). Mizrachi was the religious-Zionist movement that was founded in 1902; the NRP was its political party. HaTzofeh began publishing in 1937 and ran as the NRP’s newspaper until 2003. Like other newspapers that belonged to political parties, HaTzofeh reflected the philosophy of the movement. In 2003 the newspaper was sold to private investors and, although it retained much of the political outlook of the NRP, it was no longer officially associated with the party. HaTzofeh later merged with the newspaper Makor Rishon.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah – Bar mitzvah for boys or bat mitzvah for girls refers to the ages, 12 and 13 respectively, at which a Jew becomes obligated to fulfil the Jewish commandments and is allowed to participate fully in Jewish ritual and law. Since the Middle Ages, Jewish families have celebrated this milestone with a variety of different ceremonies and celebrations that have developed over time and place. In the past only boys celebrated their coming of age, but these days, in most communities, girls also celebrate. Bar and bat mitzvahs may consist of the celebrant being called up to the Torah for an aliyah, reading the weekly Torah portion or Haftarah, giving a sermon about the Torah reading, or leading the prayer service. Parties are probably the most common way of celebrating this milestone with family and friends. In recent years, participating in a social action project has also become quite common in some communities. In the past only boys celebrated their coming of age, though in recent years almost all communities celebrate also the girls' Bat Mitzvah.