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  1. Saul Mashbaum says:

    I thank Micha for this moving posting. How easy it is, as we lead our basically routine lives, to forget that people essentially no different than us displayed extraordinary courage and heroism when called upon to do so.
    Interestingly, I was at Ramat Rachel yesterday, at a wedding. Greatly enjoying the simcah, the wedding of the son of an old and dear friend, I was blissfully unaware of the significance of the time and place, and gave no thought to the drama and tragedy that unfolded in that area around this time of year. I am glad that now, somewhat belatedly, I can think of the sacrifice of the lamed heh, thus honoring their memory. Yhi zichram baruch.

  2. a few comments:
    1. in doctor solomon bloom’s letter he reffers to a siege on ramat rachel which the 35 were trying to lift this is incorrect the seige was on gush etzion and that is very clearly documented with no room for any doubt
    2. the rest of the story is very moving and pretty accurate.
    3. my uncle was on of the 35 after whom i am named david zwebner (and not “TZOVNER”)
    please correct this mistake.
    4.the annual gathering of the surviving families of the lamed hei taked place at their graves on mt. hertzel in jerusalem where there bodies were interred after a state was established in 1949.
    David Zwebner
    lamed hei commitee member.

  3. micha says:


    I corrected the spelling of your uncle’s name. It’s a side-effect of transliterating back from a Hebrew text. My apologies.

    I also corrected my mis-recollection of where my grandfather couldn’t get to for the annual gathering.

    I’m reluctant to question the word of someone who was actually involved in the story, and would first try to find a manner of explaining how his memory could be at odds with the official report. A “gush” is a “block” of settlements. Today, Gush Etzion is defined as starting in the valley right below Ramat Rachel. Is it possible Ramat Rachel was considered part of the gush back then?

    (I will not edit the opening of this post until we figure this out, and I wouldn’t touch the quote either way.)


  4. Frayda says:

    Dear Micha,
    Yona Levine (not Levin [Now corrected. -mi]) one of the 35, was a good friend of my mother’s (Z”L). He had asked her to come from Canada to Palestine to marry her.
    Can you please let me know when the Yarzeit is commemorated on Har Herzel? I would very much want to go if possible.
    Thank You,
    Frayda Naor

  5. Miriam says:

    I was volunter in Kibutz Netiv Halamed Hei. i will never forget this story

  6. Yossele says:

    Thanks for this beautiful post. I was in Israel for a year and a half before I heard about the 35, when I got a ride from KBY to Gush Etzion thru Rechov Halamed Heh.

  7. Samuel says:

    I am making an uncomfortable point in light of the lofty status of the Kedoshim, but nevertheless one that needs to be made since we are witnessing to this day more and more needless Jewish casualties as a result of the same mistakes.

    “The group passed an Arab shepherd outside the town of Suref, and rather than kill him to ensure his silence, they compassionately chose to simply lie about their intent.” As the narrative states this VERY SAME reciever of compassion turned into a murderer against those who saved his life.

    Unfortunately this is same misplaced compassion has been applied time and again throughout the State of Israel’s existence.

    How many husbands, fathers, sons etc were killed in Jenin in order to spare ‘innocent’ arab life? I think it was 16.

    And then there was the revolting statement I heard on the radio a few years ago by an army commander how we are the most civilized people on earth since we chose to place 6 soldeirs in danger and indeed lost them r”l due to our interest in not harming arab civilians.

    This warped morality will be the State’s undoing. It is probably too late to undo the effects of 60 years of wrongheaded policy on the world’s expectation of how Jews should behave and a reversal of policy would bring a crushing retaliation on the part most of the ‘civilized’ world.

    Truly, at this point, ein lanu al mi l’hishain ela al avinu shebashomayim.

    G-d does work in funny ways though. WW2 was also brought about by human folly – how the wise nations of the world who were so capable of harnessing all the poweers of the world with modern thought and science, essentially sat by like imbeciles and did nothing while yemach shemo tranformed Germany into a worldpower. And the same thing has happened in Israel.

  8. Minor detail –
    All 35 bodies were literally torn apart. Rav Aryeh Levin ZTL determined that 12 of bodies were unidentifiable, and to use the Goral haGra. He then used it to identify ALL 35 of them. I’m pretty sure this is documented in the famous book about Rav Levin, Ish Tzadik Haya. I also heard this from a first-hand witness – Rav Avigdor Shaag (Zwebner), brother of David Zwebner, who was present at the Goral haGra.

  9. micha says:

    Interesting. I’m not changing the body of the article, though, because that was neither my grandfather’s recollection, nor how the story is told by Simcha Raz in the English (A Tzadik in our Time, pp 172-164.)

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