Grapevine: All that jazz

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

Louis Armstrong  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Louis Armstrong
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A most unpleasant surprise awaited Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the director of Chabad of Rehavia and Nahlaot, when he arrived for morning prayers at the Chabad Center on King George Avenue last Monday morning. Unbeknownst to him, someone had sprayed the door with a harmful liquid that was not immediately noticeable.
Goldberg opened the door, and touched the surface as he did so. Later, during the service, he unintentionally rubbed his eyes, and felt a strong, burning sensation that almost blinded him. Medical help was quickly forthcoming. Ambulance personnel treated him in the first instance, but rushed him to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where he was given additional treatment by doctors and nurses. The pain gradually subsided and Goldberg was released a few hours later feeling much better than when he had arrived.
Whether the spraying of the door was just an act of vandalism, or whether it was the work of someone who dislikes Chabad, or who has some grudge against Goldberg was still unknown at the time of writing this column.
■ JAZZ LOVERS who don’t look at their weekend newspapers till late in the day on Friday may be annoyed at this late notice of Jazz on the Roof at the Museum on the Seam. It’s happening today, Friday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. The attendance fee is NIS 50 and the entry ticket includes a tour of the new group exhibition, Life/Still Life/Land, plus the spectacular panoramic view of the city from the roof of the museum. The varied musical program, in addition to jazz, includes calypso, hassidic and other Jewish melodies. Musicians are trumpeter Eli Preminger, sousaphone player Udi Raz and percussionist Rani Birenbaum.
The exhibition reflects an aggressive and divided society, prone to tensions and conflicts that threaten its very existence. The exhibition will remain on view until July 31.
■ IT WAS not exactly surprising that anti-Benjamin Netanyahu mass demonstrations resumed last Saturday night. What was surprising was that demonstrators also gathered outside the President’s Residence. In following the letter of the law, President Reuven Rivlin reluctantly once again gave Benjamin Netanyahu the chance to form a new government. Rivlin did not write the Basic Law, he merely followed it. Amir Haskel, who was the key initiator of the demonstrations that for more than a year have caused so much discomfort to residents of Jerusalem, pledged on Saturday night that the demonstrations would not stop, but would continue until Netanyahu is out. Charging that Netanyahu does not obey the directives of the court, Haskel said: “We are in a period of anarchy.” True, but perhaps the shoe is on the other foot. 
In a democratic election, the victor is usually the one who gets the most votes. Whether one likes it or not, Likud received 24.19% of the votes, which translated into 30 mandates, whereas runner-up Yesh Atid received 17 mandates, and all other parties considerably less. Is it not anarchy to protest the result of the elections? Have Israelis learned nothing from what happened in Washington when former president Donald Trump protested and contested the election results?
■ IN A period of a week, many Israelis had cause to shed tears as they remembered loved ones lost in the Holocaust, to terrorism or in the line of duty in the Israel Defense Forces. In some families, the loss went across the generational divide in that it included relatives of the generations of their parents and grandparents as well as well as the generation of their sons and daughters. 
Every life is precious, and every loss is painful, be it from natural causes, illness, military service or acts of terrorism. It is particularly tragic for parents who have lost a child. Most parents of soldiers who are doing their mandatory military service, are slightly on edge until their sons and daughters return to civilian life. Everyone dreads the fateful door knock that is a prelude to the worst possible news. As tragic as it is to lose one child, it is even worse to lose two, as did Israel Prize laureate Miriam Peretz, who became a spokesperson and a symbol for bereaved parents. 
But there are people who suffered a far greater loss than Miriam Peretz at a time when self-control and silence were much more the norm than is the case today. People simply did not share their pain and sorrow. They just kept on keeping on as instanced by a heart-breaking article by Baruch Ron and Hanan Greenwood in the weekend edition of Israel Hayom. The two journalists wrote about the Lichtenstein family whose home was near Mahaneh Yehuda market was built in 1908 by Polish-born Ze’ev Elimlech Lichtenstein and his wife Rachel who came to the Holy City with their infant son Yehoshua. Other children were born to them and raised in this house. One of their sons, Avner, who was among the defenders of Jerusalem and used to guide convoys during the siege of the city during 1947-48, fell in battle.
In 1919, Yehoshua who was then 20, married Hannah Arkin and the newlyweds opened a small grocery store. In 1920, Yehoshua joined the Defenders of Jerusalem who were under the command of Zeev Jabotinsky. Yerhoshua was arrested by the British and held for a short time in Acre prison. Following his release, he joined the Hagana and hid weapons in his home. 
In 1925 Zeev Lichtenstein moved to Hebron, and was murdered in the riots of 1929.
In 1933 Hannah Lichtenstein’s father Yisrael Haim Arkin was also murdered.
Yehoshua and Hannah had seven children of their own
Their first son Zalman, died from some mysterious illness when he was three years old. Their other children were Shmuel, Yocheved, Moshe, Yaakov, Elimelech, and Avner. While still adolescents, the Lichtenstein boys were all recruited into the defense of the city and beyond. When Elimelech was 15 and a half, he joined the Palmach, where his leadership abilities were quickly recognized, and he and his comrades were given a mission to blow up the British radar station in Haifa. The station was used to intercept ships bringing Illegal immigrants into the country. The mission was successfully accomplished in July, 1947. In retreating from the site, Elimelech was critically injured. He asked his companions to keep moving and not to endanger their lives by evacuating him. He was found by the British and his life was saved.
In 1948, Moshe was captured by the Jordanians and imprisoned.
Meanwhile Elimelech and his other siblings were celebrating the Seder with their parents on April 23, 1948, when there was an urgent knock at the door. Elimelech and Yaakov’s commanders wanted them to come to the Schneller military base because there was a suspicion that the British would leave Jerusalem sooner than anticipated, after which everyone engaged in defense had to be ready for war. 
When they arrived at the base, Yaakov told the commander that he could not take two siblings from the one family, and that one of them had to return home. The commander told Yaakov that he was free to go, but Yaakov refused, saying to the commander, “If you were in my position and you had a younger brother, would you go home?” In the end, it was Elimelech who was sent home. It was the last time that the two brothers saw each other. Yaakov was severely wounded and died of his injuries. He was 20 years old.
Yehoshua and Hannah, having lost one son in battle, did not want to risk losing another, especially one who was still a minor. Avner was then 16 and already a member of the Etzioni Brigade. His parents asked his commander to release him. The commander agreed, but Avner refused. 
“If they release me from the Hagana,” he told his parents, “I’ll join Etzel, and you won’t be able to get me out of there.”
His parents had no choice but to give in to him. In July of that year, Avner participated in the last effort by the Etzioni Brigade to conquer the Old City. He was part of a failed attempt to break through with a large bomb.
Avner’s final mission with the Etzioni Brigade was to get to the top of Armon Hanatziv. He and his companions managed to do so under cover of night, but at dawn, there was a hail of gunfire directed at them. Avner went up to the roof to see what was happening. He saw that one of his comrades had been wounded and ran to get the medic. Then he ran back to help his comrade. He was shot en route and heavily injured. His mother managed to visit him in hospital 12 hours later, but he died of his wounds in August 1948.
Yehoshua Lichtenstein’s sister Yehudit Cohen also lost a son, Noam, who was member of Shabak (the Israel Security Agency).
Following Avner’s death, the family added Avner’s name to their surname.
During the 1967 war, Elimelech Avner-Lichtenstein participated in the conquest of Hebron where his grandfather had been murdered 38 years previously. A year later, while on reserve duty in the Golan Heights, he and fellow Jerusalemites participated in a military exercise that concluded after midnight. The group of five Jerusalem officers, including Elimelech, were eager to go home. They left at 2 a.m. and as they neared Bnei Brak, the driver lost control of the wheel, and the vehicle crashed with great force into a steel pole. All five passengers died instantly. 
Yehoshua Lichtenstein asked the Defense Ministry whether Elimelech could be buried alongside his brothers. The ministry was inclined to agree, but there was one problem, there was a huge tree standing alongside the graves, and there was no room for another grave. In the final analysis, it was decided that the Lichtenstein family had paid so heavy a price for Israel’s security, and had never complained, that it was certainly worth uprooting a tree for them. And so, the three brothers Lichtenstein are buried side by side on Mount Herzl.