Remembering Zvi Weinstock, an Anonymous Soldier Full of Promise
by Dovid Efune
Today, April 13th, marks the 69th anniversary of the infamous Hadassah convoy massacre.
The incident, among the most tragic of Israel’s War of Independence era, was perpetrated by Arab forces who ambushed a medical convoy in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that was carrying food, supplies and personnel to the beleaguered and largely isolated Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in the northeast of the city.
Among the 78 recorded dead — including Jewish nurses, doctors, students, patients, faculty members and Haganah fighters — was my great uncle Zvi Weinstock. Today he is buried in Sanhedria, where dozens of unidentified bodies, burned beyond recognition in the assault, were interred in a mass grave.
Zvi, who was accompanying the convoy as a volunteer Haganah escort, was just 23-years-old at the time of his death.
By all available accounts, Zvi was a somewhat remarkable individual.
He was born in December 1925 in Vienna, Austria to Dovid and Chaya Idis Weinstock, both of whom perished in the Holocaust. In 1939, he fled to Yugoslavia and eventually made his way to Palestine at the tender age of 15. He continued his studies at the youth village Kfar HaNoar HaDati in northern Israel.
In a letter sent to Israel’s Military Archive following Zvi’s death, his uncle and guardian, Pinhas Mosel, wrote of the young man:
Already in the first few months his teachers’ attention was drawn to his talents, dedication, quick-witted nature and friendliness…The school organized groups of youth leaders and his group was exemplary.
Zvi later moved to Kibbutz Yavne, in central Israel, near Ashdod, and, according to Mosel:
From the very beginning he stood out within the kibbutz both for his practical abilities and for his character and spirit. He combined the characteristics of an agricultural worker of the first order with those of a man of culture. He was loved and admired.
He found the kibbutz structure too narrow. He wanted to further his knowledge of Torah and science. With strong determination, he continued his studies during any free time, day or night. He passed the Hebrew University entrance exams with distinction… He started studying agriculture and then changed to physics and within a short time he excelled in this field and specialized in radio science.
His studies did not interfere with his ongoing community work — leadership of underprivileged youth and his activities for Magen. He joined the Haganah while still at Kfar HaDati and until his last day was a dedicated soldier.
In November 1947, Zvi left his studies and dedicated himself to the Haganah full time. He served on the front line at Yemin Moshe, escorting convoys and working on communications equipment. During this time, Mosel said, despite the “tough work within a bloody spiral,” Zvi always found time to study, to teach and to inspire others. The ongoing siege of Jerusalem and its deprivations and difficulties “did not affect him,” according to Mosel. Zvi was always “full of life” until the black day of the convoy to Mt. Scopus where he was killed together with scientists and doctors, he added.
This bright and lively young man, who had such a promising future in the world of science, died not as a scientist but as an anonymous soldier escorting this convoy.
I cannot give an adequate description of all his features — he is too precious to me and I still cannot believe that he is no longer with us. The principals of Kfar HaNoar HaDati… the student union, his teachers and friends can describe the loss that befell them, the family and state, with his premature death.
On Passover, a time where Jewish tradition brings together families and communities, to recall that, as the Hagaddah tells, “In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us,” it also pays to take note of, and pay tribute to, the soldier-scholars who rose up in every generation to defend us, and contributed greatly to the promised divine delivery.
In October 2012, we named our firstborn son Zvi in remembrance of the inspired, and inspiring life of Zvi Weinstock, an unsung hero of the Jewish people. I hope his empowering memory will serve as a source of inspiration to all who encounter his story.
Dovid Efune is the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner.