Rabbi's Message

Temple Sisterhood Shalom everyone,

I hope that everyone is safe, healthy, and is enjoying the summer in New England.

We are continuing with the new normal, and have resumed our Shabbat morning services. - See the President's Message. If you're one of the few who must go to work, please know we appreciate your essential efforts in keeping our country going!! So, in the spirit of making peace with the way of the world, we are going to continue to put our best foot forward as a Jewish community.

Feel free to view our Facebook page, which will have information posted and check for updates.

I am on vacation during the summer months but can still be reached via email, text, or telephone. I would love to hear from you.

Stay positive and Shabbat Shalom,

Student Rabbi David Joslin

A Bit of Israel – Beit Gidi Etzel Museum 1947-1948

     On the border of Tel Aviv and Jaffa are the ruins of an old house overlooking the beach and the Mediterranean Sea, with an incongruous black cube rising from its remnants. This is the Etzel Museum, also known as "Beit Gidi". It is dedicated to fighters of the Etzel organization, better known as the Irgun in English, a Jewish militant organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. Along with the nearby Hassan Bek mosque, the ruins are one of just two structures that remain from the northernmost neighborhood of Tel Aviv. The house was built in 1900 by a Jewish businessman who came to build his home in Israel. In 1914 he travelled to Russia for business and was killed during World War I. Arabs from Jaffa then used the building for residential, industrial and commercial needs.

     The Etzel, whose emblem is a hand holding a rifle over the whole of Palestine and Transjordan, fought to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. It was established in 1931 as an offshoot of the older and larger Jewish paramilitary organization, the Haganah. They retaliated against attacks by Arabs on the Jewish population and rebelled against the British government's White Paper policy that imposed restrictions on Jewish emigration to Palestine.

     In 1947, the UN resolution divided mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Arabs began terror attacks against the Jews throughout the country. Jaffa was the largest Arab city in the country, so the Tel Aviv-Jaffa residents suffered greatly.

     Etzel's leadership saw Jaffa as a great problem, especially because of its proximity to Tel Aviv. In April 1948 Amichai 'Gidi' Faglin, in whose memory the Beit Gidi Museum is dedicated, led the Etzel's operations against Jaffa and, as the museum's displays indicate, Jaffa was bombarded into submission and most of its Arab residents fled. As a result of the attacks by the Jewish forces, only 3,000 to 5,000 residents remained in Jaffa, out of a population of 70,000 to 80,000.

     Beit Gidi Etzel Museum 1947-1948 focuses on the battle to liberate Jaffa during the 1947-1948 War of Independence. It is dedicated to the memory of the 41 Etzel fighters who fell during the conquest of Jaffa and their operations officer, Amichai 'Gidi' Faglin.

     The first part of the museum deals with the organizational structure of the Etzel. A map of Israel according to the UN partition resolution of 29th November 1947 is displayed on one wall. Another electronic map, along with documents and photographs, shows Etzel positions, attacks and raids during 1947 and 1948.

     Another section of the museum concentrates on the Altalena affair. The Altalena was an Etzel armaments-carrying ship had embarked from the port of Marseilles. Upon arrival at the beach of Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion gave the ship 10 minutes to agree to hand over the armaments to the unified Jewish forces. After the 10 minutes expired with no response, an attack on the ship was ordered, and a massive explosion set off by a shell destroyed the ship and cargo. A large encased flag of Israel that was flown on the Altalena hangs on a wall. In the accompanying text one reads that the flag was saved minutes before the ship blew up.

     One exhibit is dedicated to the taking of the Wadi Nisnas Arab neighborhood in Haifa.

     After the establishment of the state, the Etzel fighters were integrated into the newly-formed Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in an agreement signed by the Etzel's commander-in-chief Menachem Begin and the government of Israel.

     The museum is open from Sunday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. It is closed on Friday and Saturday. The entrance fee for adults is around $5.

Beit Gidi

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