There is an axiom unknown to most people getting married that you also marry your partner’s family. I can add that divorce is similar, for better or worse. This week, I learned with great sadness of the death of my ex-father-in-law, Yoel Bashani. He was one of the thousands of Jews that dedicated their lives to the establishment and survival of the State of Israel and paid a high price for that choice. I had the privilege of knowing him for some 20 years.
Yoel Bashani was born in 1927 in Irbil, Iraq to a family whose long tradition was that the oldest son become a rabbi. He rejected this path and instead becoming a Zionist. He guided groups of Jewish families to Israel through the wilderness to Israel until he was arrested. He then awaited execution of his sentence until he was ultimately released and sent to Israel. After fulfilling his dream of working in agriculture in a kibbutz, he became a leading Arabic interpreter in the General Security Services, attaining the civiliian rank equivalent to brigadier general in the military. He served many years in the south of Israel, far from his home in the North and later worked closer to home as he approached retirement. He dedicated his active life to the survival of Israel.
This choice brought him great satisfaction and came at a terrible personal price. He was away from his family most of the week for the many years he worked in the field. Later, he became a loving grandfather as my daughter and his other grandchildren can attest. From day one, he accepted me as his son, which is the most any son-in-law can ask. He was not a great conversationalist but his words had weight and wisdom. A man of principle, he would tell you the truth, both rare finds in this world. His smile was warm and genuine. While principles do not make for an easy life, I always respected and liked him for his integrity.
The American founding father John Adams wrote “I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy…” Yoel Bashani, like many of his compatriots, gave his children and grandchildren the privilege of not studying war and politics. It was a honor to have known a founding father and be respected by him. May his memory be respected and his soul rest in peace.
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