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Yemenite Jewry's Holocaust

(Source: Jewish Guardian, Genocide in the Holy land)
To download the entire book, Genocide in the Holy Land, click here.

In telling this story, it unpleasant for us to present the shocking facts. The Holy Land is dear to the heart of every Jew, and it is difficult to have to speak of outrages committed against Jews in the Holy Land by other Jews, however we cannot afford to ignore the facts. We feel it is our duty to present them to you, so that you may know about this subject.

The general Jewish public already knows parts of the story. For the past thirty years, we have been hearing the terrible news brought back by visitors to the Zionist State by rabbinical commissions and other bodies. In May of 1950, the Zionist State established a Committee of Inquiry at the insistence of religious Zionist members of the Knesset who insisted these atrocities be investigated. It concluded its investigation with full confirmation of the outrageous treatment of religious arrivals to the Zionist state.The official summary of this report can be found in the special supplement to the newspaper Sheorim, of June 29, 1950. This situation has also been at least one of the major causes of three serious government coalition crises.

However, neither the so-called “religious blocs” in the Zionist political system nor the government had or has any interest nothing ever changed.

It began with the great immigration of Jews from the Arab countries into the Holy Land. In 1949 and 1950 thousands of Yemenite immigrants were streaming into the Holy Land by way of the famed airlift “Magic Carpet,” which was a project involving wholesale deception of the loyal Jews of Yemen by the Zionists in bringing these Jews to the newly established Zionist state. This Jewish community belonged to what was perhaps the most pious Jewish community in the world at that time. For over two thousand years they had kept every law and custom of their Jewish heritage. From other points in the Middle East – North Africa, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran – Torah true Jews arrived by the thousands. In most cases it was the sad fact of Zionist propaganda and incitement against the Arabs that caused these Jews to be uprooted from their countries of origin, using deception appealing to their religious sensibilities.

This is where the outrage begins. When these Jews ended their journey they were placed in machanot and maabarot – immigrant camps – run by Zionist officials. The job of “re-educating” (i.e. uprooting them from their pure religious piety) the Yemenite children was placed under the supervision of the Education Ministry that was answerable to a Knesset committee composed of representatives of many Zionist parties, including the Religious parties, and the Division of Culture of the Jewish Agency, headed by the notorious Nahum Levin.

But the ministry itself being headed by the notorious Zalmen Shazar Yemach Shemoi Vezecroi.

As witness after witness at the hearings of the Government Committee of Inquiry revealed, the officials placed in charge of the camps were bent on “civilizing” their “primitive” brothers from Yemen – by wiping out every trace of religious belief from their children’s minds, and replacing it with atheist Zionist education. Young kibbutzniks from rabidly anti-religious Mapai and Mapam cooperative farms were placed in charge of the immigrant children!! Systematically, they proceeded to wean these religious boys and girls away from every value their parents had taught them. They were taught to violate the Sabbath, discouraged from saying the daily prayers and Grace after Meals (which every Yemenite child knew almost as soon as he had learned to speak).

However, the Zionists were not satisfied with this. Their religious “look” had to be changed too. The peyos (side curls) of boys were forcibly shorn off. If the parents of the children did not like this “civilizing” program, they soon learned that it was dangerous to make it obvious, because the directors of the camps did not hesitate to make it clear to the helpless parents that their food cards, their priorities to permanent dwellings, and distribution of clothing would be withdrawn if they dared interrupt their children’s “education”. To put the finishing touches to what even the religious Zionist Mizrachi leader, David Pinkas, called “an inquisition against the Jewish religion” the private teaching of Torah in the tents was forbidden.

And truly this was not the first time this had happened. It was only the first time that it happened on such a large scale. Even as early as 1943 some Yemenite children also were brought to Palestine and had their peyos shorn off. In addition the Jewish world was aghast about the forcible coercion to abandon religious observance of over one thousand Polish children refugees from Hitler brought by the way of Teheran. These were the famous children of Tehran, the “YALDI TEHERAN”.

Although Jewish People were going through trying times and were distracted by reports of gas chambers in European concentration camps, the Zionist heretics had plenty of time for their most important project: the “normalization of the Jewish people”. Orthodox Jews, though desperately anxious to try to save the Jews in Europe, nevertheless found it imperative to try to save for Judaism the children who were among the remnants of the Holocaust. They waged a long battle with the Zionists, but lost. (As documented in Reb Moshe Shonfeld’s Hebrew work “The Teheran Children Accuse”).

Following is a very brief summary concerning the Yaldei Tehran (Jewish children who had gotten out of Europe and who were on their way to Palestine via Tehran, Iran) but we will deal with this chapter at length on another occasion.

The kitchen of the camp was strictly non-kosher, and yet there were some 14 children who began a valiant struggle against their “educators,” refusing to be spiritually contaminated by non-kosher food. They asked for two Persian pennies a day to be able to buy a little bread, but even this concession was denied them, whereas big sums were being spent on movies and other pleasures for the children. Fortunately, two brothers, Two Rabbis Halberstam, arrived in Tehran, and succeeded in obtaining funds for kosher food for the 14 children from Mr. Polak, a rich, generous Jew in Tehran. The educators then became ashamed, and declared to the 14 children their preparedness to provide them with kosher food on condition that they would not try to enlarge the circle of kosher-eating children. The promised to refrain from such propaganda, but naturally did not keep their promise. After two days, a hard struggle began for kosher food on behalf of all the children in the camp. The Rabbis Halberstam were thereupon forbidden to enter the camp again.

Those children who said the Mourner’s Prayer, the Kaddish, for their sainted parents – the only consolation for these unhappy orphans – were punished by having their meals taken away from them.

The children had arranged a special place for prayers. Suddenly the so-called educators again intervened with the argument that each child could pray individually, but that no public service would be allowed. They then began to pray in their bedrooms. This also was forbidden with the contention that it is not correct to conduct services in a bedroom. A bitter struggle by the children against this inquisition ensued, and after obstinate endeavors, a place for services was given them. Every contact with Rabbis Halberstam was forbidden them but through secret ways these religious children continued to maintain their relations with Rabbis Halberstam.

On Yom Kippur, the children asked for permission to attend the services in the synagogue of Teheran. This was refused.

A decree of the “educators” ordered that the children should cut off their peyos. Many of them refused and their peyos were removed by force. One child from Warsaw refused to have his peyos cut, but awakening during the night, the child found that his peyos had been removed by two of the “educators” responsible for this outrage.


When the Zionists distributed the certificates for immigration into Palestine, and several of the certificates were intended for adolescent children, the “educators” did not allocate the certificates to those they feared might exercise religious influence on other children. Of course, Rabbis Halberstam did not receive their certificates, and therefore were compelled to remain in Teheran.

During the voyage a vicious campaign against the Jewish religion was organized. The climax was the throwing away into the ocean yarmulkes that the children wore. Many of them refused, and their caps were taken away by force. One can imagine the chilul HaShem, the resultant desecration of G-d’s Name, when the captain of the ship gave an order to fish up the caps from the sea, and to return them to the children.

At Atlith

Upon arrival in the Holy Land the children had to stay at the government camp in the settlement of Atlith for several days. Through much effort the Zionist Youth Aliyah authorities agreed that for these few days kosher food should be served, and the Shabbos (Sabbath) should be observed according to tradition. But here again no change of heart of the so-called educators took place. In their insolence, they walked around the camp with lighted cigars in front of all the Jewish children on Shabbos. On this Shabbos, the representatives of the Jewish Agency arrived in Atlith, and they traveled around in automobiles. The lists of the children were of course written down on Shabbos, and the delegates of the so-called “Jewish” Agency listed on this holy Shabbos day the names of 1,090 Jewish children and adults.

Also in Atlith, when the morning service lasted a little longer, the inspectors announced that they would punish the children by denying them food. But this decree could not be put into effect, because they wanted to hide the facts from the representatives of the Agudath Israel Organization who spent this Shabbos in the camp with the children.

At the Camps in the Zionist State

From Atlith the children were brought to 14 different camps in the country. Not a single camp of those proposed even by Agudath Israel was accepted. Among the 120 educators five of Agudath Israel were accepted. Most of the other leaders were of the virulently anti-religious Hashomer Hatzair movement and other similar groups of outspoken atheists and desecrators of the Jewish faith.

The representatives of Agudath Israel intended to inform the children that the boys celebrating their bar mitzvah at the age of 13 should be given tefillin (phylacteries), but the leadership of the camp prohibited this announcement until permission from Youth Aliyah could be procured. This permission from Youth Aliyah was granted on condition that none of the religious leaders should direct the distribution lest he exercise a religious influence on the children with respect to the commandment of putting on the tefillin each morning.

When even the Zionist Chief Rabbi Herzog visited some of the camps and spoke to the children, some of the women-educators approached him and asked, “who allowed you to come here and speak?”

One of the girls was asked to sew on Shabbos. When she refused, the leaders first tried to convince her, but when she remained firm they told her, “rest assured that we shall slowly educate you not to maintain such follies.”

When the children came to the camp, the “educators” requested them to remove their hats. On Friday evenings, musical concerts were held.

One of the “educators” led a group of children to show them the ruins of Jerusalem: When they came to the Western Wall, this teacher said: “This wall is standing for about 2,000 years. Its height is 11 meters. Each stone is two meters and some of them are one meter. After this “important” information, he began to leave with the children. At this moment a youngster from Jerusalem burst forth with the exclamation, “no, this is not only an ancient wall, but it is the remnant of the ancient Temple where Jews have come to pour out their tears before G-d.” When the children heard this, they suddenly turned their eyes to the wall and began weeping, and they called for books of Psalms (Tehillim) and poured out before G-d the entire tragedy of their life from the moment they were separated from their holy parents.


The Yemenites

The files of the religious organization, P’eylim, as well as the report of the Committee of Inquiry are full of incidents of this infamous campaign against the Yemenite Jews. Following are just a few examples from testimony at the Committee hearings.

One boy testified that he was taken to an orchard during the Sabbath on an orange-picking picnic. When he protested that this violated the Sabbath, he was told: “Only in Yemen is there a Sabbath; here, in Israel there is no Sabbath”; A former teacher at the Ein Shemer immigrant camp testified that at a meeting of teachers a camp official announced that the peyos of all the boys were to be cut and that, should a protest rise over it, the parents should be told that it was being done for “hygienic” reasons. (They found no hygienic reasons, however, to cut the hair of the girls.) One bit of testimony concerned a madricha (leader), named Tziporah, at the Beth-Lid immigrant camp. She gained notoriety for forbidding the children from reciting the Grace After Meals in the dining-hall, and by her unscrupulous removal of peyos.

The Yemenites defiantly added this new sentence to their Grace After Meals Liturgy: “The Merciful One will avenge our wrongs: the Merciful One will punish Tziporah.” Multiply such incidents by hundreds and you will have some idea of the picture the Committee of Inquiry presented – of the vast program undertaken to tear thousands of Jewish children away from the religion of their fathers. The forlorn, helpless parents stood all alone, not even realizing that beyond the gates of the machanot there existed a community of religious Jews with a love of the Torah like their own.

Children were also taken from their parents for hygienic reasons. Then the parents were told the children had died. Only to find years later upon receiving draft notices for these dead children that the children were sold and had never died. But more about this chapter of kidnapping at a later date.

But how long can such things go on, and how secret can such a campaign be kept? Word of these spiritual atrocities in the immigrant camps began to reach the great yeshivas (religious academies) established in the Holy Land, such as Ponivezh, Hebron, Slobodke, Mir, Karliner, etc. where young men sat studying the Talmud. The alarmed students realized how urgent the matter was. It was a case of hatzolos n ‘foshos – the saving of souls – and there was an urgent need for quick and effective action. Furthermore, they had to do it alone. It was to take some time before the religious parties in the Zionist Government coalition would ever be aroused to take any action, and when they finally did, it was based entirely on the knowledge of conditions uncovered by the yeshiva students. Often in the history of human events, the youth is first to act. So it was here – these young scholars who studied the Torah took upon their shoulders the task of safeguarding Torah among their brothers in the camps.


Organizing themselves at first under the Yeshiva Committee of the Holy Land, the organization representing the yeshivas of the Holy Land, they offered their services as volunteer teachers and organizers of religious elementary schools (Talmud Torahs) among the immigrants who wanted a religious education for their children. As expected, the offer was even rejected by the Zionist Ministry of Education, just as Nahum Levin quite frankly admitted before the committee of Inquiry. The offer was repeatedly presented to him by Rabbi Baruch Goldberg of Yeshiva Committee, and was repeatedly rejected. Meanwhile, the anti-religious atrocities in the camps continued as before.

The yeshiva students felt helpless, but they knew that the Yemenites in the camps were even more helpless, and something had to be done immediately. A handful of students had a desperate plan: to slip into the camps and organize Talmud Torah classes secretly. Some argued that it couldn’t be done. How could a few yeshiva students (bochurim) undertake to challenge and defeat the powerful Zionist heretics? To this objection one student gave a sharp and simple answer: “G-d does not require us to accomplish: he requires us to try”.

And so they tried. An amazing David-and-Goliath campaign began, and the immigrants in the camps were soon seeing heartening sights. Yeshiva students, working in groups or individually, slipped into many camps (sometimes dressed in the shorts and blue skirts of the heretic Hashomer Hatzair movement, and darker-skinned ones among them disguised themselves as Yemenites), and went to work organizing Torah classes. Everywhere, they were met with surprised joy by the immigrants and in camp after camp, secret Talmud Torahs sprang up. The Yemenites were enthusiastic that these young scholars from a religious community that the Yemenites hardly knew existed had come to bring a religious education to their sons and daughters. There was Torah after all, in the Holy Land.

As the work broadened, and well-equipped Zionists schools became suspiciously empty of their pupils, and as Chatzranim (camp street-cleaners doubling as spies, or vice versa) began to bring in reports of suspicious doings in the tents, the camp directors learned that yeshiva students of the Holy Land were sabotaging the “civilizing” program of the Zionists. The response of the Zionist heretics was thorough and ruthless. Parents were threatened, children were driven out of their secret Torah classes, yeshiva students were beaten when discovered in the machanos, and camp gates were closely guarded to prevent the entrance of datiim – religious persons. Now, however, that the immigrants realized they were not alone in a hostile world, they were not to be intimidated so easily. Instead of surrender by servile immigrants, the Zionists were met with riots and defiance.

Due to the atrocities the riots now started. It was during these riots in Ein Shemer that Rabbi Yaakov Salim G’rafi, may his blood be avenged, was beaten brutally by the Zionist camp directors and then shot to death in cold blood on the seventh day of Passover – 1950-.

He died sanctifying the Almighty’s name. He was murdered for his staunch defense of our faith, for his adamant refusal to hand his daughter over to the Zionist military, and for establishing Talmud Torahs in Ein Shemer. Here was the first “Jewish” concentration camp in a “Jewish State” with barracks and barbed wire in the 2000 years since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. His blood cries to us from the earth in the same way as does the blood of the Prophet Zachariah

The incidents of riots, beatings, and other atrocities are too numerous to mention here. Typical of them was the following occurrence and confirmed by the committee of Inquiry. On February 14, 1950, two students at the Ponivezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Noah Berman and Shlomoh Noah Krell, were interviewing immigrants in the Ein Shemer camp near Pardes Chana to ascertain their religious needs. They were discovered by camp policemen and dragged into the director’s office where police from Pardes Chana soon arrived to arrest them. Meanwhile, word of the incident had spread from tent to tent, and, in a matter of minutes, a huge crown of Yemenite immigrants besieged the office, demanding that the “chachamim” be released. A riot seemed imminent, and the police were forced to release the young students. The crowd, carrying the students on its shoulders, to the accompaniment of cheering and singing, saw them safely out of the camp to the house of the Rabbi of Pardes Chana. The following day, however, they were arrested again and held in jail until bailed out by the Rabbi. The anti-religious press reported the next morning that “religious agitators” had fomented a riot in Ein Shemer.

It was the yeshiva students who first discovered the extent of the brutality in the camps, and who continually pleaded with the leaders of the religious parties in the Zionist Knesset to call for an investigation, assuring them that there were countless witnesses to substantiate the facts. Of the 61 witnesses who testified to the truth of the charges, 17 were yeshiva students and 15 were immigrants who had worked with the students as teachers or in other capacities. Zionist intimidation continued, however, but using more care and more restrained tactics.


This is borne out by the report of the Commission appointed by the Zionist government to investigate the conditions in the camps after protests by religious elements. After visiting all the camps and listening to 181 witnesses, this Commission officially reported that:

Anti-religious prejudices and acts were openly initiated by camp officials and counselors.

“Soul-snatching” was not unusual.

Peyos (sidelocks) of religious Yemenite children were systematically cut off, and were clearly untended as an anti-religious act.

Some camps allowed a systematic abuse of religion. Religious children were weaned away from their religion, and parents were intimidated into accepting a non-religious education for their children.

Children in UJA supported camps were told that in Israel there was no Sabbath as in the Diaspora, that there is no G-d, and that all religious observances are rubbish.

The sudden imposition of other customs that shook the “very foundations of morality” of the children.

The report was so shocking in its revelation that an Israeli independent newspaper “Haarotz” bitterly castigated those responsible for the camp infamies. In an editorial, the newspaper stated:

“There were numerous cases verified beyond a shadow of a doubt where pressure was brought to bear on immigrants not to send their children to religious educational institutions. The workers of the Absorption Departments of the Jewish Agency bear a large measure of guilt in this respect. Some of the camp directors outdid themselves in autocratic behavior. The wearing of “Peyos” is holy, a custom in the communities such as those of the Yemenites and is universally observed. One rabbi heard Yemenite children saying the Grace after meals: May the Merciful One take revenge for us, May the Merciful One punish Zipporah!” Zipporah was the governess who had cut off their “Peyos”. How must the parents feel if even the children react so deeply to this outrageous ill treatment?”

In this matter a system is set up which, powered by monies, succeeds in snatching souls from the faith of our fathers. This infamy becomes even more so when we become aware that it is mainly money raised by American Jewry which is used for the perpetration of such unspeakable violation of all human decency.


Excerpt in reference to Deir Yassin:

In Deir Yassin they stopped serving lunch to children who had studied in the class of the religious teacher who had been sent by the Council of Yeshivas. There was also an attempt to drive the teacher out of the camp with the aid of the police.

After Mr. Goldberg gave the matter his attention, the children again received food.

They gave as their motivation for discontinuation of the supply of food the fact that a Compulsory Education Law had been passed and it is impossible to serve food to children violating this law.

When it was indicated that the children are studying in a religious class, they replied: This cannot be classified as a school.

Excerpt in reference to Rosh Haayin:

The Chairman of the Committee visited Rosh Haayin and came upon a group of six children aged 10 to 14 who were either barefoot or wore ill-fitting shoes. The children related the following:

“We study the Torah. Therefore, we do not receive cloth and shoes.

Children studying in the non-religious school do receive them”.

And, indeed, upon visiting the school when classes were not in session, he found a small number of children preparing themselves to take part in a play. They were putting on new shoes that fitted them properly.

Excerpt in reference to Machne Israel:

In their testimony, Rabbis Fuchs and Dramer confirmed the fact that they had invited two religious teachers after they and a hundred additional religious families decided to open a religious school in the camp. The teachers began teaching in the synagogue, whereupon the director, Joseph Budnev, ordered the synagogue closed. Holy books and textbooks were thrown outside, and subsequently, locks were placed on the doors of the Sephardic synagogue, which was opened only at prayer time so as to eliminate study there. It happened that people came to pray and were unable to do so upon finding the synagogue locked. Rabbi Dramer asked: “To which law does the director’s order refer that does not permit religious Jews to educate their children in accordance with their spirit? When I was in Romania, the land of Communism, I was able to maintain three elementary schools as well as a school for girls in a neighborhood district. Every religious Jew had the opportunity to educate his children in accordance with his spirit. Here in “our own country” the religious Jew is deprived, in a dictatorial and vulgar manner, of this privilege to educate his children in accordance with his wishes.”

Excerpt in reference to Be’er Yaakov:

The commission received information regarding the disturbance of the study of the Torah in the synagogue at Be’er Yaakov from first-hand witnesses.

When the commission visited the camp, the members singled out those people who had something to say. However, they refrained from speaking in front of the camp personnel. A number of them were invited to testify before the Commission in Jerusalem, and one individual, a Tunisian rabbi and a majestic looking Jew whose exterior gave the inescapable impression of reflecting his very being, related: “One day some people approached me, saying: Come, they want to close the synagogue! I also taught Talmud. A circumcision was scheduled for that day, and the circumciser was my son-in-law. I went and found Mordecai, the carpenter, holding a lock. He is my study partner in Talmud study. He told me, “I received an order to close the synagogue in Camp No. 3.” After a conversation between us he was ashamed and did not close the synagogue. After ten minutes he returned and said, “I asked the director of Camp No. 3. He told me that it is because there is a school in Camp No. 1.” I asked the carpenter what he intended to do. He replied that he did not know whether this country was Germany or Russia. The next day the teachers came to the synagogue as usual, but they found no benches. They said, “The director took them.” After this, benches were replaced for the Sabbath, and on Sunday the two teachers resumed their teaching in the synagogue. When we came for the evening prayer, I found the teachers sitting as though in mourning.

The stated, “The following day, when the Yemenites sent their children to the synagogue, Director Lokov and an official entered and forcibly drove the children outside. At that time I was in the synagogue and could not believe my eyes. They behaved arrogantly. I asked them to stop, and they responded by trying to push me down. The Yemenites got very angry, took their children back to the synagogue and started teaching over again.

“On the same day, the Yemenites approached me, asking that I engage in the teaching them Torah. That evening we began studying with 30 Yemenites, and in that very hour shots were heard outside. An armed Ashkenazi burst into the synagogue screaming that Arabs had attacked the camp. They ordered us to spread out on the floor and shut off the lights. The matter seemed rather strange to me, and I wondered why if the Arabs had penetrated into the camp, we had received no ammunition so that we could help the watchman in the camp or at least the possibility for self-defense. I went outside and saw to my great astonishment, that all the houses in the camp were lit up, and only the synagogue was sunk in darkness.