Their Grief Still Remains
1 Shosh Philo tells that her brother's body was never found.
2 The recorded testimony of an ambulance driver.
3 Tova Barka is already a grandmother. Still she cries:
Although adopted at three months the court order referring to her
adoption was issued only when she was eight years old.
4 Sarah Adani tells that her first baby daughter, Miriam, was taken from
her at eleven months old. After her next birth the doctor told her:
"You suffocated your baby." Then she was told they had buried
him on the same day.
5 Nanjan Cahani: Immediately after the birth, the doctor asked to
buy one of her twins saying "but you have other children."
In the previous part of this series, you read about Yosef Aharon
Hammami and his two wives, and how a child was stolen from Mazal.
Herein the story about his son taken from the other mother, Kadia.
This story was told by Hammami's daughter, Shosh Philo, living in
Tel-Aviv. She was quoted saying:
"I was four years old then, when my parents
immigrated to Israel, and lived in the immigration
camp in Znoach. The nurses found that my brother,
who was almost a year old then, would suck two
fingers in a 'strange' way: he would suck his
middle and ring fingers, together, so they told us
that they were taking him for treatment. He was
sent far away, and they brought him to my parents,
sometimes. They bandaged his fingers, so that he
would get used to not sucking them that way.
One day, they told us he had died. My parents
could not understand how such a healthy child
could just die, and they told them that, since he
wanted to suck his fingers, but could not (because
of the bandages), he suffered, and died. . . of
course, they brought us no body, and no funeral.
My parents were naive and could not believe they
were being lied to. But a few years later, when
the other cases became known, my mother would say
sadly: 'Too bad we were naive. If it would happen
today, I would go with him, and stay by him all
the time.' "
This story, too, was reported in the "Yom Le-Yom" newspaper.
An interesting report appeared in the "Makor Rishon" newspaper of
the December 12, 1997. In this report, the journalists Zeev Sharon,
and Pini Ben-Or use recorded testimony of a man who was an ambulance
driver back then, and has since passed away.
According to the report, there was a letter sent in 1953, by an
attorney, Shlomo Perles, to the ambulance driver, who also reported
he would drive an ambulance that took infants from a hospital, in the
Tel-Aviv area, to the WIZO institute, where they were given up for
The report also speaks of how the ambulance driver chose a child
and adopted him. In the letter, Perles offers the driver an
opportunity to join an endeavor he is working on, to acquire birth
certificates from the government that do not mention the fact of a
child's adoption and look like normal birth certificates, and which
would show the adoptive parents as the birth parents.
The same article reports the story of Tova Barka, a resident of
Tel-Aviv, in which she reports that she was adopted at the age of
three months and knew nothing of her adoption until she was twelve
years old. She says that when she reached that age:
"...my aunt came to our house, and wanted to speak
with me. And so, in the presence of my adopting
parents, she told me I had been adopted. I was in
According to my adopting mother, my biological
mother passed away, right after my birth, and they
adopted me. I suppose that not even they knew the
truth, and were probably told this story. A few
years before her death, my adopting mother moved
to a new home. While moving her belongings, I
opened one of the bags, and found the court order
referring to my adoption. It was issued when I was
eight, and I found my birth certificate as well."
It was then that Barka realized that she was, in fact, according to
the documentation, non-existent for eight years. She continued,
"My adopting mother, who did not deny the validity
of the document, claimed she knew nothing about my
biological parents, but she mentioned that she did
know I was of Yemenite origin.
When I was thirty-eight years old, I decided to go
to the 'Sherut Le-Maan Hayeled' ("The Service in
Favor of the Child") building, on Ibn-Gabirol St.,
in Tel-Aviv, in hope of finding my origins, which
were yet unknown to me. The social worker in the
building [who's name was not reported by "Makor
Rishon"], gave me my mother's biological name
[also not reported], who was born, according to
the social worker, in 1921, and immigrated to
Israel in 1945. According to the social worker,
the documents she was looking at show that my
biological mother arrived in Israel with no
possessions, no family, or relatives. The social
worker also told me that the rest of the facts in
the document were blurred, and she could not
understand what was written. Afterwards, she said
that the information was actually classified.
I was shocked. I didn't know what to do or say.
I tried calling her on the phone a few times to get
her to search for more details. But she told me
that she already told me all she knew.
Back then, after I found out I was an adopted
child, I would cry during the nights. . . I very much
wanted to know if I had any biological relatives,
maybe even brothers or sisters. I didn't want to
upset my adopting parents, so I would only cry at
nights, when I was alone. Up to this very day -
this entire issue won't give me rest. I want to
know who I am, where I came from, who my family
is, and what my roots are. I am already a
grandmother, and still cry about this."
According to Israeli law, an adopted person has the right to
look at their personal file, in the presence of a social worker.
The fact that so much of the information was classified is
baffling, at the least.
Another horrifying story is that of Shlomo and Sarah Adani, who
live in Immanuel. The story was told to Yehuda Israelov and
Shmuel Amrani, of the "Yom Le-Yom" newspaper, by their daughter
in-law, Miriam Adani, from Bayit-Vagan, a neighborhood in Jerusalem.
"My mother in-law, Sarah, arrived in Israel, with
her baby daughter, Miriam, then eleven months old.
Miriam was highly developed for her age. She was
already saying 'Mom', and even walking a little.
Sarah's husband was not yet in Israel. She was
taken to the Rosh Ha-Ayin immigration camp, and
they immediately took her baby from her.
Miriam was still during nursing stage. They took
the baby to the baby ward, in Tzriffin. Only once
every three weeks did they take the mothers, in a
truck, to see their babies, beyond glass, without
even allowing any physical contact!
Every once in a while, when the truck that took
them arrived, they would announce the names of the
children that died. One day, they announced that
Miriam Adani had died. Sarah, the mother, tried to
ask for details, and was told that they had buried
the child, but showed her no grave.
A few days later, her husband, Shlomo, arrived,
and they tried to build their life anew, but the
tragedy repeated itself, and even worse than
before. Sarah gave birth to a healthy child, that
weighed 4 kilograms, at his time of birth.
Everyone congratulated her, and she started taking
care of him, and even nursing him, after she
Not many hours passed, when the doctor arrived.
He slapped the child's mother strongly, and told
'You are a bad girl.
You suffocated your baby
at the time of birth'.
The exhausted mother was in shock:
'I was nursing him only a few moments ago,
he was healthy?',
but no one paid attention to her tears.
Her husband, who was at the hospital that day,
was in shock, as well. It was only that morning
that they congratulated him, for the birth of his
son, and what do they mean, to tell him he died at
the time of birth? He asked to see the body, and
they only told him:
'We buried him'. On the same day!
Every Sabbath and Holiday, for their entire
lives, they mention the children that were stolen.
My father in-law has fought fiercely, to be sure
his children receive a Jewish, religious
education, and he is one of the few who were able
to do it as well as he did, but he is in terrible
pain for not knowing how his other children were
Did they even circumcise his son? Was he raised
as a Jew? The pain is too much to bear".
The next story in the article is that of Nanjan Cahani, an
immigrant from Persia, who recalls how her daughter, Leah, was
stolen from her in the hospital in Haifa. Nanjan is certain her
child is still alive.
It was only recently that the members of the family received a
death certificate, written by hand, from the office of population
records, in the Ministry of Interior. The article also mentions that
the same office sent Leah's sister, Mali, a document that states Leah
ceased to be an Israeli citizen in July of 1963.
Nanjan, Leah's mother, recalls a story from a whole new angle,
where she was even offered an opportunity to sell her children.
After Nanjan immigrated from Persia, she gave birth to twins, a boy
and girl, in the Rambam Hospital in Haifa. The son's name is Shmuel,
and Leah is the daughter, who was stolen. Immediately after the
birth, according to Nanjan, the doctor asked to buy one of the
children for a certain amount of money. She says that
"The doctor told the nurses he would have more of
a chance when asking for the daughter, since it
seems I was more attached to Shmuel. When I
refused, the doctor told me: 'But, you have other
A few days after I gave birth, I returned home
with my twin children. Two weeks later, nurses
from the hospital came to my home, and told me
that they need to return Leah to the hospital
because she has a bruise on her ankle, and if she
dies it will be my own fault. My husband and I
would go visit Leah in the hospital every day. One
day, when I was ill, my husband went alone, only
to be told that Leah had died. They refused to
allow him to see her. I am convinced that Leah is
still alive. I will continue to believe so, until
the day I die, and will continue to hope that,
someday, I will see her. The death certificate
that they sent us now does not change a thing".
It appears that many of the families who have suffered similar
atrocities have exactly the same hopes and expectations. They want
to see their lost family members. Those whom they have not seen for
decades, ever since they were infants. They want to meet them, to
hear from them, to hear where life has taken them, where they grew
up, what they do today. . . They want contact, however brief.
The present situation makes it too much to ask, for most of the
families. Their grief still remains.
© Yechiel Mann,