Massacre Survivor Yosef Lazarovsky Fought for Recognition, Justice

A child survivor of the vicious massacre went on to fight for Holocaust survivors with the Palmach.

30.3.16, 17:26
Hebron native Yosef Lazarovsky (1923 -2010), was a fighter not just for survival from the vicious 1929 massacre, (known by the Hebrew acronym for 1929 - TARPAT) but also a fighter for recognition and for justice. In 2009, Haaretz newspaper reported that the National Insurance Institute retroactively issued his late father, a victim of the massacre, an official Israeli ID number.
But that success did not translate into receive official recognition as a victim of terrorism. "The Defense Ministry rejected his application, saying the law on victims of terror applies only to incidents that occurred after 1967," Haaretz reported. "He said it was 'stupid' of him not have sued for recognition as a victim of terror earlier, but that it is not too late."
Speaking out about the atrocity is something Lazarovsky did much of. He was mourned by members of the Jewish Community of Hebron in an article by spokesperson Noam Arnon:
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Yosef Lazarovsky was a survivor of the 1929 riots in Hebron. His father Bezalel father ran a boarding house for yeshiva students. His father, sister Devorah and uncle Yisrael Lazarovsky were murdered before his eyes.
His maternal grandfather, Aharon Leib Gottlevsky, a resident of Herzliya, who came to Hebron to stay with his family that Shabbat, was also murdered.
They were all killed at the home, of Eliezer Dan Slonim, a prominent Hebron native who was the only Jewish member of city council, the manager of a local bank, and spoke fluent Arabic. It was here that many Jewish residents fled, falsely assuming they would find refuse.
Yosef, then about five-years-old, recalls that after the slaying of his father and uncle, his grandfather held him and recited the "Shema Israel" prayer, before he too was murdered. Sitting beside him was a yeshiva student whose dead body fell on him. Yosef was covered with blood, beaten in the head and lost consciousness. The yeshiva student's blood covered him and the rioters left him for dead. That is how he was saved.
His sister Deborah died a few days later. She was buried in a plot dedicated to the victims of the 1929 TARPAT riots on the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem in a grave together with five year old Aharon Slonim who also was injured in the riots.
One of Yosef’s younger sisters also survived.
The story of Yosef’s mother’s survival is amazing. She was beaten when rioters held knives to her, next to her younger sister. She was brought together with the wounded to Jerusalem, and believed to be dead. She was transferred to the Mission hospital on Nevi’im Street, and placed in a room with the dead. Her sister, a nurse at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, went to the morgue and realized that she still had a pulse; but the Arab doctor in charge refused to allow her to approach. She went to Machaneh Yehuda market and hired four Arab porters; they secretly removed her and brought her to Hadassah hospital. She remained there for a year and a half until she recovered.
In his younger  years, Yosef served in the Palyam (the Palmach's naval detachment), and then served for many years in the security services.
In recent years, Yosef led a struggle to be recognized as an orphan victim of enemy hostilities, but was not successful.
This past summer Yosef Lazarovsky visited Hebron. He told the story of the massacre in detail, with total clarity and control. He was invited to speak at the State memorial service marking the eightieth anniversary of the riots held in Hebron. His speech stirred the hundreds in attendance. May his memory be blessed.

(Photo of Yosef Lazarovsky from Palmach website.)
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As a young adult, Yosef Lazarovsky participated in the daring rescue of Holocaust refugees and survivors as part of the "Af Al Pi" or "In Spite of Everything" movement, also known as Aliyah Bet. Yosef's autobiographical account of his experiences have been printed in the PALYAM - Aliyah Bet website:
"I was supposed to sail as Gideoni and second-in-command on the “Af Al PI Chen”, and participated in the preparations. When a plane discovered us as we neared the shore of Palestine, a destroyer appeared very soon after and cut us off from the shore and we could not make a rush for it. Another destroyer appeared soon after and in conversation with them we were told to proceed to Haifa peacefully. When we refused and prepared our weapons (cans of preserves) the British came onto the vessel shooting. One Ma’apil was killed and several were wounded, and the British took over the vessel. The big surprise was that one Ma’apilah, whose mother was married to an officer of the British Detective force in Palestine, had acted as a mole even before we left Italy. She informed on us and the Palyamniks , and we were questioned, beaten, and a heavy guard placed on us, so that we would be arrested when we landed. We managed to escape, mingle with the Ma’apilim, change our appearances as much as possible, and were transferred to Cyprus together with the other Ma’apilim. Several days later I made an escape and managed to get onto one of our vessels headed for Haifa. I was soon back in Europe and this time I was responsible for building an intelligence network in northern Italy. However, when a Gideoni was needed I sailed with ma’apilim who were added to the vessel, “The 29th of November”, which sailed from Corsica."

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