Cantor Lee begins: When Gabriel finished his story I kept on saying, “But he was just a boy! A Baby! Only eleven years old when he left Romania to go to Palestine all by himself! He had no mother, no father, no one to take of him!
Rabbi David continues: Gabriel, one of our Israeli congregants, called and asked if he could meet to talk about his close friend who passed away a year and a half ago. We met a few days later...
The amazing story I heard is the story of a lone young child from Romania who started a new life in Israel and rose to become one of the most admired names among the Israeli air force pilots.
It is the story of the state of Israel, a country which in a few short decades rose to become a world powerhouse economically, militarily and scientifically from the crematoria of Europe and from the suffering and humiliation of the Jews in the Middle East.
It is the story of Jewish People as they survived against all evil odds.
It is a story of the unbroken Jewish spirit....
Levy Zur was born and raised in Romania. His mother died when he was just a few years old. In 1947 when the war was over, Levy, now 11 years old was forced to leave his home and fend for himself in the chaos of post war Europe.
Somehow he managed to contact the Jewish agency representative in Romania who was looking for Jewish war orphans in order to bring them to pre-Israel Palestine.
Levy managed to join a group of orphans who were put on a dingy small cattle boat with hardly any human accommodations and very limited food and water. The boat was caught by a British frigate and the passengers who were mostly Holocaust survivors, were taken to a prisoner camp in Cypress. In 1947 shortly before the British left Palestine they released all the prisoners, including young Levy. Arriving in Palestine all by himself as an unattended child, he was sent to a kibbutz.
At first, life was challenging for the young boy with no family in a strange new world and a strange language he didn’t understand. Slowly, in the following few years, he adjusted and began to thrive. At 18 years old he was drafted into the Israeli Defense Force and was accepted into the most challenging training in the IDF, a pilot training school.
Levy was no stranger to challenges. He knew what it would take to successfully finish this extremely strict and uncompromising training. Being in the country for five years only he had to compete with native Israelis. But his hard work paid off. He finished number one in his class and was sent to be trained on the most advanced fighter planes Israel had in the early 50’s. Soon he became known as an excellent fighter pilot and was sent on the most dangerous flying missions.
As he was climbing in rank, he became the commander of some of the most prestigious fighter squadrons. The lone child from Romania, a stranger to Israeli life and language became an important protector of the state of Israel.
Levy flew missions in the 1956 war with Egypt and was one of the architects of the 1967 total destruction of the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian air forces by the Israeli air force.
Lieutenant General Levy Zur served in key positions in the Israeli air force including commanding the now world renown Israeli military pilot training school as well as the Israeli air force attache in South America.
Upon retiring from active duty Levy started a highly successful business importing medical devices to Israel. He eventually moved to the US and ran his business from Boca Raton.
Levy passed away at the age of 81 after a heroic battle with lung cancer.
I am truly honored to share the story of Levy Zur. Especially now as we enter the High Holy Days still continuing to face uncertainty in our world, may Levy’s memory be an inspiration and blessing for all of us.
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