When I made aliyah in 1983 a cousin casually mentioned that a mutual cousin had fallen with the Palmach in 1946. It was, evidently, a story with which the older generation of our family was familiar but it had barely trickled down to my generation.
When my great-grandparents moved to the United States in 1916 my ggf’s two sisters, firebrand revolutionaries in pre-Communist Russia, moved to Palestine. One, Yehudit, became a founding member of Kvutzat Kinneret, later to become Kibbutz Kinneret, the first (I believe) kibbutz in Palestine. She married a man named Koritsky and had a difficult life — she had a miscarriage, her husband died young and she herself died in the ’30s at a relatively young age.
The second sister, Batya, had a son, Nechemia, and they moved to Kibbutz Ein Harod where her husband died and left her to raise Nechemia alone.
In June 1946 Nechemia Schein was a commander of a group of Palmach soldiers who set out to blow up a network of bridges throughout Palestine. The goal of Operation Markolet was to disrupt British transportation and facilitate Jewish resistance to the British Mandate. The soldiers succeeded in blowing up 10 of the 11 target bridges but Nechemia’s group, at the Gesher Achziv bridge near Nahariya, was spotted and in the ensuring firefight the explosives were detonated, killing 14 Palmachnikim, including Nechemia.
Nechemia’s mother, Batya, lived out the rest of her live on Kibbutz Ein Harod but she had no other children. She, Yehudit and their husbands and Nechemia were halutzim and heroes in the true sense of the word but no one really remembers them.
There’s a memorial to Nechemia and the other Palmach soldiers near Gesher Achziv — I just found out about it and plan to go to see it. I’d also love to think of another way to memorialize these people who contributed so much to the establishment of this country.