In 1956 we three were known as the Three Musketeers of Rishon Lezion. Me, Yitzchak Mizrachi and Reuven Yitzchaki. In 1970 we were joined by a fourth, Zecharia Tsuberi.
Three of them are now deceased and I alone remain as the last musketeer.
Yitzchak was the first to die. He was in Rumania coaching an Israeli soccer team when he was suddenly struck with a heart attack and died in Rumania. His body was shipped back to Israel for burial in the Rishon cemetery.
Reuven was the second to die. He had been the principal of the Ittamar school in Rishon and in honor of his retirement, his teachers and colleagues made a party for him. He and his wife Nelly arrived at the home of one of his teachers and he walked around greeting all those who had come to pay him tribute.
Ten minutes after his arrival he complained of a splitting headache and began vomiting. He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with cerebral hemorrhage and he died within two hours. He too is buried in the Rishon cemetery.
Zecharia was the Assistant Principal under Reuven at the Ittamar school. They were devoted friends for more than forty years. Early this year, Zecharia’s wife Rachel became severely ill, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and suffered terrible pains. She died six months ago.
Zecharia was inconsolable. For sixty years he and his wife had always been together, traveling, visiting, and sharing their lives with their five wonderful children.
I spoke with Zecharia four or five times every week. He told me he had no reason to go on living without Rachel. His life had lost meaning and purpose and he sat at home waiting for the Angel of Death to visit.
Six months after the death of his wife, that unwelcomed Angel paid him a visit and he died ten days ago and was buried next to his wife in the Rishon cemetery.
What a tragedy for five children, thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren to lose both parents within six months.
Now I am bereft of the friends of my youth, a lonely musketeer who can live with beautiful memories of treasured friendships.
Reuven’s brother and sister still live in Rishon and I am, and always have been, a member of their families. We stay in frequent contact sharing memories from 1956 to the present… sixty beautiful and happy years.
I feel the sadness whenever I cross Herzl Boulevard to the corner of Rothschild. It was at that corner, sixty years ago, where we would meet for our daily g’lida special (two scoops of ice cream covered with fresh fruit and topped with whipped cream) at our favorite Café Pinati. It disappeared many years ago and was replaced by an Elite chocolate candy store.
We had earned the reputation of being the three musketeers of our city.
The original story was written by Alexandre Dumas in 1844 as an historical novel called Les Trois Mousquetaires and is set in the Paris of 1625-1628.
D’Artagnan meets 3 of the Musketeer Guards, Athos, Porthos and Aramis and the four of them became inseparable friends.
As an historical novel, Dumas published it four years before the 1848 French Revolution.
Likewise, the four of us, Me, Yitzchak, Reuven and Zecharia became inseparable friends bound by bonds of love and devotion one to another.
Now, I alone remain the last musketeer.