Wali and Salman Asher

This testimony was written by Daniel Asher, brother to his missing sister, Rachel.

My parents made Aliya from Persia on 1.1.1951, and registered as new immigrants – a family of eight. After a period of living at the immigrants' camp "Sha'ar Aliya" in Haifa, they were transferred to Rishon LeZion transit camp and lived in the city all their lives. In 1984 my father got cancer, the doctors estimated that he had several months to live. His illness was very aagressive, and we treated him 24 hours until the day he died. A month prior to his death, after many years of silence and avoidance of the subject – my father urged me to remember the day of the family's immigration to Israel, the day in which my sister Rachel was taken to treatment at the hospital by the nurse who met the family at the airport in Lod upon their arrival to Israel, while asking them for details of the family's destination in Israel.

When the family arrived to Israel from Persia, my brothers Ya'akov (4 years) and Rachel (2 years) had chickenpox. Ya'akov got very sick while Rachel was a better state. Upon their landing, the family moved to the immigrants' camp Sha'ar Aliya in Haifa. The day after (January 2nd, 1951), while my mother was in the tent, the nurse arrived and took Rachel saying: "The child is very sick and needs to be examined at the hospital". Ya'akov was taken to the hospital as well, since his state was very bad. But' see, he lives a long life to this day. When my father returned to the tent and found out, he went to the hospital, in Haifa, where he was told by a religious man who spoke his language that the girl had passed away and was taken for burial.

My father tried to get additional information from that person, but the latter dismissed him saying there is no reason to worry, this is the Land of Israel and here all burial customs are observed. This what was done to a new immigrant family that was just several days in a new country, not speaking the local language, and lacking knowledge of the local procedures and practices – and my parents had to accept it no questions asked.

Two weeks later, my mother demanded my father to return to the hospital to find out my sister’s burial location – there he was told that the burial place is not known to the hospital staff and that he had to approach Hevra Kadisha. When my father approached Hevra Kadisha –they couldn’t provide him with additional information as to the child Rachel. It was clear to my father and my mother beyond reasonable doubt that the scenario presented to them didnt make any sense. At one point – they held a living and laughing child in their arms, and at the next the baby is taken to the hospital and dies an hour within her arrival. The lack of documentation and the confusion between the different institutions only supported the dubiousness. However, my parents did not have the language nor the means to get to the bottom of it.

Until the day they died, they had to cope with the loss of their daughter, and carried feelings of shame and self-accusation that they abandoned their daughter in the hands of that nurse – something that caused them horrible pain.

The incident that occurred just 24 hours following their arrival to the Promised Land, left such a deep wound that it was forbidden to mention for many years to come. It was raised in the context of coping with unbearable pain.

In fact, this wound had never a real opportunity to heal, and it was reopened every few years, with the arrival of the IDF recruit order or a voter card, addressed to the one who was no longer with us.

Following the appraisal of this subject on a national level, it occurred to me that there exist uncountable similar stories among various families. Given that, and in light of all the things written above, I have decided that I am obligated to research the fate of my sister based on the things my father had told me, and because I still have the hope for family reunion. That is how on 1985, a year after my father’s death, I arrived at the Ministry of Interior, where they made it clear to me that there is no data on my sister Rachel, apart from the information that she immigrated to Israel on January 1st, 1951, and the year of her birth is 1949. I asked to receive that information in writing but was refused. The lady in charge told me explicitly that no information appears at the Ministry’s documentation regarding my sister’s death, and that according to that – my sister is still alive. She then referred me to the court’s adoption department in Tel-Aviv/Upon approaching them I was told to contact Mrs. Sara Ashkenazi from the “Child’s Service” department in Jerusalem, provided that they cannot assist me with the details. I had contacted her office by phone and was told that I would be sent a letter indicating a date of a meeting with her, this letter had never arrived. My approaches to the National Security and Tax Authorities, we managed to get there and accept documents testifying that Rachel is registered in the population registry as a living person, furthermore it is indicated that she left the country on November 1962.

On 1986 we brought the family’s story and the findings, and they were researched as part of the report of the Public Committee for the Discovery of Missing Yemeni Children” NGO. On 1988 the case was examined at the Shalgi Committee, where inconsistent medical documents were found, bearing contradictory dates, different hand writings, those documents lack a single medical stamp, neither the name of the treating doctor nor his signature. It was also found that Rachel does not appear as deceased, and that she does not have a death certificate nor a burial certificate. The committee found a “solution to the problem” –updating the registration, and on 1991 she was issued a death certificate along with a burial certificate. The case was closed.

in 1995 the case was examined at the Kedmi-Cohen Committee, there it was raised that the death certificate that was issued on 1991 is invalid. The committee found a solution to the problem –to issue a new death certificate on 1995, then again the case was closed.

my brothers Ya'akov (4 years) and Rachel (2 years) had chickenpox. Ya'akov got very sick while Rachel was a better state. he lives a long life to this day.

In fact, this wound had never a real opportunity to heal