Alain Machlouf Cohen

My brother, Machlouf Cohen, was born on August 19, 1953 in Morocco. The name Machlouf was given to him in Israel. His original birth name is Alen. My parents, the late David and Esther Cohen, immigrated to Israel with my brother Alen, my older sister and my grandparents on February 20, 1956, on the ship "Jerusalem", and came to Hatzor Haglilit. In that year, 1956, my brother Machlouf was hospitalized in Poriah Hospital at the age of three. My parents were not constantly at his bedside, because my mother had just given birth to me (on May 15, 1956) and could not leave me, and my father had just started working.

When they came to visit him in the hospital they found an empty bed. They asked where their child was and were told that he died. They asked to see the body and to bury it, and were told that the burial had already been taken care of. They were referred to the cemetery in Tiberias, where they met a man who pointed them to a particular grave and told them where he is buried. My parents came home crying and sat shiva. At the time, my parents did not suspect a thing. They were innocent. They believed they have immigrated to the holy and pure land of Israel.

My parents lived throughout their lives in Hatzor Haglilit. I was raised with this story. In 1994, when the issue arose, my parents were no longer alive. My older sister and I connected the stories we heard from the media to the story we grew up with: “Hospitalization, parents come to find an empty bed, ask the hospital where the child is, told that he died, asking to see the body and bury it, they are told that the burial already happened ... etc…”.

I then turned to all authorities and reached a dead end: I went to Poriah Hospital, they found no information about him. I went to the cemetery in Tiberias, to Mr. Singer - no grave was found nor any registration. I went to the Ministry of Interior, they sent me a death certificate with inaccurate information: Wrong name - Alen recorded as Ilan; Hebrew date not matching the Gregorian date - instead of תשי״ז, which is 1956, they wrote תש״ג [was 1943]. In a telephone conversation with the director of Central Archives in Jerusalem, Yehuda Tzubari, I pointed out and corrected their mistakes. I was sent a second document with changes according to the information I gave him. Later I realized that in Israel his official name was Machlouf, because at the time of the immigration it was claimed that Alen was not a Hebrew name. My mother suggested the name Machlouf, after her father. It was accepted and he was registered this way and called Machlouf in all official documents. So how could they send a death certificate with the name that I told them on that phone conversation, and not with the right name?

In the death certificate, the cause of death was not clear. I learned from my sister, who was ten years old at the time, that he was born with a heart defect, and that my parents were told by Poriah Hospital that he will need to undergo surgery in France when he reaches the age of five. But they didn’t say he was in a life-threatening condition.

At the time when I started investigating the matter, the “Meshulam” story broke out, the whole matter was not properly dealt with and so the mystery remained unanswered. Nowadays the matter is again making headlines, so I decided to address the issue again. These are the findings I have so far:

  1. I went to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Chevra Kadisha (the Jewish burial society in Tiberias). My application has been reviewed thoroughly by the manager of the old cemetery in Tiberias, Mr. Makayes Mordechai, and the answer I received was: "There is no information about his burial and there is no evidence that he was indeed buried in Tiberias at the time." I turned to the information center of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and I’m awaiting their reply.
  2. I contacted the Ministry of Interior through their website and requested a death certificate with details of the cause of death for my brother Machlouf, as well as for my mother. For my mother, I immediately got a reply that her certificate has been sent to me by post. The answer to my request about my brother was: “To complete your request for service from the Population and Immigration Authority, please arrive to the nearest bureau to your place of residence.” I went there and was told that the matter requires clarification. I asked the clerk for more details and she said that she could not give me any. She promised they will call me, and since they did not call I contacted the Ombudsman through the Ministry of Interior website. A secretary then called me and said that the certificate is on its way to me. I received a certificate with the wrong name. Not for Alen or Machlouf, but for Maklouf, and with no date of birth.
  3. I contacted the public inquiries department at Poriah Hospital. I gave them the material I had and received a partial and unconvincing hospitalization record.
  4. I contacted the public inquiries department of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and I am waiting for a response.

I was left with many questions:

  1. Why were my parents not informed that he passed away and why was he buried without their presence and without their knowledge?
  2. Why is there no grave to be found?
  3. How come three death certificates were issued, each containing wrong information and each differing from the other?
  4. Why is his hospitalization record incomplete (as detailed above)?

We are still waiting for answers.

When they came to visit him at the hospital they found an empty bed. When they asked where their child was, they were told that he had died. When they asked to see the body and bury it, they were told that the they looked after the burial, and were referred to the cemetery in Tiberias, where they met a man who pointed them to a particular grave and told them where he is buried. My parents came home crying and sat shiva. At the time, my parents did not suspect a thing, they were innocent, thy believed they have immigrated to the holy and pure Israel.







I then turned to all the authorities and arrived at a dead end: I went to the Poriah hospital, they found no information about him. I went to the cemetery in Tiberias, to Mr. Singer, no grave was found nor any registration. I went to the Interior Ministry, they sent me a death certificate with inaccurate information - name distorted, and Alain recorded as Ilan, Hebrew date not matching the Gregorian. In a telephone conversation with the director of central archives in Jerusalem, Judea Zobari, in which I pointed out and corrected their mistakes, I was sent a second document with changes according to the information I gave him.