My father-in-law and mother-in-law Ovadia and Amuma (Naomi) Madlel immigrated to Israel in July of 1950 with their two-year-old son. They first arrived in Mahanot Ha’olim and then were moved to a Ma’abara [immigrant’s absorption camp] in Kiryat Ono. In 1951, their second son was born, and he is my husband. The father opened up a few times about the older son. His name was Najam (Zion) and he was born in 1948. When they were living in the Ma’abara he wasn’t feeling well and Naomi told Ovadia to take him to Dajani Hospital in Jaffa. He took the boy there. The boy was admitted to the hospital and Ovadia was told to come back in the morning.
Two days later, Ovadia returned and he was told that he would not be able see the boy since he has an infectious disease. He went outside and looked through the window and there he saw his son jumping up and down calling “Baba… Baba.” He left, a short while later returned to the hospital, only to be told that his son had died. There was no body and no death certificate.
Around the same time, there was a similar story involving Naomi’s brother, whose daughter disappeared in the same manner. Ovadia went to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and was told that there exists no record that his son were dead. That meant that he was alive. Chevra Kadisha [the Jewish burial society] also had no record of any person under that name. Years later, military police officers turned up on the family’s doorstep to say that Zion never arrived for military service. Naomi suffered from deep depression, but still she managed to raise five beautiful children. In the last ten years she stopped communicating with her environment, and regretfully she passed away two weeks ago.