The Yehuda family immigrated to Israel in 10/20/1949, longing to reach the Holy Land after thousands of years in exile. Immigrating entailed tremendous efforts and suffering in the immigrant camp in Hashid, Yemen, where conditions were sub-par as you know, but the innocent Yemeni immigrants did not mind as long as the destination was the Holy Land and the holy people living there. Yehuda and Haviva arrived with their two young children, 6-year-old Salam (born in 1944) and 2-year-old Yaakov, and were immediately settled in the Ein Shemer A Transit Camp. Relatives tell of Salam that he was a good and quiet boy, who already began reading the Torah in Synagogue on "Small Friday". But nothing prepared the family for the day of 11.01.1950.
About three months after their arrival in the Holy Land, Salam suffered pain behind his ear. After a few days, taking the advice of their neighbors, the worried parents Yehuda and Haviva took Salam to the camp’s clinic. After a preliminary examination, the doctor said, without elaborating, that he had to be taken to the hospital immediately. The parents were not allowed to enter the ambulance that arrived to evacuate him, and the child was taken from a Haviva’s arms and placed in the ambulance as he cried and reached for his mother. The mother watched worriedly as the ambulance drove away, never imagining this was the last time she would see her beloved son.
The next day the mother, Haviva, arrived to the camp clinic, and this is how Haviva described the event in her testimony to the Bahlul Minkowski Investigation Committee, after receiving a draft order when he reached the age of recruitment, indicating that the child is still alive: "Just as I entered the office in the camp to ask for a pound in order to visit my child at the hospital, a man from the office arrived, carrying a cable and calling my husband, who was with me at that time, and informed us ... that a cable arrived from the hospital stating our child Salam passed away, so we gave up on the trip, because I believed, as did my husband, that the child had died."
Alleged place of burial, as told to us: the David Camp Cemetery, babies’ plot (no exact location of a grave).
The parents would further testify to the Bahlul-Minkobski Investigation Committee: "We, in our innocence, pesisted in the Yemeni faith that if one says something, it is sacred, and hold that the words of a Jew are as a solemn oath, and therefore we did file a lawsuit against any institution". Thirty years later, the heartbroken father, Yehuda, would testify in his letter to the government’s official Investigation Committee: “We left the child in the hope that he would receive the appropriate treatment, but not even 24 hours passed, less than a day, and already they came and told us that the child died. It is not possible that because of swelling behind the ear, the child passes away in a matter of hours. We could not accept the harsh news that our child died, but because of helplessness, who to turn to? Where to go? How can we find out how it happened that in a matter of hours the child passed away? Because of the difficult situation we were in ... we received the news as preordained... His mother Haviva, blessed be her memory, never stopped crying for the child that suddenly disappeared.”
After that day, the family was never the same, it remaind an open, bleeding wound despite the four children who were born (Yaakov, Zacharia, Avner, Yosef, Aryeh). The mother, Haviva developed cancer due to her broken heart and died young, and the father, Yehuda, lived to a ripe old age, but with a wounded and broken soul.
So Salam, if you are out there somewhere reading this story, and perhaps carry vague memories of that time, know that your parents and your siblings did not abandon you as you were probably told, but looked for you all these years and through all the committees. They imagined you in random faces on the street and dreamt of one day finding you and reuniting the family. It is not too late to fulfil this heart’s wish, please contact me here or contact one of the organizations active today doing this holy work, and maybe we could bring closure to this painful circle in a slightly less tragic way.
The child was taken from a Haviva’s arms and placed in the ambulance as he cried and reached for his mother. The mother watched worriedly as the ambulance drove away, never imagining this was the last time she would see her beloved son
So Salam, if you are out there somewhere reading this story, and perhaps carry vague memories of that time, know that your parents and your siblings did not abandon you as you were probably told, but looked for you all these years and through all the committees. They imagined you in random faces on the street and dreamt of one day finding you and reuniting the family