Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrities and Chess -- Winning, this Time

Reuven Dafni (standing at right),  with other parachutists, Sept. 1944,  Barry, Italy. Credit: 

On Saturday, Feb. 16th, 1946 (reports Davar on Feb. 18th, p. 4), Moshe Marmorosh gave a simultaneous display, (+18 -2). Not noteworthy in itself; but, as the indefatigable Moshe Roytman who alerted us to the report notes, the winner was no other than the parachutist Reuven Dafni, who parachuted into occupied Europe in 1944 with Hanah Senesh and others on a commando mission, and in particular saved her most famous poem, Ashrey Ha'Gafrur [Blessed is the Match] from oblivion, as she gave it to him before going on the mission in which she was caught. Dafni later had a long and honorable public career as a diplomat.

To the non-Israeli readers, an explanation is in order. These Jewish parachutists were trained by the British as commandos, and were inserted, by parachute (usually) or otherwise, into German-occupied Europe. While numbering only 37 men and women, they, like the Jewish Brigade, they were a symbol that, for the first time in 2000 years (as the saying goes) Jews are fighting back -- and, what is more important, not as individuals (there were of course Jewish soldiers in the allies' armed forces), but as representatives of the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine.

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