Yοsef and Turkiya (Zabib) Adawi

Attached Files

Testimony given by the brother, Simon Adawi:

I took it upon myself to collect, prepare and submit this testimony. I did so for fear of not being able to tell the story of our family if something happens to me. I’m afraid that no-one will be left to tell the story of what happened to our family, that no one will ever know that we had a healthy and beloved brother who lived with us for a short time and “disappeared” during the 1950’s, whose name was Saadia Adawi. I hope that with your assistance we will succeed in getting as much access as possible to the documents and testimonies needed for this testament. Maybe we will even be able to trace the footprints of our brother.

The parents:

Yosef Adawi of blessed memory, ID number: 4200474

Turkiya (Zabib) Adawi of blessed memory, ID number: 4200475

My parents, Yosef and Turkiya, of blessed memory, immigrated from Yemen in 1949 during Operation “Al Kanfey Nesharim” (“On the Wings of Eagles”). They came with six children from the village of Thula, north east of Sana'a, the capital (north of the town of Shibam). The family’s adversities started back in Yemen. Three pregnancies ended in stillbirths, and two other children, a brother and a sister, died in accidents.

After losing their house and possessions, they made two long and difficult journeys by foot. Together with my grandmother, my father’s mother, and with six children, they walked to Hashed (Geula) camp situated on the outskirts of the (city of) Aden. From there they boarded the flight to the holy land they had always longed for. After their arrival in Israel, they were placed in several localities and camps, including Ein Shemer, Tsuriel and Machane Israel.

Happy and excited, making their first steps in the holy land they had longed for, they never expected or imagined the tragedy that was about to happen to them.

The first case happened in 1950, in (the settlement of) Tzuriel (in which two of my other siblings were born). My parents were very close to losing their son, Nissim Adawi of blessed memory (ID number: 4200481), who was one year old at the time. Nissim was sick and they took him to Rambam hospital, in Haifa, to be taken care of. My parents' first visit to see him took a huge effort because of the poor transport conditions of those days. They were shocked and terrified to find out that there wasn’t a child called Nissim Adawi in the hospital. They weren’t able to convince the staff that they had brought him in there themselves. The language barrier, their innocence and their lack of understanding of how things worked and the procedures involved hindered their efforts. Despite their many efforts to search for him for several weeks, they didn’t know where he was. Finally, the good news reached them. The father of a girl that had been hospitalized alongside Nissim at Rambam hospital, sent a message to tell them that he had been spotted and was found at the Dajani hospital in Jaffa.

It took my mother another huge effort to travel from Tzuriel in the north, all the way south to Dajani in Jaffa. She found and identified her son who, in turn, recognized his mother. Aware of the strange fact that her son’s surname was omitted from his identity tag, which only had “Nissim Nissim” written on it, she took him out of the hospital and quickly brought him back to their home in the north, where he got stronger and healthier. Nissim lived his entire life in Petach Tikva. He finished school, served in the army, had a family, and died at the age of seventy from severe cancer.

The second, more serious and main case in this testimony happened around the year of 1955 in Machane Yisrael. Sa’adya Adawi, a healthy and beloved baby boy was born in the shabby shack which the family was given to live in. He was born after Michael, who was born in 1953 in Tzuriel, and Esther, who was born in January 1956 in Beit Rivka in Petach Tikva.

A few months after Sa’adya was born, my mother went back to work as a housekeeper under harsh conditions and for a low salary. She left him in the care of his two elder sisters, Haviva and Hana, who remember him well and would testify if needed. Haviva still clearly remembers that a day before he was hospitalized in Tel Hashomer, while the parents attended an event in Jerusalem, she looked after him, fed him porridge, played with him, and put him to sleep. The following day, Sa’adya, who was eight months old at the time, felt sick, and was taken by my mother to Tel Hashomer hospital. Despite her efforts to stay with him, even though she requested and begged to stay by his side, she wasn’t allowed to, and was forced to return to the camp by herself, in the harsh transport conditions of that period after the state was established, and hardly knowing the language.

My mother returned to visit him the next day, in order to return him home. She was amazed and shocked to hear that her son Sa’adya had died during the night and that all that was left to do was to go home and sit shiva for him. Even though she was shaken to the core, my mother refused to believe them (this was because of the former case in which her son, Nissim Aduy, had almost“ disappeared”). She cried bitterly and begged to see him with her own eyes. She was refused, as they claimed he had already been buried and there wasn’t a way to check where. She collapsed and went on her knees at the feet of the nurses at the ward, the pain and despair being too heavy to bear. But even then, when she begged to see him, they wouldn’t allow it.

And so, defeated and grief stricken, she returned to the camp to deliver the bitter news to her shocked family.

My parents, brothers and sisters were in a state of deep grief over Saadya’s “death” and the lack of a grave to visit. Added to that pain was the fact that they weren’t given any official documents, neither regarding his time in hospital, nor a death certificate stating and determining the time and reason of death.

Many years later, to their utter surprise, the family received a letter from the IDF with a recruitment order addressed to Sa’adya who was supposedly “dead”. The letter deepened and intensified their terrible sorrow. It gave them the shortlived, false hope, that Sa'adya was still alive. Their peace of mind was taken away from them forever.

My parents spent their entire life working in hard, low paid jobs. My mother cleaned houses in Petach Tikva, where they lived in the late fifties, while my father worked as a gardener for “Hameshakem” company. Everything they did was for their family, never for their own benefit. We actually lived in unusual poverty. My brother, Israel, of blessed memory, suffered from epilepsy and died in 1973 while he was still young.

The feelings of helplessness, distrust, and disappointment and never stopped, until their dying day. These feelings prevented them from turning to the investigative committees or to and kind of welfare. More children "disappeared" from the family of my mother's brother, Shalom Zabib, and from the family of her sister, Shoshana (Shama'a) Mines.

My father died in 1986. My mother would always choke and well up with tears when the memory came up, and she would stop talking. She never opened up or told us more than we knew. I heard this testimony from my sisters, ten years ago. I wrote down notes whenever I heard something, and slowly collected what they had said.

The one-sided, infuriating, government decision from February 2021 that deprived the families who hadn’t applied to the committees of any compensation or recognition, was a last wakeup call for me to testify.

I, Yosef and Turkiya Adawi’s youngest son, have written down this testimony exactly as it was passed on to me by my family. I submit it as a monument, a tombstone, to the memory of our brother, Sa’adya Adawi.