- March 29, 2008
David Ben David, when he studied in Melbourne, was a frequent visitor to Yosef and Dora Steiner’s house and attended many Betar activities including all the Betar camps in Melbourne.
At these camps he was the behind the scenes “organizer”, the man who made sure everything ran smoothly.
My friendship with David started at Kinglake West camp where he taught me everything I ever learnt about being a Madrich Toran. From then, over the years, my respect and affection for him continued to grow.
May he rest in peace!
(Adapted from David’s son, Eliran’s graveside eulogy, on Sunday, 23rd of Adar Beth 5668, 30th of March 2008).
One of the fateful decisions that shaped David’s life and later that of all his family was the decision of a young mother, just before the Nazis’ entry into Poland, to send her only son, alone, on a transcontinental journey by train and ship to the Land of Israel. That young mother was Rivka, David’s mother. Did she know, that evening when she brought David to the train, that she will not see him again and in later years know his children and grandchildren?
My grandmother, David’s mother, was killed a short time later by the Nazis, but her decision gave David and his family life.
David had an amazing life, with many difficult times; he knew how to overcome all of these – he was curious, an activist, autodidactic scholar and in-depth researcher. He experienced every aspect of life – from being a leader in a Jewish students union in Australia to working as a forest ranger there, a journalist, from pearl trader in Africa to Lt. Colonel in Israel’s military intelligence. His activity in the Mossad is well known to many but the operations are still secret. At the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt David left his workplace, at the request of his friend Eliyahu Ben Elissar, to volunteer for the taskforce that was set up to organize Anwar Saadat’s visit to Israel. He put in a lot of work into activities for society, among them heading the Rotary Club in Savyon; and the list is still long, very long.
David was proud of being of the “1948 generation”, he was a member of the Haganah, a fighter in the Palmach, an officer in the Givati Brigade, took part in the fighting to secure the south of the country and Jerusalem, three times he was wounded, once close to death.
David was always surrounded by books, often falling asleep at 3 in the morning, with a book in his hands. David’s warm and empathic personality, with a highly ingrained sense of humour endeared him to almost everyone he came in contact with; he had the ability to communicate with everyone and was loved by many, from the most powerful to the simplest of workers.
He was a loving father to his two sons and deeply beloved by all his family, especially his grandchildren, of whom he was very proud.
(Adapted from David’s cousin’s graveside eulogy):
It was easy to love David, he was more than a cousin, he was a dear friend, fascinating, charming, wise and generous (sometimes overly so). He was a man of letters who knew many languages and had a deep knowledge of history, science, cultures and Judaism.
David was assertive and liked to argue, especially about national issues – he was a stubborn patriot who defended his patriotic views passionately and uncompromisingly, but always with reserve and respect for the views of others.
David was born in Russia and came to Israel at the age of three; he was then taken by his mother to Europe and returned at the encroachment of the Holocaust, an event that had a profound influence on his personality and beliefs.
His warmth, his sense of humour, his practical jokes and talented stories will be missed by all his friends and family, who saw him battle in silence and with courage, for many years, the deadly disease that finally overcame him.
May you rest in peace, David, and we will remember you always as you were at your best, with your mischievous smiling eyes, full of love and humanity.
David ben David