18 April 1928 – 28 February 2023
Moshav Ilaniya, Lower Galilee, Israel
Joe, our father, was born in Lithuania in 1928. As a child, his family fled Lithuania due to poverty and antisemitism. They arrived in South Africa in 1930. Those who managed to leave survived, those that did not leave were murdered by the Nazis.
In 1948, Joe forged his parents’ signature, and he left for Israel with a group of South Africans who came to help their brothers in Israel when they most needed help. He joined Machal and fought in the War of Independence for the new State of Israel.
Joe was an infantry soldier in Hativa 7, and fought to free the Galilee. He researched and documented all the history of the Machal battles and soldiers and, over the years, edited the book ‘South Africa’s 800’ by the late Henry Katzew.
How ironic that the road of our moshav cemetery is named Machal Rd.
After the War of Independence ended, Joe returned to South Africa.
Just as Israeli soldiers travel the world after their army service, Joe traveled the world there after, He worked on a meteorological ship as a sous chef, and worked to build the Canadian air base in Vancouver, were he was badly wounded when a big truck hit him in the head. He spent 18 months in a Canadian hospital, when he woke up after 4 months unconscious, he asked the nurse to please send his mother a post card that all is ok and not to mention anything about the accident. Every month, the nurse sent a postcard to Joe’s mother until Joe left hospital.
Joe returned to South Africa, and met his wife Zeva. Joe never stopped telling Zeva of his love to Israel, with the hope that Zeva would agree to make Aliyah to Israel.
After the Six Day War in 1967, Joe and Zeva came on a tour of the Zionist Federation and Machal, attended the ZAHAL march on Independence Day, and toured Israel in 1968.
Zeva fell in love with Israel, and they made Aliyah in January 1969 with their 3 boys, Saul, David and Miki.
After six months in Ulpan at Carmiel, they finally moved to Kfar Hittim, a moshav in the Galilee, where their daughter Galya was born.
After the Yom Kippur War, the Woolf family moved to Moshav Ilaniya, where Joe built a dairy farm. He worked on the dairy farm with his sons. After closing the dairy farm, Joe became a tour guide at the Golani museum, a job that he loved so much.
Joe’s interest in the history of his family and the State of Israel, led him to research his 2 biggest loves: his country and his family.
In researching his family tree, Joe went back to the year 1780. He visited Lithuanian archives to find his roots. And as for Machal, stories he never stopped searching and digging to find and fix the truth – continuing his work until 2 months before his passing.
Our father Joe Woolf had a Zionist soul. He was a very modest and humble human being, and in all of his 94 years and 10 months, he never had an enemy!
We would also like to express our deep appreciation to Angi who supported our father over the last five years like another daughter, much loved by our father and by us. There’s no doubt that her presence enhanced his quality of life.
Shaul & Ayelet Ze’evi, and grandkids Shai and Sachaf;
David & Gali Woolf;
Miki & Ronit Woolf, and grandkids Golan, Gilad, Itay and Rotem;
His sister Sonia & Tony Ellis, and family (South Africa, Israel and Canada);
His brother the late Sam Woolf (South Africa).