Thursday, March 29, 2018

Plugat HaKotel Museum Open to The Public, Memories

I was excited to see that the ground floor area of our first home in Israel has finally been opened to the public as the Beit Plugat Hakotel, Platoon of the Wall House. This small history museum is a gem.

We had been honored with a preview of the museum just under a year ago as part of my husband's 70th birthday/retirement party by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center chose the location and were able to get us in, because my husband's very first job as an Israeli, after we made aliyah in 1970, was there in that very same building. The rest of the building* had been renovated by World Betar to be used as a "student hostel." We were given an apartment in it to live in, and he was the "administrator," or אב בית. It took almost fifty years for the museum to be established/open.

The Plugat Hakotel Museum is in the building, because that is where the patrols were quartered in the dangerous time of the British Mandate. The British had been mandated to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish State, but they favored the Arabs. That is why there was a serious need for Jewish self-defense, and the Plugat Hakotel, Platoon of the Western Wall was so necessary. Besides providing Jewish security, brave, proud Jews who defied the British by blowing shofar at the Kotel came from that group.

Living in Maon Betar, we didn't have the usual olim chadashim, new immigrant experiences in Israel. Most of our friends spent their first months in a merkaz klita, immigrant hostel where they met other new immigrants and got lots of tips on how to use the system for their benefit. That's why we ended up buying an apartment on the private market in Bayit Vegan, rather then getting a better financial deal in Ramat Eshkol or Sanhedria Murchevet. We never really lived with other new immigrants. The guys in Maon Betar had mostly finished their army service and were starting their university studies. They were regular Israelis from all over the world. The connection was a Betar background.

Here I am in the early days of living in Maon Betar. This central internal patio was then open. A short while later, they roofed it, which kept out the rain and sun.
There were very few Jews living in the Old City at the time. We were certainly the only olim chadashim couple from America, though Rabbi Goldstein had already established the Diaspora Yeshiva on nearby Mount Zion.

During that special year when we were living in Maon Betar, we did feel ourselves as participating in Jewish History. Though nothing we did, not even my husband's attempts to ascend the Temple Mount, was on the level of those brave Jews who risked their lives defending Jews from Arabs while simultaneously challenging and defying the British. You'll find out more if you go to the Plugat Hakotel Museum.

*The rest of the building now serves as a dormitory for the Netiv Arye Yeshiva.


YMedad said...

The Plugat HaKotel existed for less than two years during 1937-1938, the height of the Arab Riots of 1936-1939. They accompanied worshippers to and from the Kotel and experienced attacks by Arabs in which Jews and themselves were killed and wounded. I got to know several of its members including Moshe Stein and David Niv, its commanders and Sender Davidson, one of its stalwarts. They also conducted youth activities for Old City Jews. One lost a leg to a bullet, the father of Tel Aviv University's Itamar Rabinovich.

Batya said...

Yes, thanks for the info.

Mr. Cohen said...

With all due respect to the Plugat HaKotel Museum,
Tanach-study is much more important:

If Daniel Were Alive Today:

If Ezekiel Were Alive Today:

If Jeremiah Were Alive Today:

If Isaiah Were Alive Today:

Neshama said...

so nice of you to share this very interesting time in your life. its important to know that Americans can and do make a difference in Israel, through the years.

Batya said...

Mr Cohen the Jewish People are alive so modern history is also important, even more than ancient.

Neshama so strange to think of myself as history.

Ariela ben-Eliezer said...

the film "echoes of a shofar" is wonderful, amazing, charming. such determination is the backbone of this country and the jewish people. i'm proud to be part of it.

Batya said...