A Fallen Friend, a Holocaust Survivor, a Fighter for Israel

The Fellowship  |  May 8, 2019

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin talking about his childhood friend, Zvi

Many of Israel’s current elders not only remember the Jewish state’s fight for independence in 1948, but many of the modern state of Israel’s earliest heroes, as well. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin marked Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) by visiting the grave of one such hero. The Jerusalem Post’s Anna Ahronheim tells us about this Israeli You Should Know — Zvi “Freddy” Gross, who survived the Holocaust to give his life so that the Jewish people could call their rightful biblical homeland their home:

Gross, a Holocaust survivor, Etzel fighter and IDF soldier “was one of the heroes of that time… an example to follow,” Rivlin said at his grave at the Mount  Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

“For me, Freddy was one of the heroes of that time, and he lives with me as an example to follow. Thanks to him and to people like him, the State of Israel was established,” Rivlin was quoted as saying.

Born in Germany, Gross moved to Israel without any family and lived on Gaza Street in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood where he was adopted by the photographer Rudolph Yunes, a neighbor of Rivlin’s family and became “part of the Rivlin family,” read a statement released by Rivlin’s office.

Gross was killed on May 17, 1948, two days after the declaration of independence, in the battle for the Police Academy in Jerusalem.

“I was nine-years-old when Freddy came to the neighborhood,” said the president when he visited the grave. “He was handsome and very special. He related to [me] with great seriousness. I remember him trying to chat with us, in the English we knew. When we found out about his death, we cried so much that Freddy had been killed. It hit us like a member of our own family and we feared we would not be able to bury his body.”

“We were here in 1949 when they started to bury the dead of the War of Independence and Freddy’s picture was on a table in our house as if he were a member of the family,” Rivlin added…

Gross’s name was mentioned last year after a volunteer from the “Giving a Face to the Fallen” organization that identifies details of fallen IDF soldiers managed to locate his place of burial and found details about him and his family…