On the fourth night of Chanukah, in the company of representatives of his children, grandchildren, and grandchildren, my father, Dennis Senator- Lipman, received a medal on behalf of the State of Israel awarded to, and in recognition of the 1,500,000 Jewish soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany in the World War 2.
Dennis, my dad, was born in 1923 and lived his early days in the town of South Shields, in the north east of England. His father, my grandfather, was the President of the active, lively shul.
With the entry of England into the war, and being still underage, Dad left school, and volunteered to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, with the I.D. number that would accompany him throughout the war, CMX/647115. As soon as he reached the age of 18, in 1941, he joined the Royal Navy, and as had already apprenticed as an Electrical Switchgear Engineer, was immediately inducted at the rank of Petty Officer (equivalent of Army sergeant).
His service in the war years that followed saw him serve on a submarine (HMS Surdar), a mine laying carrier (HMS Manxman), and aircraft carrier HMS Ocean.
Despite memory failures (don’t we ALL have them?) Dad recites all these names straight off his cuff.
At the end of the war Dad joined the Merchant Navy and served a couple of years more on the seas, bringing him to visit countries in five continents.
In 1950 he met and married my late Mum and they eventually settled down in London where Dad worked as a shipbroker in the heart of the City of London.
Mum was an ardent Zionist and both of them supported and encouraged both my brother and I joining chalutzic Zionist youth movement (DROR). Unlike many of their peers, they were not afraid of the possibility that their children (my brother and I might eventually even make Aliya and settle in Israel.)
In June 1967, already a very successful businessman in London, well respected in the community, with two teenage sons, and while most of the Jewish community were busy donating money to Israel that was "about to be annihilated", Dad walked in to the Israeli Embassy, and at the age of 44, asked to volunteer to the Israeli Navy.
As we know, despite the situation, the State of Israel did not take foreign volunteers, but this sign of courage and true commitment, at such a time of doubt on the future of the State, resulted in him receiving a beautiful hand written letter from the Israeli Ambassador Ahron Remez, at the time, thanking him for his offer.
When I came on "shnat" in 1970, and during my parents visit to Israel, half way through the year, they learnt from me that I did not intend to return, but to make Aliya, without going to university, join Kibbutz Machanyim and join the I.D.F.
Although like any Jewish parents, they wanted me to finish my studies, Dad knew, that following his example over the years, he could not only not argue with me, but gave his and Mum's blessing…..and decided to make Aliya with my younger brother.
Leaving a very comfortable life in the U.K., leaving their friends and family, in their mid-forties, was not an easy decision, and the seventies were not an easy time for new olim. Dad worked for a while in his profession, (as a shipbroker) but the recession took its toll, and he retired early.
We all know (olim new and not so new) that despite our commitment, passion and ideals, the move is never easy and has long term ramifications that follow us all our lives.
Mum and Dad's Aliya was not easy. Today, four years after the passing of my mother, in to his 94th year, Dad lives in the beautiful, caring, nursing home on Kfar Hanassi. His day is full with devouring every word in the Jerusalem Post, daily Skype talk with his younger sister in England, and hours of surfing on the internet…asking endless questions to Google on the wide range of subjects that occupy his mind.
We are all very proud of Dad and the fact that the State of Israel decided to recognize his efforts and that of those so many more Jews in the Second World War. We feel very lucky that Dad is with us, seventy years and more after the end of the war.
Despite carrying all the physical challenges that come with batting in to your nineties, we all feel that Dad is very proud of his biggest achievement……four generations of 2 children, 8 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren all living in Israel, and bringing him much pride and nachas.
Yeshar Koach Dad. Lechayim and lebriut!