I have just completed a translation into English of a Hebrew biography of Avraham Shapira (1870-1965), known as “The Shomer (Guard) of Petach Tikvah,” who was my Great-Granduncle, my maternal grandmother’s uncle or, my Great-Grandfather’s brother.
The title of the book is “Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard” and was written in 1955 by Getzel Kressel, a prolific Israeli mid-century author, journalist, and bibliographer, and published by the municipality of Petach Tikvah. The second Prime Minister of Israel, Moshe Sharet, wrote the Preface.
Avraham Shapira was an historic figure from the earliest years of the Yishuv in the Land of Israel to the mid-20th century. He established the foundational principles and strategic practices of defense for Petach Tikvah and the Yishuv that influenced the formation of the Haganah and later the Israel Defense Forces. He set the standard in how the Yishuv related to its Arab neighbors who called Shapira with the honorific appellation “Sheikh Ibrahim Michah.”
Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel and Shapira’s close friend of many decades wrote about Shapira in his autobiography the following:
“Avraham Shapira was in himself a symbol of the whole process of Jewish readaptation. He accompanied me on most of my trips up and down Palestine, partly as guide, partly as guard, and all the while I listened to his epic stories of the old-time colonists. He was a primitive person, spoke better Arabic than Hebrew, and seemed so much a part of the rocks and stony hillsides of the country that it was difficult to believe that he had been born in Lithuania. Here was a man who in his own lifetime had bridged a gap of thousands of years; who, once in Palestine, had shed his Galuth environment like an old coat.”
I met ‘Uncle Avram’ (as my family called him because my grandmother, his niece, referred to him that way) as a 6-year old in 1956 when he visited us in Los Angeles. He gave a signed copy of this biography to my aunt and uncle who left it for me after their deaths.
I am printing only a few copies of my translation for my immediate family, but I want to make it available in pdf format to anyone who might be interested in learning more about him, his life and times. The book is a quick-read of 39 pages of English text plus my notes and photographs, including one of Uncle Avram and Chaim Weizmann on the occasion of Avraham’s 80th birthday in September 1950. I undertook this project as a labor of love and respect for an esteemed member of my family and a hero in the history of Petach Tikvah, the Yishuv, and the State of Israel.
Please let me know if you would like a pdf copy by responding with a comment. Your return email will appear, come to me, and I will happily send it to you as an attachment by return email.