About Dr. Avital
Dr. Moshe Avital was born in Bilke, a village on the Eastern part of the former Czechoslovakia called Ruthenia (now Ukraine). Brought up in a traditional Jewish home and in a Jewish environment, he received his early secular education in the Czech public school and his Jewish education in the Jewish schools in his hometown.
In 1939, Czechoslovakia was torn apart by Germany. The German Reich annexed the Sudetenland, Moravia, and Bohemia. Slovakia became an independent fascist state, a satellite of Germany. Ruthenia had been ceded to Hungary. Thus his former homeland in the very heart of Europe came to an end.
During the Holocaust, Avital was imprisoned in Ghetto Berhhovo (Beregszas in Hungarian). From there he was deported with his entire family to Auschwitz, Poland. Transferred to Plaszow, the to Gross Rosen, then Bolkenheim, to Reichenau, and finally to Buchenwald Germany. The United States Third Army liberated him on Aprill 11, 1945.
After weeks in a makeshift hospital in Buchenwald, he was sent to Ecouis, a village in Normandy in northwest France for recuperation. In July 1945, Avital joined the Aliyah Bet movement, at the time it was the illegal immigration to then Palestine, which was conducted by the Jewish Brigade of Palestine. He was taken to a secret port in France where he boarded a freight boat which was renamed Yaldei Buchenwald, the children of Buchenwald. The ship was intercepted by the British Navy and ordered to the Haifa Port, where its passengers were forcefully removed and imprisoned in Atlit, a detention camp near Haifa.
Dr. Avital was liberated one night by the members of the Hagannah, a Jewish military underground in Palestine. He later joined the Hagannah and was fully mobilized after the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine. Avital fought in Israel’s War of Independence from 1947-1950, mostly in the Jerusalem area. He also fought in the 1956 war and served in the Israel Defense Forces for another six months.
In November, 1950, Dr. Avital came to the United States for his sister’s wedding, who had also survived the Holocaust, and pursued his higher academic and Judaic studies at Yeshiva University, graduating with honors earning a B.A., M.S. in Education and Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature.
For fifty years, he served in various educational positions, the last twelve years as Director of Education and Culture at the Jewish Agency for Israel, American Section.
Dr. Avital is a writer and author and has been a steady contributor to the Hebrew press in America and Israel. Dr. Avital writes about the Holocaust, Israel, Zionism, Jewish Education, American Jewry, commentaries on the Bible, Jewish Prayer, Jewish personalities, and Jewish holidays.
Dr. Avital is the recipient of the prestigious Abraham Friedman Memorial Prize in Hebrew Literature. It was awarded to him in October 2001 by the Histadrut Ivrit of America, an organization for the advancement of Hebrew language and culture in America, for his authorship of Hebrew books and hundreds of articles in the Hebrew press in America and Israel.
Dr. Avital speaks half a dozen languages and is a frequent translator; he has translated 10 ancient Hebrew Kaballah books into English. Dr. Avital was the official translator from Hebrew to English for the ABC Network for the proceedings of Anwar Sadat, then President of Egypt’s historic visit to Israel; the proceedings in the Israeli parliament in November 1977, and later during the press conference in Alexandria, Egypt during Prime Minister Begin’s reciprocal trip to Egypt.