At the age of 16, Ezra Yachin joined up as a freedom fighter, one of Yair Stern's "unknown soldiers", to wage a war of liberation against the Britsh Mandatory regime in Eretz-Yisrael.
It was a regime of the White Paper, of Land Regulations, of the betrayal of the Balfour Declaration but for the members of Lechi it was simply the yoke of a foreign occupation. For Stern and his followers, it didn't even matter if the administration of the Mandate was good or not. The fact that it wasn't Jewish was reason enough.
Ezra lost an eye in the battle for Jerusalem just after the British left, near the municipality building at the end (or rather beginning) of Jaffa Street. It's all in his book, "Elnakam" (his nom de guerre), one of several he has written.
Ezra and I go back to 1970, when my wife and I shortly after our Aliyah spent a Shabbat at Beit HaShiv'ah, an apartment house for seven families that Lechi veterans took over near Jerusalem's Neveh Ya'akov neighborhood way before any Jews lived there. Then, for many years, we would share a platform together in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and various rural communities to make an educational presentation on the struggle of the underground organizations in the pre-state days in the framework of Geulah Cohen's Midrahsa Leumit. Actually, I first met him briefly in 1966 when, while on the Machon year-program, I attended the lectures of Ze'ev Yeivin on Uri Tzvi Greenberg's poetry conducted in the basement hall of Ezra's art gallery, Ezry, on King David Street.
Ezra is now 80 years old.
Last week, fellow comrades-in-arms, friends and others gathered in the former Russian Compound Central Jerusalem Prison for a celebration. Ezra was quite busy hugging and signing books. Above, he is talking to Tami, widow of Dany Bet-Hamikdash (aka Tzvi Shohami-Finkelstein) while Dr. Mordechai Nisan looks on).
Ezra, happy birthday!