Last week, a memorial service was held in the ancient synagogue 'Ohel Shlomo' in Kfar HaShiloach in Jerusalem, for the father of Yehoram Gaon, Moshe David Gaon, thanks to whose efforts the Yemenite village of Kfar HaShiloach, returned to Jewish hands.
Gadi Bashari, chairman of the public council for Kfar HaShiloach, talked about the historical connection between the Gaon family and the village:
"The events took place about 80 years ago. Moshe David Gaon was a journalist, writer and educator, but mainly a public figure - the secretary of the Sephardi committee. As an educator and journalist, he was involved in many issues concerning Jerusalem. When Kfar HaShiloach was evacuated in 1938 By the British mandatory police due to the Arab riots, he turned again and again to the mandate authorities and asked that Jewish homes be guarded so that they would not be looted and envisioned that a day would come when Jews would return to live in those homes".
In addition, Bashari says, the late Moshe David Gaon saw to it that a guard was placed in the Jewish homes, in order to prevent looters from carrying out their plans there. Over the years, some of the Arab families managed to squat into the homes and live in them, "but he did his best to preserve the Jewish property."
Bashari points out the role that the council under his own leadership took upon itself - to tell the story of the Yemenite community that made Aliyah from Yemen in 1882, "After they arrived, they lived in very bad conditions in caves on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, and in 1884 the editor of the Havatzelet newspaper, Y.D. Frumkin, founded a society in order to help them, calling it Ezrat Nidachim (help to the remote), and they established the village. The donor of the land was Boaz HaBavli and with the aid of contributions of several other donors and organizations, the neighborhood was built, and the Yemenite Jews came to live there. At the peak there were close to one hundred and sixty families in the village, with a synagogues, shops, kindergartens, medical clinic and educational institutions."
"Yehoram Gaon's father tried to take action to preserve the village. He succeeded by bringing the Kfar HaShiloach issue to the fore," Bashari says, noting that in fact Gaon "was there for those who could not be heard. These were hard-working poor people who lived there after coming from afar, people who at first were not accepted by other Jews in Jerusalem of that time. This was a time of great famine, so the position of the villagers was less strong, and it was difficult for them to reach the then-existing media, so Gaon's connections were important to represent those residents."
Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Rishon LeZion (former Sephardi Chief Rabbi) and The Rabbi of Jerusalem, also participated in the memorial service for the 64th anniversary of the death of Moshe David Gaon, and spoke moving words about Gaon's connections with the great people of that time, such as Rabbi Uziel. Members of the Gaon family were also present, his son the singer and actor Yehoram Gaon and family, together with other descendants, children and grandchildren, and other public figures. "There is no doubt that everyone who was at the memorial service was very moved," Bashari says, noting the words of Yehoram Gaon who mentioned that he was coming not as a singer or as a recipient of the Israel Prize but as the son of Moshe David, and talked about his father and his legacy.
Today, Bashari says, dozens of Jewish families live in the village and "I believe it will continue to grow and flourish".
The memorial service was organized by the initiative of Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim and the Ateret Cohanim Association in cooperation with the Kfar HaShiloach Public Council and the Gaon family.