Yitzhak (Ike) Aharonovitch
Photo: Elad Gershgorn
The Exodus
Photo: GPO
Captain of refugee ship 'Exodus' dies
Yitzhak (Ike) Aharonovitch dies at 86. 'He was part of a generation that lived history,' says brother

Yitzhak (Ike) Aharonovitch, the captain of the famed refugee ship Exodus, died Wednesday at the age of 86.


Born in Germany in 1923, Aharonovitch came to Israel with his family in 1932.


"Ike was a dreamer and a fighter. He was part of a generation that lived history both in the past in the present," his brother, Deddy, told Ynet.


Aharonovitch's love of the sea "found its way to the actual design of his house," recounted the brother, "and up until a few years ago he still owned boats."


The Exodus left France in 1947 carrying 4,554 passengers – most of whom were Holocaust survivors – heading to then-British controlled Palestine.


The British Navy seized the ship, and deported all its passengers back to Europe. Extensive media coverage of the human ordeal, however, soon forced the British to find a solution. Within a year of arriving back in Europe, over half of the original Exodus 1947 passengers made other attempts at immigrating to Palestine.


British Mandate authorities detained many of them without trial in prison camps on Cyprus until January 1949 when it formally recognized the State of Israel and all surviving passengers made aliyah.


Aharonovitch's funeral will be held Friday at the cemetery on Kibbutz Givat Chaim.


He is survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren, and a 2-year-old great-grandson.  


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