Photo: Ido Erez
Ephraim Leichter
Photo: Ido Erez

Holocaust survivor fulfills dream to fly

Decades after dreaming of the Holy Land as an infant in Budapes, Holocaust survivor realizes dream to fly across Israel; NGO helps make survivors' wishes come true

Ephraim Leichter, a 71-year-old Holocaust survivor, got to realize his dream to see Israel from above on Sunday.


Leichter has never been on a plane until Sunday, when a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Holocaust survivors make their wishes come true, put him on a plane that took him flying across the Israeli sky.


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Ever since he was three, a Jewish infant in post WWII Hungary, Leichter dreamed of Israel, hoping to see it from a bird's eye view.


"I think of the orphan Jewish boy; the rejected boy I used to be in Hungary – and here I am flying over those beautiful houses and the amazing coastline of my country," he said Sunday, sitting in the cockpit. "I can't believe I was fortunate enough to experience it."

"אני רק בוכה על כך שאחי לא כאן" (צילום: עידו ארז)

Leichter and the plane (Photo: Ido Erez)

הקפטן הישראלי. אפרים לייכטר בדרך להגשים חלום (צילום: עידו ארז)

'Intoxicated with bliss' (Photo: Ido Erez)


Leichter was born in war-stricken Budapest in 1942. He and his family – his parents and brother – survived shipments to concentration camps and remained in the Budapest Ghetto until the war was over.


After his mother passed away, he was put in an orphanage, but when he turned 16 he and his brother decided to escape to Austria, from which they boarded a ship to Israel. The two brothers lived together in Bat Yam, until Ephraim's brother passed away.

אפרים לייכטר מתכונן בסימולטור (צילום: עידו ארז)

Operating simulator (Photo: Ido Erez)


"I just wish my brother was here," Leichter said in the plane, adding that they both shared the dream to fly over Israel, "but we couldn't realize it when he was alive because we couldn’t afford it."


He was nevertheless very excited and said he was "intoxicated with bliss. I wish they can make the dreams of all Holocaust survivors come true."


Susan Rotem, a volunteer with the foundation said that "Many times these are the survivors' final requests and they can't afford to make them happen."


You can contact the foundation on Facebook for volunteering or donations



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פרסום ראשון: 04.08.13, 00:32
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