Orde Wingate's Hanotrim organization

Israel's oldest kindergartener

He fought with British officer Orde Wingate during the 1936 Arab revolt and established Kibbutz Hanita; so at 102 he was a little surprised to receive a letter asking his parents to enroll him in kindergarten — but he doesn't mind going 'if they insist!'

Yosef Eshed was a little surprised when he received a letter addressed to his parents, asking that they enroll him to kindergarten. Eshed, who fought with Orde Wingate’s Special Night Squads during the 1936-1938 Arab revolt, an uprising against the British Mandate and Jewish presence in Palestine, is 102 years old — and has been through a thing or two since his days in kindergarten.



Eshed was amused when he received the letter from the regional council asking him to enroll in kindergarten.


“Are they crazy?” Eshed said. “Well, if they insist, I don’t mind! It’s been a few years since I’ve attended kindergarten, and that was in Poland.”


Eshed came to Israel from Poland in 1936. He was part of the group that established Kibbutz Hanita by the border with Lebanon, and one of the last surviving veterans of Captain Orde Wingate’s Special Night Squads, that were comprised of British infantry soldiers and men from the Jewish Supernumerary Police ( also called Hanotrim/the Guards), established in 1938.


Yosef Eshed, one of the last surviving veterans of Orde Wingate's Hanotrim
Yosef Eshed, one of the last surviving veterans of Orde Wingate's Hanotrim

Wingate was a British officer, as well as a devout Christian and Zionist who was deeply enthusiastic about the Bible and Judaism. He was referred to as “the friend” because of his help and support for Jewish Yishuv, the name given to the Jewish entity in Palestine that predated the State of Israel.


Wingate trained the Guards and taught them basic military techniques like operating an ambush, going on surprise attacks, moving in small squads and observing secrecy.


Eshed told Ynet he participated in several operations to secure oil pipes: “We staged abushes and attacked squads that tried to hurt the pipe. The IDF still uses the techniques we used back then.”


Years have passed, Eshed had three children, two of whom passed away from cancer. He has two grandchildren from his daughter and he lives by her side in Motza, a small community west of Jerusalem. He’s clear and healthy at his advanced age, and moves about independently using a walker.


Orde Wingate's Hanotrim organization
Orde Wingate's Hanotrim organization


Asked about the amusing mistake, the regional council found the source of the invitation was a computer error. The program erased the figure “1” from Eshed’s age — leaving it at 02 — just the right age to start attending kindergarten.


The regional council quickly realized they issued 19 more such letters for elderly residents, all aged over 100 years, and rushed to locate the letters before they made it to their destination.  .


The regional council’s education supervisor, Niv Bar-Guy apologised for the mistake.


“We wish Mr. Eshed long happy years," he said. "We would be honored to host him in our schools so he can tell children his amazing life story.”


פרסום ראשון: 02.19.19, 09:25
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