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30 January, 2011

Roots: Mordechai Avida

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Mordechai Avida, (1909, Poland – 1986, Israel), was the son of Rabbi Yehuda Avida, a famous Zionist Leader.  He was married to Miriam Levkovitz, and they had two sons, Ram and Uri Avida.

When he was 13 his family moved from Poland to Vancouver Canada.

In 1929 his dad bought him a gun, and sent him to Palestine, to strengthen the Jewish settlement. For the next few year he worked as an English and Physical Education  teacher in Pardes Hannah Agriculture  School.

Shortly after the British Mandate established the “Voice of Jerusalem” in 1936, Mordechai joined and became the head of the Hebrew department. Every broadcast started with “This is Jerusalem Calling”. Mordechai’s job was to read the important announcements. At times he had to translate on the fly from English text into Hebrew.

In 1948, just before the formation of the State of Israel, the Jewish Agency requested him to establish the “Voice of Israel” (קול ישראל).
When Israel became independent he was the first voice to declare on the radio:
האזינו לקול ישראל תחנת השידור של מדינת ישראל
And handed the microphone to Ben Gurion who read the declaration of Independence.

After the Voice of Israel was well established, he transitioned into the Foreign Office (the Israeli Department of State).

In 1953 he became the first ever Israeli Cultural Attache, and was stationed in Argentina for four years.

In 1958 Arieh Levavi was appointed the Israeli Ambassador to Argentina, and on his request Mordechai was appointed his Minister Counselor.

In 1960, after Eichmann (who was a Nazy war criminal hiding in Argentina), was kidnapped by the Israeli Mossad agents, Arieh Levavi was declared persona non grata in Argentina, and had to live his post. Mordechai was left behind  to rebuild the diplomatic relationship with Argentina.

In his last official role Mordechai served for eight years (1965 – 1974) as Ambassador to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).