In this archive we collected, edited, and published papers and audio visual materials of the late (Rasar) Ovadia Hazi.
Ovadia Hazi started his career as an officer in the British army. During the 1940's he fought in the Second World War. Subsequently, he joined the Jewish Hagana and played a key role in recruiting soldiers to fight for Jewish independence and the establishment of the State of Israel. In the early days of the independence of Israel, Hazi was appointed Rasar – Sergeant Major - and single handedly interviewed and recruited almost all of the soldiers in Zahal. He was a highly respected officer, and the generals and military leaders of the early days of the State of Israel know Ovadia Hazi almost without exception.
Ovadia Hazi was born in Asmara, Eritrea. But his parents emigrated from Yemen to Asmara, Eritrea. His love for Eritrea and Ethiopia was an unparalleled one. Indeed, after his retirement, he travelled frequently to Ethiopia and established a strong tie with the Ethiopian people, the Beta Israel, and Yemenite Jewish community. It is because of his love for Ethiopian Jews that he came to play a key role in the Israeli recognition and alia of Ethiopian Jews.
During his travel to Ethiopia, Ovadia Hazi established contact and good relations with members of the Yemenite and the Ethiopian Jews community. He met frequently with Yona Bogale, the head of the Ethiopian Jewish community. He also met with many members of the Ethiopian Jewish qessim and community leaders with whom he kept close and constant touch. One of the young people he met during his 1950's visits was a college student, Ephraim Isaac, an Ethio-Yemenite Jew, whose parents Ovadia later sponsored to make alia to Israel in 1971 and hosted them in his own house for one year.
Ovadia promoted the alia of Ethiopian Jews in all fronts of the Israeli Government and society. In particular, he understood that the support of the Israeli religious establishment was important for the alia of Ethiopian Jews, if the Israeli Government was to seriously promote and undertake the alia.
In this regard, he once organized the participation of Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in a Shabbat Mincha service and seuda shilishit at the home synagogue of the late Shmuel Badihi in Geula, Jerusalem. He also brought along Prof. Ephraim Isaac to attend the service and meet the Chief Rabbi and discuss the history and culture of Ethiopian Jews. Both before and after that event, Ovadia Hazi conferred regularly with the Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to convince him of the importance of the history and culture of Ethiopian Jews and their rightful place among the Jewish people. Most significantly, Ovadia wrote the Chief Rabbi a she’ela (question) to which the Chief Rabbi responded with a teshuva (response) This teshuva (response) that the Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef wrote to Rasar Ovadia Hazi is what became the historic landmark of the declaration that Ethiopian Jews are the tribes of Dan and have full rights to immigrate to the Land of Israel and take their rightful place among the Jewish people. It became the foundation for the recognition of their dignity and identity, and opened the gates to make it possible for the Israeli Government to welcome the Ethiopian Jews and make their various subsequent mass aliot beginning in the late 1970’s, including Operation Moshe and Operation Solomon, and the other airlifts that brought the large number of Beta Israel Ethiopian Jews.
THE PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS: The time and life and work of Ovadia Hazi are fully documented and recorded in hundreds of communiques, letters and related documents. These papers are today housed at his daughter Rose Braun. Over the last few years, Hazi's papers have been organized and preserved for future generations to benefit from the life and activities of Hazi. The papers can be categorized into various sections:
a) His family and early life in Ethiopia;
b) His life and work with the British army and the Second World War;
c) His life and work in Hagana;
d) His life and work in the Israeli army starting in the time of Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and subsequent role in the Israeli wars until his retirement in 1974;
e) His papers and writings and correspondences from 1965 and after his retirement to his final years, including his papers and activities pertaining extensively with Ethiopian Jews and their alia to Israel.
In the last decade, several scholars, students and researchers have reviewed Hazi's papers. All those who studied them testified to the importance of his papers for the history of the state of Israel and the history of the alia of Beta Israel.