Joseph (Yuzek) Shein z"l

Yusek, who was born in Częstochowa on April 21st 1915, came to Palestine in 1935 as a member of a Polish teen sports team in order to compete in the Maccabean games.

As he proudly said, “only the flag returned to Poland”, because every member of that team remained to build the Jewish state. Yusek proudly worked as a laborer, building the port of Tel Aviv.

In 1936, he met Basha Shpivak, the love of his life. She wanted to return to her native Lublin to see her family and try to persuade them to leave in the summer of 1939. Yusek financed that trip, hopeful that she would return and become his wife. Despite a harrowing journey, she returned to Palestine and they married in a simple ceremony in 1940.

Like many of his generation, Yusek attended the university at night after working a full day, completing a course of studies to become a teacher. He served in the Hagana and, later, in the IDF, achieving the rank of lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

When the state was declared in 1948, Yusek danced in the streets of Tel Aviv with his 5 year old son, Michael, on his shoulders. A month later, during a cease-fire, Nurit was born.

Yusek’’s talents as a master teacher, his generosity of spirit, his passion for Zion, his facility with languages and his appetite for adventure made him a perfect candidate for service to the young state as a Shaliach. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, he served in London, Copenhagen, and Mexico City as a representative of the government, encouraging and enabling aliyah.

Following his retirement from teaching, he served as Chair of the Teachers’ Union and was a leader in creating a Hagana memorial and by chairing the Chevrah Kadisha for Hagana members.

His beloved Basha died in 1995. Yusek lived on his own into his nineties, reading voraciously and travelling abroad. A lifelong athlete and sportsman, Yusek will be remembered and sorely missed by all of us who were blessed to have encountered and shared his passion for life and for people, his keen mind and his unquenchable curiosity about the world and great ideas.

Yusek is survived by his brother, Yitzhak Shein of Holon, his son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Shira Shein, by his daughter Nurit and her partner, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, and by five grandchildren and their families – Tal and her husband Nir, Ayelet and her husband Nir, Daniel, and Sue’s children Hana and her husband Niko, and Mira.

May his memory be a blessing.

Written by:

his daughter
Nurit Shein


Submitted by:

Alon Goldman