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Zvi Greengold: A True Israeli Hero

Zvi GreengoldZvika Greengold is a true hero, a hero of Israel’s Yom Kippur War of 1973. Recently, he was introduced to a meeting of UJC personnel by Max L. Kleinman, executive vice president of UJC MetroWest, who introduced Greengold succinctly and with words that spoke to the heart of Greengold’s extraordinary stature.

“Hero has become an overused word. A football player catches a pass to win the game, and we call him a hero. But I believe a hero is someone who puts his life at risk, to save others. Zvi Greengold is a true hero.”

His heroic achievement during the Yom Kippur War is breathtaking. Singlehandedly, alone in a single tank, he confronted and pushed back a battalion of Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights.

Medal of valorGreengold is also the current mayor of Ofakim, Israel, one of UJC’s partner communities. He came to the United States to attend a recent conference in Miami to discuss opportunities for growth and development in Israel’s Negev region, where Ofakim is located. After the conference, he came to visit the MetroWest community.

Greengold’s astonishing accomplishment earned him Israel’s Medal of Valor, the country’s highest military decoration. Below is his Medal of Valor citation, which recounts the event and which was written by then Minister of Defense Shimon Peres.

Captain Zvi Greengold 2084377

Description of events

On October 6th 1973, captain Greengold was in his Kibbutz, after completing an assignment a short time before the war. He was waiting for new orders about his new duty. When he heard of the battles in the Golan Heights, he returned to his old unit, organized 3 tanks, and confronted the Syrian tanks that were approaching the Nafach base in the center of the Golan Heights. During this battle he lost 2 tanks, and was left alone trying to prevent the Syrians from taking the base, a critical juncture. He fought for hours while on all of the commanding radio channels he called himself “Zvika’s Force”. He was later joined by a reserve unit that needed to withdraw after suffering heavy losses. During this battle, Zvi’s tank was hit and he was injured. Ignoring his injury, he took command of another tank of reservists, and spent the night alone, fighting the Syrians and preventing them from capturing Nafach. Towards dawn, he was joined by the deputy brigade commander with more tanks. By morning, when the enemy tanks starting flanking towards Nafach from another direction, Zvi received orders to confront them. He with another tank, held back the enemy at the perimeter of the base. He was evacuated to a hospital after the battle, but returned to the Golan Heights a week later and continued commanding. His outstanding courageous strong holding, prevented the Syrians advancement to the Jordan River, for these events he was awarded the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest decoration.

Iyar, 5735, May, 1975. Shimon Peres, Minister of Defense.