Rank and File: Remembering a Remarkable non-Jewish Hero in the Israeli Army

Plus, a screening of a documentary about the struggle to set up an all-women’s EMT in NYC, and three female comedians performing in Jerusalem

Steve Klein
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Tom Derek Bowden. The founder of the IDF Parachute School died in England on June 10 at age 97.
Tom Derek Bowden. The founder of the IDF Parachute School died in England on June 10 at age 97.Credit: Bowden Family
Steve Klein

EMERGENCY SCREENING: Women EMTs in the ultra-Orthodox community is a relatively new phenomenon, with United Hatzalah of Israel launching its women’s unit two years ago. This Sunday, immigration assistance organization Nefesh B’Nefesh will screen the documentary “93Queen” at Jerusalem’s Cinematheque, about the struggle of Haredi women in New York City to set up an all-women’s unit. There will be a post-screening discussion with EMTs Gitty Beer and Yaffa Goldschmidt about their experiences here. Beer told Haaretz she cannot speak about the experience with United Hatzalah New York, which is a separate organization, but that the local unit grew out of a demand for female EMTs. “We saw that many times a woman prefers a woman,” said Beer, who was born in Monsey, New York. “We are not trying to change the religious community but trying to fulfill a need,” she added. For more info, visit the NBN website.

FUNNY WOMEN: Proverbs teaches us that it is hard to find a woman of valor, yet it is even harder to find a woman of valor who does stand-up comedy. Three such women take the stage this Sunday at Jerusalem’s King Solomon Hotel: Joan Weiner Levin, a winner of The Jewish Week’s “Funniest Amateur Comedian in New York” contest who grew up on Long Island; Hani Skutch, who is originally from Toledo, Ohio; and Chava Ewa Darski Kovacs, who grew up in Calgary, Canada. “What’s special about this show is the voice of the Jewish religious woman,” said David Kilimnick, the founder of Off the Wall Comedy that hosts the event. “These women each have their own unique character, expressing their connection to Jewish culture and religion differently. Quite inspirational.” For more information, call 050-875-5688. or visit the website.

A REMARKABLE SOLDIER: While many Israelis are aware of the contribution 5,000 Machal volunteers made to Israel during the War of Independence in 1948-49, few know of non-Jewish heroes like Tom Derek Bowden. The founder of the IDF Parachute School died June 10 in England at age 97. Born in 1921, Bowden’s connection to Israel began during World War II, when he fell in love with a nurse while recovering at a Jerusalem hospital after being wounded fighting with the British cavalry division in Syria. Later, he was captured by the Nazis at Arnhem and sent to Bergen-Belsen after letters he had kept from that Jewish nurse were discovered — “a profound experience that never left him,” a close friend of Bowden’s, Elana Overs, told Haaretz. Inspired to help Israel in 1948, he stayed to found the parachute school and write its first operations manual. He met his wife Eva here and brought her back to England. Bowden is survived by his four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He will be buried on July 1 in Diss, Norfolk.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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