Begin’s Former Chief of Staff Dies at 90

November 16, 2013  

Yehiel Kadishai, who served as a personal aide to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, died Saturday from a heart attack at the age of 90.

Kadishai was born in 1923 in Poland and arrived in Israel with his family the same year. He was a member of the Beitar movement. He served in the British army during World War II and spent the following three years in Europe, helping Holocaust survivors into Israel as part of his work under the Etzel movement.

In 1964, Kadishai became secretary of the Herut movement, which eventually formally merged in to the Likud. In 1977, he became chief of staff in the newly elected Likud government under Begin. While he retired from political life six years later, Kadishai remained close with Begin until the former Prime Minister’s death in 1992.

This past May, the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem held a special tribute in honor of Kadishai’s 90th birthday. Family, friends, judges and public figures took part in the festive event.

Kadishai stated at the event, “Begin used to say, when the enemy says he wants to destroy us, we should believe him and do everything to prevent it. Today, they still want to destroy us, but, thank G-d, we are here, more than six million Jews in Israel. I never would have dreamed of it, praise G-d.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences over Kadishai’s death, saying he was “one of the pillars of the nationalist movement.”

Yehiel was modest, smart, witty and entirely dedicated to the land of Israel and the people of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “He was symbol of the love for our homeland and the willingness to sacrifice for it. I met him only a few months and we talked about the central role he played during his years as late Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s chief of staff. He accompanied Menachem Begin everywhere, both in the political wilderness and in the leadership of the country, and helped him with his wisdom and incalculable commitment.

MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) eulogized Kadishai as well, saying, “We have lost a man who was a living memory of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Begin. Kadishai symbolized all that we are, as a people and as a movement. It is difficult to accept that Kadishai is no longer with us because he was ageless. He was alert and sharp well into his later years, he was opinionated and had a sense of humor. May his memory be for a blessing.”

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