Uzi Dayan, nephew of legendary Israeli general Moshe Dayan, and a former head of the army’s Central Command, visited Odessa for the first time to attend the Limmud FSU conference and see his paternal grandmother’s home town.
Dayan, 69, whose father, Zorik, was killed in the War of Independence, also had a celebrated career as a soldier, deputy chief of staff to two prime ministers and head of the Israel National Security Council before joining Likud as an MK.
On Saturday, he spoke about how Limmud FSU has aided Israel.
“I came here for two reasons,” said Dayan, “the first of which is I think it is important to encourage and support Limmud FSU conferences because this strategic asset of Israel – and I’m talking as someone who was national security adviser to two prime ministers – [reinforces] the cohesion of Israeli society and the relations between Israel and the different Jewish communities abroad.”
Dayan added that he is personally committed to reinforcing the cultural, educational and national identity of Israel and the Jewish people through education programs such as Limmud FSU, which lectures about Jewish history.
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“The second reason I wanted to come is that this is my first time in Odessa, where my grandma (the mother of uncle Moshe Dayan and his father) came from,” he added.
Dyaan said his grandmother had a fascinating life. He recalled: “I remember what she told me about her youth here, where her family was the only Jewish one in their village. She was born in 1890 and came from a Zionist family, and later joined the Socialist movement.
“But after returning from a war where she served as a nurse, she said: ‘My life here is a mistake. The people here are not really my people, and I don’t know the people who I belong to well enough’.”
During this period, in her early 20s, Dayan said his grandmother made aliyah alone, without any family or friends in Israel.
“She was very much a Zionist, and she came by herself to Israel to help to develop the country, and she even helped to build its first moshav,” he said.
“So, I think she would be very proud to see me here now, and I am very grateful to her because if she had not moved to Israel I would have lived here instead of our homeland.”