The South African Machal Volunteers

by Maskil on 25 Aug 2009

In a brief post at this time last year, I mentioned the book SOUTH AFRICA’S 800, The Story of South African Volunteers in Israel’s War of Birth. I offered to provide contact details should anyone be interested in obtaining a copy. I did receive a number of enquiries regarding the book, so I am publishing the details below (albeit somewhat belatedly).

The information is taken from private family correspondence at the time, and I haven’t verified that the availability, price or contact details are still current.

The story of the 1948 Machal volunteers is one of the most glorious chapters in the history of both SA Jewry and Israel. A couple of books documenting much of the story are now back in print. The first (SOUTH AFRICA’S 800) has mention of Ronnie, Sylvia and Doreen. The second (The Volunteer) is the autobiography of someone who served with Ronnie throughout the war. (I understand he (David “Migdal” Teperson) is something of a legend in Israel.)

The full titles are as follows:

  • “SOUTH AFRICA’S 800, The Story of South African Volunteers in Israel’s War of Birth”, and
  • The Volunteer, by David “Migdal” Teperson (published by the author)

In South Africa, you can obtain them through:

RABBI MOSHE SILBERHAFT, P. O. BOX 51663 RAEDENE 2124 SOUTH AFRICA, Mobile: + 27 82 440 2621, Direct Fax: + 27 11 485 4325, Email:

The books are R300 apiece and you can either collect them from the Beyachad offices at 2 Elray Street, Raedene, or he can arrange to deliver them to you.

Overseas, you can get them from Israel through:

(Col. Res.) David (Migdal) Teperson, Machal Museum P.O box 9590 Kfar-Shmaryahu, 46910 Israel, Tel: +972 9 9582718 (Israel), Fax: +972 9 9560673 (Israel), E-mail:

The cost is $70 apiece, including shipping.

Just a pity they’re not available through conventional booksellers or the Internet! (Unfortunately, due to the books having been privately published by Col. Teperson, they are not available through online retailers such as, nor will you find them on the shelves of a bookstore. This has impacted the availability, cost and distribution of the books.)

Sadly, I knew nothing of this piece of family history until fairly recently. Ronnie passed away when I was barely in my teens, and I only came to hear of their role in the War of Independence when Sylvia passed away in late 2004. They were all very modest about their roles, both in WW2 and in 1948.

I grew up drinking in the history of Israel’s many wars, and never knew until a couple of years ago that I had family who had taken part in these events!

Please let me know through the comments whether any of this information needs to be updated.

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