NAME: Cohen (née Yefet), Ziona

DATE OF BIRTH: March 18, 1918

DATE OF DEATH: March 24, 2000

Ziona was born on March 18,1918 to her parents, Miriam and Yehiel Yefet in Tel Aviv’s Kerem HaTeimanim neighborhood. Her parents made aliyah early in the twentieth century, making their way mostly on foot. Yehiel was a rabbi and kosher butcher, but the family’s financial circumstances were straitened, with five children.

Ziona was talented and captivating. Rina Nikova, the famous dancer and choreographer, was impressed by her character and stamina, and she welcomed her as a student. Ziona began performing as a ballerina. Still, she maintained her studies, finishing elementary school and two years of high school — a not inconsiderable feat at that time.

Her brothers thought that pursing a career in ballet was unbecoming for a rabbi’s daughter, so they demanded she stop. They even tied her to a tree once. However, her father was her greatest booster.

In 1938, she married Aaron Cohen, and immediately after the wedding she set out on a European tour with the ballet company, which proved extremely successful. Upon her return, the couple moved to Tel Aviv’s Hess Street. There their three children were born: Benny, Yehudit and Yehiel. This meant the end of her ballet career, but she continued to be interested in art and classical music. She also enjoyed being out in nature, but since she could not often get out of the city, she invested in flowers and plants in her own yard. From many prominent cultural figures who were friendly with the couple, she learned Yiddish and German.

Aaron was an IZL member, but when the split occurred, he followed Yair to Lehi. Ziona joined him, and she committed herself to the underground. After Aaron was imprisoned, as she cared for three children, she volunteered her house as a meeting place for members and leaders of the underground. She went out to work to support her young family, but every Lehi member in need knew that she would always have a bowl of soup for him or her.

After the establishment of the State, Aaron was released and the couple was reunited.

Aaron died on February 11,1987, with his wish being to die at home. Against all advice, with the help of their children, she did exactly that, transporting Aaron with all his medical equipment. His joy at being home was her reward, but within a day — perhaps that same night — he passed away, a smile on his lips.

Ziona passed away on March 24,2000, leaving behind their three children and numerous grandchildren.