Matanya was born in Haifa, on June 29,1929 to Rachel and Zvi. His father was an auditor, active in the Maccabi sports association. His mother raised their four children. After the family moved to Tel Aviv, Matanya studied at Herzliya High-School then Bilu School. He graduated Montefiore Technical School majoring in Electrical Engineering.
At 15 he joined Maccabi. Aged 15 he joined Lehi, in the footsteps of his older brother. From the Youth Department he moved on to Intelligence Dept. After finishing his studies he was sent by Lehi to work in the Tel Aviv Telephone Exchange. In 1947 he was arrested after incurring the suspicion of an Income-Tax employee, but was released after a month thanks to the North Tel Aviv Police Chief. Using his technological abilities he helped assemble the second Lehi radio transmitter and operated it throughout. He also repaired the Ramat Yair telephone and radio equipment, and operated amplifiers when Lehi came out from underground.
He was arrested during the wave of arrests following Bernadotte’s assassination, and sent to Jaffa Prison where he used his technical skills to tap into phone conversations of the Israeli prison authorities. He escaped prison on the day of the Great Escape.
Matanya joined the Lehi group training at Kibbutz Afikim for establishing Neve Yair, and was responsible for the electrical systems on agricultural machines. In 1950, before beginning service with the Air Force, he taught Hebrew at immigrant camps. After his discharge in 1951, he worked operating communication centers, and a year later traveled to the US to continue studying electronics at Washington University, Seattle. Matanya met Alice Wedinger in the States. They married in 1956 and have three sons and two grandchildren.
Matanya did his BSEE degree, then his MSEE and served as professor’s assistant at MIT. He worked as an electronics engineer in major industries producing electronic devices for the US Military. 1978-1981 he was director of California’s Solar Energy Bureau developing large scale, cost-effective energy means. In 1979 he received a PhD in Environmental Sciences. He was active in the Movement for Reduction of Nuclear Weapons, and is lately dedicated to teaching Judaism to adults at his synagogue.
He was always active in the two issues on which he focused his life: supporting the State of Israel alongside the fight against global warming, an issue on which he published a book only a year ago, when he was 92 years old.
Matanya passed away in the United States on December 11, 2022 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Sacramento.