Mordechai Kalminov was born to Avraham and Hannah on May 7, 1930, in Jerusalem. As a child, Mordechai attended the “Geula” school and remembers hearing in June 1938 about the execution of Shlomo Ben-Yosef, a day that changed his life forever. As a teenager, Mordechai studied at Ma’ale High School, where he excelled in Math and Talmud.
At 13, Mordechai joined Brit HaHashmonaim, where he met Lehi members and began to perform small tasks for them. Mordechai officially joined Lehi in 1944, when he was 14 years old. About a year later, one of his teachers noticed him hanging propaganda posters; as a result, he was expelled from high school. After leaving school, he devoted more and more time to Lehi. So as not to neglect his Talmud studies, Mordechai studied part time at the Hebron Yeshiva, but one of its rabbis saw him hanging posters and he was expelled from the yeshiva as well. Eventually, he began studying at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, which offered a welcoming and tolerant environment that allowed him to study Talmud peacefully.
Mordechai served in Lehi’s Recruitment Division, supervised cells of youths that hung wall-posters, and hid and transferred weapons for Lehi. On May 6, 1947, he and his friend Alexander Rubovitch (“Haim”) set out to deliver informational literature. The two boys went in different directions to bring the posters to two separate groups. When Alexander did not return at the end of the mission, Mordechai went into hiding. From then on, Mordechai lived in temporary locations and devoted all his time to Lehi. He later discovered that Alexander had been kidnapped and murdered by a secret British force under the command of Roy Farran. Alexander’s abduction and murder had a profound effect on Mordechai. The two boys had studied advanced Talmud together, and it was Mordechai who had recruited Alexander for Brit HaHashmonaim, a fact that he always remembered, given the tragedy that befell his friend.
When the British left Israel, Mordechai continued to serve in Lehi and fought in and for Jerusalem under the command of Dror. He participated in the capture of Barclays Bank and the Notre Dame building on May 15, 1948. He remembers laying explosives and waiting to detonate them when Arab League tanks made their way from the Damascus Gate up Jaffa Street, taking cover only at the last minute. After the assassination of the UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte, Mordechai was arrested (along with hundreds of other Lehi members) and spent several months in Acre prison, where he went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his detention.
After his release, Mordechai graduated from high school, enrolled at the Technion, obtained a degree in engineering, and served in the IDF. In 1960, he visited the United States, and what was supposed to be a visit turned into a lifelong residency when he met Shulamit in New York, and the two married and made their home in Boston.
In 2015, Ruth Peles, who had once been Mordechai’s girlfriend and who had also been a member of Lehi, contacted him. Their renewed friendship lasted until her death and inspired Mordechai to begin writing an historical novel about his time in Lehi, a work now in progress. Mordechai continues to hold fast to the ideals of Lehi and cherishes his memories as a freedom fighter.