NAME: Kotzer (née Kanievsky), Batya

DATE OF BIRTH: August 31, 1921

DATE OF DEATH: July 13, 2014

Batya was born to Hinda and Binyamin Leib in Rovno, Poland (now Rivne, Ukraine), in August 1921. The family were refugees from a pogrom in the village of Rasavka in Ukraine, in which two of her mother’s sisters were murdered. Rasavka was known for its great Torah scholars, and the Haskalah made an early appearance there. Her grandfather, Zadok Chaliph, had seven flour mills in Rasavka. Hinda was the youngest of four daughters, and due to her Zionist beliefs, she began collecting rubles to send to the Land of Israel. The family made aliyah in 1922. They lived in a tent in the Brenner neighborhood of Tel Aviv, where Batya’s brother Zadok fell ill and died.

They then moved to the center of Tel Aviv, where they connected with the Effendi family, which had sold its vineyard and garden to settlers. Batya studied in the Talpiot school, gymnasium and seminary. She got her bachelor’s degree in Hebrew literature and Bible, graduating in Tel Aviv University’s first class. She also studied education for three years, as well as painting and sculpture in the Avni Studio from 1942 to 1948. While she was still in high school, she joined the “nationalist cells.” Her husband, Aryeh Kotzer, she first met in the Jabotinsky Center. Afterwards, she joined Lehi.

When Aryeh was arrested and sent to Mizra, Batya spent most of her time travelling to Mizra, then to Acre. At the same time, she tried to convince Nehemiah Torenberg to find another hiding place for Yair, in an orchard in Sommel, which was then at the edge of Tel Aviv, near where her family then lived. However, this never came to pass.

After Yair’s murder, Aryeh was transferred together with five fighters to solitary confinement. Almost all the Lehi members were arrested. Batya travelled together with Julie Torenberg to Jerusalem, to pass on Yair’s songs to Yashke Eliav. When they realized that Julie had been followed, Batya had to find a new place to live. When she came to tell Julie that she had found a room, the British, who had been staking out the location, immediately arrested her. She was taken to Jaffa Prison, where she remained for two days until Dr. Shimshon Yunichman came to release her. Her husband Aryeh used to joke: “Batya has more stories from her two days in Jaffa Prison than I do from all my years!” (Aryeh was imprisoned for half a decade.)

Afterwards, Batya continued to visit Aryeh wherever he was imprisoned. Many came to her aid to get Aryeh back from Eritrea, including Professor and Mrs. Klausner, Chief Rabbi Herzog and others. When Aryeh returned in 1945, she knew she had saved his life.

Batya spent years teaching, painting and sculpting. She had four daughters: Leora, Osnat, Nehama and Keren.

Aryeh passed away in 1985.