Hayim was born in Radziłów, Poland (near Bialystok), on 16 May 1923. His father, Yehuda Menahem, taught Jewish studies; his mother, Sima née Feikovksy, belonged to a family of Jewish farmers. Her father was a proud Jew and an officer in the Russian Army. He was executed by the Nazis at age eighty, when he refused to go to the ghetto. The family’s land was granted by the czar to one of her forebears, who had been “abducted” and served in the Russian Army for twenty-five years while keeping kosher and all the mitzvot.
Hayim studied in cheder and Polish elementary school. The family made aliyah in 1935 and settled in Jerusalem. He studied in the Aluma High School and Mizrahi Teachers’ Seminary. His father worked as a milkman, his mother as a domestic worker.
He was a Hagana member in 1937-1938. Because of his opposition to the policy of restraint and inspired by the execution of Shlomo Ben-Yosef, he joined the IZL in 1938. He moved on to Brit Hashmona’im, becoming a national leader of the organization. His main role was training and instruction. He also was the editor of the organization’s magazine, HaHashmona’i, for a while, and he was one of the founders of the settlement training group.
Initially, he opposed to the schism and stayed with the IZL, but in 1942, he left to join Lehi. He was involved with recruitment, intelligence-gathering, putting up posters and disseminating materials. He also helped those who were wanted by the police. He took a course in firearms and explosives with Yehoshua Cohen. The police surprised them one time, and they barely escaped. In late 1945 or early 1946, he left Lehi out of the belief that the Yishuv had to unite as one fighting force.
In 1953, he married Sima Rothenburg, a teacher. They had two daughters, Efrat and Mikhal. He completed a degree in philosophy at Hebrew University, and he worked as a teacher and administrator at a high school. In 1949, he helped establish the Education and Culture Department of the Jerusalem Municipality, eventually becoming its director in 1970. From 1979 until 1986, he was the Director-General of the Ministry of the Interior. From 1979 to 1982, he headed the Israeli working group, which conducted negotiations about autonomy. He participated in international conferences and organizations.
Even after retirement, the government asked him to be a member or chair of the board on various committees. He was the acting CEO of Mizrahi Bank, CEO of Yad Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, CEO of the Jerusalem College of Technology, on the board of directors of Bar-Ilan University and the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research. He also lectured at Hebrew University in municipal and regional studies.
He passed away on 20 April 1997.