Yaakov was born to Tova Gittel and Mattityahu on August 21, 1920 in Munkács, Czechoslovakia. He studied in cheder and elementary school, then in Adat Israel Gymnasium. In 1923, the family moved to Berlin, but ten years later the rise of Hitler forced them to move to Poland, where he studied for two years and was in the youth movements Ezra and Beitar.
In 1935, they left Poland to wander across Europe, arriving in the Land of Israel a year later. In 1937, Yaakov worked in Netanya, and in 1938 he joined the Beitar companies. That year, he joined HaShomrim and was sent to the orchards of Yavneh and Ashdod in the south. In 1939, he joined the Haifa Police, and afterwards he joined the corrections department. Stationed in the Acre Prison, he met a group of 38 IZL members, many of whom were his friends, and he helped improve their conditions.
When IZL split in 1940, he followed Yair, left the police and devoted himself full-time to underground activities. His nicknames were Uzi and Ilan.
In 1946, he was sent to the Municipality of Tel Aviv’s children’s institute, in Hadar-Ramatayim, where he met his future wife, Ahuva Gerlitz, who was a Lehi member as well. This institute was the base for different underground activities, including storing weapons. In April 1947, as the Acre prison break was being planned, Yaakov and Ahuva went on a tour of Acre, which he knew well from his time there as a policeman. However, when they arrived, they discovered that Rabbi Magrill, chaplain of Acre Prison, fled with his family, due to riots in the city. Yaakov and Ahuva managed to escape together with two gangsters whom Yaakov had guarded, who appreciated his generous treatment of them during their imprisonment. They protected the couple from the mobs and got them onto a bus leaving for Haifa.
Yaakov went on to fill many roles in Lehi, including in the operations division and the technical division. When Lehi disbanded, he joined his comrades in the IDF, serving in Battalion 82 of the 8th Brigade, under Yitzhak Sadeh. He participated in all the brigade’s actions, Operation Danny and the liberation of the Negev, from Yehud in the center of the country to Auja el-Hafir on the border of Egypt. He also was an ambulance driver and on the brigade command staff. He was discharged in 1949. From 1953 to 1956, he studied at a teachers’ seminary in Montreal.
Yaakov worked in security, metalwork and education.
In 1997, the Ministry of Defense invited him to help restore Acre Prison.
He married Ahuva Gerlitz. They had two sons, a daughter and grandchildren. His hobbies were sports, hiking and gardening.
He passed away on September 24,1998 and was buried on Har Menuhot in Jerusalem, in the Lehi section.