Gil Grinboim

Grinboim's kidnapping is of interest and its details are known.

His origin is Tunisian, and he was born two years after the noted dates (he is 60), which is a testimony to the ongoing nature of the affair.

He was born prematurely at the “Batar” hospital in Haifa, and at the age of seventeen days he was taken, without informing his mother, to the Shabtai Levi orphanage in Haifa, by the Childcare Service. Shortly after, he was given to a couple of childless holocaust survivors, who emigrated from Poland. The biological mother was told – in what turned out to have been a systematic phenomenon in the Ministry of Welfare during those years – that her son had died.

Despite his dark skin, Gil claims that he was never told that he looks different than his light-skinned, blue-eyed parents. "Only my wife pointed out that I do not look like them, and wondered how come I do not have photographs from my “Brit milah” (circumcision) ceremony, but being adopted always seemed to me like somebody else’s story.

Until one day, we were invited for dinner at a friends' place. The man was of Polish origin and his wife was of Moroccan origin. In a conversation between the women, in the kitchen, it came up that the friend's mother, who came back to Israel after 40 years in the USA, knew my parents and knew that they received a child for adoption.

"She did not think it was a secret that my parents never revealed to me. I said to my wife immediately 'let's check it'.

My parents were still alive at that time, but to the day they died, I never revealed to them that I knew. I was waiting for them to tell me.

Something in me cracked when I found out. I stopped functioning, and my life turned upside down. I felt as if this whole life was not even mine."

Soon enough Gil found out, that the secret was known to his entire extended family. "The conspiracy of silence was wide," he said.

The discovery hit him in the middle of his life, at the age of 38. He was working for the U.S, embassy when he received the telephone call, telling him "you are adopted". The details were sent to him by a private taxi. "I got into a state of shock back then. I stopped working and I sat at home, staring at the TV. The whole course of my life had changed," Gil says.

"As I said, I did not let my parents know of my discovery. They were in their 70s and I feared it would kill them. I did not want it to end badly with the people I love so much, and who loved me. I also couldn’t complain to anybody. I am not angry because it would not help me. There in no one to talk to. Besides, knowing it, is a part of coming to terms. Families who do not know, find it hard to carry on. This is why it is important for me, that more kidnapped children will be found. It is an important goal."

"From an only child to a brother in a clan"

At some point Gil remembers his parents' fifieth wedding anniversary, which has taken place after the discovery. He did not make a speech, despite them pleading to him to do so, as their only child: "I remained silent and they were hurt, but I preferred that to explaining why". Later, he got to know his biological family. He kept it quiet.

"We were all shocked," he relives the moment when he met the woman who gave birth to him. "She said to me, 'how could it be, they told me you were dead'". Although the meeting was very moving, Gil did not stay in touch with his three sisters and two biological brothers. "It is hard, after all those years, to have a strong and loving dynamic," he explains.

Throughout the years, Gil tried to figure out whether the forced adoption worked in his favor. "Many people say, 'what are you complaining about, you were given a good life, enjoy it'. But I do not think a pure decision was made, with my interests in mind – it was all driven by money – a lot of money."

Hurt by the fact his parents kept the secret from him, he adds: "if it was done to protect anybody, it was not for me, but for themselves. In retrospect I remember that we were always 'on the run'. We started in Acre, left to Naharyia, then Ramat-Gan, and another move in Ramat-Gan, from one end of town to the other. There were times when I was taken out of school in the middle of the year. But what can I say as a child who is being moved from a flat in Herzl Street, Ramat-Gan to a villa in Ramat Hen?

To the recent publications regarding the affair, Gil responds calmly: "I have done my share. I was always ready to speak up in order to raise awareness, because there are many who suffer. Opening the archives did not just happen. Somebody at the top realized this affair cannot stay locked in the cellar."

At the moment, Gil is not in touch with the extended family he grew up with, either.

"I have my own family – who needs more than that?" he says, "it's true that turning from being the only child of an Ashkenazן-Polish couple, into a brother in a clan of five feels good, but life is not all about a happy ending. It is more complicated".

Nitzhiya Yaakov's story in Israel Hayom, December 30, 2016