Hilla and Yitzhak Rephaeli

The Disappearance of Our Sister Ruthie

In 1951 the Raphaelis immigrated from Iraq with their three children. It was my parents, Hella and Yitzkhak Raphaeli z"l [may they rest in peace], myself, Avraham, who am the eldest, Shoshana and Carmela. As far as I know and can recall, my mom z"l gave birth to 7 children: Avraham, Shoshana, Carmela, Ruthie, David, Kohava and Eli. Ruthi and Kohave are no longer with us.

We know for certain that Kohava died. Dad (Yitzkhak Raphaeli z"l) buried her when she was about three months old.

As for Ruthie, I do not remember her birth. Mom z"l gave birth to her in December, 1953, when we lived in the Talpiyot transit camp. That year was cold and snowy and my sister Ruthi had a high fever. The local doctor of the transit camp, who examined her, told my parents to go straight to the ER at the Bikur Cholim Hospital in Jerusalem. Other than the fever, the baby had no other symptoms of any kind of disease.

It was a Friday afternoon. The doctor and the nurse that saw them at the hospital (we do not know whether the admission was registered) examined her and asked them to leave her there for further treatment and to return on Sunday. My mom, naive and trusting as she was, believed the child was in safe hands and that she would get the treatment she needed, and so left her at the hospital.

Come Sunday, mom inquired about her daughter Ruthie and was referred to a certain nurse, who wandered the hospital corridors for an hour and asked them to wait so she would see about the child. An hour later, the nurse came back and told my mother she was sorry but the child had died on Saturday and had been buried by Chevra Kadisha later that evening. Mom burst into tears and left the hospital to call my dad so he would ask about the cause of death but they did not get answers nor relevant documents, and they were not provided with a death certificate nor any information as to the cause of death.

Over the years, every time Ruthie's disappearance came up, my father would go to the hospital and use his authority as a policeman to ask about the case. He wished to see the death records and get some more details, but his efforts were to no avail.

The hospital did not hold any documentation about my sister Ruthie's hospitalization, nor on the condition she had - if indeed she had - and had no death certificate or detail except for the day she was born, which was thanks to the fact that my father had an ID number, 052131547.

After he had no luck at the hospital, my father went to the Ministry of Interior and found there that Ruthie had died but no cause nor death certificate had been given. In addition, there was no documentation as to who was in charge or who buried the child and so on.

My parents had the feeling their girl had been kidnapped and that she was not dead. And they kept on believing she was alive.

My father Yitzkhak died 20 years ago. My mother Hella died 8 years ago.

Before mom died, she became ill and was hospitalized. During that period, according to my sister Shoshana that kept her company, my mom would see Ruthie's image appear. She would say to Shoshana that Ruthie was at the door and that she looked like her and asked her to let Ruthie in, "why is she at the door? let her in, let her in". She probably had hallucinations on account of her condition. Though my mom always had the feeling Ruthie was alive.

In 2010 my brother Eli and I went over to the Ministry of Interior and asked again what had happened to our sister but the clerk said there was no date nor cause of death mentioned. The only thing there was was her date of birth, 10 December 1953, and that she died in January 1954, without any specific date, hour or place of death.

Please help us find our sister Ruthie.

You can contact me (Avraham Raphaeli) at +972(0)50-5582624.