Memory fragments from people who he met by the way reveal the character of Yehuda Ken-Dror beyond the myth of self-sacrifice that grew up around the story of his heroic death. Yehuda Ken-Dror
In memory of Yehuda Ken-Dror - 5th of Adar A 5695 (February 8, 1935) – 1st of Shevat 5717 (January 3, 1957)
Yehuda Ken-Dror is etched into the national memory as a hero of Israel who volunteered and charged ahead without hesitation in order to save his friends. But behind this heroic figure was a fascinating character: a man with huge proportions, a “mountain of a man” as he was called by his friends. He was muscular and bulky but at the same time delicate. He learned gardening in high school, he was a real nature enthusiast, he hiked in the Jerusalem hills, and he caught small animals as a game. He was a true friend who loved to help anyone who needed it.
Yehuda was born in 1935, son of Simcha and Shlomo Ken-Dror; he was a native Israeli. The Ken-Dror family are born and raised in Jerusalem for many generations. Yehuda was one of ten children. His brother, Eliyahu Mizrahi was killed in the War of Independence.
In December 1953, he joined the army and served in the Paratroopers Brigade. He fought in Operation Kadesh as a reservist, as the jeep driver of Lieutenant Colonel Aharon Davidi, the commander of the reserve battalion, and he was part of the force that fought in the Mitla Pass.
Ken Deor z"l with his sister
On October 31st, Yehuda agreed to drive the jeep into the Mitla Pass, a mission which he didn’t have much chance of surviving. He was meant to draw fire from the Egyptian soldiers that were hidden in the pass and thus expose their positions. He drove 500 meters under intense fire. His fellow soldiers thought he was dead but after a few hours he managed to crawl back to them. Two months later he died of his wounds.
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor, the highest decoration in the IDF, for “Performing a supreme act of valor while facing the enemy and risking one's life."
Behind the scenes
The creators Idan Barzilay and Mor Yisraeli:
“We wanted to be with him in the vehicle, to accompany him on his last drive: What was he thinking? What did he feel? Did he know he was going to die? At the beginning of the process, we felt a bit distant from the figure of Ken-Dror. It was an old story, there were no family members still alive and even though we tried to find in-depth information about him and to decode this mysterious character, the investigation only came up with a few fragments. It was challenging to find Ken-Dror the man within all of the stories.
The pinpoints of light were the collection of situations, brief stories, small memories, honest and beautiful memories of people who met him by the way and who hardly knew him. First and foremost, we wanted to emphasize joie de vivre; we decided to present the difficult final moments of his last drive as only hinted to. Since the heroic story has been told over the years in the media and in the IDF lore, we chose to focus on the person he was, to look at him in depth and to animate him in the beautiful and intimate moments. During the project, we encountered a conflict between the mythological character of a hero and Ken Dror the man who didn’t leave many memories behind and apparently was a sensitive and delicate person who became an unwilling hero.
The design of Ken-Dror’s figure is characterized by long and roundish shapes; wide feet that are firmly on the ground and delicate body movements. Presenting him in the intimate setting of the King David Garden in Jerusalem, the chase after a lizard that becomes a dash into a surrealistic forest and the disappearance into nature – all this symbolizes for us the life force and the moments of tranquility in his life and those are the moments that were the most important for us to convey.”
The clip “Ken-Dror” won the Prize for High-Level Art and Animation in the category of independent films at the Assif Festival in 2015.
The judges’ considerations:
The clip presents an interesting and original treatment of the story and of the choice of the moment and presents a beautiful gesture to the art and Israeli graphic design of that period. By way of a narrative voice, a non-stereotypical character is created and the clip excels in good storytelling and high-level art and animation.
The clip also won the prize of the Association of Animation Professions which chose “Ken-Dror” as the outstanding clip of the entire competition in all categories. This is the first year in which this prize was awarded at the Assif Festival.