"The Chizbatron Troupe was established from within the Palmach during Israel's War of Independence and accompanied the paupers' army that arose from the underground organizations to face intense war", poet Haim Gouri.
Poet Haim Gouri, a veteran of the Palmach, knew and understood that the soldiers desperately needed a respite between the fierce battles. He knew of the Red Army military bands and the role they played during WWII and thought to establish such a band in Israel as well. He asked Palmach commander Yigal Alon for a budget of 10 GBP to purchase an accordion. Alon liked the idea and provided the requested funds. Thus began this important and successful troupe, which left its mark on musical masterpieces for generations to come. The first production included improvised skits and foreign melodies to which Haim Hefer added well written texts.
Shaike Ophir and Naomi Polansky were recruited from among the Palmach ranks, accompanied by Yoel Zilber on the accordion. The Negev desert area was under siege at that time, and was accessible only via air. The troupe flew south and went from post to post, where they were received very warmly. While en route to Kibbutz Be'eri, the troupe's truck drove over a landmine. Troupe member Ohela Halevy was seriously injured and recognized as an IDF disabled veteran. This event of course changed things and it was necessary to reorganize and even write new material. Director Shmuel Bonim came into the picture and new troupe members were recruited.
Hefer wrote lyrics for melodies by Sasha Argov, Moshe Wilinsky, Parshko and David Zehavi.
The Chizbatron's most well known songs included: Hare'ut (The Friendship), Hayu Zmanim (There were Times), Hen Efshar (Yes, it's Possible), Hey Ha'Jeep (Hey, the Jeep), Hakol Inyan Shel Ofi (It's all a Matter of Character) and more.
The Chizbatron staged four productions during its military tenure and a fifth as a civilian theater. Shaike Ophir did not participate in the fifth production, because he left to study mime under Marcel Marceau in Paris. His absence was felt immediately and the fifth production was not popular among audiences, despite its high level material (which may have been overly political).
Some Chizbatron members went on to study at the Cameri Theater acting school and others returned to their private lives. We were left with wonderful memories which we carry with us to this day. Today there are only three living former Chizbatron members: Naomi Polani, Shlomo Bar-Shavit and Rivkaleh Kremer. We continue to meet monthly to reminisce.
Description of the Stamp and First Day Cover
The stamp and first day cover feature a photo of the Chizbatron members performing in a tent. Courtesy of: the Palmach Museum. Part of a drawing by Arie Navon appears on the stamp, from the Israeli Museum of Caricature and Comics, Holon, courtesy of the family. The Palmach insignia is also featured.