Minna Rozen was born in October 1947 in the city of Tiberias, where her parents, Barukh and Elisheva Lender and her brother Menachem lived for several years before returning to Afula, in the Jezreel Valley, where they had previously lived. She was raised and educated in the 1950s Afula, which numbered 10,000 souls. The minority of Afulas residents were children of early settlers, including her paternal grandparents, David and Feige Lender, while the majority were new immigrants, some of them East European survivors of the Holocaust , and others refugees from Arab countries who were expelled after the establishment of the State of Israel. Her childhood and youth were spent in the "Shikun Poalim (workers housing project) that was set up in 1947 by members of the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor). The housing project comprised small houses, each about sixty square meters, with a small garden that served to grow fruit and vegetables and a chicken coop that helped provide food for members of the family during the years of austerity.

The kindergarten which she attended as well as the first two grades of elementary school still belonged to the "Workers Stream" of the Labor Movement.

1952. State kindergarten. On the right, the deputy kindergarten teacher Gitta Olshevski. On the left, the legendary kindergarten teacher, Sonia Rabinowitz, holding a squirming Yankele Binder

Some of the children at the kindergarten were children of refugees who were born on the roads from Europe after the Second World War. They all harbored secrets . Some of these secrets were verbalized in the course of years, some remained hidden .

Even after the abolition of the Workers Stream and the unification of state education, Minnas primary school, the Jezreel School, as well as her high school, continued in the tradition of Jewish-Zionist-Socialist education, as reflected in the syllabus, the selection of books in the school library, and the personality of her teachers.

Among her teachers was the pedagogue Jacob Brisk, a Torah scholar and scion of an ancient rabbinical dynasty from Lithuania and Hungary, who was sent to Auschwitz in 1943, which he survived. At the age of twenty, he became a tracker, tracing Jewish children who had spent the war years in European monasteries, and bringing them over to Israel.

1959 school picture of grade 6/1

The Scriptures and literature teacher, Meir Attiya, came from an old Tiberian family that originated from Tafilalt in southern Morocco. Attiya, who was visually impaired, knew the entire Tanach (Bible) by heart, as well as the entire curriculum of Hebrew literature that he taught, from Judah Halevi, through Bialik and Tchernichowsky, to Shai Agnon. He expected the same from his students. He had no need to resort to authority or discipline to achieve this goal. The simple fact that he possessed such a broad range of knowledge inspired his pupils to follow suit. Before settling in Afula, he had worked as an aide to Minister of Police, Bechor-Shalom Chetrit. In approximately 1951, they were photographed side by side on a visit to Moshav Kfar Azarya

From right to left, the tall thin person is Meir Attiya, the social instructor Chayim Shalem, and Minister Bechor-Shalom Chetrit.

Yisrael Matzner, the legendary principal and math and physics teacher at the high school, was a childless Holocaust survivor who studied in Germany, and never spoke a word about the war. Both Matzner and Meir Attiya lived in the same Workers Project where Minna grew up. Another teacher was Yaakov Harari, the son of the chief Rabbi of Alexandria, a brilliant scholar who was awarded rabbinical ordination by the Rabbinical Seminary of Rhodes, and possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of French literature as well as a mastery of ten other languages. After the Jews were expelled from Egypt in 1956, Harari came to Afula where he taught Arabic and French.


Dr. Eliezer Reich, from one of the outlying kibbutzim, Merhavia, who settled in the Jezreel Valley in the 30s, taught general history and literature at the school. When not teaching literature and history , he was involved with all sorts of kibbutz work, as we can see from the photo below, taken by Tuvya Ribner in the '50s.



            Later, Joshua Mandel, a history teacher from Kibbutz Mizra, joined the school. Mandel was a refugee three times over. From a Polish Jewish family, Mandel studied medicine in Italy, returned to Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War, joined the Red Army in 1941, survived the entire war, and was subsequently sent to the Gulag in Siberia. He arrived at the school in 1960, scarred but not defeated. He forced his pupils to learn Latin, as well as the history of the Europe that had so tormented him. He wanted to introduce classical Greek, too, but here even his best students drew the line
Boaz Sarig, a new immigrant from the United States, was a teacher of another ilk. He taught English using methods hitherto unknown in Israel, ranging from impromptu tests and assessments aimed at weeding out gifted pupils from average ones. His crowning glory, however, was the "Thursday evening drama club," where his best students gathered in the school library to read "The Importance of Being Earnest," "Henry' III," and other gems of British theater, in the original. Eventually Sarig, like many others who followed him, left Afula for the central region. His place was taken by Dr. Emanuela Sasson, a new immigrant from Algeria, who held doctorates in English and French literature from London University. Her teaching methods differed from those of Sarig, and were less competitive. She introduced her students to the delights of English poetry, such as Shakespeares sonnets, the poems of Byron, Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth, and later T S Eliot and Walt Whitman. Emanuela Sasson was the first teacher to challenge some of the central tenets upon which the boys and girls of Afula had been educated. She left her husband on the Kibbutz where they had lived and moved to Afula with her children, so that they would not have to live in the communal residence. Some of her students were preparing at that time to join Nahal (premilitary cadet corps) to set up kibbutzim in the south. She was also the first teacher in Afula to inform her amazed pupils that the Holy Land was not the sole repository of wisdom. There was no doubt in her mind that the universities of Paris, London, Cambridge and Oxford superseded the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to which all the best students were applying.
Minna matriculated from high school in 1964, with distinction, and at the age of seventeen, began studying law in Jerusalem. Among her teachers at the Law Faculty were Justices Moshe Silberg and Joel Sussman, as well as outstanding legal theoreticians such as Guido Tedeschi (civil law) and Shlomo Zalman Feller (criminal law). After two years of studying law, she realized that the practice of law did not interest her as much as its history. In 1968 she left Jerusalem, married Avinoam Rozen, a farmer from the Jezreel Valley, and returned to Afula, where she lives to this day. She began studying general history and Jewish history in "The University Institute of Haifa," which was a branch of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her specialty was medieval European history, and her main tutor in this field was Prof. Joseph Shatzmiller.
During her undergraduate studies which she completed summa cum laude, she gave birth to two of her daughters, Sigal (1968) and Yael (1970). In 1971 she was accepted for postgraduate studies at Tel Aviv University. In 1976, she submitted her doctorate, entitled "The Jewish Community of Jerusalem in the Seventeenth Century" under the supervision of the late Professor Daniel Carpi and Professor Solomon Simonson. In those years she was involved in founding the Civil Rights Movement (Ratz) and ran as its candidate for the Israel Parliament. In 1977 she gave birth to a third daughter, Rakefet. From 1973 to 1999 she taught continuously at the University, in the Jewish history department. During her studies and work at the University, she began specializing in a new field, the history of the Ottoman Empire, with an emphasis on the Jews of the Empire. To this end, she studied modern and Ottoman Turkish as well as modern Greek. During 1981-1995 she conducted research projects in France, Britain, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and Russia, in an attempt to document the history of Jewish communities especially in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and the Balkans. In 1997-1992 she was appointed Director of the Institute for Diaspora Studies at the same University. Since 1999 she has been teaching at Haifa Universitys Jewish history department, where she introduced the study of Ladino culture and the program of Modern Greek studies.