A Worldwide Shipping Empire
The legendary shipowner Sammy Ofer had an interest in shipping in his youth that led him to become a shipowner of one of the largest shipping empires in the world. In the years before his death in 2011, he had become the richest man in Israel as well as an Israeli patriot with a love of the west coastal plain of Israel where he and two thirds of the population of Israel live in the Haifa and Tel Aviv areas. Down the centre of the country runs a mountain range that includes the hills of Galilee, Samaria and Judea. The Judean Hills run south to the Negev desert, which occupies most of Southern Israel, and the Sea of Galilee is linked by the Jordan river to the Dead Sea on the eastern flank of Israel. After the Arab- Israeli war of 1967, the West Bank of the Jordan river and also the Golan Heights in the northeast of the country were occupied by Israel.
Sammy Ofer was born on 22nd February 1922 as Samuel Hershkovitz in Galatz in Romania as the son of Joseph Hershkovitz. His father moved his wife and three sons, Sammy and brothers Yehuda (Yuli) and David, to Palestine in 1924 to live in Haifa. Joseph established a ship’s chandlery in Haifa to supply ships that called at the Port of Haifa, primarily Bulgarian and Romanian vessels. After Sammy finished elementary school, he started work as a delivery boy with the Dizengoff shipping company in Haifa. He enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1940 and served with distinction in the Mediterranean as a Petty Officer on a minesweeper based in Alexandria. He then served in the Israeli Sea Corps during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
After finishing military service, he became a shipping agent and then in 1957 he purchased his first coaster and named it after his son Eyal. This was traded in the Mediterranean along with the coaster Miri of 500 grt and the general cargo ship Orna of 3,169 grt built 1959 under the banners of Mediterranean Seaways (1957) and Tiran Mediterranean Lines (1967), based in Haatzmauth Road in Haifa and later at Hanamal Street in Haifa. The family had changed their surname to Ofer during the 1960s decade.
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