Established in 2003, the Machal Endowment Fund supports acquisitions and maintenance of the Aliyah Bet and Machal Archives in Special Collections, University of Florida Libraries. It was established primarily by Ralph L. Lowenstein, dean emeritus of the College of Journalism and Communications, who created and built the Archives over a period of 30 years.
Aliyah Bet was the illegal immigration, by ship, to Palestine between 1939 and 1948, a period when England, the mandatory power, restricted Jewish immigration to fewer than 2,000 persons each month. Machal, an acronym for the Hebrew words for volunteers from outside Israel, was the name for foreign volunteers who came from abroad to serve in the Israeli armed forces during that nation’s War of Independence, 1948-49. Dean Lowenstein, a native of Danville, Virginia, was one of those volunteers when he was 18 years old. He later served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.