He was an immigrant to America. He played a major role in the founding and development of the modern State of Israel. He lived in downtown Manhattan, but also owned a place in Blairstown, New Jersey. Who might he be? If you guessed “that’s David Horowitz,” of course you could be correct, but just not this time. The person I’m referring to is Rudolph Boyko and the two of them were good friends.

I don’t remember Horowitz ever mentioning Rudolph Boyko and sadly, I had no knowledge of his story or of the vast contributions made by the large Boyko family to the re-born State of Israel and to all of mankind. Now, years after the passing of both, we learn previously uncovered facts drawn from the rich history of the UIWU archives.

Rudolph Boyko was the retired president of the Silbo Steel Corporation in Denville, N.J., which he established in the late 1940s, and chairman of Silbo Steel Industries in Montvale, which he established in 1987. He retired shortly afterward. The steel executive was one of the founders of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel in 1969 and along with his wife, the former Rhoda Greenblatt, he created the Boyko Institute for Saline Water Agriculture in 1980, perpetuating the research of his late brother, Hugo Boyko, a scientist.

Brother Hugo and his famous partner-scientist wife, Dr. Elizabeth Boyko, are both renowned in Israel for their scientific accomplishments in bringing new life to the previously barren Negev. Their pioneering work in fructifying this arid region of the ancient land has seen the emergence of two centers: the Beersheba metropolis with its ever-growing Ben-Gurion University and Eilat, the Miami of the Jewish State. Elizabeth Boyko was instrumental in the creation of a garden paradise out of a rough, rocky barren zone at Eliat, today a flourishing park that has become an attraction for tourists from all parts of the world.

For their accomplishments, the Boyko husband and wife team received the prestigious Fleming Award in 1959 for the advancement of human welfare through outstanding achievement in science.

No less famous in another field was Rudolph, the elder statesman of the entire Boyko clan. Horowitz called him Rudy. When Rudy arrived in the United States from Austria in the critical year of 1939 as a refugee, he became a laborer in a firm that manufactured lenses for binoculars for the war effort. Starting from scratch, the ingenious Rudolph soon advanced himself as an expert in his field and within the lapse of a few years initiated his own business in the line of steel. The business flourished and Rudolph became the proprietor of the global multi-million dollar company, Silbo Steel Corporation.

Both Rudolph and his wife, Rhoda, became ardent supporters of humanitarian causes and on top of their list were those linked to Israel’s growth and development. In addition to endowing a Chair at the Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba in honor of the work of brother Hugo and wife Elizabeth, the details also involved the construction of the building know today as “The Boyko Research Center.”

David Horowitz had the rare privilege of knowing Rudolph the industrialist, and wife Rhoda, and through them came to know others in the distinguished family, including Professor Hugo and Dr. Elizabeth Boyko. Here, he also met Anitta Boyko Fox, a resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and her mother Helen. Anitta happened to be the daughter of still another brother, Fred Boyko. There was another chapter to the Boyko saga, and what a story it would turn out to be.

The late Fred Boyko, brother of Rudolph and Hugo, was himself an accomplished artist who had won acclaim in the United States as a portrait painter. His daughter, Anitta Boyko Fox, who had also fled Austria with her family in 1939 at the height of Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, was a rehabilitation therapist and had played an important role in America in fostering her uncle Hugo’s and Elizabeth’s projects.

It was during a meeting David Horowitz had with Anitta’s mother, Helen, at Rudolph and Rhoda’s picturesque sanctuary-residence, that he learned the full account of Anitta’s famous aunt, Rudolfino Menzel. Helen carefully recounted the dramatic story of her distinguished sister Rudolfino’s encounter with the Nazis and how she managed to foil their plans. Her story reads like a novel.

Dr. Menzel had lived in pre-Hitler Vienna in the late 1920s. There, in association with her physican-husband, Dr. Rudolph Menzel, she commenced a series of long-range experiments on the psychology of dogs. She bred over one thousand dogs, a combined total of some 16 generations of males and females and presented her statistical conclusions, the world’s first, at the International Cynological Congress in 1935 on the dog’s mental inheritance. During this period she served as an advisor to the Austrian police and the German army. Then Hitler took over Austria.

Hitler issued orders that Dr. Menzel was to be commandeered to train her dogs for the Nazi shock troops. However, as soon as her friends learned of this, they smuggled her out of Vienna, just two weeks before Hitler sent a large fleet of automobiles to escort the woman-scientist to the elaborate headquarters he had set up for her in Berlin.

But Hitler was too late. By that time she was already in Palestine and, as her sister Helen recounted, “what a shock it was for the Nazis when they discovered that the dogs she had trained for the Austrian police were taught to follow commands only in Hebrew!”

The year was 1938. Of the hundreds of pureblooded dogs, all Dr. Menzel was able to take with her was a half dozen. But, as her friends themselves kept coming over to what was then Palestine, each was able to bring along a dog or two and in that way she in time assembled enough of her prized canines to establish her Research Institute for Canine Psychology and Training. As America Jewish writer Simon Bloom pointed out, “this was a logical outcome of her work of almost twenty years before she solved a problem dealing with the dog’s ability to search out specific odors of the human body. It was this work that found its place in criminology and led to the post as the canine advisor to the Austrian police.”

When Rudolfino and her husband settled in Palestine in 1938, she became acquainted with the many problems that faced the Jewish pioneers there under the British Mandate. She soon became an adjunct of the heroic Haganah (the main paramilitary organization) and began to train her dogs for defense purposes that included the searching out of mines, the recognition of enemies, and the delivery of vital messages through enemy lines. They were also taught to guide Israeli workers away from the mines of saboteurs, and toiled faithfully in the Palmach ranks (the elite fighting force of the Haganah) in the interests of the Jewish resident’s security. Moreover, some 400 of her dogs fought in the English army in Africa after the late Prime Minister Moshe Sharett had given Rudolfino the go-ahead.

With doctorates in Psychology, Biology, and Chemistry, Rudolfino eventually was appointed Inspector-General for Dogs in the Armed Services of the new State, and in 1959 she became the director of the Israel Foundation of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

In addition to her work at the center, Prof. Menzel taught animal psychology at Tel Aviv University in the 1960s. In 1966, her name was inscribed in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund for her distinguished contribution to the Zionist movement. She died in 1973, not long after her husband, who had been the physician of the Haifa-based Oil Refineries.

David Horowitz and his wife Nan enjoyed a close relationship with the Boykos. Both were in attendance at the dedication of the Boyko Research Center at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on September 3, 1981, and at the dedication of a huge bronze sculpture titled “Chavvah, the Mother of all Life,” at the research center on May 11, 1983. They were present at both affairs as special invited guests of the Boykos.

David Horowitz’s friendship with Rudolph and Rhoda Boyko lifts the curtain on this renowned household, a family of achievers, who by their acts, deeds, and contributions symbolize the miracle that democratic Israel has proven to be. Horowitz and Rudolph remained friends until Rudy died of complications from surgery at Newton (N.J.) General Hospital in October of 1989. He was 93 years old and still maintained his homes in Manhattan and Blairstown, N.J., as did his old friend.

Ralph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. An author, historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.