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The Story of 25 Years of Habonim Camping
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
Editor DAVID BRESLAU Associate Editors AVRAHAM G. HAKLAY SHIRLEY LASHNER ZELDE KRULEWITZ PINHAS RIMON
© 1957, The CHAY Commission of the Labor Zionist Movement. Republished by Habonim Dror North America in 2009. ISBN 978-0-557-16403-5
To those who came before. To those who will come after. To those here now.
generating the passion.” Today we know that they were indeed making history. The Habonim Dror youth movement. The movement has founded seven kibbutzim in Israel and played pivotal roles over the years in the labor. They knew well that they were living in historic times—a Depression at home. Habonim Dror and its camps have been a resounding success. anchored in its summer camps. Throughout the decades. fascism rising in Europe and the first waves of Arab violence threatening the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. Habonim camping evolved and grew into a network of facilities across the United States and Canada that has educated tens of thousands of young Jews to values of Zionism. civil rights.Foreword There was little sense of history in the making during that summer of 1932 when fourteen teenagers moved into their single tent at the edge of a Labor Zionist bungalow colony in the Catskills for the first season of Habonim camp. But as movement veteran Saadia Gelb would recall years later. has nurtured multiple generations of activists and leaders in Israeli and American Jewish life. but there was nothing inevitable about any of it. From that initial summer. It all started when the Young . teaching the commitment and forging the lifelong friendships that drove everything else. feminist and Middle East peace movements. Habonim camps have been the heart of the movement experience. Jewish pride and progressive social awareness. They believed they had a role to play in these great dramas. “none of us in the 1930s thought of himself as ‘making history’.
In the spring of 1933. even within their own movement. prosaically named Buds. New York. leaders of Young Poale Zion gathered at Accord to discuss the future of their education program. Painfully. After the 1934 camp season ended. the socialist Zionist pioneers who were rebuilding the land of Israel. Following days of stormy debate they decided to create a new children’s organization as an autonomous unit within the movement. Young Poale Zion had been trying since the 1920s to establish a children’s organization for ten-toeighteen-year-olds. The new location proved enormously popular. after a new Labor Zionist scouting organization established in England in 1929. That first summer of 1932. Labor Zionism’s main constituency. Others argued that the children of working class immigrants. The founders themselves weren’t entirely sure what they had in mind. They hadn’t even settled yet on the name Habonim. they agreed to set aside the radical politics of Poale Zion and build . and the camp’s first advocates faced strong opposition. decided in that spring of 1932 to try what amounted to a cross-cultural experiment: to see if the American summer camp could be reimagined in the spirit of the kibbutz and the chalutzim. and the camp thrived. the young adult wing of the Labor Zionist movement. Many of the senior Labor Zionists were convinced that summer camp meant volley ball and boating. for all its uncertainties. The numbers remained small and enthusiasm was low.Poale Zion Alliance. Chapters were formed here and there. but the results were dispiriting. They named it Habonim. the movement acquired a campsite of its own in Accord. not living as a commune. The summer camp would eventually provide the missing spark. who had settled in Palestine and was now in New York as a shlicha. debating ideology and hauling their own trash. couldn’t afford summer camp. with the help of Young Poale Zion alumna Golda Meir. had been successful enough to merit another round the following year. Nothing like it existed anywhere in America.
but on the movement and everything it did. And the camp program was unique. marching for civil rights in 1957. that had been struggling for a decade to find its footing. The impact of the camp experience could be seen not only on the individual Habonim members. in Michigan and Quebec. it was clear that camp was no longer just an adjunct to the year-round Habonim educational program. scoutcraft. Living for weeks away from their families in a community of their peers. devotion to Israel and the ideals of kibbutz pioneering.the Habonim education program around character-building. resulting in a powerful brew that was stronger than any of its components. By 1938 it was strong enough to take over a smaller Labor Zionist youth group.600 campers. yielded for many youngsters a set of lifelong friendships and a powerful movement loyalty. The new organization grew quickly. Habonim. renewed each summer and deepened over time. the Young Poale Zion Alliance dissolved itself and became the senior division of its own offshoot. protesting the Vietnam war in 1969. . Camp had become the heart of the movement experience. Two new ones were opened in 1935. By the mid-1940s. youngsters developed intimate bonds with each other and the group. By 1945 Habonim was operating eleven camps across the continent with a total enrollment of some 1. The fastest growth was in the summer camps. too. Three more were added in 1939 and more the following summer and the summer after that. but the campers still wanted to be together. many Habonim members showed up—protesting outside British consulates in 1946. Traditional summer camp songs and cheers were combined with Labor Zionist ideology and the movement’s sense of mission. Summer might end. rallying for Soviet Jews and California farm-workers in 1975. Two years after that. and so they spent their weekends going to ken meetings and regional seminars to see their friends. Those bonds and those lessons. And when a few Habonim members showed up for a major public event. Gordonia.
settling in urban communes in slums and development towns. when the kibbutz movement was sunk in crisis and Zionism had become a subject of cynicism or worse. and in the 1970s and 1980s to found the new kibbutzim of Gezer. The . and soon after that by the Reform movement. The path that Habonim pioneered in 1932 was trod a decade later by Young Judaea and the Ramah camps of Conservative Judaism. Today. When the first fourteen Labor Zionist teenagers pitched their tent in the Catskills in 1932.” They’ve been written off many times. that founded Kibbutz Gesher Haziv and Kibbutz Urim. They continued going over in garinim in the 1950s and 1960s to join Gesher Haziv and Urim. as big as they were in their heyday in the 1940s. It’s not even clear that the Young Poale Zion organizers knew themselves exactly where they were headed. Grofit and Ravid. They’re not as shiny or high tech as some of the better known camps. The notion of camping as a laboratory for values education and movement building was something new in American Jewish education. Jewish summer camps existed to provide children with exercise and fresh air and to give their parents a breather. They went. hundreds of Habonim members — nearly the entire senior membership — went there to volunteer. Even in the 1990s and beyond. But they are still here. but that’s always been part of their charm — the old Habonim principle that it’s “chalutzic to be schmutzik. Habonim members continued to move to Israel in garinim. though they had an inkling. Jewish values camping is high fashion. And because they wanted to be with their friends from camp. communal settlement groups. Those movements dominate the Jewish public square so thoroughly that many American Jews are surprised to hear that Habonim camps are still in business. of course.When Israel won its independence in 1948 and took to the battlefield to defend it. because they wanted to make a difference and to live out their values. Hundreds moved to Israel in its early years as members of garinim.
They have to. And still they carry on. Besides. J. Goldberg.J. 2009 .New York and Los Angeles camps have gone bust and then risen again. the kids want to be with their friends. They still have an urgent message to transmit. resurrected by faithful alumni and determined groups of teenagers. three-quarters of a century after they began.
................................................................... 90 "KVUTZIE"............................................................................... WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? ................................. YOUNGSTERS!................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 115 GIMLI....................................................................................................................................... 55 PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY...................... 32 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING ......................................................................................................................... 94 KINNERET ............................................................................................. 98 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM ............................................................... 85 TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK ..................................................................................................................1933 .. MANITOBA ....... 82 LISTEN HERE.......................................................................................................... 95 TEL NATAN ......................Contents Foreword .....6 Foreword from Original Publication .............14 Introduction ................ 87 KENDALL .................... 107 GALIL'S FIRST YEAR ........................... 91 KVUTZA................................................................... 74 CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN ......................................................................... 60 THE TURNING POINT ...................................................................................................................................... 129 THE COMING SEASON ........................................................................................................................... 25 GROWTH OF AN IDEA "KVUTZA" AND KVUTZA .............................. 126 MONTREAL ........................................... 100 KVUTZA IN THE WEST ....................................................................................................................................................... 49 COMING OF AGE ......... 68 HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ................. 137 .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 122 AFIKIM ........... 128 CAMP BONIM. 104 THE STORY OF "MOSH".... 109 GALIL .. 125 CAMP MIRIAM..................... CREAMRIDGE ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... TEXAS ............................................................ 20 ACCORD ............................................................................... 134 AMAL IN RETROSPECT ....................16 THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING ................................................................................. KVUTZA..................................... 33 THE MEANING OF KVUTZA ............................................................... 131 CAMP AVODA..
..............................................................................................................................191 IRV STERNBERG ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................173 DANNY GINSBURG ..............................................................................................................................................177 NATE KANTER .........................180 ARI LASHNER .................................................................................KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL NIGHT WATCH ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................199 JOHANAN TARTAKOWER ............................................................171 BEN CHERNER ..........................................201 ...............................155 TO KVUTZA ..................................187 JOSEPH ROSENBERG ..................155 NIGTH WATCH .....161 NEED HELP PACKING? .......................................................163 KINNERET SHELI ...............................................................................................................................................................................151 UNTIL NEXT YEAR ............................................................................181 HAYIM RAMBAM ..........................................168 MIRIAM BIDERMAN ...........................................156 THE TREE .........................................................................................189 ENZO SERENI ........................................ ACCORD .........................................................................142 ACCORD DIARY .....143 PEEKING IN WITH OUR SHALIAH ....................................................165 IN MEMORIUM HAZKARA ..................................................................159 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS ..................................................................157 SO YOU WANT TO BE A MADRICH .......153 VIEW FROM KVUTZA HILL...................................................................................
Habonim started an important chapter in its youthful story–youthful and on behalf of youth–that was destined to play a significant role in the psychological struggle which confronted Jewish youth in the fearsome years of hatred and violence that were to follow. and to all those who have cooperated in 14 .Foreword from Original Publication The year 1932 has an almost ominous ring in the ears of the Jew who cannot but remember the decade of barbarism and destruction which that date ushered in. the Labor Zionist Commission on Halutziut. * * * It is good to participate in the celebration of twenty-five years of Habonim Camping and to help make possible the historic task of “keeping the record. takes pleasure in making the publication of this book possible and expresses its gratitude to the editors to whom this has been a labor of love. historians are prone to deal with those events much more so than with construction elements which make for progress in the world. 1932.” It is worthy of note that in that same year. whose purpose it has been to develop further the ideals which the Habonim camps have been inculcating. Aliya and Youth. Perhaps it is an indication that the latter are more normal. * * * The Chay Commission. Because of the tragic impression brought on by the forces of evil.
* * * Twenty-five years of Habonim camping will undoubtedly afford mixed feelings of reminiscence and of nostalgia to those who have experienced the pleasure and the vicissitudes of summers within the orbit of these camps. It is the fond hope of the Chay Commission that its courageous story will find the appreciation of a much wider circle as well. Bert Goldstein Chairman. to Chana Haklay and Zelde Krulewitz for their work in preparing the manuscript for printing and to Josh Schwartz of Leeds Advertising whose assistance in designing the book was invaluable. The Chay Commission wishes to thank our patrons whose greetings appear in a special supplement which accompanies Adventure in Pioneering. Chay Commission 15 .the research and the compilation of Adventure in Pioneering. We are especially indebted to David Goldberg for reading the manuscript.
The leaders and chalutzim of tomorrow are at Camp Kvutza today. studying. playing . Today's leaders of Habonim are veterans of Camp Kvutza. Camp Kvutza enriched the lives of all who participated in its growth and development. Many were 16 . close to five generations of youth have participated in the Habonim Camps. Through these years. It is correct to say that Camp Kvutza is the basic source of strength for the entire Labor Zionist Movement in America. as are most of our chalutzim in Israel. much has been written both for Habonim and for the Jewish educational world on this unique form of camping.creating their own society of the future. working. These pioneers transmitted their zeal and vision to succeeding generations of Jewish youth in Habonim who followed in their footsteps. Thus.Introduction During the past twenty-five years. The pioneers of Camp Kvutza were imbued with an all-consuming desire for creative Jewish living. They dedicated themselves to a form of society based on principles of self-labor and mutual cooperation.
but have presented the material in the differing forms in which it originally appeared. that each reader will find herein something of intimate significance as well as informational value. Most of the material included has been gleaned from the Habonim archives: News and Views. and especially our patrons for making possible the publication of this volume. to that of educators and community leaders analyzing and evaluating the significance of this departure in Jewish camping. We hope. the office secretaries. we have not attempted to create a literary unit. Menahel. our editorial committee. to that of a leader enlarging on the principles by which Camp Kvutza will function. Furrows. Haboneh. and content of Camp Kvutza. Out of these diverse sources. In compiling this collection. convention reports. we were confronted with the wealth of material which has been accumulated for a quarter of a century. and internal organizational and educational bulletins. however. But they will find much which may inspire them and will guide them in their movement activities. 1957 17 . Many present members of Habonim will no doubt discover herein a world seemingly remote from today's reality. * * * We want to take this opportunity to thank the Chay Commission. expansion.the deliberations within the movement on the development. and with varying levels of presentation: from that of a thirteen-year old describing his experiences with childish enthusiasm. Merkaz Habonim. Many were the reactions written by campers while at Kvutza and upon their return to the city. Many adult readers who experienced the birth pangs and gradual development of Camp Kvutza in the United States and Canada will no doubt find nostalgia mixed with smiles upon the perusal of the articles. The Editors Summer.
The Beginning .
As one looks back twenty-five years. one retraces the years and comes to the beginning: the first Camp Kvutza. It was the time of the depression. At the Camp Kvutza these ideals were most meaningful. Looking backward. but above all. and it may even sound boastful to say that we were an idealistic Jewish youth.the beginning. Our minds and our hearts were concerned with another land and our problems were foreign and distant to American life. but at that time. the forms of living there to be based on Socialism. Today the conception of "idealist" has acquired a strange interpretation. the economic collapse after 1929. how revolutionary. We lived in our ideal: a worker's life in Eretz Yisrael. We loved this country with its sense of human 20 . All around us the youth was concerned with jobs. how strange it was. with making a livelihood. the camp. the tiny group of Poale Zion youth. were far away from all that worried Americans. the campfire with its songs. But in truth and most sincerely. Our schooling. one senses how much importance there was to this beginning. there was merely the living together at a Camp Kvutza among the gentle hills of New York State. Yet we. how "peculiar. So much comes alive: the chaverim. our thoughts were molded by the country we lived in.THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING An anniversary is a time of reflection. It was very hard for we were going against the stream. our style of life. a mutual investigation of the problems inherent in the ideals which we held in common. the studies. Some came to the country as young children. They guided and directed our lives. the Kvutza: the living and studying together. Suddenly all is focused clearly and is full of an inner glow ." Many of us were born in the United States. American Jewish living surrounded us. we tried by our own living to create a new world: a world in which the Jew would live in his own country.
Some homes were "Bundist. its mountains and plains. We were conscious of the stirrings of new forces in American literature. art. the awe of Niagara. and oceans. the beauty of the Appalachians. and its absorption of the downtrodden and poverty-stricken millions of human beings who flocked to its shores. The life of America was our life: the jazz. and music. Another was fired by the tales told by a recent arrival from Eretz Yisrael who worked in Petah Tikva with the Chaverim of the Second Aliya. the new forms of the dance. I learned that often the home and the parents were in opposition and added nothing to these unknown deep springs which lived in the consciousness of our comrades. the charm of the South. We were overwhelmed by its vastness. and moved one to closeness to all people of the Book. the night club in Harlem.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING dignity and freedom. it was important to know the reason. In some homes. the new theater. Yet we dreamt dreams away from all that America was. rivers." motivated by the thought that Jews need to build a Jewish entity wherever they may be. it dawned in a crowded college auditorium as the Twenty-third Psalm was read by a Christian clergyman. this tiny group out of the millions of American Jews? Again and again at the Camp Kvutza. the breadth of the Hudson. I tried to understand why the chaverim chose this ideal. Or again. and saw ourselves in our mind's eye with our comrades in the Promised Land. its lakes. What moved these few to meet for a study of Poale Zionism and ways and methods of bringing this ideal to others? So I asked and found that one's Jewish consciousness was awakened by the haunting sadness of the Kol Nidre melody. Russian revolu- 21 .all this was part and parcel of our day-by-day living. its pioneers. Why? What moved us? How did we come to these thoughts. There were before us the grandeur of the West. the stirrings of the vast labor masses . vivid with the hope of the liberation of the Jew. the politics of the country.
the tense young faces lit by the flame. to teach their children about their glorious heritage. and at times against the wishes of the parents who were aghast at their child's "peculiarities. Around us was the camp fire. For Poale Zion ideology. all the above elements were ever present. We tried to add to the elements already influencing the chaverim. In the short span of time spent at Camp Kvutza. Much must be done for them. and young voices filled the air with Hebrew or Yiddish songs of Eretz Yisrael and Jewish revival. Why Eretz Yisrael? There are two million Jews in New York City alone. amidst the dark shadows of the trees. but not a Jewish folk song. Poale Zionist. the poetry of the words. there was a large mass of workers with no job security. and American history glorified the pioneer who moved West to build up the great United States. 22 . the sentiment of rebuilding and heroism. exploited by those intent on profits." Why dream of the liberation of the Jews? How about other peoples enslaved by cruel despotic governments? Why far away Eretz Yisrael? There was a working class to be helped in the United States. there was the singing of the Eretz Yisrael songs which linked us with our unknown comrades. Why not work here at home? In the first Camp Kvutza.THE BEGINNING tionary songs of freedom and Siberian exile were sung. We well understood the pioneering life of Eretz Yisrael. The rhythm. to hold them to some kind of Judaism. for in America we were still close to pioneering. There were problems to be solved here: tender children working beyond their strength. We wanted to know more and more about the ideal we so earnestly believed in. they motivated the program of work. Zionist. consciousness grew out of this strange soil. To the Camp Kvutza was brought much out of the American life in which we found ourselves. all spoke deeply to us. we went to the writings of Borochov and Syrkin. bright and cheerful.
It was new. the chaverim wholeheartedly accepted these new methods which I so enthusiastically advocated. Adult education was assuming its rightful place. The personality of the learner was stressed. Both in planning the program of the Camp Kvutza and in carrying it out. and audacious. T. My share in the program was to teach and demonstrate those new techniques so that the chaverim could take them to the clubs of which they were the leaders. It aimed to enrich the individual by giving him the tools whereby he could continue his investigations. The project method was concomitant with these new theories. his personality was respected. and Thorndike! I was fired by the new philosophy of education which they taught and I had learned the new techniques which they advocated. Thorndike. It was a theory of freedom in education and especially John Dewey's philosophy. The new methods were so well fitted to our Poale Zionist ideal. to study our ideology and to pass on our ideals to many American Jewish youths. These new me- 23 . he studied on his own level. My special contribution to Camp Kvutza was to bring to our studies the new educational philosophy of John Dewey. were breaking new ground in education. All these methods admirably suited our need. William Kilpatrick. he was taught to work and think in a group. my teachers. which was to give the Jew inheritance in his land. he was motivated. These. namely. Kilpatrick. The new education stressed respect and dignity of the individual. and E. I had just received my Bachelor of Science degree in education from Teachers College of Columbia University. challenging. How happy I was that I was privileged to study under John Dewey. Twenty-five years ago their educational philosophy was a complete departure from what was then prevalent.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING To the Camp Kvutza we also brought the new educational theories just coming into being in the United States. opposed to all forms of absolutism.
For chaverim from the Camp Kvutza have settled on the soil of the land. The small ripple it caused has moved farther and farther.THE BEGINNING thods taught the individual how to motivate a study not by committing to memory many facts. Their children are growing up in Israel. So we studied the creative discussion method. What a new world these fundamental methods of learning opened up for us! We sensed the democracy of these techniques. but to study for the love of the subject .study deeply and creatively. And the genesis was that first Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago. They were on so-called "illegal" boats. they were in Cypress. they fought in the War of Liberation of Israel. We sought to draw out every individual to full participation. Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago was a small pebble thrown into the vast ocean of American Jewish youth. Happy are we to have been comrades and partners in that great adventurous undertaking. 1957 24 . I had some years of organizational work behind me. This group work was in complete accord with the cooperative ideals of Labor Eretz Yisrael. Sophie A. The waves in its wake have reached the Promised Land. but never had I enjoyed a more innerly satisfying experience. The study of Eretz Yisrael problems lent themselves particularly to the new project method. It was group living and learning which was deep and lasting in its influence. Especially suited to our Camp Kvutza idea was the fact that these new educational methods stressed group work and participation in group discussion and reaching conclusions by group thinking. and they served in Sinai. Udin. By their example they have influenced others to come to Israel.
1933 Shortly before I came to America. something other than a mere replica of the senior Poale Zion. Berl Locker. and two. and leadership of a youth movement. the use of a beautiful spot in the Catskills was gotten.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD . The following winter and spring. I saw then what such a camping experience can mean in the development of the spirit. One of the first media that came to mind was the establishment of a YPZA summer camp similar to the one I had seen in Galicia. who was then 25 . Jacob Katzman. and while all who participated gained considerably in their knowledge of Labor Zionism and techniques of leadership. it was generally felt that the real spirit of a Kvutza. Sophie Udin assumed the leadership. But most of the other leading chaverim of the senior organizations were skeptical and some were even opposed. Other members of the YPZA Central Committee were like-minded. With the help of Golda Meir. enthusiastically accepted the idea. Many of us began to think in terms of making of the Labor Zionist youth movement a youth movement in fact. then National Secretary of the Poale Zion. ideology. in which one labored and which was governed by its own members. we decided to make an experimental beginning in Unser Camp. The lingering memories found their expression when in America I became a member of the Central Committee of the Young Poale Zion Alliance. the insistence that inasmuch as the movement already has a children's camp. strenuous efforts were made to obtain a campsite of our own. was lacking. therefore. the lack of funds. It was held in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. of a place that one built with one's own hands. I attended a convention of a Zionist scouting organization with which I had been affiliated. YPZA should utilize that in every way possible. Kinderwelt. The reasons were: one. In the summer of 1932.
our senior chaverim started to look upon the camp as something worthwhile. Jewish history. but we succeeded in instilling the proper spirit of cooperation and a form of self-government. young people with organizational tradition. camping and the Young Poale Zion were quite alien as yet. to most of whom. and assign work for the daily work crews. with leadership abilities. They came because after all. But Katzman had to leave in the middle of the season to help prepare the forthcoming YPZA national convention. including K. Among them were some of the best members of the YPZA from several communities. Meyer Brown and Shmuel Siegel.THE BEGINNING National Secretary of the YPZA and directed our first Kvutza at Accord. who 26 . and a multitude of other jobs. and geography of Eretz Yisrael. I bad to conduct all the discussion groups and Shabbat programs. carry water from the well. First of all. keep the grounds clean. One of the four tents consisted of ten boys from Orange. and a fine Jewish background. The first substantial help came with the arrival of Mr. whose task it was to bring some modicum of civilization to this wilderness. who immediately instituted a program of Hebrew. provide wood for the stove. has already related the story of its birth elsewhere in this -volume. New Jersey. Little by little. supervise all the camping activities. it was very hard to improvise a program to keep the campers busy. I took over for the remaining period. and to institute self-rule and discipline. The first few weeks were the hardest. and upon his insistence and that of our Central Committee. the tuition was only $7 a week and where could one get such a bargain even during the Depression? Under those circumstances. a Hebrew teacher. we also had some newcomers who could not even pronounce the name of the organization. Margolin. to mold a cohesive group. To this day I don't know how it happened.P. I found the campers a most heterogeneous group. However.
During that time. If ever the spirit of the camp was manifest. The camp reached its maturity when we instituted the forms of "selfgovernment.P. There is a limit to the punishment which even a secondhand army tent can take from the elements. help police the cleanliness of the grounds and tents. under those primitive circumstances (without a heater for hot water). There was quite a large proportion of chaverim who had completed their preparatory training and were awaiting aliya certificates. But one stormy late afternoon. and share in whatever manual labor was required. This was taken in stride. Of inestimable value in this respect were the several days which Golda Meir spent with us.. a decision arrived at. The first Accord Kvutza was also rich in adventures. without exception. The council took its task seriously. the camp found itself without a single tent standing and without a place for the campers to sleep.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING came to visit their families. had to participate in K. we even had the whole camp sit in judgment of a camper who broke discipline and left camp without permission to go to a dance in a nearby hotel. they were carried out in a responsible fashion. Work was assigned judiciously and without favoritism. so it was not surprising when occasionally a tent was blown down. it was during 27 . brought back to the city good reports of what was going on in Accord. when the velocity of the wind was of hurricane proportion and the rain came down in sheets. The age range of the first season in Accord was probab1y older than any of the subsequent seasons. Everyone. which. but her report to the senior movement was of even greater importance in bringing Camp Kvutza to its attention." Representatives to a camp council were elected by all the campers. a program mapped out. Her discussions on halutziut were inspiring to the campers. was quite a chore. The council proved its effectiveness by seeing to it that once a task was undertaken.
and no matter which way one turned. However. the cots and all the possessions of the campers were put out to dry. and it proved that a camp of this kind lends itself to the pur- 28 . he got wet. The taller and older chaverim had to carry the younger ones. By the time the exodus began. We emerged from the dining room and began a snake dance to the tune of Chopin's Funeral March. As soon as the sun came out. One vividly recalls the morning after-the sky was overcast. were transferred to a nearby hotel. especially the haverot. with the exception of a few. It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that more campers of this first group went to Eretz Yisrael than of any other group since. Mention should be made of the contribution to the camping experience of Rachel Siegel and Leah Brown. The advice of the good people around to break up camp was not heeded. our cooks. In retrospect. but by their presence. the roof leaked. But this did not diminish the spirit of those who remained behind. Many have made their mark in Eretz Yisrael as chalutzim and leaders in the Labor Movement. our clothing was soaked. and we were all sleepy. It pointed the way toward self-discipline and self-government. the tents were put up again. The first season of Accord was the proving ground for the concept of a camp run by youth for youth. this experience became a highlight of that camping season. All the campers.THE BEGINNING this emergency. on their backs to the other side. and cold to the marrow. lent dignity to the camp and helped to establish the reliability of Camp Kvutza in the minds of our senior haverim. The few that remained on the camp grounds tried as best they could to sleep on the tables in the dining room. One would like to characterize some of the campers but that would take too much space and would be unfair to those not mentioned. the brook had overflowed its bank and the water covered the bridge. wet. who not only saw to it that the food was adequate and wholesome.
It was mainly due to their stand and influence that this convention decided upon the reorganization of the Young Poale Zion. held immediately after the close of the season on the Labor Day weekend. to introduce tzofiut. while giving the campers a practical demonstration of communal living. history. It was most gratifying when months after the close of the first season.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING suit of serious study of the ideology. and to lay the groundwork for what later became Habonim. and problems of the organization. The basic idea of the camp was that no member of the staff was paid or received any other special consideration outside of the authority deserved for good leadership. Most of the campers attended the Young Poale Zion convention in Philadelphia. 1957 29 . participants got together to evaluate their achievements and to speak of their experience with a yearning and nostalgia of summer months well spent. Jacob Lemberger.
Growth of an Idea .
as if final judgment would be pronounced by the words "yes" or "no. They cannot put what should be into being. one's entire personality must be overhauled. from the educational viewpoint. This attitude toward one's fellow men is the essential ethical motif in our educational program and represents the only true socialist mentality. worry. The differences between a Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael and our summer Kvutzot are quite evident. play. a triumph for our idea. that true self-esteem and es- 32 . but from a heartfelt recognition of the value of one's haverim. deeper roots must be sought. study. That true comradeship. One can master the art of living together only by living together. in as great a measure as possible.GROWTH OF AN IDEA "KVUTZA" AND KVUTZA Probably the query most frequently flung at me during my sojourn in our Kvutzot was: "Is a Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael really like this?" The answer was awaited anxiously. which makes him place all his ability at the disposal of the group without measuring how much he receives in return. communal labor. yet one is surprised to what a great extent the essence of Kvutza life is retained. and no number of meetings in the city can accomplish this. the responsibility which the individual feels to the group. Deeper emotions must be stirred. attitudes and states of mind are not created by speeches and lectures and discussions. These instrumentalities are limited in scope. the true equality which arises not from an abstract philosophical belief that all men are equal. those ideals which motivate our movement. However. They can indoctrinate a theoretical acknowledgment of what should be. and joy. though expressed in different forms. All these are expressed through communal living." Both the question and the intense anxiety for a positive answer represent. therein is contained the keen desire to realize personally. For what are the great values introduced by and embodied in our Kvutzot in Eretz Yisrael? The mutual relationships between haverim.
1937 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING Modern educational camping has increasingly emphasized experience in creative group living and learning. which aims at creating an individual who will not only have definite ideals but also realize them. What are meetings? They signify that all present have come from different directions. Ben Zion Ilan. Jewish camps conducted under communal or semi-communal auspices have sought. in addition. but from following those paths in common. and the consideration for the welfare of others which years of preaching could never develop. knowledge and skills. one lives with another. one does not meet with another. The objective is not only to provide a change of physical environment and healthful recreation. develop socialized attitudes and patterns of behavior. Sleeping with one's comrades in tents pitched with one's own hands-eating food prepared and served through one's own labor-learning some important fact about Jewish life one hour and the next chopping wood or playing ball with the same comrades-spending rainy nights on night watch. and in general. guarding the health of others-enjoying starry evenings of collective singing and group dancing the sum of all these moments which make up Camp Kvutza life is that self-discipline. The camp setting provides the opportunity to help the camper increase his range of interests. and then all return to their respective different places. to provide 33 . self-reliance. does not arise from common outlooks on the paths to be taken. to enrich his personality.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING teem of others. cannot be complete without the Kvutza. Thus our education. In the Kvutza. meet temporarily.
in Eretz Yisrael and. which caters to young people of the age level of 14 to 21. Habonim. and at the same time. to create a cooperative Jewish Commonwealth. 3. is essential to know something about the aims of Habonim. Educational Objectives of Habonim In order to properly understand the motivation and character of Camp Kvutza. To train young Jews to become halutzim. 34 . This paper describes a type of Jewish camping program which attempts to apply this philosophy and technique of educational camping.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Jewish educational experiences. to provide satisfying and creative Jewish experiences. 2. have a ten-year history under the auspices of the Labor Zionist Youth Organization. These camps. and actively to support the rebuilding of the Jewish National Home. known as Camp Kvutza. To prepare young Jews for" participation in the upbuilding of a new social order throughout the world. the camps are the extension as well as the annual climax of the Habonim program. These aims were formulated at the 1940 convention of Habonim as follows: As an educational youth movement aiming to develop within its ranks haverim who shall in their own lives realize its aims. based on the principles of economic and political democracy. To strengthen the bonds between American Jewry and Eretz Yisrael. Habonim has the following purposes: 1. as members of the Histadrut Haovdim (General Federation of Jewish Labor of Eretz Yisrael). Modeled after the Eretz Yisrael collective settlements. conceiving their work as an extension of the program of Jewish group work agencies in the city.
and culture. Equality of all persons in the camp is a cardinal principle. To prepare young Jews for the defense of Jewish rights everywhere. The reader must not overlook the importance of the words. In one camp there may be more free choice of activity than in another." This is a central concept in the educational program of the movement. the camps conform within the limits indicated to certain principles and patterns. test their validity. for instance. The vegetable garden is a bigger undertaking in California than in Winnipeg for obvious climatic reasons. "who shall in their own lives realize its aims. and personnel. The Montreal camp. Principles of Camp Program Although all the camps are the expression of a similar social and educational outlook. The camp director enjoys no privileges not available to the youngest camper. 35 . in a sense. it does not follow that they are identical in character. reflects the Yiddish school influences under which the campers live during the year. for the study of Jewish life. To educate young Jews toward the revitalization of traditional Jewish values. where a camp is located on rented property. Experimentation in methods and program materials varies with the personal predilections of the camp leaders. At Camp Kvutza. it is deemed inadvisable to put too much effort into construction projects. physical environment. Differences exist which are based on local circumstances. Thus. Each camp has developed in time a distinctive character. To prepare young Jews for active participation in American Jewish community life. Nevertheless. 6. toward a feeling of identification with the Jewish rights everywhere. Habonim members live according to the principles they have been studying and.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING 4. history. 5.
on rare occasions. The committees assist in raising funds.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Neither is he exempt from any of the chores which are a part of the maintenance of the camp. A camp committee is established by the local organization. considerable preparations have to be made. a cook has to be engaged. arts and crafts. and in other ways. an effort is made to have no hired labor in camp. such committees are established in each community and contacts are made by correspondence and personal visits by their members. In keeping with the practice of the collectives and cooperatives in Eretz Yisrael. Exceptions are made when it is not possible to secure the services of a competent physician or nurse or when. purchasing food staples. reading circles. The regular camp meetings discuss administrative problems. particularly at the establishment of a new site. The executive committee meets often with the director and staff members to act upon various problems. scoutcraft. The staff and leaders are all members of the organization who contribute their services and regard themselves as members of the camp community. nature study. and elect various committees which are responsible for specific phases of camp life. and daily routine. Disciplinary cases which are not easily adjusted may be brought to the attention of the designated committee. it is impractical to rely entirely on the campers to build the necessary structures. programs. Where several cities in a region cooperate in conducting a camp. The functions of the staff members and leaders are to direct the educational activities -the discussion and study groups. recruiting campers. Self-government is a third basic principle. The local Habonim take the initiative in all this 36 . Representatives of Habonim and the adult Labor Zionist organizations constitute the committees. Workmen are also hired when. dramatics. Staff and Organization Before any Camp Kvutza opens for the summer. and sports. the singing.
37 . the director or an experienced camper outlines the purposes of Camp Kvutza and indicates some of the specific objectives for the summer. both in the cities and in the camps. enlarging the camp. In speaking of staff and leaders. and beautifying the grounds. At a meeting of the entire camp. the full program is initiated. its responsibilities and functions are discussed. With the arrival of the campers. set up the tents. repair the plumbing. and get the camp generally ready. then. as one of the major activities of camp is to carry forward the program of improving facilities. outlining projects. to find. This is a group of members who generally remain as staff members and leaders. boys and girls taking responsibility for the leadership of groups of younger children. the advance crew spends the evenings outlining plans for the summer. It is very general. Prior to the arrival of the first group of campers. No attempt is made to do a complete job of renovation. it is necessary to bear in mind that we are considering here individuals generally much younger than their "opposite numbers" in other camps. They determine the fees to be charged and establish the differential in tuition as between members and nonmembers of the organization. both communal and private. In addition. These leaders are themselves active members of groups of their own age at the same time that they are leading the younger children. The year-round program of the Habonim organization provides for the continual preparation of members for or leaders of groups of younger children. The executive committee is elected. an advance crew arrives at camp to prepare for the opening of the season. Campers may register for varying periods.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING work and carry the burden of responsibility. and the various functional committees are named. They open the buildings. clear the grounds. putting up new structures. the minimum being two weeks. and preparing for the discussions and activities they will conduct.
This has been particularly true where the camp was established on a new site and had to be built "out of nothing. as has been suggested. and clean up after meals. The following year they added a shower house. designated daily by the committee in charge of assigning individuals to various tasks. with the local circumstances. and buildings erected.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Work Projects Some aspects of the camp program and some of the "institutions" which have developed in the course of years merit detailed description. trees have been cut down. The girls painted the dining room and screens. dug a tile tunnel for the water pump. buildings. the cook. and problems involved in maintaining the camp within budgetary limits. the group finished waterproofing the roof of the dining room and kitchen. built shelves and drawers for kitchen equipment. This phase of the program has been one of the most fruitful sources of creative expression. The nature of these projects varies. In a four-week period one summer at Kinneret in Michigan." Using hired workmen only where the tasks made this unavoidable. and in some cases. In the process they learn menu planning. The maintenance of the grounds. some elements of nutrition. and tents is likewise the responsibility of the campers. over a period of years. who is usually a member of an adult Labor Zionist group. wait on tables. sheds to cover the pump and washing machine (the 38 . No one at camp is exempt from taking his or her turn at this work. Building projects are planned and executed sometimes within one season. put up screens and shutters on the doors and windows of the dining room. Work projects are a consistent feature of every Camp Kvutza. ground cleared and ploughed. is assisted by campers. In the kitchen work. There have been instances where it was necessary to curb the eagerness of the campers to devote themselves to work projects to the virtual exclusion of other activities. new tent platforms. The campers help prepare meals.
During the 1942 season. 39 . During the weeks of camp. shower house. Moreover. The advance crew usually prepares the soil and plants a variety of vegetables which mature during July and August. The complete electrification job was done and celebrated late in the summer when the lights were turned on in the dining room. the income being contributed to the Jewish National Fund. The greatest adventure was that of "bringing light to Kinneret. interest in gardening was heightened by associating this activity with the need for maximum food in this country. acquire an enlarged dining room. and recreation hall with impressive ceremonies." Five trees were cut down.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING campers conducted a cooperative laundry). painted and erected so that electric cables could be drawn from the nearest sources of power. it serves to inculcate in the campers a positive attitude toward work and collective self-sufficiency. and the beginnings of a small building intended for use by activity groups in bad weather. I have watched the camp at Killingworth. The campers acquire considerable information and numerous skills. In some of the camps. shower house. It is an end in itself inasmuch as it fills immediate needs and serves to beautify the camp. new garbage pits. In recent years. trimmed. It is a real-life demonstration of the values inherent in socially useful labor. and the beginning of a storage bin. Girls have taken to this activity particularly. log bridge and dam over a stream which fed the swimming pool. This emphasis on work has several motivations. infirmary. the produce from the garden is used in the kitchen. the practice has developed to sell produce to visitors. efforts have been made to introduce gardening with varying success. Connecticut. All this was done in addition to clearing two large wooded areas to accommodate the tents. an outdoor amphitheater dug out of a low hill and furnished with a stage platform.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA Study Activities The casual visitor to any Camp Kvutza would probably be struck by the amount of time devoted to more or less formal study. The subjects keep changing as events suggest the timeliness of various problems. anti-Semitism. Here the emphasis is on creating new forms 40 . Observance of Shabbat Much attention has been focused upon the observance of Shabbat. Definite periods are set aside for this in the daily schedule. The subject matter. and special occasions. to the effect of rainfall on the economy of Eretz Yisrael. The topics range from the aims and organizational forms of Habonim. to the causes of war and the prospects for permanent peace. Group discussion is the dominant method." phases and problems of life in Eretz Yisrael. long and personalized discussions as to the implications of the war took place in all camps. but an atmosphere of purposeful learning permeates the camp at all times. when war was imminent in Europe. Reading of relevant materials goes on simultaneously. Jewish community organization. derived from the basic aims of Habonim. with projects involving related activities being used to a fair degree. the Bible and modern Jewish literature. particularly among the younger age groups. representatives of the Eretz Yisrael Labor Movement. from vocational problems of American Jewish youth. holidays. Groups have discussed and read about Jewish historical subjects. and elements of Socialism. Talks by visitors from nearby communities. problems of Jewish adjustment. personalities from Jewish and Socialist history. At the end of the 1939 season. "famous unknowns. covers a wide range of topics of Jewish and general interest. Jewish migrations and refugees. and staff members serve frequently as points of departure for discussions.
with or without choral group to provide direction. symptomatic of the swing back from an earlier rejection in radical Jewish circles of all that smacks of the old and "outworn. These ceremonials. and which will be emotionally and aesthetically satisfying. reading circles. After the meal the singing normally continues. they have drawn those which lit particularly the spirit of Shabbat. the dining room is furnished with fresh flowers and ferns. The use of the traditional Kiddush has spread in recent years. they do not stiffer from that coldness and remoteness which so often characterize the reformist or "non-sectarian" services in vogue in many Jewish camps. give to the observance a spontaneity which is so often lacking where the traditional orthodox customs are practiced. tables are covered with white table cloths." Groups have prepared special readings from the Bible and the Prophets. discussions of current events. the evening closes with folk dancing in the open or in the cleared dining room. and from their extensive repertoire of Hebrew and Yiddish songs. The day is characterized by more leisure. and when this is done the first hint may well appear in the blessing of the candles. Some experiments have been made with developing new forms for Saturday morning and with the Havdala 41 . Preparations for Shabbat go on all day. Camp is cleaned up. At the same time. Considerable success has been achieved in this area.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING of observance which will give meaning and significance to the holidays. There may be also a story or brief talk on a subject related to Shabbat. all work projects are in abeyance. The Friday evening at Camp Kvutza is the highlight of the week. sports and swimming for longer periods than usual. The ceremonies may begin at flag-lowering. being original. Invariably. On Saturday. and a special menu is prepared. Specific themes may be used as the foci of the program. laundry is done. and continue in the dining room before and after the meal.
Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av-date of the destruction of the Temple). are observed regularly with special programs. The Saturday night campfire. The Common Fund One of the most radical features of Camp Kvutza is the elimination of "private capital. This has not been achieved without some difficulty. where the diary of the week is reviewed." In keeping with the principle of collective living. group re- 42 . the founder of political Zionism. which occur during the summer. In all the camps. is observed. has become a traditional event. it was decided that "only the solelim (the youngest children) were to have some fruit juice. and Hayim Nahman Bialik. The educational value of the discussions is obvious. The effect of such practices is illustrated in the incident reported from Los Angeles where. each camp takes up anew the question as to how to operate the common fund. and here the tendency to create new ways of observing old holy days finds expression.GROWTH OF AN IDEA services at sunset. the camps have always emphasized the concept of keeping all campers and staff on an equal basis with respect to money. it is interesting to note that some camps have observed the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sacco and Vanzetti." Reflecting their interest in the general struggle for human freedom and civil rights. On Tuesday the solelim rebelled. too. after the campers had debated the question of having breakfast or not. and every year. the Hebrew poet. and the money normally spent on the meal is contributed to the Jewish National Fund. They refused to drink their juice. breakfast is foregone on Tisha B'Av. involving as they do questions of equality. This was on Monday. individual rights. Other Celebrations The anniversaries of Theodor Herzl.
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING sponsibility for the individual. stationary. however. How well it has been accepted by the campers is illustrated in the anecdote about the boy who. and combs are placed with the committee which fills the orders as the finances permit. the common fund is not instituted without prior discussion and acceptance. as members of the American Hehalutz. Those who have been identified with it from the beginning have grown with their experiences and have demonstrated the soundness of the theories with which they began to work. (A goodly number of former campers are now living in collective settlements in Eretz Yisrael. Occasionally. frequently over the objections of a minority. are being trained in agriculture or trades for settlement there. and the like. how will we be able to get stamps and batteries?" After ten years Camp Kvutza has remained true to its original principles. Experience has varied. The common fund generally functions as follows: All money in the possession of the campers and staff members is placed in a common fund administered by a committee. No accounts are kept of what campers give or get. or. are virtually non-existent. problems familiar to all camp directors. All requests for supplies such as stamps. As indicated. at the same time enabling him to defend his request if he wishes to do so. the troublesome problems associated with these gifts. in a discussion as to whether or not there should be a common fund. it has been accepted and has worked out very satisfactorily. tooth brushes. asked: "If we don't have one. Where it includes the agreement to share among the entire camp all foods and candy sent to individual campers. means of curbing excessive demands. Where a request is considered to be out of line with the budget or unjustifiable for any other reason.) 43 . the committee advises the camper accordingly. The only exception to this general practice is made in situations where the camper deposits with the committee some money to be kept for his return home. difficulties arise. particularly with non-members of Habonim or with new campers. On the whole.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA The camps remain physically primitive and unadorned. Through such experience the campers learn how satisfying and enriching a cooperative society can be. The emphasis continues to be on translating into personal experience the concepts of individual and social living of the movement and on providing a wholesome and stimulating Jewish environment. 1943 44 . Camp Kvutza is the climax of an organic educational experience. so that the pioneering spirit may not be lost. forming a part of a continuous year-round program of a youth movement. Concurrently they acquire information and emotional attitudes toward their Jewish heritage and contemporary Jewish life which help to make of them healthy mid creative Jewish personalities. small tent villages with a few "communal" structures. Abraham Cohen. rather than a single -unrelated event in the life of a boy or a girl.
Y.P.Z.A. Convention, Buffalo, 1935, where decision was made to form Habonim.
Hora, Shabbat, Highland Mills, N.Y., 1932.
Rachel Siegal, Golda Meir, Jacob Lemberger, Leah Brown, Ralph Cohen, and Izzy Shapiro, Accord, 1933.
Campfire, first Kvutza, Highland Mills, N.Y., 1932.
Jacob Katzman and Leo Krown at Accord.
Campers at first Kvutza, Highland Mills, N.Y., 1932.
Ready for overnight hike, Accord, 1936.
Visitors at Accord, 1939. Left to right, an unidentified woman, Leah Goldberg, Hayim Greenberg, Judy Goldberg, Arthur Goldberg, Rufus Learsi, Mr. Greyer, Kalman Whiteman.
The Camp at Hachshara, 1935. Ben Zion Ilan leading a discussion.
Parents Day at Kinneret, 1941. Kvutza truck, Accord.
Washday at Accord.
Outdoor discussion, Accord, 1935.
Campers, Accord, 1935.
Waterfalls, Accord, N.Y.
We familiarize our haverim with our historical past. for our people. In other words. this means that we want to develop an individual who is awake and sensitive to his world. And 49 . because of the sensitivity within himself. His participation in this renaissance becomes the foremost factor in his life as an individual. he is a young Jew who understands what is happening to his people in an alien world and. for all individuals. we try to erase the narrow concept of "me and mine. In the new society that we seek to create." that concept which makes man struggle to fill his pockets so that he and his small family may enjoy the fruits of the world. we would implant a concern for mankind. and who creates within himself a force that drives him on to self-realization. who dares to participate in every phase of its life. takes part in the renaissance of his people. Were we to believe only in man's right to be a free individual.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING THE MEANING OF KVUTZA Camp Kvutza is our way of making the ideas we have developed and the ideals in which we believe real for ourselves and for the haverim whom we lead. We believe that there must evolve a new society of cooperation where mankind will develop new values. In the place of this narrow view of life. In specific terms. We believe in the right of man to be free as an individual. When we speak of new society and new values. we would choose other avenues than Zionism on which to live. but followers after the pattern of life being created now in Eretz Yisrael. we interpret our present struggle. and we point the way to return to nationhood as our only means of survival and our way of participating in the further development of our people and of society. we are not dreamers after Utopia. We believe in the right of an entire people to be free as a group. But it is because we believe in the value and the necessity for national living that we are Zionists.
we must educate an entire generation of Jewish youth along new lines of thinking and acting. That is our best way of developing the new individual. art. discipline and attitudes of the little community. This equality and this concern for mankind will become real only when man is judged by his selfless contribution to society. otherwise there is no equality. and put it in their hearts and in their way of living. In order to translate these ideas into human living. he should become a part of Kvutza. prepare himself to go to Kvutza. food and equipment purchasing. If he is too young for this. he should have a part in the actual planning of construction. study. If he is a responsible boneh. appearance and cleanliness of the settlement. Unless the individu- 50 . management of the kitchen. Even before he sees the site. scouting.GROWTH OF AN IDEA this concern would be demonstrated in our economic. everyone must be made to have an interest in every phase of the day's activity: work. political. music. development of creative interests such as. social. and sports. and social selves. Everyone must become interested in the management of Kvutza: the government. Equality must be expressed in every phase of life economic. While still in the city. In Camp Kvutza we live our ideals. Once at Kvutza. but living is by far the greater teacher. religious. We seek to take the word equality off the lips of our haverim. cultural. crafts. dramatics. help to raise funds. and only when he is a laborer for the improvement of that society. he should bear witness to all the excitement of preparation. photography. our haver must be made to feel that he is going out on a pioneering adventure to work out a way of life with a group of boys and girls his own age. and educational programs. Discussion is an important part of education. Individual Development at Kvutza Haverim who come to Kvutza must create the Kvutza.
it is absolutely vital in the Kvutza. songs. he must be prepared with the proper attitude. games. through special programs and in daily living. 2. To learn to live with a large group of individuals. The madrich must come to Kvutza prepared for his duties. Our aims for the haver who participates in Kvutza may be summed up as follows: 1. To deal with the problems of life in a group through the creation of a society based on equality and cooperation. At the very least. but at Kvutza he is with them during all their waking and sleeping hours. The Madrich of Kvutza Upon the madrich rests the Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING al is part of the day's activity. he should be ready with his discussion material. To understand the significance of being pioneers in a new form of living. Now there is only day-by-day living. the individual" and to be so challenged as to take upon himself the task of realizing that future. For in the city. and rainy-day activities. he will develop-or fail to develop-all the individuals who come to Kvutza. we will fail in our attempt to develop him into the person we want. through discussion and dramatics. For no one in Kvutza is on a vacation. Now there are no "company manners" between them. To experience. 5. the madrich sees his haverim only once or twice a week. the life-struggle of our people today. 3. 4. If his role is important in the city. If possible. He will create the atmosphere and the spirit. it is our training ground for the tomorrow 51 . To know that the future of our people depends on "me.
He faces a serious task. "firm" in stating our point of view? The rosh of every Kvutza. and spends many hours in just speaking with them about all the big problems we face together and all their personal problems. How far can we go in allowing the haverim of Camp Kvutza to go their own way in managing Kvutza? Will we create any sins against progressive education and against individual freedom if we guide all activities and if we are. We do not bring together a group of youngsters. he is responsible for the physical well-being of his haverim. He must foresee problems before his youngsters create them so that he can divert energies to other channels. eat enough. Exactly what is his responsibility? First. Second.GROWTH OF AN IDEA of our people. Freedom with a Pattern Herein lies a real problem for all madrichim. He sees that they sleep enough. be is responsible for their development as individuals. write up our scientific observations. At the same time. he draws them into every activity. together with the madrichim. He helps them adjust to their surroundings. Third. lie. he is responsible for their psychological well-being. The luxury of experiments in edu- 52 . must know how to put across his way of thinking and the desired way of acting. and only one who understands the responsibility should be entrusted with it. at times. must understand that Kvutza is not merely an educational experiment. He must be a good pal and know how to have f un with them. he discovers their hidden talents and interests. with notebook in hand. The madrich directs the training. promotes friendly relations among them. and then. he makes them aware of the role they play in their group. turn them loose. The madrich must be wide awake. wins their confidences. He explains Kvutza and people to them. keep themselves and their sleeping quarters clean.
is not freedom but a weakening of Kvutza spirit. No amount of "freedom" is real or desirable if it destroys our Kvutza spirit or discolors our Kvutza design.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING cation for their own sake we must leave for people more fortunate than we. Staying awake until all hours of the night is ruinous to health and humor-it is not freedom. Rising. The program should be full so that haverim know that one activity follows another regularly. neat haverim. Our only sin can be the failure to make Kvutza what it must be: a pattern of life for our haverim. The rosh and madrichim must keep them in mind always. clean buildings that are nicely decorated. the day's program-all must add up to steady living. Failure to participate in discussions. in work. We want our youngsters to create their summer Kvutza because that is the way to teach them that they must build the real Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael. meals. We are trying to "turn men into a nation and sand into a country. An Orderly Society Kvutza must be an orderly society. in any group activity. they are likewise entrusted with a great responsibility to the Labor Zionist movement. The rosh and madrichim are entrusted with young lives and young minds. Kvutza must be a symbol to us-a symbol that we will eventually make real. We need this for the education as well as for the spirit of the Kvutza." Camp Kvutza is our instrument for inspiring and remaking individual young Jewish lives. other institutions may be created to assist in the order of the Kvutza or in 53 . That symbol and its realization are the prime forces behind Kvutza. goes far toward creating the orderly society. but more is needed to make this orderliness complete. each thing in its place. The appearance of Kvutza must be orderly-clean grounds. Let them not be frightened by terms or by name-calling. A day filled with activity. Haverim must live on schedule. There should be clean-up committees of campers.
lack of discipline. the machaneh in which I am now living has chosen its Kvutza committee. Kvutza should develop the machaneh. as well as a goal toward which they will work. Poor enrollment of movement members. Our second aim of Kvutza is to 54 . 2. all these problems should be settled between the madrich and the individual concerned through talks. From these discussions. lack of understanding of Kvutza. Insofar as possible. it cannot be stressed too much: Prepare your members for Kvutza. our first aim for Kvutza is to integrate these new haverim into the movement. with this committee I have had one discussion from which we concluded: 1. The better the madrich. rosh and madrichim should have discussions oil the weaknesses and strengths of the machaneh and its needs. but beyond that and greater than that. the fewer problems will arise. not only for the development of our haverim individually. should come the specific aims of that Kvutza for the season." They are actually the "backbone" of the machaneh. Before going out to Kvutza. Our machaneh has a good group of Kvutza "veterans. No general rule may be given for "order" or "discipline. Therefore. poor participation. Summer Kvutza can do much. Therefore. Thus there will be an understanding among those who will lead the Kvutza." since each case and the individuals concerned must be considered. a broken common fund-these reflect the city activities. For example. Our machaneh has expanded rapidly so that only about half of our haverim have been to Kvutza and have an understanding of the movement. Setting Goals Each Kvutza is a reflection of the city from which its people come.GROWTH OF AN IDEA the handling of haverim who refuse to be a part of the general orderliness.
like last. our movement faces a serious lack of leadership for our summer Kvutzot. and business of the camp. 1935 COMING OF AGE The thirteenth consecutive year of Habonim summer camping has rolled around. We have been so occupied in actually preparing for Kvutza. complete leadership within the Kvutza and within the machaneh. and must prepare as much as possible for the season. that we have hardly had time to notice the years creeping up on us. we become more certain that we will face still greater responsibilities in the movement here and abroad. worries. For although thirteen years is a relatively short period of time in the life of an individual. This will mean that all who are madrichim must become well acquainted with the objectives of Kvutza before they go. created. entitled to a sedate. at that age. and talkative "Bar Mitzva dinner. It was only when I sat down and began to count that I suddenly realized. This year. so immersed in the every-day workings. by a small group of stubborn young people who were dissatisfied with Jewish summer camping as 55 . even before the official beginning of Habonim as an organization. wherever necessary. Miriam Biderman. that Bar Mitzva is upon us." What have we accomplished in these thirteen summers? What institutions can we point to? What have we established. to my amazement. an institution such as camp is considered old and established. Therefore. With our awareness of what is happening to our people in Europe and in Eretz Yisrael. contributed? The first Habonim Camp Kvutza was started thirteen years ago.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING prepare these sixteen-year-old “veterans" to assume. must think a great deal about Kvutza as an educational institution and as a symbol. thoughtful. our haverim must feel that in Kvutza they are undergoing training for their role tomorrow.
It is almost a truism that those cities which have a good Camp Kvutza in the vicinity have the strongest. thirteen years later. We have found no better way to develop youth toward an intelligent understanding of Zionism 56 .GROWTH OF AN IDEA they knew it. we now own all but one of our camps. Jewish problems. change them for the better. They felt that the camp should be run democratically with each camper having a choice in decisions affecting programs and work. the campers. we now have an average of 1. dreams incapable of realizationtoday they are part and parcel. It is undoubtedly the strongest educational instrument which we have succeeded in developing. Whereas thirteen years ago all the principles listed above were dreams-according to some. most alert. and preparing to operate nine next summer. in a highly developed form. and paid too little attention to intelligent discussion and teaching of Jewish attitudes and heritage. Whereas thirteen years ago there was a group of some ten to fifteen campers. They felt it was too occupied with trivialities.400 or more each summer. Whereas thirteen years ago the first campers "squatted" on a piece of land loaned to them. of our camping system. They decided that they. gave too little room for the expression of the creative abilities of campers. most Jewish-conscious and responsible Habonim groups. They called the camp "Kvutza. Jewish history. as it did last. Today Camp Kvutza is integrally bound up with the life blood of Habonim as a movement. They decided to devote some time each day to discussion of Jewish current affairs. They had the impudence to believe that they could operate a camp which could change these things. They were determined that the spirit of modern Eretz Yisrael should permeate the camp. Habonim is operating eight summer camps throughout the United States and Canada. should work several hours a day in and about the camp. and are constantly expanding our facilities." Today.
two-month living course presented by Camp Kvutza. Perhaps it is because younger people all over are becoming accustomed to a greater degree of responsibility. and it is increasingly difficult for even them to devote themselves to camp. to become vitally concerned with our problems. and with roots in Habonim. like others.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING than the twenty-four-hour-a-day. with a certain type of background. Despite our realization of these things. be concerned simply with supplying a staff for our camps. Whatever the reasons. our 57 . The nature of our purpose makes for an extremely high rate of change and adaption to circumstance. conditions the type of camp we have. The fact that we are interested in retaining a permanent hold on the camper through the year as well as in the summer months.and sixteen-year-olds who in the normal course of events would not be groomed for leadership and responsibility have been forced to become the physical and intellectual core of Kvutza. that we want him to assume responsibility. we are reticent about pointing to our accomplishments. The inner strength of our camps is showing itself in the way this crisis is being met. Ways must be found to draw them actively into the cause which circumstance dictates they must fight for though they be unprepared. The eighteen. By their very nature our camps become institutionalized according to a given pattern. Programs have to be adjusted to their level of preparation. perhaps it is because to an increasing extent they are concerning themselves with problems which have hitherto been considered the domain of their elders. We cannot.and nineteen-year-old haverim who would normally assume positions of leadership are to a large extent unavailable. The fifteen. There are several reasons for this. Our staff must consist of a certain type of individual. Thus we have been hit more than ordinary camps by the current war situation. New systems for activity have to be worked out.
other ticklish problems arise. In others. we have not succeeded in completely solving them. In others. Three new permanent sites have been acquired. The extent to which Habonim should actually run the camp. So far. the Labor Zionist movement as a whole has failed to recognize its value and gives it no more than perfunctory backing. Given the conviction that Camp Kvutza is a good instrument for the advancement of our approach to Jewish life. so good. We have always felt that an important element in shaping the character and initiative of the campers would be lost were 58 . in those places where the senior movement has become interested. On the other band. All that I have mentioned can definitely be considered on the credit side of the Camp Kvutza ledger. But there is another angle from which the whole picture can be viewed. camps are being expanded. We have continued to develop during the last two difficult summers. In some cities Kvutza is the summer camp of our entire movement. plans for new camps are under serious consideration. the advisability of younger people being entrusted with financial and physical responsibility for what in some cases is a big business. have we exploited as fully as we could have and should have? Have we succeeded in getting the Labor Zionist movement as a whole to recognize it and actively support it? Have we succeeded in bringing it to the attention of the Jewish public as a whole? The answers to these questions are doubtful. We have encountered many problems along these lines and to this day. receiving enthusiastic backing of all its segments. there exists no Kvutza because the movement there has failed to become enthusiastic enough about it to undertake the establishment of one. new ideas are being contributed.GROWTH OF AN IDEA younger haverim have reacted in a way which leaves no doubt as to the future of Habonim camping. comes into question.
The extent to which non-members of Habonim should be permitted to come to camp is also debatable. All these questions must eventually be resolved. In the establishment of a network of twice and thrice the number of Kvutzot we now have. for one. Concerted attempts must be made to acquire the greatest moral and material backing possible. thus acquiring contact with our ideas and principles. lies the road to the establishment of a really alert Labor Zionist youth. But it is the general feeling that their number should be limited to a certain percentage of the campers in order to preserve the Habonim character. That non-members should attend Kvutza. In general. more powerful than Hebrew schools. Murray Weingarten. it has been left up to the individual city to decide on this question although certain minimum principles such as no work on Shabbat have been adopted nationally.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING these and other responsibilities removed from us and given to our senior haverim. The extent to which the traditional element in Kvutza should be stressed is something which has caused much discussion. It is more powerful than city propaganda. I. 1944 59 . am convinced that Camp Kvutza is the most powerful instrument Habonim has created for the attraction of young American Jews to its cause. and its preservation and strengthening is perhaps the greatest contribution Habonim can make to the cause of Labor Zionist youth in this country. is naturally desirable.
The food is distributed equally. We have. in turn. We discuss the desires. and privileges that carry consequences affecting him directly. 60 . Self-Labor . the haver becomes a full-fledged member of a community with duties. B. Cooperative Living .that a man must not be exploited and that he. to each according to his need. each camper learns to live with a large group of individuals and to handle the problems of such a life together with the others in a way most efficient and beneficial to the group. The maintenance work is done by the camper: kitchen duty. needs.In Kvutza. and where necessary and possible. C. there is never hired labor except where necessary-the cook and the nurse). responsibilities. even construction of buildings. This is in keeping with our cooperative ideal: from each according to his ability. and at the same time. for example. cleaning. program. perhaps for the first time. Self-Government . This is in keeping with our belief in the dignity of labor and with the ideal and policy of the Histadrut . And we elect our committees and our officers.In Kvutza. Each person receives what he needs from the common fund. suggestions. and ways of meeting these needs. exploit no one.GROWTH OF AN IDEA PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY I. Social Justice A. and interests of the campers in regard to the Kvutza program. our common fund of money and food from home. No individual accounts are kept.Here. Each person at Kvutza puts in as much money as he can and whatever food he may bring or receive from home. sanitation. to each individual. We have a meeting of the entire camp community to discuss its philosophy.
the identification with the people and its struggle.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING II. We want to develop in Kvutza. III. Camp Kvutza and the Movement I. Into this spirit goes the appreciation of the culture and tradition. and in our haverim through Kvutza. is perhaps the most important part of Kvutza life. We want to develop or intensify an appreciation of the Jewish tradition and a desire for participation in and perpetuation of this culture. personally. 61 . We strive to develop a historical sense and an identification with the past and present struggle of the Jewish people. comfortable feeling of being Jewish. Hebrew study. to be able to make decisions. This. are experiencing these things. singing. reading circles. and use privileges well. B. and a positive. We want to develop in our people a feeling of belonging to all that ever was and is Jewish. Zionism It is our purpose in Kvutza. as in our machanot. carry responsibility. We desire to aid each individual to become self-sufficient. The Individual A. though it is hardest to define in -words. We want to develop the desire to participate personally in the upbuilding of Eretz Yisrael. in our lives. We want to make him realize his own worth. to give the haver an intellectual understanding of Zionism and an emotional feeling of healthy nationalism. Judaism A. C. we must regard it as if we. to have a healthy self-respect. We approach this through our Shabbat and holiday celebrations. dancing. The Haggada says that as we read at the Seder Pesach of the Exodus from Egypt. that intangible Jewish spirit-the folkways of our people.
Habonim becomes the social group. Through the achievement of all the above. C. and enjoyable summer. group attitudes. they are more willing to devote time and energy to the movement. He develops loyalties. and hav- 62 . There are satisfactions which an individual cannot obtain alone. discussions with other haverim and with madrichim. Meetings. In the course of such participation. and the hanhaga. discussion groups. This is especially important for us because it makes for strong ties among members of Habonim and for cohesive groups. become an integral and pleasant part of their lives because it is so for their friends also. When people have a place in the social setup of the movement. The Machaneh A. III. and to be able to influence without becoming domineering. general and Jewish. II. having had a full. to conform without losing his individuality. KM. For many of our people. and stimulation in a group. stimulating. Kvutza is a stimulant to movement work -When haverim come from Kvutza." An individual gains significance. The individual and the group are closely interrelated. B. We want to develop within the individual a respect and regard for his haverim in the group and a successful method of cooperating with them for the general good. "In unity there is strength. D. his personality develops and a socializing takes place. All of the foregoing is important to the machaneh. and standards.GROWTH OF AN IDEA B. a haver is more willing and able to be active in the movement during the course of the organizational year. courage. Through self-study. reading circles. one has a real opportunity to increase his knowledge. Every person needs a sense of belonging. We expect the haver to develop intellectually during the course of the summer. We strive to develop within him a community mindedness: the ability to live within a group. The Group A.
educate and induct new members. Kvutza offers an excellent opportunity to attract. The campers. 63 . is a vital part of the community. The madrichim are perhaps the equivalent to elected officers in a democratic society. He can influence the entire atmosphere of a Camp Kvutza. many return from Kvutza in a position to influence and lead others. C. This gives them a greater responsibility to the group." Kvutza Is a Living Community I. It is not a vacation from our "real" lives.Through opportunities for leadership. They have been assigned their roles by virtue of their wider experience and greater insight and understanding. The Movement A. Kvutza Is a Living Community A. to make a quick decision where necessary-in other words. C. The rosh. We come together and have an opportunity to live a portion of our lives as we believe and desire. Kvutza is a democratic. B. madrichim. or simply through the group experience. The movement is strengthened by the activities and stimulation of Camp Kvutza. It is his responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of the Kvutza and its people. and rosh are integral parts of this group. "The whole is greater than its parts. Leadership qualities are developed . IV. cooperative community. Their function is within the group and not above and outside of it. like the madrichim. B. committee work. they are usually anxious to get started on machaneh activities and have a lot to offer intellectually and spiritually.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ing formed strong group ties. He is responsible for Kvutza as a whole and for each of its facets. to feel and understand the tempo of the camp.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA II. though it is natural that the rosh and the youngest tzofeh are not 64 . The madrich that works with a group must be part of that group. however. There is a definite carry-over of attitudes. B. This is the first community expression of the campers. the group stimulates him. There we put into practice our theory that Kvutza is a "living community. in turn. They are not technicians functioning in the limited sphere of their specialties. The relationship between rosh and madrichim is important in forming attitudes and understanding in madrich-camper relations. The Meeting . intellectually. He also has the job of making decisions necessary for the best functioning of the Kvutza. The madrichim in a Kvutza are not counselors in the usual sense.” We want the haverim to understand that. The First Day I. It is also one of the biggest factors in the tone and atmosphere of the camps.The first meeting is the most important one of the season. There we will determine the policy and principles of Kvutza. we enrich our lives through this relationship. The rosh and madrichim must work closely together in order to achieve the best possible results for the group. has veto power over decisions of madrichim and campers in matters of health and safety. It is in all of the madrich's behavior as a social being. The first day of camp sets the tone for the entire period. He stimulates the group and. socially. The madrichim must exert every effort to make the campers feel at home and must be with the campers every minute of the day to aid in their personal adjustment and orientation to new faces and new surroundings. A. in relation to all others madrichim and campers alike-that he influences people. and in a creative manner. If we are successful. The rosh. Future relationships between madrichim and campers can stem from impressions received on the first day. Relationships in Camp Kvutza A. because of his particular position.
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equal in influence, they are equal in right of expression. The madrichim also are an integral part of this community meeting, with full voting rights and complete freedom of expression. Let us clarify the question of jurisdiction which will arise in some form. The madrichim will deal with our general educational policy and health and safety measures. The madrichim must have an appreciation and an understanding of all other camp problems. The primary function of the general meeting, on the other hand, is to discuss the group life-the community life such as common fund, work committee, evening programs, and daily schedule. It is clear, however, that an explanation of the guiding principles of our health and safety measures is necessary, that a discussion on the educational aspects of camp can be a positive thing. If the thoughts of the campers on this aspect of camp life are feasible, then they certainly are acceptable. B. Common Fund - Our purpose in advocating the common fund is to teach the first fundamental principle of a Labor Zionist life. It is not advisable, however, to impose such a decision on Kvutza. Our job must be to educate in such a fashion that the haverim will decide themselves that it is practical and necessary. Our approach should be: How do you want to handle spending money and food packages? We can get across the point that beside the educational value, it is practical, pleasurable (isn't it more fun to do things together as friends?), and is wanted. Educational Tools I. We have, in our movement and in Kvutza, established certain definite and characteristic methods of "getting things across.” We utilize the discussion, the reading circle, creative group activities, and Shabbat and holiday programs. These are our educational tools.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA
A. The Discussion-The discussion has traditionally been our way of disseminating information. We have considered it our chief "tool." We realize that informational lectures seldom move a young person or change his attitudes or ideas. Our discussions have often been reduced to information-giving periods, and only by carefully planning and preparing them, can we avoid making lectures of the discussions. Methods that are interesting, provocative, and attractive must be utilized. B. The Reading Circle-The reading circle is a pliable "tool.” It can be used in connection with the discussions, as well as independent of them (Zionist classics, for instance). It can also be a device for transmitting certain attitudes and feelings. As an example of this last, reading stories and poetry from Hebrew and Yiddish literature in the original or translation may help in developing an understanding of and feeling for the literature and folkways of our people. In Camp Kvutza, where there are a number of Hebrew-speaking haverim, there is certainly an opportunity for a reading in circle. Personal Preparation I. This coming summer, madrichim in our Kvutzot, on the average, will be younger than ever before. In many cases, this means that the madrich will be lacking in experience and background. We must be prepared to conduct more extensive and intensive training in the city for our madrichim prior to their going out to Kvutza. This can be accomplished in various ways. A. The madrichim responsible for camp work should begin to meet once a week. What does such a group hope to accomplish? The group should aim to have a clear understanding of what Camp Kvutza is, how it differs from the average camp in this country, what we hope to accomplish with our campers, and what the ideas of Habonim are. It should aim to have an under-
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standing of what to do with children and how to make decisions on practical and technical problems of Kvutza. B. This "workshop" is to serve as the instrument whereby the madrichim obtain basic attitudes and ideas for camp work. After concentrated discussion, the madrich should be ready for the necessary personal preparation. Conferences with individuals and supervision of individual assignments is an important aspect of our training. The facilities of the city can be utilized, and various haverim can be assigned to take courses in first aid, dramatics, crafts, carpentry, cooking, sports, swimming, office work, scoutcraft, etc. Others can begin to think in terms of preparing for the discussion groups, evening programs, Shabbat celebrations, rainy-day programs, and the work program. C. The "workshop" and individual preparation do not rule out the necessity for frequent meetings of all the madrichim. The following items must be understood thoroughly: 1. Health and safety requirements and standards 2. Kitchen setup and rules 3. Daily program 4. General educational work 5. Role of the madrich in Camp Kvutza 6. Discipline D. From the beginning we should strive to create the feeling that the madrichim are working as a group, thrashing out plans, discussing theory and practice, and helping establish the basic principles which govern their tasks. The job of this group becomes increasingly important since training and supervision are paramount to achieve the necessary continuity of program and stability of approach. Handbook for Madrichim, 1952
GROWTH OF AN IDEA
THE TURNING POINT Habonim camps, at their inception, introduced new and revolutionary methods and concepts into the field of camping generally, and Jewish camping in particular. Perhaps we, not to speak of authorities in the field of Jewish camping, have never fully evaluated or appreciated the new and progressive approaches we developed in our first camps. Our program was outstandingly different from other Jewish camping programs; in most phases of camping, we led the way and were far ahead of other camps. Alongside the most progressive educational techniques and values, our camps, from the physical point of view, operated on a most primitive level. Campers were generally housed in tents. Outdoor plumbing was the rule and not the exception. Dining halls were small, kitchens totally inadequate. There were no special facilities for infirmaries. Frequently, camps were situated in virtually inaccessible sites. There were no special technical personnel; an older havera with relatively limited experience might well be the cook or nurse, and an older haver, the business manager. And no camp season was complete without at least one good epidemic, fire, or accident, which created the material for "chizbatim" told to this very day. In fact, the more primitive the camp, the more enjoyable and satisfying the camp season appeared to have been. And, surprisingly enough, parents sent their children to such camps. Perhaps it was that in the late thirties and early forties the Jewish community had not as yet reached its present economic middle-class level, with corresponding middle-class standards in regard to the camps. Perhaps parents-and especially those from so-called "Jewish homes" -felt that the uniquely Jewish content which we had to offer their children in such a creative and dynamic manner more than offset the primitive environment to which their children were exposed. Whatever the reason, though they complained, parents sent
to private camps charging high tuition rates." by Hyman R.. He must ask for help. Emanuel.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING their children to our camps. ranging from agency camps.. one can find a strikingly familiar description of a day at camp in the March 14. The children were started on this imaginary trip by applying. realistically enough. and shared by. Sankel. . The foundation is about to be laid.. Two boys and a girl start to saw wood for the flooring of the house they are erecting . For instance. with its emphasis on the dignity of labor and cooperation among men. The cement is ready. Others are busily mixing mortar and cement for the foundation of the house.. for example. for visas at the Israel Consul's office. This is a key job. new camps come into being which stress similar approaches to the very ideals in camping which were once almost exclusively ours. issue of The Reconstructionist. The monopoly we once had in the field of creative Jewish living" is no longer ours either. The camp individualist. "At a Work Camp of the American Jewish Society for Service. He begins to see the value of working together with his fellow camper for a common goal. Every year. 1954. It is actually a description of a typical "work camp" of which there are many. in an article entitled. Now the plumb line and the level go into action.. and their children returned from camp none the worse for wear and full of enthusiasm for the type of creative Jewish camping which they had experienced over the summer-an enthusiasm which to varying degrees was communicated to. Here. Still others are digging a ditch to lay the sewer pipe. the parents themselves. Today. is a description of a B'nai B'rith camp: "The most popular of the subjects studied was the imaginary trip to Israel . from the point of view of progressive educational techniques and values. our camps are no longer unique. 69 . They visited the cities. Cooperation is essential. such as the one described above. . cannot do the job alone.. " The day's work is beginning ." This could be a description of a very successful work project at a Habonim camp.
A good madrich should be able to educate towards the aims of Habonim in a modern. . So now. there are so many Jewish camps from which to choose that he may well be particular as to the one he finally decides upon. the madrich has more tools and materials at his disposal 70 . well-operated camp. on the contrary. " While we may take pride in the fact that a B'nai B'rith camp here employs so successfully a technique long known to Habonim. Each site was investigated for its ancient and modern significance. in a primitive one. . using the approach to Jewish camping which such an activity typifies. if not better than. though educationally Jewish camping has caught up to us. For in Habonim. we want to create halutzim.GROWTH OF AN IDEA famous settlements. well-run camp as well as. unlike other Jewish organizations. And today. in terms of our movement's needs. on the contrary. the Jewish parent pays increasing attention to the physical setup of the camp to which lie sends his child. Let no one conclude from my foregoing remarks that our particular type of camping has outlived its usefulness. ill-managed camp in order to educate towards that goal. in a modern. The physical setup and technical functioning of the camp finally chosen may well be the deciding factors. we find that we are not the only progressive Jewish camp on the scene. Habonim camping is as necessary and important to us as it ever was. is that we are no longer alone. When they entered the kibbutz Yizr'el. in 1954. and landmarks of the country. or among the few. well-equipped. which can be drawn from this and other examples. and only our camps can educate towards that aim. more than ever before. technically we have failed to keep pace with the other camps. which is on the Gilboa. an even more important conclusion. f acing the Arab Triangle. On the other hand. But one need not have a technically primitive. they could sense the immense drama which has taken place and is taking place around this famous mountain .
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING to aid him in his job. 1954 71 . The need then is to bring our camps up to date in the physical. To defend the primitive camp on ideological terms is to distort the entire meaning of our ideology. as we have set out to do. whose first concern is with his child's health and safety. If we do advance. we may once again find ourselves in a leading position in the field of Jewish camping in America. If we do not advance technically. Dex Srauss. a time will come when our camps will be empty. Habonim camping is now at a crucial turning point. and administrative spheres so that we can once again compete with other Jewish camps and be acceptable to the modern Jewish parent. technical. We must face up to the realities of the situation and solve the problems confronting us in a responsible and mature manner.
History and Development .
and set up a systematic program for selecting the volunteers to staff the camps. Inspired by Accord. Only a few of the camps were on permanent sites. but there was already a feeling that means must be found of assuring permanency and continuity in the operation of our camps. In educational methodology. and in Chicago at Camp Tel Hai. With the development and expansion of the camps came a need for better planning and direction of both their educational and administrative aspects. they ran the gamut from experiments in Lieberman's Creative Camping to semi-military discipline.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS It all began in 1932. The summer Kvutza had become Habonim's most powerful and most effective educational weapon and had also become a "big business" operation. 3) self-labor. called for the organization of a Habonim Kvutza Committee. most sites were rented. new camps were projected for Texas and Winnipeg. two more Kvutzot were opened in 1935-in Montreal. By 1939. Los Angeles had its first camp. began to work on the first Kvutza Manual. with fourteen haverim in a tent. Close to 1500 haverim attended the camps in 1940. Moshava (Baltimore) and Kinneret (Detroit) were founded. In many cases permission was secured to use the site for an indefinite period of time. 1940. and in preparation for the 1941 season. living and studying together for a month. The following year. In 1936. This committee established a series of minimum requirements. As a result. Habonim established its first Camp Kvutza at Accord. the fundamentals of Camp Kvutza were developed: 1) collective-democratic living. 2) a full Jewish life. During that first summer. 74 . This by no means meant that our camps were becoming standardized. Accord stands out in the memories of all the old-timers for its sheer physical beauty and difficult pioneering conditions. New York. the Cincinnati Habonim convention in December.
fairly large numbers of non- 75 . In later years. One of the significant results of Amal has been the proof that under proper conditions. Habonim was the only Zionist organization to sponsor a Hebrew camp. New York. In 1945. Detroit. Winnipeg. the camp accommodated fifty campers. 1946 saw perhaps one of the peak years in Habonim camping when over two thousand campers attended Kvutza. At Amenia (1949) and Killingworth (1950). Connecticut (for New York). Later. Dallas. Montreal. Baltimore. in Killingworth. Camp Avoda was operated for the first time at the Hehalutz training farm in Creamridge. Amal. and at Creamridge. Toronto. a number of interesting and important Hebrew programs were planned at Kinneret and Moshava. New Jersey. The objective of this experiment was to create a positive attitude toward collective living and halutziut among non-affiliated American Jewish youth. but the collapse of the movement in the city brought about the demise of the camp as well. 1600 youngsters spent the summer at eleven camps. Its first season in 1948 opened on a rented site in Vermont with 26 campers.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING In 1943. Chicago. For several seasons this was a work camp in the process of construction. Los Angeles. During the years. Tel Natan. gained the backing of six bureaus of education in various cities which sent scholarship students. a number of highly successful Camp Avoda seasons were conducted at the farms with groups drawn from within the movement. St. for several years. there have been a number of significant experiments in Habonim camping. New York bought a new camp site at Amenia. Foremost among these was the national Hebrew camp. The primary educational factor in Camp Avoda was its proximity to the collective group and the farm. Influenced and sparked by Amal alumni. Amal itself was at Creamridge. Louis had its Kvutza. Philadelphia founded its own camp (Galil). Ottawa. and became established as one of the foremost Hebrew camps in the country. in 1951.
Mahaneh madrichim is an experiment in the realm of leadership training rather than strictly camping. This pattern was followed the next year at Montreal and St. too. In 1950. have seen a number of interesting variations and experiments in the Habonim camping picture. one national madrichim camp was conducted at Kinneret. 1950 also saw another experiment long under consideration. Louis. most camps have conducted training programs for prospective madrichim. the sports and cultural festival. in which all the campers participate. two madrichim camps were held. and pre-embarkation seminars for the Habonim Youth Workshop in Israel. and during the summer of 1953. Each subsequent summer has witnessed large seminars of madrichim. The past few years. and noar. at Galil. In 1952. In 1948. Many more camps are on permanent sites into which large investments have been put by the local Labor Zionist movements and Merkaz Habonim. In addition. The three camps in the East have conducted an annual Maccabia. The national Habonim Camping Association has been showing steady but slow improvement in the handling of national aspects of 76 . Amal was conducted at Moshava. it was decided to discontinue Amal as a separate institution and to stress Hebrew at all Habonim camps. At the 1953 convention of Habonim. Toronto conducted a "rambling camp. bonim. one in Vermont for the East and one in Detroit for the West. There has been a trend to put the administration of our camps on a semi-commercial basis. There has been an awareness that existing Habonim camps must be put on a more efficient and permanent basis. The first national mahaneh madrichim was held in the summer of 1940 at Galil for the training of madrichei tzofim.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT movement people can be attracted to our camps and integrated into the movement." A number of haverim made a long trip by truck. carrying full supplies and equipment and camping nights at previously selected sites.
Ottsville. Annapolis. Quebec. Kvutza Manual. New York. We are aware that Camp Kvutza is our most effective educational instrument. Maryland. Camp Kvutza Galil. the following seven Kvutzot. New camp sites were purchased for the Midwest in 1956 and for Camp Miriam in Vancouver in 1956. Michigan. Camp Moshava. and increasingly aware of its potentiality as an instrument for expansion. Red Hook.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING camp. During 1957. Midwest Camp Habonim. was purchased in 1953. Camp Naame. Gabriola Island. all on permanent sites. Saugus. New York. British Columbia. Pennsylvania. Faustin. St. Three Rivers. will be conducted: Camp Habonim. 1957 77 . The permanent New York Kvutza at Red Hook. Camp Miriam. California. Camp Kvutza.
"Brocky".The Kitchen at Accord. . New York. A lecture at Accord. at Kendall. Accord. Joev Criden and friends.
Rosh at Accord.David Breslau. Enzo Sereni and friends ponder a problem. Carl Allentuck working on "sanitation". Kieve Skidell. 1937. Accord. 1939. Accord. . Discussion under "tree of knowledge". Accord. 1938.
1935. The Dining Room and Kitchen at Accord.Y. Building at Accord. N.Y. Campers. Tent Area.Work at Accord. Accord. Accord. . 1935. N.
. Kinneret. 1940. "All aboard for the noar seminar". Kinneret. Kinneret. Campers. Building the Migdal. Kinneret. 1941. Kinneret. Montreal. 1941. Youth Day. 1942. 1941.Dining Room at Camp Kvutza. Abe Meadow installing electricity.
we accept this bid as meaning us. with two or three lectures in each period. Kerhonkson-never beard of the places. Next year we must have a real Kvutza. We are getting panicky. Somehow. Unser Camp offered too many comforts and too many distractions. Our hearts sink.. A havera in California met Golda Meir and told her of a sister in New York who is part-owner of some land in the Catskill Mountains. The sister would like to do something for "the Jewish people.. it was a camp and not a Kvutza. no matter what the difficulties. the product of our own labors.. but the country gets more and more beautiful as the road becomes steeper and the hairpin curves sharper. bumpy. and the more primitive the better! Next year we must learn not only theory but also how to provide for ourselves. 82 ." For lack of a more specific address. Farband summer colony at Highland Mills. New York. and ingenuity. We were guests and not creators . enthusiasm waxes high. Suddenly. 1932 . The fourteen pioneers have been together for a full month and have valiantly tried to imbibe three lecture and discussion periods a day. spirits flag. 1933.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KVUTSA IN THE NEW YORK AREA CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN The last days of August. Finally one morning we are off to the Catskills: Accord. Summer is knocking at the door and still no Kvutza site. four hours. it wasn't our own... too. A series of interviews. The closing hours are devoted to evaluation and self-criticism. yet everyone feels that something was missing .. dusty. Three hours. The haverim have learned much and have had a lot of fun... Granite. an undreamed of opportunity. only a deep-rutted. Mid-June. . Life in the big tent has been most congenial. Soon there is no highway at all. we have lost our way a half-dozen times. farmers' dirt road into a wilderness. and from an unexpected quarter. efforts. The first Young Poale Zion Kvutza is winding up its four-week session at Unser Camp. .
a meeting of the National Executive is hastily convened. we'll borrow. How are registrations coming? . we'll owe . Clear the site on top of the hill. Ten haverim want to build a dining room and platforms for the tents . Persuade some Pioneer Women to come out as "cookies. .. Raise money. . No shelter? We'll build our own.. . Far? What of it? Wild? We've got a job to do. no house (it burned down when the place was abandoned seven years before). the answer to our prayers. but also with sadness when we see how the land lies waste and neglected-grass and weeds waisthigh. . There is only an indescribable shack occupied by our benefactress and her partner in the summer . . A singing brook cascades over the rock ledges forming crystal pools every few hundred feet-and on "our" land! We are filled with joy at the sight of all this beauty. . silverware? . And how about the program? . . . . . No money? We'll beg. Two coming from Rochester . .. . and in the near distance.. . . . a glorious tingle in the blood we are building our own Kvutza! Yes. . a beautiful valley below.. here is what we have to do. . lay it out cross-wise so that the kitchen part will come right over the spring. . Here. All right now. Time is short-so short! A matter of days now… And through it all.. Who can forget the day when the big truck came rumbling across the wooden bridge to unload the first $400 worth of lumber . What will they eat? Who will cook for them? . Can you borrow dishes. We need a car . So much to do . .. Haven't heard from Buffalo . . back in the city. . .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING A few more minutes and we find ourselves on the summit of a hill. . a ring of mountains that seems to change color before your eyes. get lumber . . the earth is parched. . . And how about discussion leaders? . Buy tents. Feverish days and nights ." . The next day. . really building! . Take advantage as much as we can of the cement floor of the 83 . This is the place. cots .. .
. our sages tell us. scrubbed clean at the brook and dressed in our "best. They form a thrilling silhouette against the sky. Jacob Katzman. should be received with rejoicing. . and it seems as if everything is still to be done. the original number of the work group is more than doubled. Here. In the meantime. Thursday noon." sit down to break bread together. Every newcomer is pressed into service as soon as he has a bite to eat . . and the old farmer's stove bought for $4 refuses to get fired. . There. the outhouse. . In the deepening twilight. The Shabbat. down below.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT burnt-down barn. Friday all day they come trekking in. Over the dining room we can stretch canvas if necessary. We've got to finish the kitchen first. The single pyramid tent that had housed the work crew is now joined by three others. 1942 84 . Every hour brings one or two more haverim. Nerves are on edge . we will build platforms for the tents . The seven-year growth of grass and weeds has been cut. and decked with flowers. We fulfilled the mitzva with overflowing hearts. The Kvutza is scheduled to open Sunday. . The cookies become more and more exasperated as the number of mouths to feed increases. But the cookies work hardest of all. twenty-four of us. Everyone is working against time . miracles have been happening. By nightfall.. set with dishes and silverware.. ready for the first Shabbat in our own Kvutza. The long tables in the dining room are scrubbed clean.
Soon after we braced it. how to keep the flames from climbing the wooden walls. or any time we wanted to wash our hands – you have an idea of the tremendous work involved in keeping clean. Zalman. we really had work to do.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING LISTEN HERE. made the plans. estimated the materials. None of those new-fangled ideas like faucets for us pioneers! In the old days we trekked down from the hill to the creek. brushing teeth. for taking swims or showers. for instance. you had lots of spirit back in 1934-35. YOUNGSTERS! You know. We decided to construct a brand new dining hall. we had a program of activities you’ll find it mighty hard to match! Just making it possible to live was program enough. One of our own members. how to make that stove cook the food the right way at the right time. When you realize that we had to take the same hike for washing clothes. Then the work that was involved in keeping ourselves fed! Becoming acquainted with the personality of our coal stove was the work of an entire summer. Take Accord. over dangerous cliffs and precipices to get to the “sink and washtubs”–a swirling. under the expert direction of the Philadelphia engineers. swishing torrent of icy brook water. We had to support the doddering building. how to stack the wood so as to direct the heat towards the pots and away from the cook. how to replace a broken grate. No sooner was the shack or dining hall constructed than we had a real project on our hands. and how to extinguish them quickly once they started up–and last but not least. but did you have any programs?” Why. sometimes it makes me mad! You who go to Kvutza these days have a way of saying: “Well – of course. It took a genius to know how to line the stove with fire brick. and constructed the new building. 85 . how to keep the sickly stove from falling apart. Keeping ourselves and our clothes clean was another constant work project.
we still made time for our cultural programs. Let me tell you–I was proud of our campers during that real danger. We survived the event of course. Well. Celeritas.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT And with all the work we had to do. People from the village of Accord came out in cars and trucks to take our baggage to safety. safe summer resort. Then you’ll see how much spirit and how much program we had in the early days of our Kvutza. all responded to the emergency. One of them related his experiences in Eretz Yisrael to us. It was many days and nights before the fire was brought under control–days and nights during which we had double watch–nights during which we slept in the open ready to move at a moment’s notice… But once I get started reminiscing about Kvutza–it’s hard to stop me. 1942 86 . He described a storm which he had once seen blow down and rip five tents there and he sort of made fun of our Kvutza as a comfortable. but that is one discussion few of us will ever forget! Talking about catastrophes reminds me of the forest fire which came to within half a mile of the Kvutza. None of us noticed the gathering clouds as he spoke. I guess I haven’t the space to tell about the revolution at Tel Hai. Saadia Gelb. I’ll always remember the time we had two visitors from New York. As one man. A howling wind and flashes of lightning accompanied the rain. A couple of hours later a storm descended upon us apparently for the purpose of proving to our guest that the Accord Kvutza was not such a safe place after all. the truck–or even midnight swims. the wind tackled one tent after another until five tents toppled over–two of them torn to shreds. Maybe someday I’ll write a book of memories.
Since the majority of the New Yorkers were of bonim age. New York.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK That summer. That summer of 1951 in Tel Yohanan was a six-week honeymoon with the movement for all of us. and the registration of Tel Yohanan promised to expand enormously. and the majority of the Galilniks were of solelim-tzofim age. faced its first meeting with Habonim during a spring session in 1953. but we lived in such a way that he continued to exist in us. Despite this attitude. When we returned to the city. The fact that the Galil campers were living in the cabins and most of the New Yorkers in a separate tent-camp. but Mahaneh Tel Yohanan was a living thing. in the early spring of 1953. New York was determined to build a Kvutza of its own once again. During the summer of 1952. we went to Galil. I was a still-wet-behind-the-ears tzofa. the shock of hearing that Tel Yohanan had been wrecked by vandals was numbing. I'd say that many of us did not know at the time who Yohanan was. The Merkaz wore out tempers and tires in everlasting jaunts around New York State looking for a new camp site. the news was announced: New York Habonim had a new home-at the (then stupendous) cost of almost fifty thousand dollars. the many friendships and traditions which developed during the course of eight short weeks were to have an important effect on the future of the New York movement. The mahaneh in Red Hook. Who wanted to go anywhere but to our own Tel Yohanan for the summer? Nonetheless. the division between the two groups was extremely sharp. The first reaction: We were ap- 87 . it often seemed as if we New Yorkers were marking time. In June. not a memorial. did not help the situation at all. spending my first year in Camp Kvutza. Finally. the great tales of "adventure" found willing ears. The name of Yohanan Tartakower was completely unknown to me.
Red Hook. a separate shower-house. It will be remembered as the year of the Habonim Maccabia with the summer camp of Hanoar Hatzioni. Habonim had arrived at an understanding of the needs of this new type of camp and gathered a staff of the highest possible caliber from every part of the movement. It was a wonderful experience for both camps. in the activities run by the campers themselves. but were also faced with a previously unknown problem of incorporating a large percentage of nonmembers. while the Habonim population remained at roughly the same level. too. This perhaps was the more serious of the two.even cheers were care- 88 . The population at Red Hook climbed to more than double that number. The campers responded. In accepting the "luxury" of our new home. It was felt in the unfolding of the daily program and in the Shabbat celebrations which were real "productions" complete with interpretive dance and special effects. 1954 was the "honeymoon" season at Red Hook. At the same time.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT palled! It was all too civilized for our tastes. Camp Hatzofeh. The first summer in Camp Habonim. It was felt. served to dispel a few illusions. Gone were the days of cold water only. outhouses. It became as natural for some madrichim to converse in Hebrew as for the campers to try to emulate the actions of the staff. active Habonim within the camp did not exceed forty percent of the total population. We had not only to adapt ourselves to a new concept of camping with its attendant responsibilities. There was a Habonim atmosphere. no electricity. and (we thought) no halutziut. In Tel Yohanan and again in Galil. A comradely atmosphere from the outset . The next summer was somewhat less of a memorable experienceperhaps because the previous season had been so overwhelmingly successful. we could not afford to let our ideals go by the board. the number of Habonim campers from the New York region was under fifty.
cold-water stage to the cabins-hot water stage. 1956 saw the revival of the Habonim Inter-Kvutza Maccabia." 1955 saw a new venture in Habonim camping-that of a successful Leaders' Training program.upon which the cheers. What is to happen to New York camping in the future? That is in the hands of the haverim themselves. and songs were based. Galil for Galil. The spirit of the entire competition may be imagined from the unanimous protest of the two camps directly before the close of the Maccabia . As usual. In addition to the spirit of comradeship which grew up in the three days.Yehuda for Red Hook. with people from all three camps cheering the competitors impartially? Each camp had a theme .both wanted to "rip up the score sheets. at camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fully censored to exclude any derogatory material about the opposing camp. Each summer has seen the development of the concept of Habonim camping-from the tents. it was the high point of the season. the New Yorkers won. Remember the afternoon spent in track events. and Negev for Moshava . with a large number of participants. though not until a contest had been waged in which every point was in doubt. 1957 89 . evening program presentation. Once again held at Galil. Ziffy Entin. from the concept of halutziut "in the raw" to a more mature understanding of our role in the community and of how we must fill it. a new dimension of education had been added to the Maccabia which made its meaning even fuller for the participants.
and the empty "haunted house" down the road gave the camp additional atmosphere. I can fully appreciate the time and effort expended by the "older haverim. However. I was only thirteen in 1937 when I spent one week at Camp Kvutza. Our camp was not a large-one. the Habonim camping experience would have been denied to most of the Habonim in this region. It handled thirty to fifty-five children per week. and as a result. the loyalties it helped cement bore fruit after the war years in 1946." Camp Kvutza catered to the Habonim of Rochester. I cannot comment on the feverish activity involved in trying to set up the camp for the first time. one-eyed Pete.I. and Mark B.'s (and ex-Habonim) formed the Enzo Sereni Labor Zionist group in Rochester. Several ex-G.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KENDALL Camp Kvutza at Kendall. The burned-out remains of a house nearby. A large two story barn served as the kitchen and recreation hall. The woods behind the tents and the hay loft behind the barn served as "rooms" for discussions and Hebrew lessons. Had it not been for the camp. inhabited by the ghost of two-fingered. Many new Habonim members were obtained through the camp. 1941 was the last year of Camp Kvutza. aside from many of the Habonim members. opened in 1937 and ran through 1941. It is not difficult to measure the importance of Camp Kvutza to upstate New York. New York. From my experience on pre-registration camp committees in later years. Permanent fixtures at the camp. Buffalo. Havera Atlas. however. and was responsible for many lasting friendships. Hanopolsky. This group existed from 1946 to 1949 and was probably as active a Zionist group as existed in this country. Some of the haverim who were campers are now in 90 . and Syracuse. thirty miles west of Rochester. It was situated on farm land along Lake Ontario. were the cook. our departed haver and teacher.
and so we pushed her slowly to the garage and told the mechanic to get her in running condition for that evening. It was hard. She had been given to us for nothing. Julius Cohen. Tel Hai. Many of the members of the Poale Zion and the Pioneer Women in the area are people who were campers in those years at Kendall. Michigan. shook his head. for upon her depended all the transportation of haverim and materials for this crucial period and for the Kvutza season itself. the super truck driver-to-be. we had received our first application with $1 deposit. and myself. now overgrown with weeds and grass and ruins all about. but which had been ravaged by fire. Only three weeks remained before the opening of Kvutza. three "big shots" were pushing an old. and that this little scene was actually the first practical beginning of Habonim's second Kvutza in America at New Buffalo. we had to revive a place which was once a beautiful Farband camp. rusty-looking. and we were pushing that truck to a garage to get her running. In these three weeks. He looked at us and grinned. The advance crew would have three weeks of unceasing work to get the place in shape for the opening. The fire had left a desolate spot. But we knew she would run again. dilapidated. tiredeflated 1926 Dodge truck. business manager. to realize that the three were none other than Nahum Guttman. Danny Owerbach. and said he'd see what he could do.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Israel. 91 . even for members of Habonim. The haver in whose lumber yard she was stationed after serving some time at our short-lived Hehalutz training farm in Indiana was glad to see her go. and down Douglas Boulevard in Chicago. rosh Kvutza. 1957 KVUTSA IN THE MIDWEST "KVUTZIE" It was a hot June day in 1936. The previous week.
We started her up. but all the way. when the battery went completely dead. and then somehow managed to drive to the center. we tried to think of a name for our truck because we could already see that she was to be an important factor in the life of Kvutza. After a few hours' sleep and a little more pushing. We had no lights. got into the seat next to me. she was indeed able to run-but no telling how. Julie and Nahum. I urged her on by calling out. those in front roasted from the heat of the motor. when she began sputtering over a little hill. It was now about midnight and the traffic was not very heavy. we finally reached Tel Hai. Kvutzie!" and thus she was named. Those in the back were frozen from the cold night air. Here we picked up fourteen brave souls and were on our way. "Come on. fearlessly risking their lives. we got the Dodge started on her way back to Chicago-just Julie and I. Then on the way. We decided to continue. We decided to take the chance. I got into the driver's seat. After a harrowing hour and a half we were finally out of the city. We could take the chance of using her that night if we wanted. She needed a new generator and new battery. the driver completely new. What should we do? Turning back would mean another precious day wasted. but he wouldn't advise it.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In the evening when we returned. Cries of "ouch" rang out and the people along Western Avenue stared. there was spirited singing and joking. With the aid of that flashlight and the full moon. and through the grace of an inefficient police force. Before we left. The Dodge was old. The streets of Chicago are renowned for their holes and bumps and I didn't miss one of them. Trembling. We looked up at the sky and saw that the moon was full. 92 . One of the haverim climbed up on top of the cab and shone his flashlight down on the road in front of the truck.
and the sixty hours of traveling. We played guessing games as to what time she would return from a trip. Frightened parents trembled as Kvutzie pulled out of the dirt road onto the highway at three in the morning. Kvutzie became a legend. Without them. New Jersey. she served us through the entire summer. But Kvutzie had been running on love and sympathy. Songs were written about her.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Kvutzie was the cause of most of the joy and sorrow of that first season. for who could tell when or if she would return? The most spirited singing of the summer and the most gleeful laughter took place aboard her on trips to the beach and back. We arrived at Accord amid great celebrating (and without a single flat tire on the entire trip). Then we went to buy her new shoes at an old junk yard about two miles from Michigan City. Miraculously. at Accord. There. aided by a Jewish girl of about twenty. the rain. There. What a night that was! We packed eighteen haverim into the back of Kvutzie and started the trip! It thundered and rained. We had her gear fixed so it would stay in high. the mountains. "What? With Kvutzie? Never!" Well. we found four almost new tires for Kvutzie. They dismantled her and used her parts on other trucks. and everything was against our getting there. she soon died. 93 . the source of the greatest fear. how many flats she would have. Then we decided to take a number of haverim 1000 miles to the seminar at Accord. Her every arrival was the source of the greatest excitement. But we survived the trip. our New York Kvutza. and whom and what she would bring back with her. we'd see. we sold Kvutzie to the Hehalutz farm at Creamridge. who had inherited the junk yard from her father and who was sitting among old rims and tires and spare parts writing a book. her every departure.
"Sure enough." said the man on the other side of the line. and an official title was given the committee. And it's only 9. "Yes. WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? When we left Tel Hai at the close of the Kvutza season last summer. Moshe Goldberg. I remember Kvutzie for she was the creator of that spirit. little did we expect that it would be our last summer there. the Meshugoyim (mad ones). I phoned that number. All you have to do is put a dozen steam shovels to work for two years and you've got it. KVUTZA. 94 . the comradeship. the overnight hikes.762 1/2 miles from Milwaukee. "I have just the place for you." I hung up. I supply the blasting powder. When at the winter seminar it was decided to leave Tel Hai and look for a new site for the Midwest Kvutza. 1942 KVUTZA. But it was." said a bass voice. see? Nothing to worry about. Only in the wonderful life that is ours at Kvutza could such a spirit come to be. How should we go about it? Where should we start? Whom should we contact? The method we used was quite simple." I thanked the gentleman for his kind offer and consideration and hung up. none of us were too sad. Again I went through the same procedure. that first season of Kvutzat Tel Hai. We took out the trusty telephone book and began paging through it. "I have just what you want. None other like it in the whole state. I spun around three times and placed my finger on the page. the wonderful spirit. It was decided that Wisconsin would be the lucky state containing the new Habonim Kvutza. A committee was elected to look for a site. R-Radiators-Radios-ah. With eyes closed.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Others may remember the camp fires. a spirit which could take a dead object and give it the soul that Kvutzie had. the discussion. Real Estate.
1944 KINNERET In the summer of 1938. Armon Kamesar. erected platforms for the tents. hilly. after calling for enough times to have lost count. our haverim cleared a road through the swamp. A patch of grass surrounded by a D-shaped trench formed the open-air dining table. and level. a place with real possibilities turned up. under the leadership of Ben Kaminker. the hardy group turned to Farband Camp. we will probably be building for the 1944 Kvutza season. and Danny Ginsburg. high land. a small group of Detroit Habonim. Nevertheless. That winter. but for all other facilities. A large group of Cincinnati 95 . While exploring the area south of their encampment. Mordecai Salinger. among them Ben Kaminker. they enlisted the moral and financial assistance of active seniors who helped plan construction of the new Habonim camp to be known as Kinneret. During the summer of 1939. only thirty-five miles from Milwaukee. pooled their resources to purchase a couple of tents which they pitched on the side of a hill overlooking Waterloo Road near Chelsea. by the time you'll be reading this article. This they immediately staked out as the perfect spot for their future ventures. and with the assistance of a professional carpenter. and sank a shallow well. Kinneret was a success and ready for further expansion when Mordecai Salinger took over as rosh Kvutza in 1940. built a dining hall and kitchen. It meets all the requirements and we are awaiting word as to the possibilities of our developing the lake into a swimming pool. their neighbors across the road and owners of their camp site. heavy woods. a few members of the group waded through a swamp to find a large tract of unused ground.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Well. Michigan. twenty acres of which belonged to the Farband.
with Ettie Skidell in charge of camp and the boys hard at work moving mountains of dirt to lay the sanitation distribution field. New tent platforms. The washing facilities were enclosed and work began on a real outhouse. while Aharon Remez was the fair-haired boy whose experience and muscle were relied on to continue with the building program.at Kinneret. enlarged the dining room by moving the kitchen to a new addition. and the hills around Kinneret resounded with labor songs. 1942 was another year of big construction . Artie Goldberg was rosh Kvutza. work was again the watchword. the Ashkenazy building. with Shirley Milgrom who came along for the honeymoon. the storage cellar. In 1945. which was dedicated to Donny Lee of Cleveland. and dug another distribution field for the modern improved shower house. The hospital was nominally finished and we began our eternal project. 1941 was a quiet year. under the tutelage of Yosef Israeli. and last but not least. and all became sweetness and light at Kinneret-for once we were genteel. arrived late. but the campers carried on valiantly under the expert whistle blowing of Esty Carson. We began work on the hospital. separate outhouses were under way.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT haverim joined the Detroiters. 1944 also saw the end of the beloved tower-the termites and old age finally beat the creosote and supports. the rosh. Shalom Wurm set the pattern for cultural activities at camp. Electricity was installed. Harry Spoon. The rosh was Paul Milgrom (Pinhas Rimon). We built a cabin. In 1944. a migdal. and the arrival of four girls from Cleveland marked the beginning of Kinneret as a regional camp. In 1943. We added our 96 . raising the number of campers to an average of sixty during that summer. Leon Adler became rosh.
Dvora Frankel was rosh in 1949. Abba (Cherniak) Tzuriel was rosh. 97 . with Dave Katz as his right-hand man. This was the year of the "flexible schedule." and also a year of strong emphasis on scoutcraft. Joey named his quarters. Several more cabins were built. In 1950. in honor of sixteen-month-old Donny. the Detroit United Hebrew Schools said that more Hebrew was learned by their students that year than any other. Camp doubled its enrollment on weekends-an ambitious weekend program. Of the season.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING annual brick to the storage cellar and spent the rest of the season looking for work. There were many midnight "Arab attacks. Pipeline HaNegev. modern dance. and the discussion program centered about the False Messiahs. There was an ambitious work program mainly centered about maintenance-there were no new projects. The emphasis was on speaking Hebrew. Doodle Horowitz led Kinneret in its first year as a Hebrewspeaking camp. the greatest stunt ever at Kinneret. drama. 1947 was the year of Joey Criden. A madrichim camp was held after the regular season. Joey brought the overnight hike back to Kinneret and the innovation of naming the tents-remember the famous Dorot and Mishmar HaNegev? And not to be outdone." and Blue-White Day was distinguished by its blood and gore. In 1951. Haim Stopak was rosh. and Evvy Weingarten made her famous leap from rooftop to Ann Arbor hospital. was rosh in 1946. In 1948. including many younger children. Detroit's United Hebrew Schools provided a number of full scholarships and there was a large enrollment. That was the year of Doris Dombey's bouncing bed. art. The season gushed with culture. Murray Weingarten.
1957 TEL NATAN Tel Natan was the Camp Kvutza for the St. Detroit had had a very successful year and camp registration was up. which we had dreamed of for many years and talked about for several months came into existence early in 1947 when we found that 98 . Dani Kerman returned in 1953. Tel Natan. who was one of the most sincere and dedicated members of the Labor Zionist movement and represented the best that is found in Habonim. Dani Kerman was rosh and Kinneret was still a Hebrew-speaking camp. Nate was killed in an automobile accident at about the time we were beginning to work on the idea of a camp for our area.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT 1952 opened with a low registration. again including younger children. Geli Gelfond was rosh. The foundation for the wash house was laid that day and work for the rest of the season had a concrete basis-repairing the efforts of the old folks. Jerry Katz. Chicago and Detroit combined efforts in staff and campers. There was no big construction projects because of the lack of people. Esther Goldberg. Seymour Salinger. Tel Natan was named for our dear haver. but things picked up. A new truck was purchased. 1955 was Kinneret's last year. Abbie Haklay was rosh. Harriet Gelfond. baby carriages. and spent a day of labor at Kinneret. Prior to opening. a group of “old-timers” packed box-lunches. managed to make money even on only twenty campers. Louis and Cincinnati mahanot in 1947 and 1948. and the last year of Kinneret closed with a Bonim Seminar. It was unique in having complete facilities. In 1954. and assorted spouses and progeny. Nathan Kanter. but a marvelous business manager.
shower house. no one lost any weight (thanks to Havera Kanter. no one complained. known to the Missouri State Park Commission as Camp C1. bought a truck. an electric refrigerator. and printed application blanks. who was our cook). This was even more successful than the summer session. Perhaps it was too easy. Louis mahaneh. Louis was just not ready to con- 99 . and the two tons of dishes and pots did not arrive till fall. ten large cabins. In a matter of days. Missouri. All that we missed was the swimming. we were convinced that we had made a wonderful beginning as the first year-round Camp Kvutza in history. was located on a high hill in the heart of a 6. we contacted the movement in Cincinnati. and several buildings we never used. the camp discontinued operation. The first season was a success. two tons of dishes and pots. plenty of hot and cold water.000 acre park. After we shut down the camp for the winter. four sinks. examined and leased the camp site sixty miles west of St. We were wrong. hospital. Forty haverim spent four satisfying weeks at Tel Natan. I'm not sure why the camp failed or what lesson other camps can learn from Tel Natan. We did not have to struggle and fight to establish our camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING there would be no camp in the Chicago area to serve the St. Louis. office. and the activities and discussions excellent. The camp. We broke even. formed the Habonim Camping Association of Missouri. The cabins were warm. a recreation hall. a walk-in icebox. and since the swimming at Cheetham Pond was not too good anyway. guest house. Troy. Perhaps St. The camp and the setting were beautiful and the facilities excellent (two stoves. Quiure River State Park. a large dining room. We returned to Tel Natan for a winter conference. Nate's mother. and after one more season. the food was good.
Wil Schoomer. These are names that really bring back memories of our youth. 1957 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM Midwest Camp Habonim! A rather plain.the Labor Zionist Youth. which was mainly older. of singing and dancing. Nothing romantic or exciting or exotic or even emotional about this name. innocuous name. I believe that Tel Natan failed because the leadership in the mahaneh. of work and love and devotion. thrilling one for our haverim of those early 100 . Kinneret. where they would govern themselves in a truly democratic fashion and work out their plans for building a new Eretz Yisrael. It was a concept of a place where young Labor Zionists would build their own camp with their own hands from the ground up. a bold.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT duct and sustain its own camp. was probably the main cause of failure. carefree period in our lives where we learned and lived the principles of Labor Zionism upon which we today base our lives and our work for Israel. to other movement assignments. or moved on to other personal activity. and left a void. names such Tel Hai. memories of a glorious. went on aliya. of exciting days and romantic nights. some photographs. This void. And yet this name holds for us twenty-five years of memories-memories of other camps with other names. Yad Ari. For Midwest Camp Habonim is today the culmination of our work and our dreams of twenty-five years ago when the concept of Camp Kvutza first took shape in the minds of a few young people who were to be the nucleus a few years later of Habonim . This was a new idea. created by a slowdown in activity during the war. of bonfires and Shabbat celebrations. and a feeling of deep regret that the monument we began to erect in memory of Nate Kanter in 1947 was never finished. All that is left of Tel Natan is fond memories.
so we had to travel ten miles to go swimming. No other buildings. were built. Tel. Here was the opportunity for Habonim to truly build its own camp. and will continue to go on for many. many years. however. and so it remained a tent camp. in northcentral Wisconsin. Its tenure came to an abrupt end. near New Buffalo. not even the fin- 101 . was the fact that the campers and the staff were satisfied and happy. Here the ideals of Camp Kvutza could really flourish. In 1948. which doubled as a recreation room. occasionally someone would get wet at night when he forgot to close the tent flaps. however. Hai.but nothing. The first Habonim camp in the Midwest (and the second to be established in the United States) was Tel Hai. today stirs beautiful memories among many of our senior haverim. who recall those days with love and tenderness. They planted a pine forest. or perhaps he would forget to loosen the ropes so that the tent pegs could come out of the ground and cause the tent to partially collapse . Then followed an interim period of three years. and a modern shower house. Michigan. however. The tents. were spacious and comfortable. when it was destroyed by fire. 160 acres of land were purchased near Waupaca. Many fine and beautiful traditions were built here. It was a good idea. beautiful dining room. and the camp itself was always clean and well kept. which has since proven to be the most memorable part of the whole camp. The name. The physical facilities were not always of the best or the most modern we had our difficulties and tribulations-our lake dried up after the second year. Illinois. for it has endured (with a few changes to meet the changing times) to this very day and has grown stronger with the passage of time. containing all the necessary facilities. This was camp Yad Ari. two of which were spent at a rented camp near Savannah.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING years. which served the ChicagoMilwaukee-Minneapolis area. and they did! They built a big. Most important of all. except for a dispensary.
The combined areas would now extend as far east as Pittsburgh and as far south and west as St. the dignity of the flag raising. could ever be a substitute for the most wonderful of intangibles. It was to serve merely for the transition period until 102 . central Michigan was much nearer the center of this region than northern Wisconsin-therefore. Obviously. Michigan. Louis and Minneapolis. with the singing and the dancing afterwards? Those of you who ever attended Camp Habonim. more intimate type of camp was no longer feasible. turn tears into laughter. the feeling of real group living. or the simple beauty of a Friday evening meal by candlelight. and 1955 saw Camp Yad Ari and Camp Kinneret combined at Camp Kinneret near Chelsea. and one that has proven itself. a more modern one. the true Habonim spirit. this was Camp Habonim. It was too small and lacked the proper facilities for a large number of campers. But. Why choose Kinneret over Yad Ari? Mainly because of the location. We had to have fewer but much larger and better (physically speaking) camps. wherever or whenever it might have been. This was Yad Ari.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT est of facilities or the most beautiful buildings and grounds. the combining of the two small camps into one large camp at Kinneret. that resiliency which can change disaster to triumph. A new concept of camping had been born in the minds of the leadership of Habonim. Thus. Can you remember. This was the idea that the very small. this also came to an end. with everyone in white. At the end of the 1954 season. haverim. of a closeness and oneness that could be achieved nowhere else-the indomitable spirit of Habonim. Kinneret was the choice. Yad Ari was abandoned. Kinneret was never meant to be the permanent new home of the large. The changing times and the change in the type of youth now coming into Habonim made it mandatory that Habonim go along with these changes insofar as the physical plant was concerned. modern Camp Habonim. A good concept. as all good things do. can never forget.
that we are giving up the old idea of Camp Kvutza? Not at all. We have not lost sight of the unique Habonim camping program and we retain that spirit that typifies Habonim.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING a new site would be found. The purchase itself marked a new phase of Habonim camping in the Midwest because this was the first time that Habonim had used its own resources to purchase a camp site in this region. we have improved upon many of the primitive physical facilities. the new Midwest Camp Habonim. We now come to the current chapter. de- 103 . The dining hall is probably one of the most ideally situated spots in camp. a combination of the best of the old and of the new. All toilet facilities are indoors . the new cabins come equipped with these appurtenances. eighty acres of beautiful grounds near Three Rivers. But to go along with more modern practices. This camp had been a farm resort and was situated on beautiful Kaiser Lake. It did just that. Negotiations were completed early in May and two additional cabins were begun. self-government. In the spring of 1956. and did it well. were purchased by Habonim. Does this mean. with which all Habonim campers are so familiar. Michigan.in fact. The good old flashlight. The most important features remain . Its many high windows overlook the lake and present a truly scenic picture for the diners. The next season found us in the new camp. however. The cabins are all equipped with electric lights and even the grounds are illuminated at night. all the modern conveniences that one associates with the best in modern camps are present at our new Midwest Camp Habonim.self-labor. we believe. In short. is now almost a thing of the past. Midwest Camp Habonim today is. With the new buildings we can now house seventy-five campers comfortably and we have enough room to expand to a hundred and fifty. The campers are now housed in cabins rather than in tents (although some of the older bonim may still live in tents at their own request).
and cities. that feeling of kinship and real comradely spirit. his chances of remaining in Habonim are excellent. these were the ingredients of the first Camp Kvutza in the West in the year 1936. This is a record that speaks for itself. that the idea of Habonim camping ripened and the first camp was established.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT mocracy. and the results were a full camping season which was followed uninterruptedly for the next twenty-one years. and of course. the determination indomitable. We feel that we now have a camp. in kibbutzim.C. and a program superior to most. In looking back upon twenty-five years of Habonim camping. camping experience in 1937 and Azusa in 1938. and many others have remained here to become leaders not only in the Labor Zionist movement. 104 . with Ben's arrival in Los Angeles. and once a child has had a positive camping experience at camp. the concept of a common fund. Sleeping was mostly outdoors. But spirits were high. and water had to be brought by car from about a mile away. Swimming was in a public pool. that can compare favorably with any in the area. For the first time. Many graduates of Habonim camp have gone to live in Israel. Lenny Zurakov. but in all parts of the American Jewish community. twenty sprightly youngsters. the permanent camp in the Angeles National Forest. Old-timers remember the C. as well as the program. and Ben Cherner.C. In 1939. It was during that summer. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE WEST A goat farm. the physical plant of the camp. becomes an attraction for newcomers to our movement. we can honestly say that we have compiled a tradition of living Judaism which would be difficult for any group or organization to match. moshavim. cooking in an abandoned shack.
the several activities directly associated with it. beginning with our ancient struggles for freedom and independence and down to the modern deeds of courage and valor of the defenders of the Warsaw Ghetto and of the Hagana. on a hilly and wooded thirty-nine-acre estate. Our general camp theme was: "Jewish Heroism Through the Ages.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fifty-five miles from Los Angeles. A swimming pool was built and many other facilities added as late as last year. the children at camp became acquainted with the heroic moments in Jewish history. literary trials. and the arts. 105 . games. fifteen percent of the campers stayed for the entire six weeks. Arts and crafts were integrated into this program. Situated. as the camp is. During the entire period. 173 campers availed themselves of our facilities and spent with us 498 camper-weeks. its original owner's home was remodeled into a dining room and kitchen. was bought and the permanent home for Habonim camping established." Through lectures. Last year's camp was a typical Habonim camping year and the following report is characteristic of most of the others: Camp Duration and Composition Habonim Camp opened on July 1st in 1956 and lasted for six weeks until August 12th. as well as some that were specifically camp activities. The camp has served Los Angeles Jewish youth for twenty years now and several thousand young people have gone through it. discussions. Campers could register for a minimum period of two weeks. models. Camp Program and Activities Our camp program consisted of a general camp theme.
and other camp diversions which took place regularly. We anticipate doubling our registration this summer. arts and crafts. We are beginning to receive campers from other cities on the West Coast and are rapidly becoming an all-Western camp. 106 . Four large new cabins were built. the Israel and Zionist spirit of all our activities. toilets and wash basins. Camp accomplished in a very few weeks what efforts by parents could not achieve for years.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In addition. we felt it in the one hundred percent attendance at the first camp reunion. dancing. Much new equipment was purchased. photography. the discussion of Jewish problems and of Jewish achievements. We felt it in the expressions of the children at camp. all this left an indelible impression upon the campers. We also extended our camp season to eight weeks. we felt it even more in the conversations with the parents of the campers. hiking. sports. and for many campers for the first time. Here. singing. the following camp activities were open to all campers: swimming. including showers. The sports facilities were improved. they were in a thoroughly children's atmosphere as well as in a thoroughly Jewish one. Future Plans All this progress was made possible through a building expansion program undertaken last spring. scouting. The Shabbat celebration. the Shabbat morning Tanach circle. the daily Hebrew classes. Camp Spirit We would be greatly remiss in our factual report of camp activities and program if we were not to stress the spirit of the camp.
1957 KVUTSA IN THE BALTIMORE-PHILADELPHIA AREA THE STORY OF "MOSH" "Half the year you look forward to it-the other half you look back on it. for not only do we spend some of the happiest weeks of the year there. Mosh has changed from a small camp sponsored by Gordoniawhose tents were pitched on the bare ground. to build several new concrete platforms. to improve the present shower building. In 1935 Mr. to enlarge and improve our dining and kitchen facilities. and whose campers came from Baltimore only-to a large camp sponsored by Habonim following the amalgamation of Habonim with Gordonia. but the setting is so perfect and the scenery so beautiful that we never want to forget it. 1935." Such is the effect "Mosh" has on its campers. And it is no wonder that we all love it. Sigfrid Sonniborn of Baltimore gave 162 acres of land near Annapolis to two Zionist groups to be used for a camp site.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Our plans for this summer are to build a staff building. And so Moshava began its first season! Needless to say. while Gordonia would have the camp in August. The first month of the summer season. with seven tents pitch- 107 . Habonim camping on the West Coast is confidently looking forward to a secure and ever-expanding future along with all Habonim camping in the United States and Canada. whose dining room had a canvas top. where there was no electricity whatsoever. The two groups were the Hashomer Hatzair and the Gordonia organization of Baltimore. July. David Yaroslovsky. The capacity is now seventy-five to eighty campers from all over the Atlantic seaboard. Hashomer would use the camp. an arts and crafts pavilion. many changes have occurred since that memorable year.
horseshoe. and listening to the waves lap on the beach.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT ed on platforms. one finds oneself on the bench near the river. The picture Moshava presents is truly a beautiful one. however. It is lined with clinging vines draped around the trees. we come to the long uneven trail that leads back to the central field. or go to sleep on the sandy beach while taking a sun bath. From there. spreading below. Following the path further. this scene is dimly repeated. This trail is the most popular of all. One can relax in the mildly cool river water. a modern hospital with up-to-date equipment. a popular place for rehearsals or for a nocturnal group wishing to read Edgar Allen Poe in just the proper atmosphere. Following a shady quiet path that starts in back of the kitchen one comes to the crossroads where many a heated discussion can be heard. one arrives at last at the old cliff that overlooks the Severn River. Here on this trail is the wellknown "Tree" on whose roots many a couple sit wrapped in the velvety darkness of night. In all directions there is green foliage that beckons to you with its coolness in the heat of the day. These two cabins begin the camp proper. a well-filled library. tantalizing monkey vines swing just above your reach. where baseball. volleyball and basketball courts. and track events take place during sports periods. 108 . the tents and stage are arranged in an almost perfect circle. a piano. basketball. a newly reinforced dining room. Past interesting coves and the beach. four large airy cabins. and far on the distant side of the river. and here and there. and electrical connections. gazing at the stars. for flanking them. can one see it completely. a large roomy kitchen. get an invigorating swim in the deeper cold water further from shore. an outdoor stage. one sees the side road leading from the water tower to the hospital opposite. wide and level. But this is not all. The center of this circle is the center field. Scrambling down the side of the cliff. Only from the water tower.
Far and wide they traveled. printed stationary.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING It is also on this trail that we find the path leading to the new cliff. and a rosh Kvutza set foot on forty acres of poison ivy studded with two outhouses. But soon the cash thermometer rose and $250 became a realization. Through mosquito-ridden New Jersey to mosquito-ridden Pennsylvania until they came upon Camp Germinal . It was a crime to travel hundreds of miles for the inspiration and learning we could achieve on our own grounds. worked with characteristic irregularity. contacted sympathizers. buckets. hot and cold water. In May. and ten stall showers which. The scrubbed and rubbed. Camp Tax became the byword. and nagged the National Executive. the first expedition set out armed to the hilt with mops. one of which leaked from the luxurious 109 . They transformed a chicken coop into a habitable shack. They slept and ate and grew gray hair over pledges. 1939 GALIL'S FIRST YEAR It was after their return from the 1937 Accord season that the Philadelphia haverim realized the necessity for their own Camp Kvutza. three kitchens. They screened and painted. "Mosh" Diary.former anarchist hangout and spiders' hideout. the Sunday of the 23rd. The manor house after being scrubbed from top to bottom revealed an immense dining room. influenced by their anarchist background. Then came the eventful day when fourteen haverim. brooms. a site for camp. They formed committees. So the determined Quakers set to work. And now. The central field is not far ahead and soon one can be in the midst of activity again. and soap.
and the other which had a natural waterfall coming from the center roof every time the dishes fell. Cookie and the chocolate pudding. Clara's operetta. and dance studio. and then after a sojourn with the flowers. or on a line to the Delaware. Leslie and his hair washing. The six master bedrooms did come in handy when the fourteen pioneers increased to sixty. who often stopped to admire the flowers by the wayside? He carried our haverim down to the swimming hole in the Shamony. Leo and his driving mania. 1938 110 . The office served as a lounge. Galil Diary. music room. Yona and her trying girls. Edi and Brown Betty. Sossy from Chicago. Aba Kibbile's drama group. Yak and his travels in Ferdy. Ernst who drowned you trying to teach life saving.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT bath upstairs every time one of the girls decided to miss a discussion. Or can we forget our staff-rising and falling like the stock market? One week ten and the next week four. the bull. Tzip and her hatred of kitchen duty. Who of us can ever forget Sir Ferdinand. And their famous idiosyncrasies. named for his predecessor. could be persuaded only by Schmeer up to the hill again to camp. and Shlomo and his hat.
The "Ten Lost Tribes" prepare to return. Kinneret. Corn for sale at Camp Habonim. . 1941. Overnight hike at Montreal. 1957. Chana Reitman. Rose Breslau. 1956. Etty Skidell. Montreal. Aviva Gootman. 1956. 1941. "The Women". Moshe Goldberg. Montreal. Kinneret. Gaby Stalzenberg at work.F. 1957.N. Shirley Goldberg. All proceeds to the J. Laizer Blitt.
"B'tayavon". N. The Lake at Tel Yochanan. 1957. Solelim Dance at Red Hook. N. .Y. Montreal. 1957. Amenia. Camp Habonim.Y.Visiting Day. Red Hook. 1957. The Dining Room at Camp Habonim. Dining Room at Tel Yochanan.
Annapolis. Maryland. Red Hook. N.Y. Bridging the Creek at Galil. 1957. Galil Choir performs for Visitors Day.Flag Raising at Moshava. The Waterfront at Moshava. Ottsville. Pennsylvania. . 1957. 1948. Camp Habonim.
Moshava. Tisha B’Av. 1957. . Moshava. Moshava. 1957. Taking a dip in the enlarged "L" shaped pool at Camp Habonim. "Chalil and Drum Corps.A discussion under the trees. my people". 1957. Harvesting Corn at Camp Habonim. 1955. "Comfort ye.
for the summer. In 1939. the Philadelphia haverim rented the old anarchist Camp Germinal near Jamison. however. One must recall the times in which this thinking took place.500). After much searching. Pennsylvania (for the then large sum of $1. A county highway divided the cabins from the rest of the site. The site. The White Paper was soon to be issued and the horror of Hitler-Europe was soon to be upon us. had two unfortunate deficiencies. and staffed mainly by older haverim of Habonim. plans were made for finding. a magnificent barn. at the height of the depression and with much trepidation because of the lack of finances. Upon returning from Moshava at the end of the 1939 summer season. During the summer of 1939. we were able to convince enough members of the senior movement of the importance of a local camp for them to organize a camp committee to seek a site. Our appetites were whetted. a site was found near Pipersville. Pennsylvania.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING GALIL In 1938. It included a well-constructed farm house. and the first Camp Galil came into existence. and a number of cabins which at one time had beeii4 chicken coops. let alone talk in terms of developing a permanent camp. War clouds were gathering. a very successful summer program was carried out. a permanent site for a Philadelphia camp. Yak Rycus was imported from the Midwest to act as rosh Kvutza. we were determined to have a camp of our own. and the swimming facilities were reached by climbing a very steep hill at a considerable distance from the 115 . as many of our members as possible spent the summer at Moshava near Baltimore. which could be rented for the summer. and immediately upon the close of the summer. it was impossible to raise the necessary funds or to evoke sufficient interest on the part of the Philadelphia movement to even rent a camp site. Fortunately.
Guard duty became an important job. however. Dr. the German American Bund was active in the area. notwithstanding the broken arm of one of our haverim who managed to fall off a roof while shingling it. Meyer Cohen. it became a nightly occurrence for a truckload of these hooligans to drive slowly through the camp hurling epithets. One remembers nostalgically the first contact with shlihim. The effectiveness of this endeavor 116 .HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT cabins. began intensive construction projects to make the site as serviceable as possible for the summer. at the younger haverim. Construction went well. a principal of a Philadelphia Talmud Torah. they managed to deface and almost destroy the dock we had built at the creek. was the first national mahaneh madrichim. and daily Hebrew sessions were a part of the program. The purpose of this particular mahaneh madrichim was to train madrichei tzofim. did not detract from a very fine summer. To counteract these activities. Irv Sternberg and his wife. I believe. The most striking memory of this summer. no further incidents took place. Irv approached the local sheriff and received a permit to carry guns. The summer itself was full of interesting and varied experiences. had to do with the last three weeks of camp which was devoted to what. In addition. Word was passed around and fortunately. The rampant anti-Semitism which existed and which was manifested so clearly made a deep impression upon our younger haverim. Haverim came from all over the country and friendships were created which were to last to this very day. the haverim of Habonim. At that particular period. In retrospect. were the roshim. The group was small-I doubt if there were more than fifty at any one time-but the spirit was high. was a member of the staff. Edie. and frequently more. however. So much so that at the beginning of the summer. with the help of some adults. This unpleasantness. Undaunted. one recalls a most interesting and unusual Hebrew program.
Abe Segal spurred on the efforts of the movement to raise the necessary funds to purchase a most beautiful site at a relatively small cost. The impetus of the Camp Kvutza. Conditions brought about by the imminence of war 'unfortunately dictated against a camp of our own in 1941. was shared by one haver of the senior movement of Philadelphia. that the young Labor Zionist movement of Philadelphia grew and was strengthened because of a program which revolved around the camp. The camp was purchased for the sum of $30. and the water supply was dependent upon an old gasoline engine which worked on occasion. Almost singlehandedly. without whom there would have been no Camp Galil today. this dedication to the importance of the summer Kvutza soon manifested itself. this pattern was repeated. From 1941 through 1945. returned from the service.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING paved the way toward the utilization of the summer camp for serious and intensive discussions of mutual problems which were to transfer themselves to each city and each Camp Kvutza in the country. The camp was quite primitive-there was no electricity. for without a camp. whose membership came from ex-Habonim members.000 from the YWCA. The realization that Philadelphia finally had a camp of its own proved a tremendous incentive in the determination of the young adults to create as fine a camp as possible. this dream of having a camp of our own. supplied the necessary labor and technical knowledge to begin im- 117 . Most of our haverim spent that summer either at Killingworth. The young branches. Connecticut. Happily for Habonim. or as inspiration for a new year's activities cannot be minimized. Abe Segal. whether as a culmination of a year's work. When the war ended and Habonim haverim. or returned to Moshava. The movement suffered accordingly. it became clear that the local mahaneh could not really grow. the kitchen had an old wood-burning stove. It can truthfully be said. All efforts were bent toward getting a camp for Philadelphia and vicinity.
the New York mahaneh was having its camp difficulties. despite the fact that campers came from as far as Wilmington and the Vineland-Toms River areas. but there are many local differences and loyalties which can be positive. serviced that number-this. The cycle was rather vicious. they were somewhat overwhelmed by the influx of the New Yorkers. The lessons learned that summer were to be utilized during the following year. the civil engineers in the group directed the building of the necessary footbridge to cross the stream. if ever. was somewhat unnerving. In 1953. The idea as finally formulated called for the establishment of two camps on the Galil site. Few children came to camp-the camp leadership was not from Philadelphia and. Because of the weakness of Habonim in the city. and installed electricity. consequently. designed. Interesting results followed. during the struggle for Statehood.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT proving the camp site. The experience for Philadelphia. While eighty children could be accommodated. We are all part of one movement. there was no leadership for the winter mahaneh. The electrical engineers in the group planned. one would retain the name Galil and 118 . haverim of the Camp Committee were approached by the national office with a proposition to use the site of Camp Galil for the Hebrewspeaking Camp Amal. Interest in the camp was further heightened by the events of 1947-48. The next few years were filled with gradual growth and improvement. Killingworth could no longer be used and the Amenia site was not adequate. which would in turn provide children for the summer season. To solve this dilemma an arrangement was made whereby the New York haverim registered at Galil for the summer. and the general membership supplied the muscle-power to dig the ditches so that all electric wires would be underground. In 1952. Aside from the fact that Philadelphia haverim acquired Brooklyn accents. camp rarely. however. it was at first difficult to utilize the camp to its fullest extent.
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING would accept campers from ages nine through twelve only. Camp Amal would register children ages thirteen through sixteen who met the Hebraic requirements. During our camping history. Galil was helped considerably in registering children by the fact that because of the emphasized Hebrew program. This meant that the facilities of Galil were to be used to their maximum. a great deal of Hebrew was always used. Camp terminology was almost exclusively Hebrew. at the same time. The Camp Committee of Galil wholeheartedly endorsed this approach and determined upon a course which would make Galil a truly Hebrew-centered camp and. The best that can be said of that summer was that. in addition to the everyday terminology. It was agreed that every Habonim camp should have as much Hebrew as possible in its program. Being on the approved list of the Council brought help 119 . however. It was. But this was not enough. The idea now evolved to include. they should become Hebrew centered. actual classes for study of the language. It was during this year that the movement crystallized its thinking with regard to a central Hebrew-speaking camp. make use of its facilities by improving the physical plant so as to be able to attract more children. despite all the handicaps. and while the camps might never become completely Hebrew-speaking. quite clear at the end of the summer that such an arrangement could never be repeated. Registration would be limited to forty campers. The idea of two separate camps with separate staffs and differing orientation was too difficult an undertaking to be of any real success. The future of Habonim in Philadelphia was therefore dependent upon those unaffiliated children who could be brought to spend a summer at camp. and could register up to sixty children. the Council on Jewish Education of Philadelphia approved Camp Galil as one of three Hebrew camps for which it provided scholarships. quite a bit was accomplished in both camps.
for the first time. the Gratz College students were. During the past three summers many of the campers at Galil have made considerable progress in their Hebraic studies. camp was full. especially in the case of boys. the water level of the creek continued to fall so that there were times when the pool could not be properly filled. In previous years. and in 1957. they have covered the equivalent of a full year's work in the city. During the past few summers. In some cases. if necessary. Supplementing the Habonim staff were Gratz College students working to our mutual advantage. In 1956. registration was closed by the end of March. Not only will this be avoided in the future. Galil depended on the creek for water for the swimming pool. A Hebrew Educators Advisory Committee was organized and the Hebrew program of Galil approved. It should be noted that the national office was never able to supply the total staff needs of Galil. The Hebrew program at Galil is flexible enough to be able to provide for these individual needs.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT from other quarters. Several of the largest congregations in the city also announced to its membership that it would grant scholarships to children desirous of attending Galil. The swimming pool was completely rebuilt. at least sympathetic to our program and completely cooperative in carrying it out. Improvements to camp continue. In most cases. 120 . if not directly connected with our movement. In addition. but the well water will be purer and free of algae so that the pool need not be emptied and cleaned as frequently as heretofore. the Hebrew teachers' training institution of Philadelphia. Many of the youngsters bring with them specific requests from their teachers and principals as to material to be covered. A second well was dug primarily to provide water for the pool and to act as a supplementary water supply for general use. a number of staff members of Galil were employed from the student body of Gratz College.
Habonim camping has traveled a long road in the past twenty-five years." primitive sites and difficult conditions were almost a matter of principle. It has made its mark in the Philadelphia Jewish community and its prestige is at its highest point. They are not interested in running a camp just for the sake of a summer business. like it or not. We are raising a new generation of children and a new generation of parents. however. 121 . All of this. The Camp Committee has assumed all of the responsibility of a Chay Commission. But problems have arisen. I well remember the heated discussions which took place among haverim in Philadelphia when Galil contemplated installing an automatic dishwashing machine. make it. Our parents. In the "old days. those of us now responsible for our camps must take this into account. deeply committed to Labor Zionism. Haverim cried that this would violate the principle of self-labor. the Kvutza in Israel has also undergone some metamorphoses and the American Kvutza must reflect these changes. and every meeting has on its agenda a report from the rosh mahaneh of Philadelphia Habonim.” This in a sense represented our thinking. is to no avail unless it leads to an invigorated and expanded youth movement in the city. But. We wanted to simulate the life of the Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael as closely as possible. Parents today seem more concerned for the material aspects of camp life and. "The road of the halutz is a long and difficult one and if it isn't.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The future of Galil seems assured. But they were neither shocked nor disturbed by "primitive" conditions. immigrants themselves. and the problems of the youth movement are an integral part of each camp meeting. All members of the Camp Committee are dedicated to this purpose. were no less concerned about our welfare during the summer than parents today.
He became a military aircraft inspector for the RCAF stationed in Winnipeg. he went out to organize Habonim at night. Winni- 122 . Only experienced campers would have balked at such a plan. 1957 KVUTZA IN CANADA GIMLI. however. David Biderman. when he was through inspecting aircraft for the day. Once Winnipeg Habonim reached mahaneh status they could settle for nothing less than a Camp Kvutza of their own. The Winnipeg movement was young and vigorous then. Daniel Isaacman.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Educationally. In cannot be changed without destroying the very basis for which our camps were created. MANITOBA Camp Kvutza hit the plains of Manitoba in the summer of 1941 when Canada was already at war and the "United States was still waiting for Pearl Harbor. who had received a mining engineer's degree from McGill University in Montreal. and no one would have suspected that it came about as a sort of by-product of work for the Royal Canadian Air Force. by temperament David Biderman was no one-job man. but happily there were no experienced campers in Winnipeg and no one withheld his enthusiastic approval. The only clue to his earth-bound past was slyly concealed in his home address: He lived on Burrows Street in Winnipeg. In one of those strange wartime transmutations. the program we offer has been tried and tested for twenty-five years and reflects our philosophy of life. Immediately a camp plan was drawn up and presented to the community. But miner or airman. changed overnight from an explorer of the earth's depths to an inspector of flight. It was David Biderman who wrought the miracle of Habonim in Winnipeg and set the stage for the first camp.
There were some summer cottages in 1941. Mrs. was at the outskirts of Gimli. a black. The business manager who commuted on weekends was Sully Spector. turned out to greet them. The cottage itself was a one-story wooden building partly enclosed by an L-shaped screened porch. The camp site. and the town itself is honeycombed with the cottages of Winnipeg vacationers. Gimli has changed considerably in recent years.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING peg's first Kvutza would be held at Calof's cottage in Gimli on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. about two blocks from the lake and close by a public wooded area. the staff was small and hybrid. When David and Sully arrived-no matter what the time of day-the whole camp. Blond. Appropriate to the camp site. forty strong. a bright-eyed youngster who was under age for camp. high-topped Ford that made the weekly 123 . There is a large RCAF airbase nearby. blue-eyed sons and daughters of Iceland dominated the village streets. He used to drive up with David Biderman. There was a church of roughhewn stone authentic enough to have been transplanted from the old village back home. neither in appearance nor in the quarter-acre plot it occupied. but the town had not yet lost the Icelandic character of its original settlers. special friend of the court. Shimin. The curious campers welcomed the distinguished guests. Calof's cottage. I was imported from New York to be rosh and factotum. And the fishing boats that sailed Lake Winnipeg rather than the saltier North Atlantic nevertheless carried salty sailors and bore names taken from the old Norse sagas. Kasedy was cook-and a good oneand as a special dispensation she was permitted to bring along her son. It was in no way distinguished from other cottages in the neighborhood. Geulah Green was the registered nurse and lifeguard. Aliyah Kare was dean of arts and crafts and second in command of the kitchen. but special cheers were always reserved for the venerable Bar Mitzva.
The tents could not go up without the mayor's approval. Even the cook in the kitchen could not escape them. and for Winnipeg Habonim it symbolized the indomitable halutz spirit. Olafson in the general store.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT pilgrimage. That tent was not simply pitched.-until the roll call was completed and breathlessly I could report the affirmative vote to the mayor. the season got under way. The Ford often faltered but it never failed. in his shirtsleeves trimming a hedge. I ran around like Chicken Licken taking a census. The advantages in the setup were priceless: No one could be out of earshot of the discussions. So. sent me to garner the opinions of the five councilmen. Thors in a garage. etc.democratic Icelandic law. it was pitched according to law . most assuredly that would have been its fate. The constable sent me to the mayor. the advance crew of three set to work pitching tents on the Calof lawn. And from the mayor I brought word to the constable-and only then did the pegs go in and the first tent go up. One day before the opening. The camp had the usual trials and triumphs: rains that came and tents that fell. I dashed from one councilman to another. It is unlikely that campers anywhere lived more closely than the campers at Gimli. That day I had a job on my hands. The local constable (there was only one constable in Gimli and only one cell in the jail) dropped by to inform the workers that an ordinance forbade the pitching of tents within town limits. tired kids. while tent-pegs were held in abeyance. parents who were torn between their loyalty to Labor Zionism and their concern for the welfare of their child- 124 . camp fires at the beach. the mayor. quizzing each on his home ground Nielson in a tractor shed. A fact not generally known is that the Gimli camp almost died in embryo and had it not been for the great democratic tradition of Iceland. With the tents up and the campers covered.
he offered to rent the spot for every Sunday in the summer. Pinhas Rimon. Some inspected the eighty percent-finished dining room and kitchen.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ren. And Harry Spoon gave a talk on the meaning of Camp Kvutza to the movement all over the world as he took over the key to Toronto's Camp Kvutza. There were frenched beds and a pillow fight that covered the grounds with feather-snow. He hoped the Toronto haverim would choose a name for Kvutza in keeping with our ideals. the Pioneer Women. At first everything was disorganized as everybody went out exploring. The opening was held around the flag poles. But the wisest of all went exploring in the forests. In fact. the name of an Eretz. 1957 AFIKIM The opening of Camp Kvutza at Markham. one of the rivers (we are at the junction of two streams) brought fond memories of the beautiful showers of that historic site. Our Kvutza is named "Afikim. over 125 haverim and friends packed three trucks and several cars and filled the grounds. 1940 125 . and one found a most beautiful nook for discussions. . Yisrael Kvutza. Strangely enough. There were earnest daydreams and the stubborn belief that somehow all of this was bringing everyone closer to Eretz Yisrael . with the iron cots and brand new mattresses. somehow it did. others looked around the sleeping quarters. was blessed with the unfaltering benevolence of King Saul. After Tehezakna. Ontario." Moshe Rubinoff. haverim spoke for the Poale Zion. As a result. the Farband. Accord. Moreover. In his talk. and Habonim. he stressed the place of America in Labor Zionism in light of the plight of Jewry in Europe. . still others were disappointed to find the dam unfinished. just at that point.
itself had extended its own camp period. it has a capacity of sixty people. the local C. suffered from being too close to civilization. which was again rented from the C. the site of Camp Miriam moved back again to its primitive Gabriola Island site. on Gabriola Island. thus precluding our use of the site. About twenty-five attended this first twoweek camp. At that time. lack of adult supervision at that time made the work of the committee 126 . Although several places were located. Vancouver Habonim was first organized by Bert and Marian Waldman in 1948. The first Habonim Camp Kvutza of Vancouver Habonim was held in the summer of 1949 at Camp Wordsworth.C. We have been a long time in acquiring it.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP MIRIAM Camp Miriam was named after Miriam Biderman and is located on Gabriola Island. Because of the primitive conditions. as rosh. It was rented for two weeks.C. heavilywooded camp site with water frontage on a beautiful little cove. Doodle Horowitz was rosh Kvutza.C. This was a two-week camp with the shaliah. the camp of the Zionist Organization of British Columbia in 1950. the idea was first brought forward that Habonim should own a camp site. for a period of two weeks. Camp Kvutza Miriam was held at Camp Hatikvah. Amram Milner. Moishe Loffman of Winnipeg was rosh Kvutza that year. This committee spent many pleasant weekends traveling around the scenic local fiords hunting camp sites. It is a nine-acre.F. At present. a Camp Kvutza in the summer was necessary. It was soon realized that as an intensive supplement to the program of the mahaneh in the winter. it turned out that we would not be able to rent this camp in the future because the Zionist Organization of B. however.F. The mahaneh set up a Camp Site Investigation Committee. thirty miles west of Vancouver. camp. And so in 1951. and furthermore. Camp Hatikvah. In the fall of 1951.
This camp was particularly fortunate in having on the staff three Workshoppers.F. The seniors then formed an incorporated society for the purpose of buying the camp property. After much hunting. and so in 1955. At this time there were about eightyfive camper-weeks and Abbie Haklay was our rosh. unhygienic conditions existing there. However. The 1956 camp was a three-week season with Nahman Goldwasser as rosh.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING abortive. Yehuda "Sam" Weissbach was our rosh for that year's three-week camp. it was felt that an alternative to Gabriola Island had to be found because of the difficulty in transportation to the Island and the primitive. the existence of Vancouver Habonim would be seriously threatened. sold us the camp on very easy terms. Now that the Gabriola Island camp site is the property of the Habonim Zionist Society. Although we were still unable to purchase a camp. at about this time. decided that they would no longer be in the landlord business and that if we wanted to use the camp the following summer. conditions on the Island had improved from terrible to merely bad and it was with optimism that we looked forward to going back again to Gabriola Island in 1956. we again crossed the Straits of Georgia to the Gabriola Island camp site.C. we would have to buy it.C. and they were told that if there was no camp that summer. In 1953 Camp Miriam was again held on Gabriola Island for two weeks with Al Linden as rosh. This camp ran for three weeks with Asher Wallfish as shaliah and Allen (Geli) Gelfond as rosh. a threeweek Camp Kvutza was made possible. on the site of a former girls' camp. being fellow Socialists. In the summer of 1952. By this time. the problem of its development is up 127 .. the C. The Roberts Creek camp site was even worse than Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island.F. with the growth of the mahaneh. Fortunately the C. Camp Miriam in 1954 was located at Roberts Creek. Some active parents were approached as well as some seniors of the Labor Zionist movement.
there was a stable (and it still stands today) which housed horses.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT to us and the local parents and seniors. the little creek behind the kitchen that was our ice box. 1957 MONTREAL Once upon a time. The problem of financing this as well as down payments on camp is a problem of magnitude completely beyond anything which the Vancouver mahaneh has previously coped with. Who can forget whitewashing the kitchen (to cover last summer's soot) and dining room until it was sparkling in the sunlight. which are to have priority in the next few years. the camp season will extend to four weeks for the first time in our history. not knowing that one day it was destined to house Habonim. Plans for the development of the site include especially development of kitchen facilities and playground. In 1957. chasing hornets. and sort of forgot to come back. those who suffered afterwards from lime burn. digging a new garbage pit. Max Langer. many haverim spent wonderful summers at Kvutza and at seminars. There in Prefontaine. Agathe to get axes sharpened. the great baseball games at the playing field near the tents. those who got many blisters chopping firewood to keep the stove going red hot all summer. trudging through the swamp connecting the pipeline bringing water to camp. and then a swim in the North River? Who can forget washing the dishes in that quaint sink and lugging hot water from the old stove. or the famous soups that we had in those days which couldn't be had in the Waldorf Astoria. the haverim who went to Ste. the many times the smoke stack shifted a bit and smoke was heavy and thick? Who can forget the overnight 128 . and then off to another direction for another pit for another purpose.
129 . Maurice Levy. but new and sparkling and full of Habonim. with the writer of this report. and Tulsa. Haverim who were at Kvutza in those days have traveled and settled in various parts of the world. selected a site on Lake Dallas for a Habonim Camp Kvutza. Camp Kvutza has changed places. A Camp Bonim Association. was organized in the course of the year. Cocoa Cheifetz. It was then that Moshe Smith. at a place called Lac Quenoilles. the day one haver climbed over a fence and stepped into a hornet's nest. in addition to the four groups in Dallas. Among these devoted friends were Harry Sigel. acting as a committee for the Southwest Habonim. and Dr. It was not until ten years later that such an opportunity presented itself. not any more in Prefontaine. Texas. Several of the Association's members who devoted much time. Oklahoma. having the same wonderful time. the haverim of the Dallas groups planned for a summer camping program.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING hikes. I. in Houston and San Antonio. and financial means. To everyone's chagrin a polio epidemic made it impossible to open camp in 1940 and necessitated postponement of the program. Irving Brodsky. Times have changed and so has Kvutza-not like the old camp. and Yapha (Jennie) Zesmer. Isaac Goldstein. New Orleans Louisiana. TEXAS Ever since the founding of Gordonia in Texas in 1929. In the summer of 1939. should be mentioned. Zesmer. effort. a madrich of the Dallas movement. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE SOUTHWEST CAMP BONIM. the many cases of poison ivy? Years have come and gone. Habonim groups were functioning. but many miles further in the mountains. a group of friends of Habonim dedicated to the precept of Camp Kvutza. Jacob Feldman.
Bernard Rubenstein. Raphael Levin. Shahna Kahn. Zalman Schneider. Subsequent years were periods of real Habonim expansion in the region. From the very outset. Leah Waltman. as 130 . Weiner of Houston. Camp Bonim observed kashrut (as do all Habonim camps). and Nathan Karin of San Antonio. Nad. Avraham Groner. Yaakov Ely. Forty campers from Dallas and several neighboring towns spent a profitable summer in a Kvutza environment and returned to their respective homes in the fall pledged to work for the growth of Habonim. Bruno Sigel. Some $60. In each of these communities. A number of Dallas haverim. In the summer of 1941. Association by friends in the three states for the purchase and improvement of the site. and Abraham Sinkin. and parents in the communities.all did a real halutzic job in planning for Camp Bonim and in implementing these plans. Meir Sigel. Camp Bonim opened its first season on a leased site on Lake Dallas. and Louisiana. currently of Minneapolis. particularly in the smaller towns where no Jewish education was possible. and in others throughout Texas.000 was contributed through the Camp Bonim. Zalman Kahn. worked with the writer to make this success possible. and Hannah Wiederman of Houston . I. Zevi Borofsky. and Yitzhak Groner. Taubman (currently in Tulsa). This was always considered by the founders and madrichim. and I. committees of friends of Camp Bonim were formed for the purpose of making this decade-old dream a reality. and the summer of that year brought two hundred campers to Camp Bonim. The winter of 1945 saw the purchase of a site on Lake Dallas. Yapha Chesnick.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT all of Dallas. Moshe Smith. all of Dallas. then a member of the Dallas Hebrew School faculty. veterans in Habonim. The camping program was extended to an ever-growing movement. Gerber. called Camp Bonim blessed. Herman P. M. David Zesmer. Ami Levin. was always considered phenomenal. Oklahoma. The invaluable assistance of Kalman Shapiro.
programs. senior haverim would visit the camp for Shabbat and sing the praises of the type of education Camp Bonim offered. Experience. given the opportunity. I should not hesitate to give the campers considerable liberty. from the very inception. For example. kitchen duty. can certainly be handled in this manner. even such a measure as common fund. work. The implementation of this part of the plan was made possible by mothers of haverim who gave of themselves so selflessly in order to provide proper supervision. and for this reason.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING an integral must in any Jewish educational program. however. morning exercise. We had ideas. Those of us who drew up plans for Kinneret last summer were alike in one respect-we were all inexperienced. and contemplation. an occasion for perfect rest. Problems such as bedtime. The campers may talk 131 . From time to time. The entire camp program was geared toward a full and enriching Jewish experience in the spirit of Labor Eretz Yisrael. can be discussed at a Kvutza meeting and will undoubtedly be passed with very little opposition. if anything. aided me in formulating and developing certain ideas with regard to the basic principles of Kvutza. would have cramped our style last year. near Detroit. which no Kvutza should be without. and we were probably aided by the fact that because of our inexperience we made plans which we might otherwise have rejected as too ambitious. study. the campers will decide to do the right thing at Kvutza meetings. I am sure that. 1957 EXPERIMENTS AND TRENDS THE COMING SEASON My experience last summer with Kinneret. Yaakov Levin. Shabbat at Camp Bonim was. handicrafts.
Both vegetable and flower gardening must be begun in April or May. it might also be wise to plant trees for ornamental purposes as well as for fruit. this is a decided advantage since the Kvutza with a garden begins not in July but in April 132 . Habonim are builders. such as poor soil conditions or extreme drought. and we should certainly be given an opportunity to build. Work. and the cost and effort expended on such a project will be repaid if plans are carefully laid out and executed. and such a principle as the "conquest of labor" should be exploited to its limit. and in order to carry out this project successfully. On second thought. it is necessary to take a trip to Kvutza every week and put in several hours of work. even at the expense of a more professional job. This may be difficult to carry through in some Kvutzot because of unfavorable natural factors. but if a discussion of the benefits of an earlier day and the harm done by late hours is carefully conducted. no one will want to stay up past a reasonable hour. will receive much enthusiasm on the part of the campers. The dining room at Kinneret is by no means a professional job.vegetable and floral culture. should play a major role in Kvutza activities and. Our camps present a golden opportunity for us to put some of the concepts of halutziut into practice. of course. To my knowledge. however. In the case of a permanent Kvutza. On the surface this may seem a disadvantage. but it means a great deal to about ten boys who had a band in building it. but by giving them an opportunity to be instrumental in the actual building of the Kvutza. they can be counteracted by artificial means. if planned properly. The best way to give the camp back to the campers is not by merely giving them a voice in their own government. Gardening can and should be of two kinds . work and handicrafts are not being neglected in our Kvutzot.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT about staying up late. even to the extent of killing the idea of a garden. However poor these conditions may be. Arm in arm with work goes gardening.
Danny Ginsburg. Gardening also furnishes a permanent work project during the season. and labor is of little significance if it does not go hand in hand with a desire for beauty and freshness. gardening entails certain responsibilities which every camper should experience. and there is no reason why it cannot supply a substantial part of the Kvutza's fresh food products during the latter part of the season after a few years of experience. the garden should develop. one or two vegetables could be grown in larger quantities to be sold to neighboring markets. Little by little. The garden might even be developed to such an extent that after a few years. however. In short. Flowers and landscaping are also of great significance. This should rather be spent in gaining experience and learning which crops grow most successfully. Those who work on the garden in the spring will naturally be more interested in Kvutza than those whose first connections with camp begin when the season opens. and here is a grand opportunity. but postponing work on the garden spells failure. 1940 133 . Other projects can be postponed from day to day. Flowers and shrubs can transform a barren piece of land into a beautiful scene. A feeling for aesthetics should be inculcated in Habonim. It is unreasonable to expect a crop for consumption from the vegetable garden the first season.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING or May.
prepared the daily work schedule. began as an experiment and ended as an established institution. Although we were rather skeptical at the beginning. Fifteen boys and girls between the ages of fifteen and seventeen attended the camp. in the course of the summer. where they received an education along Reconstructionist lines. Working six or seven hours a day under the hot sun was a new experience for all of them and it was occasionally difficult to maintain good standards of work for the group. chickens. The life of the camp was. built around work. The campers participated in both cultural and agricultural discussions. The campers elected their own person to assign the work who. garden. while several had almost no knowledge of Eretz Yisrael and Zionism. This was partly due to the assignment of routine jobs to the campers. High school-age boys and girls came to Creamridge to live and work with an established collective group. New Jersey. together with us. the campers. CREAMRIDGE Camp Avoda at the Hehalutz farm in Creamridge. of course. by the end of last summer. it is possible to expose successfully young American Jews to collective agricultural life.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP AVODA. rather than giving them an opportunity to do work which they would find more interesting and which would require a certain degree of skill. To our surprise. gradually began to adopt the outlook and standards of intimate collective groups. and so on. such as picking tomatoes or cleaning chicken coops. not to mention halutziut. The group was a rather heterogeneous one. a number were students of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. The agricultural discussions were conducted by members of the farm and were intended to give a general picture of the various branches of a farm 134 . within reasonable limits. most of us were ready to admit that. cannery. we found that almost without any conscious guidance on our part. The campers were given an opportunity to participate in the various branches-barn.
the campers met to discuss and to decide about the problems that arose in the maintenance and the functioning of the camp. These discussions aroused considerable h1terest and proved very worthwhile. of course. and except for a few elementary rules upon which we insisted. there were innumerable small problems. the campers were given a good deal of freedom of choice and decision. and suggestions brought up at these meetings. the cultural work was too limited and lacking in intensity-for example. Five or six times during the summer. there was a discussion about whether boys have to work in the kitchen and clean house as well as girls. Camp Avoda in some ways fell short of what it might have been. was in reference to our own farm economy. Several campers wanted a room in the house to be set aside as a recreation and letter-writing room. Because this was our first experience with a camp of this type and because summertime is always a busy and difficult season at the farm. One evening a week was devoted to a cultural discussion concerning aspects of modern Jewish life throughout the world with particular emphasis on Zionism. During the first few 135 . but the group as a whole was an alert one and there were many lively arguments and debates. We naturally tried to have Camp Avoda run as democratically as possible. and so on. an argument ensued as to whether some campers may go to a movie on a day when the others are swimming or whether the whole group must have their recreation together. A good part of the discussions. we did not have an adequate library of Zionist and other literature which campers could read at their leisure. As mentioned before. Because of the varying backgrounds of the campers. some difficulties were encountered in presenting these discussions. questions.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING economy. Despite the fact that the group was a small one and that camp life followed a rather simple pattern. the work program was not organized in a manner that would have been most beneficial to the campers.
to extol or criticize it. for instance. Yet.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT weeks. After a time. heard. Al Weingrod. and felt. As happens in every camp. the idea of keeping clothes collectively. They liked us and they liked the way we lived. as something that did not need further proof. we feel that we achieved the basic purposes of Camp Avoda. 1944 136 . Most of us thought it likely that they would ridicule. that living collectively was better and preferable to any other way of life. they were asked to analyze collective living. The campers went home with a very real appreciation of the farm and at least an acquaintance with halutziut. During the year. later the campers themselves again brought up the suggestion and it was accepted. then it was shared among the campers. better planned. Purely on the basis of what they saw. and finally it was decided that the boxes were to be shared equally among the campers and members of the farm alike. many of them came to visit us for weekends and holidays. There was a good deal of disagreement about whether this type of life was possible on a large scale at the present time. there were also a good many technical shortcomings which should have been avoided. but everyone who spoke assumed. At first the candy was the private property of the particular tent in which the recipient lived. but it was just the opposite. they began to adopt more and more of our methods. on the basis of their own experience. parents sent boxes of candy and cookies. and better organized Camp Avoda. the campers gradually began to realize the advantages of collective living. Several are returning this summer to participate in a larger. we met with almost complete opposition. A few weeks before the end of the season. we proposed a common fund. When at the beginning of the summer.
After three uncertain years of experimentation. This was hardly an auspicious beginning. we decided in favor of continuing our efforts on behalf of Amal. Institutions. nearly decided to abandon the project. however. But we felt strongly that we had a mission to fulfill in Hebrew camping. Even a cursory evaluation would disclose that Amal has fostered the study of Hebrew in our movement. has established its own camping patterns and set into motion uncertain forces. The staff had little Hebrew camping experience and was poorly prepared. Their educational program bypassed halutziut. Habonim has never had an opportunity to determine the future of this nascent institution. It was but three years ago that we hesitantly opened Amal on a rented site in Vermont. 137 . it has won national recognition as one of the outstanding Hebrew-speaking camps in America. and gained for Habonim new prestige in the Jewish educational world. They glibly spoke of the national poet. Amal. has attracted a considerable number of new haverim. in its three years of existence. Few haverim expressed interest in attending Amal. despite the initial movement apathy. Amal has realized the dreams of its founders. Therefore. We were disturbed by the cloistered atmosphere of many existing camps. The movement greeted this venture with singular indifference. the Merkaz. In view of the small registration. We opened in the summer of 1948 with a handful of campers. They were fostering a native Hebrew-speaking elite. We have been too concerned with the very survival of Amal to give adequate consideration to its role within the movement.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING AMAL IN RETROSPECT Amal. Bialik. on one occasion. do not await official decisions. and chose to ignore the pressing need of Eretz Yisrael: an American halutz aliya. has completed its third season. Habonim's Hebrew-speaking camp. But it might also be shown that Amal's successes have not been achieved without prejudicing the halutzic character of our camps.
Nor did our work go unnoticed in the Jewish community. a performance of Yitzhak Lamdan's Masada was witnessed and applauded by sixty parents and guests. We ended our second season with the realization that Amal had proved itself. This time. Many observers claimed that our campers spoke more Hebrew than the campers of any other Hebrew-speaking camp in America. They felt that it had failed. there were but dim hopes of registering an adequate number of campers. an ambitious program was prepared for the public. Amal's partisans were soon active on all fronts. The season began with forty-five campers who were determined to make it a success. in Connecticut. And.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Haverim seriously questioned reopening Amal in 1949. This past summer we confidently opened the season with sixty haverim. the camper response was more encouraging. In recognition of Amal's promise. Several Jewish educational institutions were induced to award scholarships to Amal. to a large extent. we succeeded. During the winter of 1949-1950. It was therefore with great trepidation that the Merkaz finally decided in favor of reopening the camp. to its fledgling Hebrew camp as its permanent site. On August 9th. We hoped to create a camp modeled along the lines of our other camps. It was no longer an experiment. the Merkaz assigned Tel Meir. Strong arguments were advanced for giving up Amal-our personnel shortage was acute. Hebrew educators from many sections of America visited Amal during the season and were im- 138 . and this we had seemingly accomplished without vitiating our halutzic Zionist program. This was to be its last chance. the number of sponsoring Jewish educational institutions increased from two to six. As evidence of our coming of age. and the national budget could not again sustain a financial loss such as it had in Amal's first season. Prominent Hebrew educators were solicited to add their names to our list of sponsors. and twenty-two scholarships were awarded to Amal by various Hebrew school systems.
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING pressed with the serious educational work that we attempted. Moshe Margalit. Daily formal class work had been introduced. The 1950 season was most successful. 1950 139 . and great emphasis in the discussion program was placed upon Jewish history.
Kvutza and the Individual .
1937 142 .NIGHT WATCH Two o'clock The raindrops fall. Soft winds rock The trees. o'er all Is quiet Three o'clock The whippoorwills Softly mock From yonder hills In the quiet Four o'clock The sky is red. A promise of The day ahead Of quiet Five o'clock A sun so bright Has replaced The dim of night In quiet Six o'clock The day is come But at Kvutza Till day is done No quiet! Rita Greenberg.
and singing for all. First and last stop is the place of business of Mr. Washing is over. July 4th Today the regular daily program begins: Rise and shine – exercise – washing – breakfast . This evening we have a hike to Accord via the new route discovered by Benny and Yehiel. under the direction of Benny.discussion groups – activities – dip – lunch rest and correspondence – sports – swimming – supper . Here we are refreshed by popsicles and exactly $. Tuesday. Then a camp fire. to find talent for the Drama Circle-to-be. Monday.and one of the many evening activities possible in Kvutza. to say nothing of Avram. 143 . in comfortable camp clothes. and quiet. we finally reach home. Amid much excitement. tents and madrichim are assigned. Sleep now. Among last year's haverim. And so to bed. Tiptoeing through the metropolis so as not to wake the immense population. tired but happy. July 3rd Campers arrive. to drop right off to dreamland. with dancing for those who are not too tired after the long train ride. Tonight we have an amateur hour. and the exclamation. and everyone.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD DIARY Sunday. Block. is it swell to be back!" echoes and reechoes to the bewilderment of the newcomers.clean-up . no less. leans back (on his neighbor) after a muchneeded supper and listens to Dave's welcoming speech. Stan and Sol are prize kibitzers. July 5th The regular program again today. there is great rejoicing over the new outhouse. "Oh boy.01 worth of candy-no more.
. Scout-craft Competition at Maccabia. 1953. Campers at Midwest Camp Habonim. 1954. Michigan. 1957. Basketball at Maccabia. Volleyball at Kinneret. Flag Raising at Midwest Camp Habonim. Attacking the Weeds. 1957. 1957. 1957. Michigan. Kinneret.Midwest Camp Habonim. Three Rivers. Chelsea. 1957. Galil.
Midwest Camp Habonim. Green Valley Station. 1957. Camp Kvutza Naame. . Friday afternoon lunch on the patio. 1957.In the tradition at Kinneret: Building the Migdal. 1956. California. Habonim Camp Kvutza Naame. Saugus. Campfire at Midwest Camp Habonim.
1957. Camp Habonim. 1957. and Camp Habonim. 1957. . arriving at Galil for Maccabia. Campers from Moshava. Midwest Camp Habonim. Dedicating the new Arts and Crafts Pavilion. 1957.Hora around the Campfire. Camp Kvutza Naame.
1957. Visitors Day.The Swimming Pool at Camp Kvutza Naame. Joint Flag Raising of the three camps at Maccabia. Canada. Yemenite Dance. . Galil. Gabriola Island. 1956. British Columbia. Camp Kvutza Naame. Waiting for the Ferry to Camp Miriam.
As the haverim tear themselves away to bed.The Cookooricoo . The library is open. July 8th All day today is given over to preparation for Shabbat. At the table the candles are lit and the prayer sung by Edna before we sit down to eat. Saturday. At lunch the Celibates Club is organized at a special table which excludes haverot. and clean up. We have free time tonight. discussion. 148 .F. Struck by the magnificent beauty of the sky and surrounding mountains. July 9th Ah. luxury. they feel that the stars sparkling in the velvet heavens have come nearer to earth and are watching over Kvutza. we gather together on the grass to sing. Everyone is dressed in white shorts and blue Habonim shirts for Friday night. July 7th Looking about this morning.F. Two haverim volunteer to wash the dining room and kitchen floors. one sees a veritable hive of industry.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL Wednesday. we hear The Cookooricoo read by Stan and then sing songs of Shabbat. We do our laundry in the creek. . Sammy and Marvin (who declares that at least he is a confirmed bachelor) are the unworthy specimens of humanity who lead this ridiculous movement.is begun under the expert direction of Judy G. it begins to rain. We have a leisurely breakfast. July 6th It is agreed that "Harishona" is a suitable name for our Accord Kvutza since we were literally "the first. and the boys are working on an aquarium in which to keep material for Sammy's dissection mania. and we march down the hill singing happily. to the great delight of our intelligentsia.Off Ferns Forever. Friday. we sleep an extra half hour this morning. Gathered on the hill. Their motto is: O. The camp paper ." Thursday. As the Bible circles in Hebrew and English begin this afternoon.
Yehiel's determination is of some avail because the shower suddenly stops. July 11th Today we are settled again. July 12th We are awakened this morning by reveille blown by Harriet on her trumpet. The grass is very wet as we walk up the hill to bed. Later. we gather in the dining room for songs and games. And then to bed. July 10th This morning there is a talk and discussion conducted by Shlomo on the present situation in Eretz Yisrael. The elements. Wednesday. after which 149 . This afternoon it rains and. A new batch of haverim come from the city and there is much excitement during the meeting of old friends and new. heigh ho. however. Tonight we have a camp fire with singing. begging Dave for an extra hour of sleep tomorrow. Each tent presents a skit or a like exhibition. as on previous days. "Heigh ho. It is decided that haverim of fifteen and over will take an overnight hike tonight after supper. Tuesday. seem to regard this with disfavor for it starts to rain. stunt night.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Sunday. No morning exercises. it's off to Minewaska we go!" And amid the cheers of the remaining campers. with one or two people doubling up because some trunks have not yet arrived. So the younger haverim go to bed. July 13th Kvutza seems empty this morning with only half the haverim here. Finally the sun breaks through the clouds just in time to set. the group sets out. All the haverim are back for a delayed lunch. Monday. Parents begin to arrive. praise be to Allah! The younger people go on a short hike immediately after breakfast while those that remained for various reasons help in the kitchen.
July 14th There are discussions this morning on the trials in Russia. our tents and persons spotless. Friday. we have arts and crafts and scoutcraft. we listen to The Cookooricoo as read by Avram. 150 . and preparation for a debate-" Resolved: That Socialism as such will solve the Jewish problem. It seems a perfect antidote for insomnia. Back by the tents and joined by the kitchen committee. are on guard duty so all hopes for a peaceful night are futile. Still gathered on the rocks. Now bed and sleep at last. Ready for supper. Now to our tents after singing and dancing. Reading circles are the only activities this afternoon." Today the equipment for all sorts of sports is spread over the camp. Down by the kitchen we have ping-pong. For Shabbat we snap pictures of our haverim in Habonim shirts and white shorts. we watch Mutzie present Barry with a diploma from Fibber's College. and the waterfall competes with Dave's voice as he reads to us the past week's diary and news from the other camps. and following supper. July 15th This morning we again approach the serious problem of laundry and hie ourselves down to Ye Olde Creeke where we spend the morning washing clothes. but-Miriam L. we have free time. A "Candid Camera Fiend" or two stay behind to record on film our march down the hill. while at the top of the hill are horseshoe and deck tennis games. and Dave R. The stream goes by. Thursday. besides clean-up. And watch the Schwartzes at the badminton net! The haverim with musical talent are in the limelight tonight as we all gather near Dubby's tent to hear them and occasionally join in the chorus. After lunch.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL much napping is done under the pine and apple trees by those campers who would catch up on their lost sleep.
Afterwards. Swimming is naturally one of the main activi- 151 . the bottom floor used as a dining room and kitchen. Amid much excitement and conflicting emotions in the cheering section. there is dancing and singing. the same bylaws. civilizations-so do the varying backgrounds of our haverim place an individual stamp upon each Camp Kvutza. of course. the same institutions. Five wigwam tents in a straight line and a large and spacious two-story barn. and the author. My first stop this year was at Kendall. What triumph! What humiliation! The drama group presents an anti-war play at the camp fire tonight. the campers beat the madrichim 17-7. New York. One expects them all to be a like . schools. Just as all settlements in Eretz Yisrael differ.a few trees mark the spot. homes. And so the second week of camp ends. the Kvutza which serves our upstate New York movements. Most of the farmers are Norwegians and the relations between the camp and the farmers are excellent. July 16th Today is the final conflict: let each stand in his place-the campers play a baseball game of chills and thrills. the same program and activities-yet each Kvutza represents a unique world of its own. because the people who live there are differentcoming from various countries. 1938 PEEKING IN WITH OUR SHALIAH Traveling around the camps of our movement is an experience akin to that of visiting our settlements in Eretz Yisrael. one from the other. Farm land stretches out on all sides.for are they not organized and managed the same way. written by Benny Lappin and produced by Ruth L.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Saturday. Situated on a plain on the shore of Lake Ontario-no mountains or bills . Accord Diary. the top floor used as a handicrafts and cultural room -that is the entire camp.
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ties as Lake Ontario with its clear blue waters is only fifty yards away. The haverim there built a long wooden jetty of water which gradually gets deeper and deeper as you go on. Only this year, millions of little fish had been dumped into the lake from the Canadian side, and they had floated over to the American shores. Thus, during the first weeks in camp, their bodies littered the beach, kept you company while you swam, and frequently went into your mouth if you were not careful. From Rochester, I climbed up and up to the Laurentian Mountains in Prefontaine, Quebec, where our Montreal camp is situated. Physically, the camp there is a very poor one, an old building with various compartments used as cabins, dining room and kitchen, an office, and two tents. In general, our haverim from Montreal come from very poor districts - most of them forced to begin working in factories at the ages of fourteen to fifteen. From many points of view, Montreal is like an East European city with the Jews living almost in a ghetto and the population, mostly French Catholics, very anti-Semitic. Most of our haverim there speak Yiddish very well as they attend Yiddish parochial schools. Singing and dramatics is the specialty of Montreal. Every year they give a concert attended by 1200 people which is a highlight of the Jewish artistic season there. No monotones in Montreal-almost all have choir voices and most of the songs are sung in three voices. Two dramatic' presentations were carried through successfully the week I was there-one describing the life of Bialik; the other portraying the history of the Jewish Hagana in Eretz Yisrael, from the founding of the Hashomer until the occupation of Hanita. From there, southward to Camp Galil. The singing there; the manner in which J.N.F. projects were carried out; the exciting baseball games between the Varsity and the Scrubs; the ingenious costumes invented for the masquerade; the adventures of Ferdinand, the truck; the hike in the park near
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
the spot where Washington crossed the Delaware; the spirit of the oldest bonot - the famous LeHagshama group of Philadelphia - who though they found in camp only boys under thirteen and over twenty, expended their energy in leading groups and building up a healthy camp spirit-these are all unforgettable parts of Galil. Ben Zion Ilan, 1938 UNTIL NEXT YEAR And so it was the last day of Kvutza. We packed, we ran around camp looking for wrapping paper and twine, and we envied those fortunates who were staying for the seminar. Busy as we were, however, we could feel something strange in the air; a small committee had been picked by Dave with much secrecy and we wondered about its mysterious I duties. We ate, saying to ourselves and to each other, "This is the last lunch at Kvutza this year." The gods shared our disappointment, perhaps, for they sent down a flood of heavenly tears that transformed the camp into a mudhole. Through the downpour, our trunks and bags were carried to the truck and transported to Accord. A small band of brave halutzot rushed down the hill with a burden of "civilized clothes" which had to be ironed before they could be worn home on the morrow. And now loud lamentations could be heard from Kvutza. The secret had escaped; the cat was out of the bag. A gay farewell party had been planned for this last evening, a campfire, then a march to the pine trees decorated with Japanese lanterns under which was to have been set a feast fit for a king and also for us. Sobbing, we planned a substitute affair and sadly went about making preparations. At last, gathered at the top of the hill and dressed mostly in borrowed clothes, we were ready for supper. Suddenly a bombshell landed in our midst: an evening paper from Ellenville. War, it seemed, was near-the Soviet-Reich
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pact a reality, not just a fantastic nightmare. Thinking of the three-and-a-half million Jews in Poland, many our own relations, wondering whether Britain would indeed stand firm by her pledges to Poland, we were in no mood to appreciate the meal that was set before us. After supper everyone was chased back to the tents while preparations went on in the kitchen. Soon the whistle blew and we tramped into the dining room again. What a transformation! The room was decorated with crepe paper and balloons strung from the ceiling, candles of blue and white giving off the light by which we saw the tables spread with cake, candy, and fruit. We sat down together and sang at the tables all the songs we had sung during the full summer. When the tea had been served and cleared away, Dave rose to speak to us. Because of the news from abroad we were not having the festive evening that had been planned, but still we could look back with satisfaction on a summer of working, playing, and living together. He hoped that the time we had spent in Kvutza would provide a stimulus for more and better work in our various cities during the coming winter. As we left to go to bed, the sky was not yet clear, but the moon shone among the clouds. We took a good look around; this might be our last night at Accord for Dave had said Kvutza might be moved next year. People went to bed quietly-there wasn't as much noise as is usual on the last night at camp. Soon the hushed giggling and singing died down and we fell asleep. Evy Schwartz, 1939
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VIEW FROM KVUTZA HILL, ACCORD Around the hill on which we stand are ringed the woods, Deep, deep into the valley far below, And stretch until in fringing green encroach Upon the fields which roll beyond The utmost margin of our view to where The ranks of toothed hills stand row on row, Green blueing into gray until the last Is but a cloud. David E. Goldberg, 1939 TO KVUTZA In 1933, as we were preparing for Kvutza, the Nazi power was sweeping through Germany. As we packed our trunks in 1939, our thoughts turned back to the fall of Czechoslovakia. Another nation had crumbled because it believed in truth and decency. As we returned home from Kvutza that season, civilization was being crushed. War had come to a world that had not known peace. Last year we came to Kvutza with heavy hearts. France, the symbol of man's hope, had been defeated by the Nazi military machine, and Italy was in the war. The Mediterranean was a war zone and the first bombs had fallen on Eretz Yisrael. Now a Nazi band of steel is stretching into the Near East and is tightening about Eretz Yisrael-a band of steel which reaches about our hearts. We are again preparing to go to Kvutza. To us, Kvutza never has been an ordinary camp. To us, Kvutza has been a place where the things we be-
KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL
lieved could be practiced. It is in Kvutza that there is democracy. It is in Kvutza that all are equal. Our Kvutza is a place where we might learn and plan for the day when we could return to Eretz; Yisrael. In our Kvutza, we could dream and hope together for a day when there would be no war, when men might live a happier life in peace and security. This is no ordinary season for a far-from-ordinary Kvutza. During this season, we must win new faith in our beliefs. We have not yet had to fight for these beliefs of ours. But others are fighting. The British and their allies are fighting for the same things. The Jews and all others of Europe who believed in freedom have long endured the oppression of the swastika because of their belief in the principles of decency. The halutzim of Eretz Yisrael are standing to their guns to defend what they have built and their dreams for the future. We in Kvutza must grow strong in our beliefs and let those who now stand in the front lines know that they can count on us for whatever lies within our power to give in this fight for the future. Artie Goldberg, 1941 NIGTH WATCH The night was cold and dark, the moon passed silently overhead, and still she slept. Suddenly a tap on the shoulder, a yank of the little pigtails, and she was awakened by an obliging, sleepy-eyed haver. Hand in hand they walked to their first destination-the dining room. And there they found more than just an empty place, mosquitoes about the lights, and dirty dishes on the table; there was a building of which they were a part-they recently had carried logs to repair it, and now it was theirs. Dirty dishes did not matter, the mosquito bites did not itch quite so much - the place was theirs. Faithfully through the night they guarded it, and
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when the early hours of the morn began to break, they woke two other haverim. Yes, the girl with the pigtails and the sleepy-eyed haver were on guard duty. The dining room was theirs-all theirs! Haboneh, 1941 THE TREE Limp and lonely and lifeless, it hangs down the side of its cliff. Its naked roots clutch at the earth like fingers' that have lost their power to grasp at life. Around it we stand and we look down on it. And it seems strange to look down on something to which we had always looked up. It is The Tree. If you have ever been in Moshava, you know The Tree. Just across the grounds and follow the path to the water. You pass the ravine and the road to the New Cliff. And then you find The Tree. Or maybe it is that The Tree finds you. You stop to look at The Tree. It sits on its own cliff and it looks over the Severn River. It guards the haverim. on the beach and in the water. It sees the sailboats glide past. It watches the sunsets and the night skies. But when you stop to look at it, it turns. And it looks at you. Then you notice its arms are held out to you and you understand it is your first haver at Moshava. So you climb out on its strong roots and you settle yourself in its lap. For a while, you sit in silence-you and The Tree. And when at last you decide to leave, you go knowing that you will return. Many times you visit it. Sometimes you come with your haverim. Then all of you sit on its arms and around it and you lose yourself in discus-
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sion. Momentarily you forget where you are. Yet, when you look upward, you see The Tree and you know it listens sympathetically. Sometimes you bring your new group to The Tree. You are a madrich and you want to impress your haverim. And hardly a week passes now but that one of them recalls, "Remember that time we sat at The Tree?" Sometimes you come with a Certain One. For The Tree, alone, may know your secrets. But most times you come alone to The Tree. Early in the morning you come to it. Late at night when you cannot sleep. After Moshava has closed and you are back in the city, suddenly you have such a longing to leave your routine. And you take the first lift you can get. And you come back to Moshava. Like a mad one, you run down the path to The Tree. And you sit upon its roots and rest against its trunk. For a long time we knew it had to come down. Let the truth be known: There is no time in our memory when The Tree did not "have to come down." Knowing full well we would not. Each year its roots protruded more and more above the ground. Each year it extended farther over the Cliff. If we stood on the beach below it and looked up, we could see its every vein straining at the earth around it. In March it snowed. A heavy, unkind, bitter storm that seemed to seek revenge on the coming spring with which it struggled. Limp and lonely and lifeless, it hangs down the side of its cliff. Its naked roots clutch at the earth like fingers that have lost their power to grasp at life. Around it we stand and we look down on it. And it seems strange to look down on something to which we had always looked up. It is The Tree. Miriam Biderman, 1942
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
SO YOU WANT TO BE A MADRICH Perhaps you are one who wants to do more than his share at Tel Hai this summer, that is, become a madrich. Well, if you are new at this game, let me give you some timely advice. First of all, you must take into consideration your age. If you want to work with solelim whose ages range from ten to twelve, we suggest that you yourself should be at least thirteen so that they can look up to you to some extent. The same goes for the tzofim who are usually thirteen and fourteen. That means that you should be about fifteen, or if you wish to give a sage-like appearance, sixteen. The bonim, as our beloved rosh Kvutza, Harry, once said, are anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five. But for them it does not matter how old you are because the bonim never pay any attention to madrichim anyway. They consider them a mere formality. So you think you are old enough for one of these age groups. We shall therefore proceed to tell you just what will be expected of you in each age group. We'll start out with the solelim. and get them off our minds (as though that's even vaguely possible. To work with these little rascals, you must have a strong constitution and a stronger left hook, the endurance of a cross-country track star, and the patience of a saint. You must have the fleetness of a greyhound each evening to join the merry chase that occurs when it is time to put them to bed. A liberal education is a handy thing to have, too, for you must know everything from the latest processes of making apple butter to the social status of the Jew in Zululand. These little intellectual fiends can ask more brain-teasers in a day than Dr. I. Q. does in a year. Also, you bad better stock up on vitamin pills, for these charming youngsters have their own ideas of how to spend a restful afternoon. Now for the tzofim. These animals are slightly less energetic, all their vitality having been exhausted in their solelim days, though they are still more
you will be requested to solve all their little affaires de coeur. And now. Likewise. you have underestimated the wide range of their capabilities. For example. their non-appearance at work does not mean that they are lazy. and if you don't think that kids of this age are concerned with such problems. you may be sure that the bonim are lounging comfortably in their tents and cabins holding discussion of their own-of a different sort. They are not antagonistic to culture and education-the only reason for their nonattendance at discussions is evidently that they know it all. And finally. dear prospective madrich. You will be subject to nightly outpourings of their hearts and will be forced to promise them you will try to get the work committee to put them on guard or kitchen duty with their current crushes. while a guest speaker sits under a tree talking to the few staff members disguised as bonim to save the reputation of the camp. being a madrich of tzofim is a splendid occupation. sleep.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL active than their mild looks indicate. They thrive best if left to themselves to eat. And so. after everyone else is in bed. These very exclusive affairs can do wonders for the worst 160 . that is. however. Oh no! The bonim are of the opinion that work was created to give the solelim and tzofim a chance to work off some of their excess vim and vigor. But the modern tzofeh brings new problems with which the madrich can expect to cope. gossip. you will be required. if you are interested in practicing some early teen-age psychology. These languid creatures have neither the solelim spirit nor the tzofim trust and confidence in a madrich. to attend a staff meeting. there are the bonim. On the whole. Yes. madrichim will find the bonim a group of sophisticates who have reached the stage in their development when they come to camp merely from force of habit. and go on night watch. if you reach the end of the day a fairly sane person.
It is a custom that every summer some campers decide to do the nearest thing to suicide and climb the mountain for what they call a "good time. I decided to try it again. someone found out that I had the only knapsack in Kvutza. loudly shhh-ing each other although it's quite obvious that the whole camp is still awake. who is pretty good looking so we had no trouble getting several girls to go. and when the darn meeting is going to end. Jupiter-and here the story lies. I once tried it. Jeannie Reisapfel. Jerry. After such a fatiguing meeting. but being out of condition. so they let me carry all the lunches plus a first aid kit and camera. Finally it does break up. one needs little convincing that a post-midnight snack is in order. but having become a fine physical specimen at Kvutza. 1942 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS Dear Mom: You know that right across the way from the camp there is a high mountain called Mt.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING case of insomnia. If you do not fall prey to the sandman's charms. got no more than half way up. Sandy. We were to be guided by the forest ranger. in two-hour shifts. and when you're going to prepare the discussion you have to lead tomorrow morning. We hiked two miles in the nice summer sun and began to climb the mountain single file. That was three years ago. to rotate about the room pricking the madrichim with pins. and they do quite a bit of hurrying about in an effort to keep at least three people awake at all times. and all troop over to the dining room." Well. but only on the condition that it be continued tomorrow when everyone will be fresh as a daisy. in back of 161 . You'll keep wondering if the cabin that's doing all the yelling is yours. Two persons are appointed. As we started out. you won't be able to keep your mind on the meeting anyway.
designed to stop a forest or brush fire. Norman 1942 162 . Also it is quite uncomfortable to find that you cannot stop at the edge of a cliff. sang songs which the ranger liked though he didn't know what they were all about (nor did we). and ate lunch (sandwiches and fruit from the knapsack I was carrying). I stopped. We sat around. How sorry I was. I am sure that this tractor found the steepest part of the whole range of mountains. he would put his head over my shoulder to see what was doing. I shall explain: A firebreak is a long. Don't worry. After waiting until we all gathered-including the loose parts-we began to hike home. we arrived at the top. Just as we got near camp. I want to stay longer. I played soldier all the way down and it was very realistic. took pictures (my film). too. We finally got to the bottom drawn out over a half mile or so of ground. Oh yes. we found a rattlesnake had been killed a few minutes before we got there. bad been eating garlic all morning and whenever we stopped. Love. We went down a firebreak. goodbye now. cleared strip through the mountain. Once you begin going down it is very difficult to stop. Mom. I almost became a casualty when I tripped. I felt just like killing a rattlesnake. After fighting our way through the brush (the ranger and I wore short pants and my legs are disfigured for life). Dave Bleviss was at the rear and no one could squeeze by. Your dear son.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL me. There was of course no turning back. It is made by big tractors which try to find the steepest part of the mountain they can go up without turning over. It is not true that it is easier to come down than to go up. and then began to go down. send me $7 and a snake-bite kit. Well. and made me sick. If you don't know what a firebreak is.
they must be able to endure rough treatment. You are going to wash them yourself.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING NEED HELP PACKING? Spring is well along. and dress shirts for Shabbat and Sundays. and just between us. Drag out all your old clothes. antiquated clothes that you have long ago forgotten about. But your clothes must have one important virtue . and presto. we are in Kvutza! Yet. because by the time you go home. And then Kvutza! Imagine! It's just a matter of days before construction crews will appear at Kvutza sites all over the country and put into effect the planning they've been doing all winter. Also make sure that they are washable. You see. very little will remain of them anyway. Therefore. clothes. we know what kind of a laundry man you are. clothes that are too dilapidated for city wear. School will follow soon after. Our parents 163 . and you will have a great part of your Kvutza wardrobe. let me-a veteran-give you a few hints as to what to pack and what not to pack. because we play. Have your wardrobe include work shirts (for we all work). some of us don't feel so easy about this packing business. And once the Kvutza has been awakened from its winter's sleep. play shirts. then comes the time of the year that every Habonim member has been waiting for impatiently-the opening of Kvutza and the glorious days that will follow! All we have to do is pack our duds and hop a train or bus. too. we are very active in Kvutza. First. Nothing is too bad for Kvutza when it comes to clothes.
Have a pair of hard-soled shoes for hiking and a pair of soft-soled ones for play and work. Oh. Your pajamas must not be too nice though because your neighbor might mistake them for fancy slacks and borrow them for use on some important occasion. we go to it (in the form of a swimming pool). When it doesn't come to us (in the form of rain). and warm pajamas. Shorts or slacks or anything that goes under that general heading by a stretch of the imagination will do. reading and study groups. That's just to remind you that you'll need a bathing suit. don't forget your pants. in which case. Yet. You'll need a sweater. and FUN! But in order to get around in presentable shape. Although I know that you are not intending to do much sleeping (how often I've heard a haver shout into the face of his madrich: "Do you think I came all this way to go to sleep?"). Mind you. Besides. I'll have to use yours. So don't forget these important items.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL are always fussy about the way we look when they come to visit us so we might as well look our best. Perhaps you'll feel like sleeping for some strange reason one night. One item that should be carefully chosen is shoes. and a bathrobe. 164 . And don't forget the shoe polish. a cap. haverim. you'll need a raincoat and boots. I almost forgot to mention the pants that go with the shirts. But we don't let that interfere with our activities. because I'm warning you. bless me. So you might as well take along some sheets and warm blankets. By all means. it can rain even in Kvutza. We have indoor games in the dining hall. I'm not going to lend you mine. I'm sure to forget to bring some. Brrr! Nights are sometimes cold in Kvutza. yet you can never tell. a warm jacket. we don't always hide from water.
We bade farewell to Kvutzat Kinneret. And the memories engulfed us. The builders remember the watchtower-chopping the trees.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING That's the general idea. We recalled nights of Hagana. We remembered the arduous trek to the lake. The soles of our feet recollected our nature walks. Our toes could feel again the sand rippling as we walked through the Farband camp on the way to 165 . my advice is that you comply with your mother's demands. About filling in the details. Birdie Dekelbaum. constructing the frame. We had slept under its benevolent shadow that summer of 1955. If she is unreasonable in the amount of underwear she makes you take. tactics. Our eyes remembered watching for the answering flags flashing in the sun. we remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. We remembered lively. As we watched the torches for the last time. Our feet remembered all-day hikes. thought-provoking periods. raising the watchtower that would guard Kinneret. That last night... We remembered discussing leadership problems. We remembered sleeping through them.. haverim remembered the discussions we had had. The scouts remembered how we had hiked through the swamps of Kinneret. The message was received! We had talked to each other from afar. knotting the ropes. you will have use for the extra pairs on masquerade nights. The haverim who had built Kinneret gathered on the last night of the last season. 1944 KINNERET SHELI We stood quietly meditating in the gathering twilight of the field of Kinneret. Then our hands remembered the semaphore code: K-i-n-n-e-r-e-t s-he-l-i.
Kvutzat Kinneret. 1957 166 . Once again we swayed and swerved to the sound of the shepherd's flute. We remembered Shabbat as dusk fell the last time at Kvutzat Kinneret. In our memories we sang. The cooling relief of the ointments soothed us. We had built it-Kinneret. we floated in a dream of memories.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL swim. The raft seemed to beckon to us anew. The beauty of the Shabbat celebration haunted us. We remembered the mosquitoes only too well. comfortable feeling of Shabbat. We swatted away at the infernal pests. to the rhythms of Eretz Yisrael. We relived the glorious. We remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. We swam. We bade farewell to a friend. This was our camp. We danced again to the familiar tunes. The clammy feel of seaweed lingered in our minds. Avraham Bass. We stood quietly in the gathering twilight. We recalled how we had danced the hora hour upon hour.
The mighty of the earth decreed it so. the sound of firing still is heard And the dazed survivors of your people flee before the same pursuing mob. But brothers resting in many lands. the rifles are stacked. On the coast and in the valleys of our promised land battle-girt intruders bar the way to wander-weary brothers seeking to come home.In Memoriam HAZKARA The cannons are still. The aeroplanes overhead wing their way with peaceful cargoes. resting in many lands. comrades. Brothers. there is no peace and your battle is not done. the bombracks off. the uniform of their captors only changed. Over the blood-soaked plains of Poland. The last prisoners of Theresienstadt still stand behind barbed wire. 168 . this is called peace.
the hard-contested hills of Italy. the roll call of the resting places from continent to continent. From ghetto and from concentration camp. The record of the graves. the gaps that never can be filled. Majdanek. Auschwitz and Stryj.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Even in this western land of liberty. 169 . Where in the same wide war fell our sons defending Kfar Giladi. Only in a brief moment of council. cry for memorial. From every forest haunt and cave where desperate guerilla bands struck at the foe. From the Rhineland plains and woods. we pause to consider a fitting monument and to tell our losses. Brothers resting in the distant lands. From the bitter hedgerow battles of Normandy. the battle. yet calls afresh each loved one gone. from Warsaw. The familiar faces missing from our ranks. Bialystok. the roster of our dead commands memorial. The hundreds upon thousands upon millions. even from the waters of the seas. for the remnant of the exile does not stop. From beachheads and from far Pacific Isles with strange exotic names like Iwo Jima. Lublin. And what avail soon crumbling stone carved in our sacred script to puzzle future archaeologists. the voices of the Nazi foe still echo and repeat the ancient vicious lies. The distant isles and seas engulf us with the magnitude of our loss.
Rest. still further struggle. shrunken. oh brothers. 1945 170 . for we dedicate to you a monument eternalWe are your memorial. Ahead. from your graves look out! Look out upon your people! Look into the ghetto. the weary. behind. let us dedicate the memorial to our dead scattered through many lands. these dried bones yet live? With loving hands and humbled spirits. The records of an extinct folk. shivering limbs of the wasted few who somehow did not die.IN MEMORIAM Shall your memorial be the silence of forgotten history. strewn before our feet. to the camp.E.G. O Brothers. Worn and weary but imbued with the flame which kindled them at the foot of Sinai's peak. into the ship that bears illegal freight out of the graveyard of Europe. Lying in fields throughout the earth. And in the valley. D. will they live? Will this your people. a line of valiant battles dearly won. And the monument we dedicate is their own people. The mounds and graves of the ending of our seed We pause as on a mountain top and see. Look and say. Brothers. in graves of honor and in lime pits of shame. Habonim Convention. December.
She came to us because she had decided upon the path of selfrealization. when we were suffering from a critical shortage of leadership personnel. We are at a loss as to what to say or do. upon him she centered all her efforts. as rosh of several madrichim groups. She joined us when she was already in her twenties. Each time it seems impossible. Camp Kvutza-these she considered as means to an end. Sometimes it seemed as if she carried the whole burden of our movement and our people on her slight shoulders. Miriam came to us late. The number of haverim that we have lost is mounting too quickly. she served as rosh of the New York region. She was one of the few people who was ours completely. Each time it seems that our best is taken. she had a great capacity for hard work. their purpose and justification being to instill values and attitudes within the haverim. how to react. all of us. The small group discussions.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING MIRIAM BIDERMAN We are a movement of young people. the mahaneh activities. She brought a real understanding of the meaning of education into our movement. Immediately. but as one guiding the individual. During one of the war years. She was among our most devoted. Nevertheless. as rosh of one of the mahanot. unbelievable. Thus she worked closely with the individual haver. Miriam was a school teacher by profession. she threw herself entirely into our work. and as editor of Alot (the national publication specifically for our halutzim)-all these at the same time. She strove for selffulfillment in our movement even before she went on aliya. even the old timers were able to learn a great deal from her. She was a madricha in the true sense of the term. She understood her educational function not as one of directing the group. Her primary concern was always the development of the individual. And she exerted a tremendous amount of influence upon those with whom she worked. as rosh of our national funds work. 171 .
Both in our movement here and later in the kibbutz in Eretz Yisrael. 172 . Wherever she went. with ability. and worked with them. of her articles in our various publications. in Winnipeg. passed away. to synthesize the old and the new. Thus... Her sense of complete identification with Jewishness and her acute sensitivity to the tragedies of the Jewish people are a reflection of her traditional background. sensitive. Miriam wrote prolifically and she has left us a rich legacy of her written word. The volume of her Shabbat and other program material. She was able to put meaning into Jewish tradition. in New York." Her many letters to haverim gave us an insight into this devoted. And wherever she worked. troubled havera who "before her time . she sought out young haverim with devotion. she left her heritage: a corps of responsible haverim. with. a Third Seder. for the tasks of movement leadership and self-realization. indicate to us the creative being whose "life song" was "suddenly cut off. or Tisha B'Av program in which Miriam had a hand always made a powerful impression. Shabbat celebration. the lack of traditional observance caused her a great deal of discontent. understanding. Miriam was brought up in an Orthodox religious home. She continually championed traditional practices in our movement. she came to us with a deep appreciation for Jewish tradition.IN MEMORIAM Her aim was to prepare younger haverim. in Baltimore.
he was a veteran. shortly after Habonim was established. he had had his fill of peanuts and of traveling for the movement. We didn't think of shlihim from Eretz Yisrael. 173 . and was supposed to receive permission for aliya. though you may not know his name or you may not realize that you know him. His task was to go into a community. Ben Cherner had not only served his apprenticeship in the movement but had already acted as an organizer for the Young Poale Zion Alliance. There is always an aura about the figure of a man who carries the title of "first" but who we do not remember. I am certain that he took no courses in leadership technique. The stories of organizers struggling and living on peanuts refer to Ben Cherner. He had done his duty. By 1934. We wanted organizers to establish our new system of education. Many usages prevailing in the movement to this day are traditions which had their inception with him. . But the National Executive (four people we were. and transform them into a mahaneh of Habonim.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING BEN CHERNER Many of you know Ben Cherner. It was in 1934. all told) decided that he must remain for another year to help in the transition from Young Poale Zion Alliance to Habonim. contact parents and prospective madrichim. as we subsequently have been to every organizer and shaliah. who toured the New England region in 1933. We were very modest. but he knew how to train people to follow in his footsteps so that there was a second and third and fourth. get together the remnants of the YPZA. The adjective stuck to Ben because he had the faculty of attracting people to himself to carry on. The outstanding "first" in relation to Ben was that lie was the first organizer of Habonim. By 1934. By 1934. It was at that time that we decided to be heartless toward Ben. I do not think that Ben went to college or had much formal training. that we felt that one way of its taking root in America was to send out emissaries.
the stream of organizers. He went into a city without benefit of publicity notices or mass meetings. The mail was inadequate. the summer Kvutza. It was a dynasty: from Ben Cherner to Joey Criden. The movement was kept alive by personal contact. We were getting news of a growing community in Los Angeles. his home town. After negotiations. There is a "first" in connection with Ben which relates to the Pacific Coast. we obtained $75 from several Los Angeles haverim. When Moshe was called to New York. from Joey to Moshe Goldberg. In Chicago his accomplishment was that he convinced the haverim of the movement that it was necessary to have a permanent organizer who would set up the organization. Ben was a simple. Then Ben went to Chicago. That trip in 1935 was the first link in the chain which ultimately led to the development of the Los Angeles mahaneh. soft-spoken boy. Naturally. we called on Ben to make the trip. There existed a loose connection between the New York center and the groups. His first stop was Buffalo. He knew how to sing and he knew how to gather people around him. one must visualize the years in which these were made. There was not too much money for printing. of a Far West in which Folk Shulen graduates knew Hebrew. He spoke quietly and intimately.IN MEMORIAM Ben was not much of an orator. The organizer for whom Ben paved the way made Chicago the center of our movement for many years. Hence a good deal depended on whom was sent. He set up several mahanot. To understand the significance of Ben's organizational tours. He established a mahaneh in Buffalo so well that not only did Buffalo become the original stronghold of Habonim but gave us two organizers in succession. The visitor was the warm link representing the movement. the Buffalo movement waned. He went to private homes and got 174 .
He loved people. He tried to maintain the agricultural training center in Illinois. He was young himself. Perhaps this accounted for his ability to gather young people around him. They were small. He liked young people. approachability. there were training farms in Baltimore. There was no other candidate who could have done the organizational work. and to introduce a new atmosphere. his primary one was his humanity. inadequate. The repercussions of the action of the Detroit group. For a/person who is normal. Of Ben's many qualities. No course in leadership or technical training or knowledge could have made 175 . unsanitary farms struggling under extremely difficult conditions. We felt that we were committing a crime against Ben by holding him back but there was no alternative.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING people around him to sing with him and talk with him. he set an example. in Minneapolis. and one in Illinois. we consolidated all of these farms into the one at Creamridge. It was into such conditions that Ben plunged to try to clean up the place. When Enzo Sereni came. The senior leaders of the Labor Zionist movement set a disheartening example by not permitting their children to remain in Eretz Yisrael. The fact that Ben failed is not a reflection on him. There was one specific job Ben tried to do which ultimately resulted in failure. his. A large percentage of the "halutzim" were malcontents who could not earn a living. a useful service. in a sense. adjusted. American halutzim who could not adjust to the rigors of pioneering did not help the atmosphere by returning home. which was paradise by contrast. At that time. It was in 1936 that he finally left. Even his leaving was. to go to Eretz Yisrael was a feat. to live in it. When he left. We had held him back two years beyond his time. were serious. who returned from Eretz Yisrael and spread stories to justify themselves. Ben's was a permanent influence because he did not talk only of Eretz Yisrael. there was a nucleus which somehow carried on. poor. and refined. It was more than a one-man job. That too was a service.
He would not get excited or rush off to his work. They sat and sang without moving or talking. he held them for hours. He had stuck to Naan no matter how strongly he was urged to join the American kibbutz. when he helped to organize the Union of Jewish World Combatants. He considered himself a soldier. In our relationship to Ben. Ben did not believe in the concentration of Americans in Eretz Yisrael. or anyone to refer to. Yet when he sat with a group of people around a camp fire. quality. Similarly. the rest of us did not believe in it either. when he went to Eretz Yisrael. His singing possessed an enchanting. it was in the line of duty. That was one of the reasons why he did not return to America as a shaliah. it was in the line of duty. Ben had very solid convictions. In that period. but Ben was stubborn. We did not want an American landsmanshaft in Eretz Yisrael. 176 . himself as a leader.IN MEMORIAM up for that basic human element. When he went to do organizational work. Our attitude was changed by the realities of life. Only during the last two years did he begin to waver and to talk of transferring to Kfar Blum. Many of our songs are versions which he taught to the first groups of Habonim. He was by no means a professional singer. He showed his enthusiasm by explaining his idea and then setting about carrying it out so well that the job seemed easily done. He knew that shlihut carried with it a connotation of leadership which he did not believe held for himself although he had always been in a position of leadership. it was realization. we appreciated his enthusiasm. so solid that perhaps they account for one of the tragedies of his life. He never permitted himself to think of. His singing had a good deal to do with his influence in the movement. Ben never thought of himself as a leader. For good or for ill. some camp fire traditions and some of the stories reprinted by us in Haboneh have their origin in Ben's fertile mind.
. The knowledge of his irrevocable loss to us is difficult to comprehend. He would talk of the needs for another Kvutza and another mahaneh and of dogged perseverance in organizational work. he was Danny Ginsburg of Habonim. Saadia Gelb Furrows.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING If Ben were here and could talk to us. he would talk of simple and prosaic tasks. this kind of obstinacy would succeed. "To understand Danny. 1947 DANNY GINSBURG Once again the battlefront has claimed the life of one of our haverim. that we carry forward that struggle today. and that those after us will not falter. developing. impossible to console. "one must see his life in terms of a personality that was unfolding. where he made his most specific contributions to the life of Habonim. He had become widely known and loved-he was no longer Danny Ginsburg of Detroit." wrote one of his friends from the Midwest. and he would finish by saying that. his future was inextricably bound up with the highest hopes of the movement. January. it is the realization that they represented a continuation of the Jewish struggle for survival which began before them. The knowledge that Danny Ginsburg has been killed in action on Iwo Jima has brought sorrow to Habonim from one end of the country to the other. of the trials and tribulations of training and of self-realization in Eretz Yisrael. 177 . in the long run. If there is meaning in the memory of our haverim and of their services. His role in Habonim for more than eight years is invaluable. and ever expanding . That. is the fitting memorial to Ben Cherner. it seems to me. At first he saw one important objective ahead -that was the establishment of a real Jewish institution in the heart of the American scene..
and above all. it was with the determination born of his intense sincerity. When Danny danced. Danny continued to participate in Habonim life. All who came in contact with him were imbued with his spirit of idealism. near Detroit. as a leader in discussions. He was one of those exceptional individuals who throws himself into every activity with the completeness of a passionate spirit. Yes. who have known him at seminars and other movement gatherings. and under his energetic leadership. strong determination. lie arrived at the personal decision to join Kibbutz Aliya and prepare himself for a true realization of his burning idealism. a determination that held out until he convinced or was convinced. and his place and importance within Habonim grew as he did. sincerity. Sometime later. He continued. Danny's was truly a constantly developing personality. of hard work. through the mails.IN MEMORIAM This goal was the establishment of a summer Kvutza. the movement there flourished remarkably. well remember that it was not only physically that he worked hard. His personal influence over others was so strong that many who might not have taken the same road followed it upon his leadership. After his initiation of the work for a summer Kvutza near Detroit. to take part in the solution of prob- 178 . "Those who saw Danny at work in Kinneret. Kinneret. When he went into active service more than twenty months ago. he became rosh of the Detroit Habonim. find it difficult to separate the two. when he participated in a discussion. His influence was felt as well among the haverim in the neighboring cities. to contribute to Kibbutz Aliya discussions. nothing could stop him. There was always a glow about him as he worked. through going to Eretz Yisrael. " The many members of Habonim throughout the country who remember him at conventions as chairman at sessions. that would be built by and for Habonim.
perhaps the leading member of the future. one of the leading members of Habonim. not the little cogs. can prove the true worth of his short life. it's all right too. May. "I guess I haven't done much in my short life so far. But in case I don't. After all. 1945 179 . When Danny learned that he and his men were to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima. to bring some good into the world. but we who are carrying on. I haven't learned very much-just enough to realize that I still have a great deal to learn. through embodying his spirit in our work in Habonim. it's the machine that counts.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING lems of the local groups he had led as well as those of national Habonim. he wrote to his Detroit haverim in these words: "Naturally. But if I've served as a stimulus to even a few kids to try to reach higher. He continued to be. in the minds of all of us. I hope that I'll be able to come back safely and put into practice those things in which I believe and about which I've written to you and the others so much. we're all only little coos in a machine and if some of us have to fall by the wayside in order that the machine should continue to run smoothly. Furrows." He has not been granted the chance he hoped for. I only hope I'll get a chance to make it more so in the future. then I think my life so far has been worthwhile.
He was preparing for life in Eretz Yisrael at an age when most haverim are just beginning to consider halutziut. He came to be one of the most active and respected haverim in the machaneh.IN MEMORIAM NATE KANTER Every haver in Habonim knew Nate Kanter. He has left a gap which cannot be filled. February. unassuming. One of his first activities was a visit to the training farm at Creamridge. even those who had never met him. he was a frequent visitor at the Hehalutz Training Farm at Creamridge. Halutziut came easily for Nate. to him it was the natural way of life. he left home and began training at the National Farm School. hard-working boy who became so close to them. His loss is a tremendous blow for all of us. When he reached eighteen. New Jersey. because he personified the ideals of our movement. Those haverim now in Eretz Yisrael will remember the quiet. largely in the Pacific. Furrows. At sixteen. unselfish. At the time of his death he was making plans to leave for Eretz Yisrael in the spring. The things he wanted for himself will never be realized-but the fulfillment of the things he wanted for his haverim and for his people lies in our hands. both in his work in the movement and in his relations with his haverim. On his days off. On his return to St. 1947 180 . Louis. He was a complete halutz-devoted. he threw himself into movement work more vigorously than ever. He was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from a meeting of Habonim. he entered the Navy and served two and a half years. working ceaselessly.
I cannot really describe the great feeling of despair that took hold of us at his going and the manner of his going. art. and his work with the ships He spoke simply and beautifully. His body was taken to the Mazkirut building. Kieve said a few words before the coffin was lowered into the ground. Kieve spoke about his years in the movement. 1948 181 . a glass of wine-and how he had. carried and driven to the little cemetery near the garden. There was an escort of men with guns to protect us. No one said anything. the desire to come to Eretz Yisrael and take part in its upbuilding. on the other hand. but the one that was the clearest -was that of Ari standing on a flat stone near the stage of the amphitheater in Killingworth lecturing at the seminar . various pictures of Ari flashed through my mind. And all the time. People gathered and stood together in small groups for comfort. It is still incredible. He was helping to set up electricity for some of the houses and so strapped himself to a pole in the fashion that such work is done. his years at sea. music. and from there. The entire kibbutz was shocked and stricken by his death. Rose Breslau Furrows. April. Only the clump-clump of hundreds of boots walking through the mud could be heard. While he was working.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ARI LASHNER It happened yesterday between 10:30 and 11:30 in the morning. He spoke about the conflict in Ari's nature: How he loved beautiful things a good book. . That picture of Ari. The quietness and stillness were uncanny. young and vital. The people followed near and behind the coffin. will always remain with me. . a trigger happy Arab from Salchia shot him in the back.
and unself-conscious manner during his last weeks in America that he was recruiting the crew and arranging the sailing of the first Hagana ship from America. For he was a central figure. You would never have guessed from Ari's quiet work-day. a ship that ran the blockade and then returned to Europe for a second load. A cohesive group that grew up in the movement and had planted firm roots in Eretz Yisrael feels shattered.he inspired in others a sincere and warm recognition of his own capabilities. Everyone who knew him would agree to this. bringing in thousands on his Hagana ship. The ignorant Arab sniper's bullet that cut short his life at Kfar Blum on March 16th caused far more than a personal loss. His wife and child had gone to Eretz Yisrael before him. and the movement produced. to Europe and to Eretz Yisrael. to war as a marine. America. For Ari exemplified the best that the combination of Judaism. unchanged. There will never take place that meeting in Eretz Yisrael to which I looked forward so greatly. good-humored greeting again.just because of these qualities . of 'music. and a springtime era of the movement. for just as he was a leader of the most complete modesty and honesty . but left such deep impressions on all whom he met. an inexhaustible source of reminiscence and humor. He had 182 . He went away many times before-to distant cities for the movement. We feel more alone in a darker world. From all parts of the world. He went through life so unassumingly. someone on whom we all leaned. there was his smiling. of drives into the country. diverse individuals have felt impelled to communicate with others who knew him.IN MEMORIAM ARI LASHNER Ari Lashner has left us. and he was destined to contribute in important measure to the Jewish State in the future. But always before. to express their sense of loss. With him went a whole period in the youth of those who grew up with him. of strolling about the city. the pleasurable interludes of gentle conversation.
or to descend to the vulgar or unseemly in any way. For a time. He assumed you were wrestling honestly with your problems as he was with his. it is his insistence that the individual search for his own truth and act in consequence." unless "gentleman" is redefined to be what he was. which all who experienced him felt. What he could not tolerate in himself and others was covering up the problem. this realistic tendency intervened even in his enjoyment of abstract beauty in painting and poetry (never in music. Not that he was a "gentleman. And there was frequent cause for anger and impatience in those years. yet not your own. attaching at least as much weight to his feelings as to his reason. and under the pressure of very wide experience. If a keynote is to be sought in his pervasive influence. there was a definite mellowing in him. for which he was too naturally gifted). But he longed for the day of peace when he could realize himself in some way in the Jewish Land. Ghandi could not have abhorred violence more than Ari Lashner. tempering the feelings. to gossip in malice.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING not known when or how he would see them again and he wanted to be with them desperately. tolerant and receptive 183 . he gave full credence to the role of the irrational in life. He did not enjoy the conscious role of "organizer" or even of halutz. Principles divorced from circumstances and action did not exist for him except as scholastic exercises with which he was -very impatient. He was never heard by anyone to shout in anger. and respecting feeling in others. But in recent years. He died in war. In this connection. Thus he could not consider the fate of the Jewish people without including himself in the solution. who hated even the raised voice. He had strong passions. by the development of universal theories which solved all problems. anger. excusing oneself. But he never drove others. and impatience. or seeking a way out by processes of rationalization.
From the earliest days when. we went driving out on Long Island until dawn. He loved to stop at roadside inns. He was a Socialist. the enjoyment of beautiful things in many forms became a welcome release for him. when we drove into New England. of people. The very casting of whole societies. 184 . He once told of hearing a musical work on the radio while working on something. but he weighed things relatively and he knew the enormous importance of the measure of basic civil liberties enjoyed here. observe people. He felt humble and inferior to the point of discomfort before anyone with special talent. into formal molds with neat tags was foreign to his mind. but he would take any capitalism over a Socialism that gave a whit less of individual liberty. stores. and of complex ways of life. whether in art or in farming. His greatest pleasure was to drive through its countryside. Any account of Ari would be incomplete without mentioning his love for America. but without the slightest trace of the envy that stems from vanity and leads to pretenses and false emulation. He muttered to himself: "What on earth is this endless hodgepodge?" It was announced as the Kreutzer Sonata. too. his favorite was Levin. The piece went on interminably. walk in cities. He knew it well to California. He enjoyed greatly the scene of the “visit to the uncle” in War and Peace. parks. visit galleries. concert balls. The man with a "reputation" as a music lover doesn't tell such stories about himself with detached enjoyment.IN MEMORIAM by nature. I associate him with trips into the green countryside and 1 recall his avid appreciation of it. While he understood and admired a Vronsky and an Anna Karenina. He saw the evils of America. after our Young Poale Zion Alliance meetings. until almost the last full day together. He loved honesty and simplicity.
and it was difficult to perceive at what stage this process actually became a form of reduction ad absurdum. expulsions. Ari Lashner's reference point was his emotional Jewishness and Labor Zionism to which he attached significant weight. and every week saw demonstrations." But he spoke about the other things that were nice to do with a certain detachment. Ari admired the courage and the intellectual acumen of the radical leaders and even admitted that their panaceas might be right. just drifting. His life was the result of an evolutionary process. Socialists and Communists drove the black and white stereotypes of doctrinaire radicalism to absolute extremes. He seemed to be. There never were any dramatic announcements or obvious soul struggle. He was unaware of the courage it took to drift with the tide of one's being. Impossible. We Labor Zionists participated in all radical activities but as a collateral thing. Robinson era at City College. But they were a little above him. without some trustworthy reference point in reality. In the rarefied atmosphere of college. It was the Frederick B. and thought uneasily himself that he was. He was always ready to admit that the paths others were following were right. He dropped his teacher-training course when it gradually became apparent to him that his future lay with the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. another essential characteristic is illustrated. He felt like a victim of himself. He saw the Jewish people again singled out for persecution and he felt that concrete' special efforts by Jews themselves were demanded. These have been called his "doubts" and his "conflict.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The 1930's were a difficult test for radical youth. and counterdemonstrations. Their solutions for the whole world still left him uncomfortable as an individual. What it was and what had gone into it was flowing irrevocably in a certain 185 . actually. He spoke nostalgically about the interesting careers others were following. The concept of doubt in the sense of debating one's path by purely mental processes cannot rightly be used for him. Here.
I am rendering a faint duty inadequately because I knew Ari. Every one of those good Hebrew names we read is only a symbol of a face smiling to someone. It is futile to try to recreate by words the vital essence of a complicated personality like Ari. desires. And so for every one of those who are dying in Eretz Yisrael. is true. Camp Kvutza. in the conventional sense. 1948 186 . emphasis on Hebrew. sometimes looking wistfully back at the green fields of America. the expanded hachshara farms. It is not possible to believe and. Harry Levtow. It is probably reserved only to those who knew him to feel the true loss. and acts known and beloved somewhere. I do not think of Ari as having died. courage. for my part. And he did it as usual-well. No hero picture. But the Yishuv has always commemorated its dead lovingly. faithfully. Ari would not want to be singled out or separated from his comrades. Every soul is precious. by virtue of his great truth to himself. no analogy with anyone else. and energy of the small group of which Ari was a central figure. There is a whole generation of young people who remember how Ari led them in song and dance. April. all these have come about through the vision. nobly. I merely consider that he has crossed another boundary before us as he did so often before. So he followed the path of the halutz. how he spoke at camps and conferences-vital and human. of thoughts. increased aliya. A great deal more will be written by those who worked with him of Ari's influence in the formation and development of Habonim and in the Labor Zionist movement generally. working. one of us. there are those to whom the loss is a terrible reality. but the epitome of us. Labor Eretz Yisrael and the ideals of halutziut proudly became the central educational idea of the movement. as every individual was in life. Furrows.IN MEMORIAM direction and be would have thought it absurd that some sudden idea should be able to change it.
a few boxes of cups (without handles). He was an adventurer. Tired after a day of hard work. On closer acquaintance. people who were tired of civilization and routine. Our status as property owners was made complete when we obtained from a friendly storekeeper a prehistoric ice cream container that was to serve as our "refrigerator. and the old Ford that we were barely able to purchase for $10. We also found some boards for the future kitchen. old farmer's stove. always seeking new thrills and experiences. I well remember the delightful evenings and sunsets in the camp which were so inspiring. The camp consisted of a hilltop cluttered with tents which had obviously seen better days in the army. Hayim could be found on one of the cots in the tent. We were met by the advance crew of a few boys. We saw a different world. For the stormy nature of this boy." One of the advance crew was Hayim Rambam. They felt free as birds and so did Hayim. We knew then that he was moody and ready to tell stories of his adventures throughout the United States. he gave up that kind of life and returned home. you learned that a few warm friendly words could easily quell the storm raging in him. and dishes (slightly cracked). the walls of his home. had proved too stifling. He had a leader's qualities and could influence people either for better or worse.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING HAYIM RAMBAM On a beautiful evening-it must have been about ten years ago-Rachel Siegel and I arrived by car at Camp Kvutza. salvaged from Unser Camp for whose guests they were not deemed worthy. Once he admitted to me that only because of the deep love for his father. and the discipline of a school. open fieldsthe sort of boy that can develop into a hero or an adventurer. And 187 . He used to spend many days and nights with hoboes and his stories were remarkable. He was drawn to the broad. even in early childhood. We were most impressed with the big.
The Ford that had not the least desire to climb the smallest hill. destroying many houses in the neighborhood and flooding all the valleys. willing servant in Hayim's skillful hands. knee-deep in water. was an obedient. because of whose caprices we always had to bring along a couple of "footmen" to help push when the inevitable need arose. Incidents of that summer keep coming to mind." to whom many campers literally owed their lives. without a path to follow. on the other hand. He was also our "life saver. Our ancient army tents. I am sure that it was solely to Hayim's credit that we came away that summer sound in limb. that constantly refused to get back to camp on time. Hayim showed himself to be the second sort of person. Towards the end of the summer. riding in the Ford. Here we are. whose mission in life should long since have ended-in which we have to cover ourselves with raincoats even during a light downpour-bowed meekly before the wrath of the storm and finally surrendered completely. How well I remember that procession in the thick blackness. lashed by the wind! It was one of those moments when old and young display all their shortcomings and weaknesses and. We all gathered in our one "building. Hayim was the driver of the Ford on which we depended for supplies from the nearby town and water from the well.IN MEMORIAM many a time I thought that perhaps Hayim may turn out to be another Jack London." squatting on the tables with only a roof overhead while the torrent of rain drenched us through the open sides. 188 . so we decided for safety's sake to make our way to a nearby boarding house. a hurricane suddenly pounced upon us. when a person may forget about and sacrifice himself for the general welfare. We felt that the very foundation of our camp would not survive that night. Hayim and I.
I did not see him for a long time after that but heard he was employed as a tractor driver in Mikveh Yisrael. his zeal. more serious in outlook. his devotion. he went on his own. less restless. and now Joseph Rosenberg is reported missing in action at sea. He dreamed of participating in the defense of the country . While working in the fields. Hayim showed up in Jerusalem during a holiday. Suddenly. and he hoped to obtain a certificate to go to Eretz Yisrael. Leak Brown Haboneh June. I met Joey for the first time when I was sent to Detroit to represent the Young Poale Zion-Habonim at the National Convention of the Farband. It was clear that Eretz Yisrael had had a marked effect upon him. He was about to become rosh mahaneh of Detroit and he spent hours 189 . 1942 JOSEPH ROSENBERG There will be many vacant places in our ranks when this war is over. his enthusiasm. he drank from a spring he did not know was contaminated. . I really learned to appreciate his character at the Leaders' Seminar in Pipersville in 1940.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The work in Camp Kvutza became a form of training for Hayim. One died flying in this country. I also went to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Jerusalem with my husband. In the meantime. a second was lost in a mission over Germany. When he did not receive a certificate. a third while performing his duty in the Near East. It did not occur to him that tiny microbes would conquer his powerful body and quiet his stormy nature for eternity. . The fourth of our haverim is gone. I was impressed with his youthfulness. under the hot sun. He was much changed-more mature. But a month later he was dead.
IN MEMORIAM with me discussing his plans. his plans. We remember how as rosh mahaneh of Detroit Habonim. Joey was one of the first to join and carry out its program. We remember that when Joey came out to camp weekends. It is an irreparable loss for the movement here and for Kfar Blum in Eretz Yisrael. We remember that while others were delving into deep discussion about the problems of labor. he spent every spare moment making contacts and speaking to people. when we grow older. Those who belonged to our group at that time will perhaps not remember him as well as they do others who talked more at meetings and were generally more assertive. he was certain that he would be able to organize a Habonim group.. B.. Joey entered a trade school to prepare himself for the life of a halutz. He showed me his neat notebook. You may not know. June. his ideas. But those who stayed with the group remember that while others were spouting high-sounding phrases about becoming halutzim. Furrows. I read his outlines. He lived his life in search of a better world and gave his life in the struggle for it. Joey joined the local union and made himself heard there. he would do more work than others had done all week. We remember that when a Kibbutz Aliya was formed in Detroit. G. D. * * * * * Joey joined Habonim in 1935 at the age of eleven. 1944 190 . he led us through one of the strongest years of our existence.that during the period that he was stationed at San Diego in training. D. we talked about his doubts and his ambitions.
was dropped by parachute into northern Italy in the late spring of 1944 in the uniform of a British captain under the name of Shmuel Barda. through a search conducted by Ben Zion (now a sergeant in the Jewish Brigade). we are finally beyond any question of doubt certain that Enzo is dead-dead at the age of thirty-nine. missing in action for over a year. when the best part of his contribution to Zionism surely lay ahead of him. and now a sergeant in the Second Battalion of the Jewish Brigade. Ben Zion Ilan. Today. as Hehalutz delegate. 191 . The details of his capture are not known. Together with Ben Zion Ilan of Afikim who was then an Eretz Yisrael delegate to the youth movement. I obtained permission from the British army bureau in charge of these searches to institute a search for Enzo Sereni. A letter from Kieve Skidell tells the following story which ends all hope that Enzo. it was primarily Enzo Sereni. as you may know. after his capture by the Germans. engaged in the search for prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates in Germany. and he told me the story of his search for Enzo Sereni by whose side he had once worked in America: “ ‘I was a member of one of the Jewish Brigade's search teams.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ENZO SERENI It is not often that a youth movement has to mourn its founder's death within the space of eight short years. whose energy and imagination made Habonim possible. His mission was to work with Italian partisans behind the German lines. but traces of him. led to the concentration camp at Dachau. Together with another member of the team. about whom relatives in the Allied countries had made inquiries. one-time halutz from America. 1944. Sereni. might still be alive: “On the streets of Paris I ran into Sgt. Eretz Yisrael delegate to the American Habonim. Yet that is what has occurred to Habonim through the murder of Enzo Sereni in Dachau on November 17-18. and together with American haverim.
his own tormentors no doubt among them. Entered 9 October 1944. It turned out that he had been the secretary of the block Sereni was in and he remembered him well. Sereni impressed him as a man of extremely high intellectual acumen. Shmuel. “ ‘When we came to Dachau. and he couldn't forget how even in the environment of Dachau. We started to look for the pastor in the monasteries in Cologne and Munich and learned that he had gone back to Dachau to help the inmates there and become the confessor of the SS troopers who are now imprisoned there. Born 22 June 1905 at Jerusalem. 17 November 1944. He remembered well the long discussions they used to have on philosophical as well as world political and Jewish topics. He remembered that he was usually together with one French and two other British officers. all of whom have disappeared without a trace. Those were not his ashes alone but they were sacred. V3 (code for member of the British forces). we filled an urn with ashes from the crematorium.IN MEMORIAM We had heard that he was at one time known to have been together with a Dominican pastor by the name of Roth. who had been in the same block with him in Dachau. 113160. When the projected memorial to the Gola is erected in Jerusalem. he was bubbling with energy and intellectual curiosity. Resident at Tel Aviv. “ ‘One can only surmise from this information that he was brought to his death by torture. His body was cremated at the local crematorium. and there we found a card with the following information on it: “ ‘Prisoner No. those ashes will be placed there together with those of our other martyrs. Of his end he knew nothing since he had been taken away from Dachau before it came. Died 18 November 1944. we turned immediately to the card index of all those who had ever been in the place. “ ‘We then looked up the pastor. Block 23. Taken to Special Punishment Cell for interrogation. Barda. 192 . " 'Before leaving Dachau.
Everywhere he went. I had been rather vain of my speed in reading but Sereni was insufferably superior. Another blow to my own pride was the way he went through the Hebrew press-or any other reading matter. I remember. would appear at the office bright and early to greet the first-comers and shame the others. Apparently he never slept except for forty winks occasionally on buses and on railroad coaches-and every morning when he was in New York. only a few months ago. he. Soon after his earliest appearance in America. as far as that goes. I came back from a trip out of town in the wee hours of the morning. going through the Eretz Yisrael press. we went out there and got permission from the Russian commandant of nearby Linz to visit the place. Austria.M.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING " 'For us the search seemed ended. I woke up. to find Sereni sitting opposite me at his desk. We who worked with him in the office of Hehalutz were consumed with envy and despair at his incredible energy and tirelessness. We all 193 . Whatever the language. but to make sure. We were skeptical because some Brigade boys had been there around that time and had said nothing about it. In this way I hoped to find out when Enzo did come in. One day. I determined not to go home to clean up but to get the rest of my sleep on a bench in the office. Even those who lived with him at that famous Bet Hehalutz on Riverside Drive probably never knew when he awoke. as I recall. when a report reached us that Sereni had been seen alive in the concentration camp at Mauthausen. I never did find out when he arrived. he left an indelible impression. But there is no one there today but a number of Russian troops who are billeted there. between 7:30 and 8:00 A. There is no longer any doubt. and there was no trace of him whatsoever. he would sail through texts like a swift Italian breeze. it became a current story that Sereni spoke the best broken English anyone had ever heard.' " To those who knew Enzo there is no need to define our loss.
a fighter in a certain sense. Then afterwards. the flashing play of his wit and thought. in all his dangerous missions for the Histadrut. he had less need than they to count costs. I was a witness to the same phenomenon here. It was not only the Germans with their gruendlichkeit who were uneasy at his mental athletics. He had a firm viewpoint. Sereni was. prominent Roman Jewish family.D. that the German youth-Enzo had a great share in the creation of Hehalutz in Hitler Germany during the early years-were equally flabbergasted at Sereni's mental speed. Sereni would be able to deposit it all on my desk.IN MEMORIAM harbored dark suspicions about how thoroughly he had read. I noted in the comments on Sereni's death. Sereni enjoyed many elements of ultimate security which enabled him to be not only daring. perhaps. and with assured status in the academic and professional society of contemporary Rome. he always knew something about the material we had just covered which had escaped our more plodding attention-and never could we find anything he had missed. of course. efficiently marked to indicate the essential items for digesting or writing up. He threw himself with unlimited devotion-perhaps the proper word is abandoninto the cause he wished to serve. which set him apart from many comrades was that in certain things. his paradoxes and rapid-fire patter. He never counted costs-one of the things. in conversation. 194 . Sereni was so clever that slower minds distrusted him. They were inclined to worry about his most innocent proposal for fear of some ingenious trap. A scion of a rather wealthy. Others smuggled Jewish money out of Nazi Germany but I am sure no one ever did it with as much assurance and enjoyment as Sereni. which have recently appeared in the Eretz Yisrael press. In fact. but after a halfhour with a huge batch of literature. and a strong sense of the direction in which he wished to go. according to repute. but one might even say a daredevil. even made them rather suspicious. with roots in Italy as far back as 70 A.
never were they more wrong. In spite of a frantic search they could not find Sereni until midnight. and they could not get him to leave until he had made a few last points. 195 . He was capable of the most astounding self-contradictions and mental flexibility. Sereni's fundamental open-mindedness. After a while she found Prinz and he was released. In the utmost heat of contention. which it seems to me must represent an unsurpassed peak in Sereniana: Prinz and Sereni one day were both pulled in by the Gestapo in the course of a routine raid on Hehalutz quarters. He boiled rapidly but only on the surface. the product of a scientifically-trained mind. I can well believe that he sustained an intense mental activity in his last days at Dachau. because in the most opposing statements he could appreciate the grains of truth. Sereni remained detached and capable of appreciating an opposing view. gave him another formidable advantage in debate which only increased the confusion and unfounded suspicions of many opponents. This. indeed. At last they discovered the prison where he was kept and were permitted to see him. Prinz's wife learned of the affair and tore the town apart trying to locate the two and obtain their release. Opponents often mistook his vehemence for vindictiveness. He was also capable of using an argument largely for its effect.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The same lusty combativeness marked his fights for his ideas within the Histadrut. Sereni was basically cool. In the most furious argument. He was indeed a man whom an opponent had to know to love. was almost fantastically reflected in his volatile whims and witticisms. It is true that he used his opponents' lower resistance to fire deliberately. covering the theory and practice of both German Nazism and Italian fascism. Rabbi Joachim Prinz tells this story of Sereni. They found him in the midst of a lively discussion with his guards.
But he was an extreme realist as well. He therefore argued that the Jewish worker must have the idealism to come down to the Arab level in order to meet him and. experimental hypotheses. raise the standard of living by cooperative methods of consumption and mutual aid. He also noted the basic and obvious fact that one element in Arab-Jewish conflict was the great difference in the economic level of the two communities. so to speak. and often went to practically fantastic lengths of logic in this matter. All these. he used to argue that only in the framework of the Arab Federation would it be possible to come to an understanding with the Arab on Eretz Yisrael. or simple selfdelusion if one took the Hashomer Hatzair view. a simpleton. Reluctantly. Practically rubbing his hands with glee. and we never knew how seriously to take them. I remember when he was in this country. What particularly upset the assurance of some of us was that 196 . of course. to believe in such vulgar banalities?" But there are other instances I remember of Enzo's elasticity of ideas which cast quite a different light on the whole matter. Enzo was always a strong adherent of the idea of a Jewish-Arab collaboration. were in reality tentative statements. meant either deferring such solidarity to an indefinite future if one took the Mapai view. who at once asked whether it were true that there was a current vogue for Marxism in America.IN MEMORIAM Shlomo Grodzensky tells this of his first encounter with Enzo: He met a sturdy little Italian. just off the boat." Said Grodzensky: "Do you believe in Marxism. on the theory that the Arab's must be raised to the Jewish level. Sereni said: "Excellent! You know. of course. Shlomo admitted that this was the case. then?" Outraged. in Sereni's mind. Enzo shot back: "What do you think I am. He felt that talking of economic solidarity between the Arab and Jewish worker while keeping the Jewish economic sector at a price and wage level far higher than the Arab's. I'm a first-rate expert at arguing Zionism from a Marxist basis.
suffered its casualties like any other rural settlement. Sereni had obviously considered that factor already for he promptly replied that there were also instances. and what he thought. where peace and mutual forbearance had ensued between groups after a decisive measuring of strength. if only in order to make them think on their own. Be he was considering the hypothesis that no basic change in Arab-Jewish relations was possible until the Arabs were convinced that the Jews were unalterably bent upon establishing themselves in Eretz Yisrael and that their will was a factor to be reckoned with. the first few times he had gone out without a rifle.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Sereni delighted in the forceful paradox as a method of presentation and loved to shock his youthful audiences out of their received doctrines. However. even to a notion of provisional. He would never wait for a bus to take him home and he scoffed at the danger from Arab 197 . As a member of a kibbutz which. it could not stop him from breaking the rule against walking through certain officially designated dangerous areas between Rehovot and Givat Brenner. he acted. Sereni knew very well what the costs were of Arab terrorism to the Jews. though the kibbutz would not assign him to stand watch. entailed serious consequences in action for Sereni. one might even say heuristic. I was astonished to hear that Enzo was not allowed to stand his turn at guard duty because. as I learned. It was brought up in discussion that bloodshed between groups had historically tended to implant mutual hatred that long outlasted the fighting. I remember an instance by which I was particularly impressed: In America. value in his life-course. notably the British-Boer case. When I came to Givat Brenner. But these hypotheses were also formative elements in his own thoughts. But this was no final stand for Sereni. Sereni argued that the disturbances of 1936-38 were a good thing in the history of Arab-Jewish relations. Even the most fleeting adherence to an idea. during the period of my own stay in Eretz Yisrael (1939).
In the recent picture. let us say-would you give her up? " If you answered. moving mountains of apathy and mental torpor with a logical witticism. outstanding and phenomenally smooth. approaching forty. bravely but with solemnity. Products of fascism. volunteered for sabotage and underground work behind the lines in Italy. Sereni presents an altogether different aspect from what was familiar to us. childlike. No. he would acclaim you a Zionist. taking delight in the explosive effects of his intellectual gunfire. Solemnity was a look I often saw in him at Givat Brenner. confronting unforeseen and portentous immensities. We saw him as the "happy warrior" child. I learned the basic intellectual reasons for these new meshugassen of Sereni's. Later. But what was it which put those omens of fear into Sereni's eyes in his latest pictures? We can only guess. and another claimed her-her husband. and I can attest to it. I remember Sereni loved to propound this question: "Tell me. for this reason he would often mock us by declaring himself nearer a Christian than a Jew in religious sensibility. when I spoke to him. 198 . he had swung towards pacifism. He told me that having had long conversations in America with Hayim Greenberg. There was high seriousness in the devotion with which he cared for the small group of Italian halutzim whom he had assembled there in 1939. He always had a childlike look. if you loved a woman. Far deeper than his intellectual constructions was a deep. romantic strain of love in Sereni.IN MEMORIAM neighbors whom he had known. ~ he looks like a lost child. In a late picture taken in Eretz Yisrael and published in the memorial issue of Hapoel Hatzair. But he took his bearings by love. if I may abuse a phrase. deracinated Jews-yet under Sereni's ministrations their success as kibbutz members was. This was the man who. full of fire and sparkle. He was completely aware of it.
he had invested his love. Irv Sternberg. We know from writings that reach us from Eretz Yisrael how deeply the split in the Mapai affected Sereni. December. He used to say that everywhere he went-to Eretz Yisrael.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING These things he loved: Italy-Italian art. and never had he failed to realize what he risked. to learn to meet the inevitable situations of adult life. and later the Merkaz. Irv. Jews-Eastern European Jews. Lithuanians and Germans alike. From his latest picture. he contributed inestimably to the formulation of the program and policies of Habonim. the Histadrut. we see that it was able to put a reflection of fear even into those eyes. He had invested far more than a lifetime of labor. to America-he invested his money in the Histadrut. his own home and family. to learn to mourn the death of a comrade. which he barely knew. was one of those who contributed to the conception and development of Habonim. a member of the National Executive. it must begin to accept the responsibilities of maturity. German Jews. but to take new strength from the spirit he displayed. his own kibbutz. was a veteran in Habonim and its predecessor. Givat Brenner. even Italian historiography. the Kibbutz Hameuhad. One of the first organizers. are shaped and influenced by those few who conceive and develop the ideas which give it birth. Italian philosophy. his friends. the Yiddish language. though only thirty-one when he died. 199 . 1945 IRV STERNBERG The early days in the life of a movement. his metaphysical moorings. As a movement grows up. Ben Halpern Furrows. the Young Poale Zion Alliance. as in the life of an individual. who died early in June. and the Italian people. to Germany. Mapai.
the background that molded all his discussions of our problems. seek new methods of educating others in it. his passion for the unique. Furrows. July. His exceptional ability in artistic handwork led him to organize Habonim crafts groups.IN MEMORIAM A halutz who knew that because of his serious illness he could never realize life in Eretz Yisrael. At the founding convention of Habonim in Buffalo. and all of these he applied in his work for Habonim. He combined his deep love for the printed word and the cooperative way of life in the establishment of a cooperative printing shop for Habonim in Philadelphia. were reflected in those things he wrote. Habonim will remember Irv. conceive new ideas. the type of material he assembled when he served as editor of Haboneh last year. long regret his untimely loss to us. 1944 200 . when he was elected on the Poale Zion list as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress. His knowledge of the essence of the movement led him to create programs. those who were with him will remember Irv's insistence that we not water down the ideas of the Young Poale Zion Alliance but make them the basis for Habonim and devise the methods by which this new movement of younger people might be taught the ideas of the Poale Zion: Self-realization as halutzim in their homeland and the eventual achievement of Socialism and a more productive Jewish life throughout the world. Irv nevertheless translated his Socialist Zionism into his personal life. Irv was a haver with diverse and intense interests. His love of literature and art. and long be grateful for the share he contributed to Habonim. In 1939 Irv received some measure of reward for the work he had done so devotedly for so long.
We must fill the gap. And I can say with a determination which I have never felt before that we must not let the chain of halutzim be broken. That is the best tribute I can give him. I cannot transform and reduce this intangible thing into pitifully inadequate sentences. He was one of our best haverim. 1944. I can only wonder at the empty space that is left in my life and try to fill it with memories of Johanan and of the days we spent at Kvutza. We must believe in the things Johanan died for and fight for them. of the dreams we had together of Eretz Yisrael and "our" kibbutz. too-that is why these words are meaningless to me." He was my friend. November. I shall endeavor to do what my friend Johanan wanted to do-I will try to realize his dreams. lest the Jewish people never find their future. Harry Brumberger Furrows. 1944 201 . to accept the task of the halutz. so that the vision of which Johanan was symbolic shall find new strength and fervor. and I call to all those others who believe as Johanan did to rouse themselves. of the work we did when he was my rosh mahaneh.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING JOHANAN TARTAKOWER "Johanan Tartakower was killed in action in the European Theater of Operations on September 29th. Freedom and peace are meaningless if we are not conscious of their worth and do not accept their responsibilities-and freedom and peace must prevail lest future Johanans shall die.
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