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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.
fascism rising in Europe and the first waves of Arab violence threatening the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. teaching the commitment and forging the lifelong friendships that drove everything else. The movement has founded seven kibbutzim in Israel and played pivotal roles over the years in the labor. From that initial summer. It all started when the Young . The Habonim Dror youth movement. has nurtured multiple generations of activists and leaders in Israeli and American Jewish life. Habonim camps have been the heart of the movement experience. 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. “none of us in the 1930s thought of himself as ‘making history’. 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. anchored in its summer camps. Jewish pride and progressive social awareness. They believed they had a role to play in these great dramas. Throughout the decades. Habonim Dror and its camps have been a resounding success. feminist and Middle East peace movements. They knew well that they were living in historic times—a Depression at home. generating the passion.” Today we know that they were indeed making history. But as movement veteran Saadia Gelb would recall years later. but there was nothing inevitable about any of it.
Young Poale Zion had been trying since the 1920s to establish a children’s organization for ten-toeighteen-year-olds. New York. who had settled in Palestine and was now in New York as a shlicha. but the results were dispiriting. The numbers remained small and enthusiasm was low. They named it Habonim. That first summer of 1932. they agreed to set aside the radical politics of Poale Zion and build . Chapters were formed here and there. for all its uncertainties. debating ideology and hauling their own trash. leaders of Young Poale Zion gathered at Accord to discuss the future of their education program. the movement acquired a campsite of its own in Accord. Labor Zionism’s main constituency. even within their own movement. the socialist Zionist pioneers who were rebuilding the land of Israel. after a new Labor Zionist scouting organization established in England in 1929. Many of the senior Labor Zionists were convinced that summer camp meant volley ball and boating. Following days of stormy debate they decided to create a new children’s organization as an autonomous unit within the movement. After the 1934 camp season ended. The new location proved enormously popular. and the camp thrived. The summer camp would eventually provide the missing spark. had been successful enough to merit another round the following year. 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. prosaically named Buds. not living as a commune. They hadn’t even settled yet on the name Habonim. and the camp’s first advocates faced strong opposition.Poale Zion Alliance. Others argued that the children of working class immigrants. In the spring of 1933. Painfully. the young adult wing of the Labor Zionist movement. The founders themselves weren’t entirely sure what they had in mind. with the help of Young Poale Zion alumna Golda Meir. couldn’t afford summer camp. Nothing like it existed anywhere in America.
The new organization grew quickly. many Habonim members showed up—protesting outside British consulates in 1946. And when a few Habonim members showed up for a major public event. . resulting in a powerful brew that was stronger than any of its components. And the camp program was unique. the Young Poale Zion Alliance dissolved itself and became the senior division of its own offshoot. but the campers still wanted to be together. devotion to Israel and the ideals of kibbutz pioneering. Those bonds and those lessons. and so they spent their weekends going to ken meetings and regional seminars to see their friends. but on the movement and everything it did. that had been struggling for a decade to find its footing. Two years after that. scoutcraft.600 campers. yielded for many youngsters a set of lifelong friendships and a powerful movement loyalty. By 1945 Habonim was operating eleven camps across the continent with a total enrollment of some 1. The impact of the camp experience could be seen not only on the individual Habonim members. in Michigan and Quebec. protesting the Vietnam war in 1969. Traditional summer camp songs and cheers were combined with Labor Zionist ideology and the movement’s sense of mission. Three more were added in 1939 and more the following summer and the summer after that. too. it was clear that camp was no longer just an adjunct to the year-round Habonim educational program. marching for civil rights in 1957. Two new ones were opened in 1935. renewed each summer and deepened over time. The fastest growth was in the summer camps. Camp had become the heart of the movement experience. By the mid-1940s. Gordonia. Habonim. rallying for Soviet Jews and California farm-workers in 1975. youngsters developed intimate bonds with each other and the group. Living for weeks away from their families in a community of their peers.the Habonim education program around character-building. By 1938 it was strong enough to take over a smaller Labor Zionist youth group. Summer might end.
Habonim members continued to move to Israel in garinim. and in the 1970s and 1980s to found the new kibbutzim of Gezer. communal settlement groups. of course. The path that Habonim pioneered in 1932 was trod a decade later by Young Judaea and the Ramah camps of Conservative Judaism. When the first fourteen Labor Zionist teenagers pitched their tent in the Catskills in 1932.When Israel won its independence in 1948 and took to the battlefield to defend it. settling in urban communes in slums and development towns. They’re not as shiny or high tech as some of the better known camps. and soon after that by the Reform movement. It’s not even clear that the Young Poale Zion organizers knew themselves exactly where they were headed. Grofit and Ravid. Even in the 1990s and beyond. though they had an inkling. They continued going over in garinim in the 1950s and 1960s to join Gesher Haziv and Urim. Hundreds moved to Israel in its early years as members of garinim. The notion of camping as a laboratory for values education and movement building was something new in American Jewish education. that founded Kibbutz Gesher Haziv and Kibbutz Urim. Jewish summer camps existed to provide children with exercise and fresh air and to give their parents a breather. They went. because they wanted to make a difference and to live out their values. when the kibbutz movement was sunk in crisis and Zionism had become a subject of cynicism or worse. as big as they were in their heyday in the 1940s. And because they wanted to be with their friends from camp. hundreds of Habonim members — nearly the entire senior membership — went there to volunteer. The . Those movements dominate the Jewish public square so thoroughly that many American Jews are surprised to hear that Habonim camps are still in business. But they are still here. Jewish values camping is high fashion. Today. but that’s always been part of their charm — the old Habonim principle that it’s “chalutzic to be schmutzik.” They’ve been written off many times.
three-quarters of a century after they began. 2009 .New York and Los Angeles camps have gone bust and then risen again. resurrected by faithful alumni and determined groups of teenagers. They still have an urgent message to transmit. Goldberg. And still they carry on. J. Besides. the kids want to be with their friends. They have to.J.
.............................. 109 GALIL .................................................................................................................................................................... 90 "KVUTZIE".................................................. 94 KINNERET ...................................... TEXAS .............................. 100 KVUTZA IN THE WEST ................................................................................... 122 AFIKIM ...................16 THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING ...... YOUNGSTERS!..... 98 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM ..............................................................................................Contents Foreword .................................................................................. 20 ACCORD ................................................................................................................. 137 ........................................................................... 115 GIMLI.............................................................................................................................................................................. 107 GALIL'S FIRST YEAR ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 25 GROWTH OF AN IDEA "KVUTZA" AND KVUTZA ................... 82 LISTEN HERE........ 68 HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ..................... 128 CAMP BONIM........................................... KVUTZA.... 55 PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY....... 60 THE TURNING POINT ...................................................................................... MANITOBA ........... 125 CAMP MIRIAM........................................................................................................................................... 134 AMAL IN RETROSPECT ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? . 32 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING .................................... 129 THE COMING SEASON .................... 85 TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK .................................. 74 CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN ........................... CREAMRIDGE ................................................................................................................................... 131 CAMP AVODA.....6 Foreword from Original Publication ........ 33 THE MEANING OF KVUTZA ........................................14 Introduction ............................... 87 KENDALL ..............................................................................................1933 ............................................................................................................................ 95 TEL NATAN .......................................... 91 KVUTZA........................................................................................ 49 COMING OF AGE .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 104 THE STORY OF "MOSH"............................................ 126 MONTREAL ..........................
..........................................................................................................................155 TO KVUTZA ................................................................171 BEN CHERNER .................................................................................................................................................................... ACCORD ......................................................................................................................................................................................................199 JOHANAN TARTAKOWER .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................153 VIEW FROM KVUTZA HILL............................................187 JOSEPH ROSENBERG .............................................................................................................................................................................168 MIRIAM BIDERMAN .........181 HAYIM RAMBAM ...........................................................................................180 ARI LASHNER ..........................................151 UNTIL NEXT YEAR ..........................................163 KINNERET SHELI ...................................................................156 THE TREE ......................................201 ..............................142 ACCORD DIARY ....................................................KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL NIGHT WATCH ......................................................................................161 NEED HELP PACKING? .............................................................................155 NIGTH WATCH ............................173 DANNY GINSBURG ......................159 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS ........................................143 PEEKING IN WITH OUR SHALIAH ....177 NATE KANTER .......189 ENZO SERENI ............................................................................................191 IRV STERNBERG ...........165 IN MEMORIUM HAZKARA ........................................................................157 SO YOU WANT TO BE A MADRICH ..............................................................................................................................
* * * 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. Because of the tragic impression brought on by the forces of evil. and to all those who have cooperated in 14 . Perhaps it is an indication that the latter are more normal. * * * The Chay Commission. whose purpose it has been to develop further the ideals which the Habonim camps have been inculcating. Aliya and Youth.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. 1932. 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.” It is worthy of note that in that same year. historians are prone to deal with those events much more so than with construction elements which make for progress in the world. the Labor Zionist Commission on Halutziut. 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.
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. Bert Goldstein Chairman. Chay Commission 15 . The Chay Commission wishes to thank our patrons whose greetings appear in a special supplement which accompanies Adventure in Pioneering. We are especially indebted to David Goldberg for reading the manuscript. * * * 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.the research and the compilation of Adventure in Pioneering.
Camp Kvutza enriched the lives of all who participated in its growth and development. studying. Through these years. The pioneers of Camp Kvutza were imbued with an all-consuming desire for creative Jewish living.Introduction During the past twenty-five years.creating their own society of the future. working. It is correct to say that Camp Kvutza is the basic source of strength for the entire Labor Zionist Movement in America. much has been written both for Habonim and for the Jewish educational world on this unique form of camping. Thus. Today's leaders of Habonim are veterans of Camp Kvutza. close to five generations of youth have participated in the Habonim Camps. Many were 16 . The leaders and chalutzim of tomorrow are at Camp Kvutza today. They dedicated themselves to a form of society based on principles of self-labor and mutual cooperation. as are most of our chalutzim in Israel. playing . These pioneers transmitted their zeal and vision to succeeding generations of Jewish youth in Habonim who followed in their footsteps.
to that of educators and community leaders analyzing and evaluating the significance of this departure in Jewish camping. But they will find much which may inspire them and will guide them in their movement activities. but have presented the material in the differing forms in which it originally appeared. we were confronted with the wealth of material which has been accumulated for a quarter of a century. Many were the reactions written by campers while at Kvutza and upon their return to the city. We hope. Haboneh. to that of a leader enlarging on the principles by which Camp Kvutza will function. 1957 17 . Out of these diverse sources. In compiling this collection. however.the deliberations within the movement on the development. Furrows. * * * We want to take this opportunity to thank the Chay Commission. and content of Camp Kvutza. Menahel. and especially our patrons for making possible the publication of this volume. that each reader will find herein something of intimate significance as well as informational value. convention reports. our editorial committee. Many present members of Habonim will no doubt discover herein a world seemingly remote from today's reality. the office secretaries. Most of the material included has been gleaned from the Habonim archives: News and Views. and with varying levels of presentation: from that of a thirteen-year old describing his experiences with childish enthusiasm. we have not attempted to create a literary unit. The Editors Summer. expansion. Merkaz Habonim. 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. and internal organizational and educational bulletins.
The Beginning .
Today the conception of "idealist" has acquired a strange interpretation. We lived in our ideal: a worker's life in Eretz Yisrael." Many of us were born in the United States. a mutual investigation of the problems inherent in the ideals which we held in common.THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING An anniversary is a time of reflection. It was the time of the depression. but at that time. how strange it was. the campfire with its songs. American Jewish living surrounded us. were far away from all that worried Americans. Suddenly all is focused clearly and is full of an inner glow . It was very hard for we were going against the stream. we tried by our own living to create a new world: a world in which the Jew would live in his own country. how revolutionary. and it may even sound boastful to say that we were an idealistic Jewish youth.the beginning. how "peculiar. but above all. with making a livelihood. one retraces the years and comes to the beginning: the first Camp Kvutza. Some came to the country as young children. the Kvutza: the living and studying together. the studies. our thoughts were molded by the country we lived in. the tiny group of Poale Zion youth. We loved this country with its sense of human 20 . As one looks back twenty-five years. the forms of living there to be based on Socialism. At the Camp Kvutza these ideals were most meaningful. Looking backward. there was merely the living together at a Camp Kvutza among the gentle hills of New York State. one senses how much importance there was to this beginning. All around us the youth was concerned with jobs. They guided and directed our lives. our style of life. the camp. But in truth and most sincerely. Yet we. Our minds and our hearts were concerned with another land and our problems were foreign and distant to American life. the economic collapse after 1929. So much comes alive: the chaverim. Our schooling.
its lakes. Russian revolu- 21 . its pioneers. and its absorption of the downtrodden and poverty-stricken millions of human beings who flocked to its shores. 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. Yet we dreamt dreams away from all that America was. rivers. the night club in Harlem. and moved one to closeness to all people of the Book. the breadth of the Hudson. There were before us the grandeur of the West.all this was part and parcel of our day-by-day living. its mountains and plains. Some homes were "Bundist. Or again. We were conscious of the stirrings of new forces in American literature. the politics of the country. 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. and oceans. this tiny group out of the millions of American Jews? Again and again at the Camp Kvutza. vivid with the hope of the liberation of the Jew. the new theater. it dawned in a crowded college auditorium as the Twenty-third Psalm was read by a Christian clergyman. the beauty of the Appalachians. We were overwhelmed by its vastness. and saw ourselves in our mind's eye with our comrades in the Promised Land. the stirrings of the vast labor masses . the awe of Niagara." motivated by the thought that Jews need to build a Jewish entity wherever they may be. and music. the charm of the South. it was important to know the reason. The life of America was our life: the jazz. art. 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. I tried to understand why the chaverim chose this ideal. the new forms of the dance.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING dignity and freedom. In some homes. Why? What moved us? How did we come to these thoughts.
Around us was the camp fire. In the short span of time spent at Camp Kvutza. The rhythm. there was the singing of the Eretz Yisrael songs which linked us with our unknown comrades. to hold them to some kind of Judaism.THE BEGINNING tionary songs of freedom and Siberian exile were sung. the sentiment of rebuilding and heroism. consciousness grew out of this strange soil. Why not work here at home? In the first Camp Kvutza. There were problems to be solved here: tender children working beyond their strength. all the above elements were ever present. To the Camp Kvutza was brought much out of the American life in which we found ourselves. We wanted to know more and more about the ideal we so earnestly believed in. all spoke deeply to us. and young voices filled the air with Hebrew or Yiddish songs of Eretz Yisrael and Jewish revival. amidst the dark shadows of the trees. they motivated the program of work. We well understood the pioneering life of Eretz Yisrael. and at times against the wishes of the parents who were aghast at their child's "peculiarities. for in America we were still close to pioneering. We tried to add to the elements already influencing the chaverim. exploited by those intent on profits. we went to the writings of Borochov and Syrkin. there was a large mass of workers with no job security." 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. but not a Jewish folk song. Why Eretz Yisrael? There are two million Jews in New York City alone. the tense young faces lit by the flame. Zionist. 22 . Much must be done for them. bright and cheerful. the poetry of the words. Poale Zionist. to teach their children about their glorious heritage. For Poale Zion ideology. and American history glorified the pioneer who moved West to build up the great United States.
These. he studied on his own level. I had just received my Bachelor of Science degree in education from Teachers College of Columbia University. opposed to all forms of absolutism. the chaverim wholeheartedly accepted these new methods which I so enthusiastically advocated. Kilpatrick. Adult education was assuming its rightful place. he was motivated. William Kilpatrick. It aimed to enrich the individual by giving him the tools whereby he could continue his investigations. which was to give the Jew inheritance in his land. The personality of the learner was stressed. his personality was respected. The project method was concomitant with these new theories. These new me- 23 . and E. It was new. my teachers. T. The new methods were so well fitted to our Poale Zionist ideal. It was a theory of freedom in education and especially John Dewey's philosophy. Thorndike. challenging.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING To the Camp Kvutza we also brought the new educational theories just coming into being in the United States. he was taught to work and think in a group. were breaking new ground in education. 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. All these methods admirably suited our need. and Thorndike! I was fired by the new philosophy of education which they taught and I had learned the new techniques which they advocated. and audacious. 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. Both in planning the program of the Camp Kvutza and in carrying it out. My special contribution to Camp Kvutza was to bring to our studies the new educational philosophy of John Dewey. to study our ideology and to pass on our ideals to many American Jewish youths. The new education stressed respect and dignity of the individual. namely.
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. Udin. For chaverim from the Camp Kvutza have settled on the soil of the land. By their example they have influenced others to come to Israel. they were in Cypress. but never had I enjoyed a more innerly satisfying experience. I had some years of organizational work behind me. but to study for the love of the subject . Happy are we to have been comrades and partners in that great adventurous undertaking. The study of Eretz Yisrael problems lent themselves particularly to the new project method. they fought in the War of Liberation of Israel. The waves in its wake have reached the Promised Land. The small ripple it caused has moved farther and farther. This group work was in complete accord with the cooperative ideals of Labor Eretz Yisrael. We sought to draw out every individual to full participation.study deeply and creatively. Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago was a small pebble thrown into the vast ocean of American Jewish youth. Their children are growing up in Israel. And the genesis was that first Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago. Sophie A. So we studied the creative discussion method.THE BEGINNING thods taught the individual how to motivate a study not by committing to memory many facts. 1957 24 . They were on so-called "illegal" boats. What a new world these fundamental methods of learning opened up for us! We sensed the democracy of these techniques. and they served in Sinai.
Sophie Udin assumed the leadership. and while all who participated gained considerably in their knowledge of Labor Zionism and techniques of leadership. It was held in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Many of us began to think in terms of making of the Labor Zionist youth movement a youth movement in fact. Other members of the YPZA Central Committee were like-minded. Jacob Katzman. who was then 25 . I saw then what such a camping experience can mean in the development of the spirit. was lacking. something other than a mere replica of the senior Poale Zion. enthusiastically accepted the idea. it was generally felt that the real spirit of a Kvutza. YPZA should utilize that in every way possible. and two. the use of a beautiful spot in the Catskills was gotten. 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. The reasons were: one. and leadership of a youth movement. we decided to make an experimental beginning in Unser Camp. The following winter and spring. ideology.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD . then National Secretary of the Poale Zion. I attended a convention of a Zionist scouting organization with which I had been affiliated. of a place that one built with one's own hands. In the summer of 1932.1933 Shortly before I came to America. The lingering memories found their expression when in America I became a member of the Central Committee of the Young Poale Zion Alliance. in which one labored and which was governed by its own members. With the help of Golda Meir. the lack of funds. Berl Locker. therefore. strenuous efforts were made to obtain a campsite of our own. the insistence that inasmuch as the movement already has a children's camp. But most of the other leading chaverim of the senior organizations were skeptical and some were even opposed. Kinderwelt.
and to institute self-rule and discipline. Jewish history. but we succeeded in instilling the proper spirit of cooperation and a form of self-government. with leadership abilities. who 26 . Among them were some of the best members of the YPZA from several communities. camping and the Young Poale Zion were quite alien as yet. young people with organizational tradition. They came because after all. provide wood for the stove. Margolin. I found the campers a most heterogeneous group. and a fine Jewish background. a Hebrew teacher. supervise all the camping activities. First of all. The first few weeks were the hardest. including K. and assign work for the daily work crews. New Jersey. and a multitude of other jobs. the tuition was only $7 a week and where could one get such a bargain even during the Depression? Under those circumstances. Meyer Brown and Shmuel Siegel.THE BEGINNING National Secretary of the YPZA and directed our first Kvutza at Accord. our senior chaverim started to look upon the camp as something worthwhile. we also had some newcomers who could not even pronounce the name of the organization.P. The first substantial help came with the arrival of Mr. has already related the story of its birth elsewhere in this -volume. it was very hard to improvise a program to keep the campers busy. and geography of Eretz Yisrael. keep the grounds clean. to mold a cohesive group. to most of whom. carry water from the well. who immediately instituted a program of Hebrew. and upon his insistence and that of our Central Committee. whose task it was to bring some modicum of civilization to this wilderness. Little by little. But Katzman had to leave in the middle of the season to help prepare the forthcoming YPZA national convention. I took over for the remaining period. To this day I don't know how it happened. One of the four tents consisted of ten boys from Orange. I bad to conduct all the discussion groups and Shabbat programs. However.
a decision arrived at. the camp found itself without a single tent standing and without a place for the campers to sleep. without exception. But one stormy late afternoon. but her report to the senior movement was of even greater importance in bringing Camp Kvutza to its attention. There was quite a large proportion of chaverim who had completed their preparatory training and were awaiting aliya certificates." Representatives to a camp council were elected by all the campers. it was during 27 . and share in whatever manual labor was required. Work was assigned judiciously and without favoritism. had to participate in K. If ever the spirit of the camp was manifest. 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. a program mapped out. This was taken in stride. Of inestimable value in this respect were the several days which Golda Meir spent with us. There is a limit to the punishment which even a secondhand army tent can take from the elements. During that time. help police the cleanliness of the grounds and tents. The camp reached its maturity when we instituted the forms of "selfgovernment. which. 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.P. was quite a chore.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING came to visit their families. The age range of the first season in Accord was probab1y older than any of the subsequent seasons. Her discussions on halutziut were inspiring to the campers. Everyone. under those primitive circumstances (without a heater for hot water). The first Accord Kvutza was also rich in adventures. The council proved its effectiveness by seeing to it that once a task was undertaken. they were carried out in a responsible fashion. The council took its task seriously.. so it was not surprising when occasionally a tent was blown down.
We emerged from the dining room and began a snake dance to the tune of Chopin's Funeral March. But this did not diminish the spirit of those who remained behind.THE BEGINNING this emergency. on their backs to the other side. the brook had overflowed its bank and the water covered the bridge. The few that remained on the camp grounds tried as best they could to sleep on the tables in the dining room. who not only saw to it that the food was adequate and wholesome. this experience became a highlight of that camping season. the cots and all the possessions of the campers were put out to dry. and cold to the marrow. our clothing was soaked. However. All the campers. One vividly recalls the morning after-the sky was overcast. lent dignity to the camp and helped to establish the reliability of Camp Kvutza in the minds of our senior haverim. the tents were put up again. especially the haverot. with the exception of a few. By the time the exodus began. As soon as the sun came out. were transferred to a nearby hotel. The first season of Accord was the proving ground for the concept of a camp run by youth for youth. 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. It pointed the way toward self-discipline and self-government. The advice of the good people around to break up camp was not heeded. Many have made their mark in Eretz Yisrael as chalutzim and leaders in the Labor Movement. One would like to characterize some of the campers but that would take too much space and would be unfair to those not mentioned. and no matter which way one turned. and it proved that a camp of this kind lends itself to the pur- 28 . wet. the roof leaked. The taller and older chaverim had to carry the younger ones. our cooks. and we were all sleepy. In retrospect. but by their presence. Mention should be made of the contribution to the camping experience of Rachel Siegel and Leah Brown. he got wet.
and to lay the groundwork for what later became Habonim. Most of the campers attended the Young Poale Zion convention in Philadelphia. held immediately after the close of the season on the Labor Day weekend. participants got together to evaluate their achievements and to speak of their experience with a yearning and nostalgia of summer months well spent. 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. It was most gratifying when months after the close of the first season. and problems of the organization. history.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING suit of serious study of the ideology. It was mainly due to their stand and influence that this convention decided upon the reorganization of the Young Poale Zion. while giving the campers a practical demonstration of communal living. to introduce tzofiut. 1957 29 . Jacob Lemberger.
Growth of an Idea .
They can indoctrinate a theoretical acknowledgment of what should be. and no number of meetings in the city can accomplish this. in as great a measure as possible." Both the question and the intense anxiety for a positive answer represent. For what are the great values introduced by and embodied in our Kvutzot in Eretz Yisrael? The mutual relationships between haverim. These instrumentalities are limited in scope. therein is contained the keen desire to realize personally. They cannot put what should be into being. However. deeper roots must be sought. This attitude toward one's fellow men is the essential ethical motif in our educational program and represents the only true socialist mentality. One can master the art of living together only by living together.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. as if final judgment would be pronounced by the words "yes" or "no. That true comradeship. a triumph for our idea. those ideals which motivate our movement. play. attitudes and states of mind are not created by speeches and lectures and discussions. which makes him place all his ability at the disposal of the group without measuring how much he receives in return. the responsibility which the individual feels to the group. that true self-esteem and es- 32 . from the educational viewpoint. but from a heartfelt recognition of the value of one's haverim. study. worry. All these are expressed through communal living. though expressed in different forms. the true equality which arises not from an abstract philosophical belief that all men are equal. one's entire personality must be overhauled. yet one is surprised to what a great extent the essence of Kvutza life is retained. communal labor. Deeper emotions must be stirred. and joy. The differences between a Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael and our summer Kvutzot are quite evident.
and in general. to enrich his personality. The camp setting provides the opportunity to help the camper increase his range of interests. one lives with another. meet temporarily. In the Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING teem of others. Jewish camps conducted under communal or semi-communal auspices have sought. 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. What are meetings? They signify that all present have come from different directions. and the consideration for the welfare of others which years of preaching could never develop. cannot be complete without the Kvutza. knowledge and skills. in addition. one does not meet with another. to provide 33 . develop socialized attitudes and patterns of behavior. 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. which aims at creating an individual who will not only have definite ideals but also realize them. The objective is not only to provide a change of physical environment and healthful recreation. 1937 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING Modern educational camping has increasingly emphasized experience in creative group living and learning. Ben Zion Ilan. does not arise from common outlooks on the paths to be taken. and then all return to their respective different places. self-reliance. Thus our education. but from following those paths in common.
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. which caters to young people of the age level of 14 to 21. in Eretz Yisrael and. Habonim. as members of the Histadrut Haovdim (General Federation of Jewish Labor of Eretz Yisrael). to provide satisfying and creative Jewish experiences. To train young Jews to become halutzim. Habonim has the following purposes: 1. Modeled after the Eretz Yisrael collective settlements. is essential to know something about the aims of Habonim. based on the principles of economic and political democracy. This paper describes a type of Jewish camping program which attempts to apply this philosophy and technique of educational camping. To strengthen the bonds between American Jewry and Eretz Yisrael. 3. and actively to support the rebuilding of the Jewish National Home. to create a cooperative Jewish Commonwealth. have a ten-year history under the auspices of the Labor Zionist Youth Organization. Educational Objectives of Habonim In order to properly understand the motivation and character of Camp Kvutza. 2. the camps are the extension as well as the annual climax of the Habonim program. To prepare young Jews for" participation in the upbuilding of a new social order throughout the world. and at the same time. conceiving their work as an extension of the program of Jewish group work agencies in the city. 34 .GROWTH OF AN IDEA Jewish educational experiences. These camps. known as Camp Kvutza.
Principles of Camp Program Although all the camps are the expression of a similar social and educational outlook. Differences exist which are based on local circumstances. The Montreal camp. 6. where a camp is located on rented property. In one camp there may be more free choice of activity than in another. The camp director enjoys no privileges not available to the youngest camper. it is deemed inadvisable to put too much effort into construction projects. in a sense. To prepare young Jews for active participation in American Jewish community life. for instance. Equality of all persons in the camp is a cardinal principle. The vegetable garden is a bigger undertaking in California than in Winnipeg for obvious climatic reasons. reflects the Yiddish school influences under which the campers live during the year. and culture. To educate young Jews toward the revitalization of traditional Jewish values. Experimentation in methods and program materials varies with the personal predilections of the camp leaders. it does not follow that they are identical in character. At Camp Kvutza." This is a central concept in the educational program of the movement. test their validity. Habonim members live according to the principles they have been studying and. "who shall in their own lives realize its aims. Nevertheless. 5.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING 4. Thus. the camps conform within the limits indicated to certain principles and patterns. and personnel. 35 . toward a feeling of identification with the Jewish rights everywhere. physical environment. for the study of Jewish life. history. Each camp has developed in time a distinctive character. The reader must not overlook the importance of the words. To prepare young Jews for the defense of Jewish rights everywhere.
on rare occasions. Staff and Organization Before any Camp Kvutza opens for the summer. a cook has to be engaged. programs. arts and crafts. nature study. considerable preparations have to be made. In keeping with the practice of the collectives and cooperatives in Eretz Yisrael. The executive committee meets often with the director and staff members to act upon various problems. A camp committee is established by the local organization. reading circles. The local Habonim take the initiative in all this 36 . The staff and leaders are all members of the organization who contribute their services and regard themselves as members of the camp community. Exceptions are made when it is not possible to secure the services of a competent physician or nurse or when. an effort is made to have no hired labor in camp. Where several cities in a region cooperate in conducting a camp. such committees are established in each community and contacts are made by correspondence and personal visits by their members. Workmen are also hired when. and sports. and daily routine. it is impractical to rely entirely on the campers to build the necessary structures. The committees assist in raising funds. recruiting campers. The regular camp meetings discuss administrative problems. Representatives of Habonim and the adult Labor Zionist organizations constitute the committees. and in other ways. The functions of the staff members and leaders are to direct the educational activities -the discussion and study groups. dramatics. Self-government is a third basic principle.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Neither is he exempt from any of the chores which are a part of the maintenance of the camp. the singing. scoutcraft. Disciplinary cases which are not easily adjusted may be brought to the attention of the designated committee. and elect various committees which are responsible for specific phases of camp life. purchasing food staples. particularly at the establishment of a new site.
its responsibilities and functions are discussed. and get the camp generally ready. They open the buildings. putting up new structures. boys and girls taking responsibility for the leadership of groups of younger children. as one of the major activities of camp is to carry forward the program of improving facilities. Campers may register for varying periods. the full program is initiated. These leaders are themselves active members of groups of their own age at the same time that they are leading the younger children. This is a group of members who generally remain as staff members and leaders. enlarging the camp. outlining projects. Prior to the arrival of the first group of campers. No attempt is made to do a complete job of renovation. At a meeting of the entire camp. it is necessary to bear in mind that we are considering here individuals generally much younger than their "opposite numbers" in other camps. set up the tents. the director or an experienced camper outlines the purposes of Camp Kvutza and indicates some of the specific objectives for the summer. The executive committee is elected. 37 . With the arrival of the campers. It is very general. an advance crew arrives at camp to prepare for the opening of the season. repair the plumbing. the advance crew spends the evenings outlining plans for the summer. clear the grounds. The year-round program of the Habonim organization provides for the continual preparation of members for or leaders of groups of younger children. both communal and private. to find. and beautifying the grounds.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING work and carry the burden of responsibility. then. and preparing for the discussions and activities they will conduct. both in the cities and in the camps. They determine the fees to be charged and establish the differential in tuition as between members and nonmembers of the organization. In addition. and the various functional committees are named. the minimum being two weeks. In speaking of staff and leaders.
trees have been cut down. is assisted by campers. and clean up after meals. 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. This has been particularly true where the camp was established on a new site and had to be built "out of nothing. In a four-week period one summer at Kinneret in Michigan. with the local circumstances. Building projects are planned and executed sometimes within one season. and buildings erected. Work projects are a consistent feature of every Camp Kvutza. This phase of the program has been one of the most fruitful sources of creative expression. the group finished waterproofing the roof of the dining room and kitchen. built shelves and drawers for kitchen equipment. The following year they added a shower house. wait on tables. some elements of nutrition. In the kitchen work. No one at camp is exempt from taking his or her turn at this work.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. over a period of years. The campers help prepare meals. buildings. put up screens and shutters on the doors and windows of the dining room. and tents is likewise the responsibility of the campers. new tent platforms. the cook. dug a tile tunnel for the water pump. The girls painted the dining room and screens." Using hired workmen only where the tasks made this unavoidable. sheds to cover the pump and washing machine (the 38 . and problems involved in maintaining the camp within budgetary limits. ground cleared and ploughed. The nature of these projects varies. who is usually a member of an adult Labor Zionist group. In the process they learn menu planning. designated daily by the committee in charge of assigning individuals to various tasks. and in some cases. The maintenance of the grounds. as has been suggested.
trimmed. It is a real-life demonstration of the values inherent in socially useful labor. 39 . an outdoor amphitheater dug out of a low hill and furnished with a stage platform. During the 1942 season. The advance crew usually prepares the soil and plants a variety of vegetables which mature during July and August." Five trees were cut down. Girls have taken to this activity particularly. In some of the camps. The complete electrification job was done and celebrated late in the summer when the lights were turned on in the dining room. the practice has developed to sell produce to visitors.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING campers conducted a cooperative laundry). Connecticut. the income being contributed to the Jewish National Fund. acquire an enlarged dining room. shower house. it serves to inculcate in the campers a positive attitude toward work and collective self-sufficiency. the produce from the garden is used in the kitchen. and recreation hall with impressive ceremonies. interest in gardening was heightened by associating this activity with the need for maximum food in this country. infirmary. All this was done in addition to clearing two large wooded areas to accommodate the tents. This emphasis on work has several motivations. In recent years. The greatest adventure was that of "bringing light to Kinneret. log bridge and dam over a stream which fed the swimming pool. shower house. efforts have been made to introduce gardening with varying success. Moreover. new garbage pits. It is an end in itself inasmuch as it fills immediate needs and serves to beautify the camp. and the beginning of a storage bin. and the beginnings of a small building intended for use by activity groups in bad weather. I have watched the camp at Killingworth. painted and erected so that electric cables could be drawn from the nearest sources of power. During the weeks of camp. The campers acquire considerable information and numerous skills.
" phases and problems of life in Eretz Yisrael. anti-Semitism. personalities from Jewish and Socialist history. covers a wide range of topics of Jewish and general interest. and special occasions. long and personalized discussions as to the implications of the war took place in all camps. Observance of Shabbat Much attention has been focused upon the observance of Shabbat. and staff members serve frequently as points of departure for discussions. to the effect of rainfall on the economy of Eretz Yisrael. Here the emphasis is on creating new forms 40 . The topics range from the aims and organizational forms of Habonim. "famous unknowns. The subject matter. derived from the basic aims of Habonim. Talks by visitors from nearby communities. and elements of Socialism. At the end of the 1939 season. to the causes of war and the prospects for permanent peace. particularly among the younger age groups. Group discussion is the dominant method. from vocational problems of American Jewish youth. when war was imminent in Europe. with projects involving related activities being used to a fair degree. the Bible and modern Jewish literature. Jewish community organization. holidays. The subjects keep changing as events suggest the timeliness of various problems.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. Jewish migrations and refugees. problems of Jewish adjustment. Definite periods are set aside for this in the daily schedule. Groups have discussed and read about Jewish historical subjects. representatives of the Eretz Yisrael Labor Movement. Reading of relevant materials goes on simultaneously. but an atmosphere of purposeful learning permeates the camp at all times.
The day is characterized by more leisure. give to the observance a spontaneity which is so often lacking where the traditional orthodox customs are practiced. and a special menu is prepared. Invariably." Groups have prepared special readings from the Bible and the Prophets. On Saturday. and which will be emotionally and aesthetically satisfying. There may be also a story or brief talk on a subject related to Shabbat. and continue in the dining room before and after the meal. The ceremonies may begin at flag-lowering. the dining room is furnished with fresh flowers and ferns.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING of observance which will give meaning and significance to the holidays. Preparations for Shabbat go on all day. Specific themes may be used as the foci of the program. sports and swimming for longer periods than usual. all work projects are in abeyance. Considerable success has been achieved in this area. After the meal the singing normally continues. they have drawn those which lit particularly the spirit of Shabbat. tables are covered with white table cloths. 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. Some experiments have been made with developing new forms for Saturday morning and with the Havdala 41 . 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. and when this is done the first hint may well appear in the blessing of the candles. The Friday evening at Camp Kvutza is the highlight of the week. symptomatic of the swing back from an earlier rejection in radical Jewish circles of all that smacks of the old and "outworn. discussions of current events. reading circles. These ceremonials. laundry is done. Camp is cleaned up. The use of the traditional Kiddush has spread in recent years. being original. with or without choral group to provide direction. At the same time.
and Hayim Nahman Bialik. They refused to drink their juice. This has not been achieved without some difficulty. it is interesting to note that some camps have observed the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sacco and Vanzetti. breakfast is foregone on Tisha B'Av. the camps have always emphasized the concept of keeping all campers and staff on an equal basis with respect to money. The Common Fund One of the most radical features of Camp Kvutza is the elimination of "private capital. group re- 42 . The Saturday night campfire. individual rights. Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av-date of the destruction of the Temple). In all the camps. and every year. each camp takes up anew the question as to how to operate the common fund. On Tuesday the solelim rebelled. involving as they do questions of equality. are observed regularly with special programs. has become a traditional event. The effect of such practices is illustrated in the incident reported from Los Angeles where. and here the tendency to create new ways of observing old holy days finds expression.GROWTH OF AN IDEA services at sunset. and the money normally spent on the meal is contributed to the Jewish National Fund. the founder of political Zionism. it was decided that "only the solelim (the youngest children) were to have some fruit juice. where the diary of the week is reviewed." Reflecting their interest in the general struggle for human freedom and civil rights. the Hebrew poet. is observed. which occur during the summer." In keeping with the principle of collective living. Other Celebrations The anniversaries of Theodor Herzl. This was on Monday. The educational value of the discussions is obvious. too. after the campers had debated the question of having breakfast or not.
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. On the whole. No accounts are kept of what campers give or get. are virtually non-existent. tooth brushes. the troublesome problems associated with these gifts. 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. particularly with non-members of Habonim or with new campers. as members of the American Hehalutz. it has been accepted and has worked out very satisfactorily. 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. As indicated. (A goodly number of former campers are now living in collective settlements in Eretz Yisrael. All requests for supplies such as stamps. How well it has been accepted by the campers is illustrated in the anecdote about the boy who. and the like. asked: "If we don't have one. at the same time enabling him to defend his request if he wishes to do so. the common fund is not instituted without prior discussion and acceptance. the committee advises the camper accordingly. problems familiar to all camp directors. frequently over the objections of a minority. Where it includes the agreement to share among the entire camp all foods and candy sent to individual campers. 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.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING sponsibility for the individual. Where a request is considered to be out of line with the budget or unjustifiable for any other reason. and combs are placed with the committee which fills the orders as the finances permit. in a discussion as to whether or not there should be a common fund.) 43 . or. Occasionally. however. stationary. means of curbing excessive demands. are being trained in agriculture or trades for settlement there. difficulties arise.
forming a part of a continuous year-round program of a youth movement. Through such experience the campers learn how satisfying and enriching a cooperative society can be. 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. so that the pioneering spirit may not be lost. 1943 44 . 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. rather than a single -unrelated event in the life of a boy or a girl.GROWTH OF AN IDEA The camps remain physically primitive and unadorned. Abraham Cohen. Camp Kvutza is the climax of an organic educational experience.
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.
for our people. but followers after the pattern of life being created now in Eretz Yisrael." that concept which makes man struggle to fill his pockets so that he and his small family may enjoy the fruits of the world.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 in the right of man to be free as an individual. We familiarize our haverim with our historical past. And 49 . who dares to participate in every phase of its life. we are not dreamers after Utopia. takes part in the renaissance of his people. His participation in this renaissance becomes the foremost factor in his life as an individual. for all individuals. In specific terms. When we speak of new society and new values. because of the sensitivity within himself. 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. In the place of this narrow view of life. But it is because we believe in the value and the necessity for national living that we are Zionists. and who creates within himself a force that drives him on to self-realization. In other words. we would implant a concern for mankind. we would choose other avenues than Zionism on which to live. he is a young Jew who understands what is happening to his people in an alien world and. this means that we want to develop an individual who is awake and sensitive to his world. Were we to believe only in man's right to be a free individual. we interpret our present struggle. We believe that there must evolve a new society of cooperation where mankind will develop new values. We believe in the right of an entire people to be free as a group. In the new society that we seek to create. we try to erase the narrow concept of "me and mine.
he should become a part of Kvutza. In Camp Kvutza we live our ideals. and only when he is a laborer for the improvement of that society. food and equipment purchasing. photography. management of the kitchen. crafts. Equality must be expressed in every phase of life economic. we must educate an entire generation of Jewish youth along new lines of thinking and acting. If he is too young for this. political. If he is a responsible boneh. and put it in their hearts and in their way of living. prepare himself to go to Kvutza. scouting. In order to translate these ideas into human living. and educational programs. music. but living is by far the greater teacher. Even before he sees the site. dramatics. he should bear witness to all the excitement of preparation. and social selves. and sports. help to raise funds. development of creative interests such as. Everyone must become interested in the management of Kvutza: the government.GROWTH OF AN IDEA this concern would be demonstrated in our economic. This equality and this concern for mankind will become real only when man is judged by his selfless contribution to society. discipline and attitudes of the little community. We seek to take the word equality off the lips of our haverim. otherwise there is no equality. While still in the city. Discussion is an important part of education. 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. That is our best way of developing the new individual. appearance and cleanliness of the settlement. cultural. Once at Kvutza. study. social. religious. everyone must be made to have an interest in every phase of the day's activity: work. he should have a part in the actual planning of construction. art. Unless the individu- 50 . Individual Development at Kvutza Haverim who come to Kvutza must create the Kvutza.
Our aims for the haver who participates in Kvutza may be summed up as follows: 1. Now there are no "company manners" between them. he must be prepared with the proper attitude. 2. To understand the significance of being pioneers in a new form of living. The madrich must come to Kvutza prepared for his duties.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING al is part of the day's activity. To learn to live with a large group of individuals. through special programs and in daily living. he will develop-or fail to develop-all the individuals who come to Kvutza. it is absolutely vital in the Kvutza. he should be ready with his discussion material. 5. 4. songs. To deal with the problems of life in a group through the creation of a society based on equality and cooperation. To know that the future of our people depends on "me. the individual" and to be so challenged as to take upon himself the task of realizing that future. If possible. The Madrich of Kvutza Upon the madrich rests the Kvutza. we will fail in our attempt to develop him into the person we want. and rainy-day activities. He will create the atmosphere and the spirit. Now there is only day-by-day living. through discussion and dramatics. To experience. For no one in Kvutza is on a vacation. At the very least. If his role is important in the city. the madrich sees his haverim only once or twice a week. it is our training ground for the tomorrow 51 . For in the city. 3. but at Kvutza he is with them during all their waking and sleeping hours. games. the life-struggle of our people today.
At the same time. he is responsible for the physical well-being of his haverim. he is responsible for their psychological well-being. 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. write up our scientific observations. Exactly what is his responsibility? First. He explains Kvutza and people to them. keep themselves and their sleeping quarters clean. "firm" in stating our point of view? The rosh of every Kvutza. must understand that Kvutza is not merely an educational experiment. he makes them aware of the role they play in their group. We do not bring together a group of youngsters. be is responsible for their development as individuals. Third. He helps them adjust to their surroundings. he discovers their hidden talents and interests. together with the madrichim. wins their confidences. and then. Freedom with a Pattern Herein lies a real problem for all madrichim. The madrich directs the training. The madrich must be wide awake. eat enough. He must foresee problems before his youngsters create them so that he can divert energies to other channels. must know how to put across his way of thinking and the desired way of acting. turn them loose. with notebook in hand.GROWTH OF AN IDEA of our people. he draws them into every activity. lie. at times. Second. and spends many hours in just speaking with them about all the big problems we face together and all their personal problems. and only one who understands the responsibility should be entrusted with it. The luxury of experiments in edu- 52 . He faces a serious task. He sees that they sleep enough. promotes friendly relations among them. He must be a good pal and know how to have f un with them.
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. Haverim must live on schedule. Let them not be frightened by terms or by name-calling. neat haverim.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING cation for their own sake we must leave for people more fortunate than we. The program should be full so that haverim know that one activity follows another regularly. each thing in its place. There should be clean-up committees of campers. The appearance of Kvutza must be orderly-clean grounds. meals. No amount of "freedom" is real or desirable if it destroys our Kvutza spirit or discolors our Kvutza design. Staying awake until all hours of the night is ruinous to health and humor-it is not freedom. The rosh and madrichim are entrusted with young lives and young minds. That symbol and its realization are the prime forces behind Kvutza. they are likewise entrusted with a great responsibility to the Labor Zionist movement. in work. Rising. Failure to participate in discussions." 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 . An Orderly Society Kvutza must be an orderly society. A day filled with activity. the day's program-all must add up to steady living. Kvutza must be a symbol to us-a symbol that we will eventually make real. goes far toward creating the orderly society. but more is needed to make this orderliness complete. The rosh and madrichim must keep them in mind always. clean buildings that are nicely decorated. in any group activity. We need this for the education as well as for the spirit of the Kvutza. Our only sin can be the failure to make Kvutza what it must be: a pattern of life for our haverim. is not freedom but a weakening of Kvutza spirit. We are trying to "turn men into a nation and sand into a country.
Our second aim of Kvutza is to 54 ." since each case and the individuals concerned must be considered. Therefore. lack of discipline. Therefore. should come the specific aims of that Kvutza for the season. with this committee I have had one discussion from which we concluded: 1. Our machaneh has expanded rapidly so that only about half of our haverim have been to Kvutza and have an understanding of the movement. Poor enrollment of movement members. Thus there will be an understanding among those who will lead the Kvutza." They are actually the "backbone" of the machaneh. rosh and madrichim should have discussions oil the weaknesses and strengths of the machaneh and its needs.GROWTH OF AN IDEA the handling of haverim who refuse to be a part of the general orderliness. Insofar as possible. Before going out to Kvutza. lack of understanding of Kvutza. 2. Summer Kvutza can do much. our first aim for Kvutza is to integrate these new haverim into the movement. Our machaneh has a good group of Kvutza "veterans. For example. From these discussions. The better the madrich. Kvutza should develop the machaneh. not only for the development of our haverim individually. as well as a goal toward which they will work. it cannot be stressed too much: Prepare your members for Kvutza. No general rule may be given for "order" or "discipline. the fewer problems will arise. but beyond that and greater than that. poor participation. the machaneh in which I am now living has chosen its Kvutza committee. Setting Goals Each Kvutza is a reflection of the city from which its people come. a broken common fund-these reflect the city activities. all these problems should be settled between the madrich and the individual concerned through talks.
" What have we accomplished in these thirteen summers? What institutions can we point to? What have we established.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING prepare these sixteen-year-old “veterans" to assume. so immersed in the every-day workings. Therefore. wherever necessary. 1935 COMING OF AGE The thirteenth consecutive year of Habonim summer camping has rolled around. For although thirteen years is a relatively short period of time in the life of an individual. to my amazement. like last. This year. thoughtful. by a small group of stubborn young people who were dissatisfied with Jewish summer camping as 55 . worries. It was only when I sat down and began to count that I suddenly realized. we become more certain that we will face still greater responsibilities in the movement here and abroad. must think a great deal about Kvutza as an educational institution and as a symbol. complete leadership within the Kvutza and within the machaneh. that we have hardly had time to notice the years creeping up on us. and must prepare as much as possible for the season. that Bar Mitzva is upon us. This will mean that all who are madrichim must become well acquainted with the objectives of Kvutza before they go. Miriam Biderman. created. and talkative "Bar Mitzva dinner. contributed? The first Habonim Camp Kvutza was started thirteen years ago. at that age. even before the official beginning of Habonim as an organization. our haverim must feel that in Kvutza they are undergoing training for their role tomorrow. With our awareness of what is happening to our people in Europe and in Eretz Yisrael. our movement faces a serious lack of leadership for our summer Kvutzot. entitled to a sedate. and business of the camp. We have been so occupied in actually preparing for Kvutza. an institution such as camp is considered old and established.
of our camping system. Habonim is operating eight summer camps throughout the United States and Canada.400 or more each summer. and paid too little attention to intelligent discussion and teaching of Jewish attitudes and heritage. They decided to devote some time each day to discussion of Jewish current affairs. Whereas thirteen years ago all the principles listed above were dreams-according to some. change them for the better.GROWTH OF AN IDEA they knew it. we now have an average of 1. in a highly developed form. dreams incapable of realizationtoday they are part and parcel. Jewish problems. thirteen years later. It is undoubtedly the strongest educational instrument which we have succeeded in developing. They had the impudence to believe that they could operate a camp which could change these things. the campers. and preparing to operate nine next summer. Whereas thirteen years ago the first campers "squatted" on a piece of land loaned to them. We have found no better way to develop youth toward an intelligent understanding of Zionism 56 . should work several hours a day in and about the camp." Today. gave too little room for the expression of the creative abilities of campers. most alert. It is almost a truism that those cities which have a good Camp Kvutza in the vicinity have the strongest. and are constantly expanding our facilities. They felt it was too occupied with trivialities. we now own all but one of our camps. as it did last. They felt that the camp should be run democratically with each camper having a choice in decisions affecting programs and work. most Jewish-conscious and responsible Habonim groups. They decided that they. Today Camp Kvutza is integrally bound up with the life blood of Habonim as a movement. Whereas thirteen years ago there was a group of some ten to fifteen campers. They were determined that the spirit of modern Eretz Yisrael should permeate the camp. They called the camp "Kvutza. Jewish history.
be concerned simply with supplying a staff for our camps. There are several reasons for this. and with roots in Habonim. like others. conditions the type of camp we have. two-month living course presented by Camp Kvutza. Our staff must consist of a certain type of individual. We cannot. we are reticent about pointing to our accomplishments. The fact that we are interested in retaining a permanent hold on the camper through the year as well as in the summer months. Programs have to be adjusted to their level of preparation. with a certain type of background. our 57 . New systems for activity have to be worked out. The fifteen. Despite our realization of these things. Ways must be found to draw them actively into the cause which circumstance dictates they must fight for though they be unprepared. that we want him to assume responsibility. The inner strength of our camps is showing itself in the way this crisis is being met.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING than the twenty-four-hour-a-day. The nature of our purpose makes for an extremely high rate of change and adaption to circumstance. The eighteen. Whatever the reasons.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.and nineteen-year-old haverim who would normally assume positions of leadership are to a large extent unavailable. Perhaps it is because younger people all over are becoming accustomed to a greater degree of responsibility. By their very nature our camps become institutionalized according to a given pattern. and it is increasingly difficult for even them to devote themselves to camp. perhaps it is because to an increasing extent they are concerning themselves with problems which have hitherto been considered the domain of their elders. Thus we have been hit more than ordinary camps by the current war situation. to become vitally concerned with our problems.
All that I have mentioned can definitely be considered on the credit side of the Camp Kvutza ledger. The extent to which Habonim should actually run the camp. We have always felt that an important element in shaping the character and initiative of the campers would be lost were 58 . receiving enthusiastic backing of all its segments. In others. Three new permanent sites have been acquired.GROWTH OF AN IDEA younger haverim have reacted in a way which leaves no doubt as to the future of Habonim camping. other ticklish problems arise. we have not succeeded in completely solving them. We have encountered many problems along these lines and to this day. the advisability of younger people being entrusted with financial and physical responsibility for what in some cases is a big business. the Labor Zionist movement as a whole has failed to recognize its value and gives it no more than perfunctory backing. In some cities Kvutza is the summer camp of our entire movement. On the other band. in those places where the senior movement has become interested. there exists no Kvutza because the movement there has failed to become enthusiastic enough about it to undertake the establishment of one. so good. 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. new ideas are being contributed. camps are being expanded. So far. We have continued to develop during the last two difficult summers. Given the conviction that Camp Kvutza is a good instrument for the advancement of our approach to Jewish life. In others. comes into question. But there is another angle from which the whole picture can be viewed. plans for new camps are under serious consideration.
The extent to which the traditional element in Kvutza should be stressed is something which has caused much discussion. is naturally desirable. In the establishment of a network of twice and thrice the number of Kvutzot we now have. 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. Concerted attempts must be made to acquire the greatest moral and material backing possible. 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. I. In general. lies the road to the establishment of a really alert Labor Zionist youth. thus acquiring contact with our ideas and principles. Murray Weingarten. more powerful than Hebrew schools. That non-members should attend Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING these and other responsibilities removed from us and given to our senior haverim. for one. 1944 59 . 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. 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. It is more powerful than city propaganda.
our common fund of money and food from home. there is never hired labor except where necessary-the cook and the nurse). needs. exploit no one. We have. the haver becomes a full-fledged member of a community with duties.In Kvutza. even construction of buildings. This is in keeping with our belief in the dignity of labor and with the ideal and policy of the Histadrut . and ways of meeting these needs. sanitation. This is in keeping with our cooperative ideal: from each according to his ability. perhaps for the first time. and interests of the campers in regard to the Kvutza program. cleaning. C. The food is distributed equally. suggestions. for example. 60 . and at the same time.that a man must not be exploited and that he. No individual accounts are kept. and where necessary and possible. 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. in turn.GROWTH OF AN IDEA PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY I. B. We have a meeting of the entire camp community to discuss its philosophy. Each person at Kvutza puts in as much money as he can and whatever food he may bring or receive from home. The maintenance work is done by the camper: kitchen duty. Self-Labor .In Kvutza. And we elect our committees and our officers. We discuss the desires. to each according to his need. Self-Government . Social Justice A.Here. program. and privileges that carry consequences affecting him directly. responsibilities. Each person receives what he needs from the common fund. to each individual. Cooperative Living .
we must regard it as if we. is perhaps the most important part of Kvutza life. B. and in our haverim through Kvutza. to give the haver an intellectual understanding of Zionism and an emotional feeling of healthy nationalism. reading circles. to have a healthy self-respect. III. We want to develop the desire to participate personally in the upbuilding of Eretz Yisrael. Hebrew study. that intangible Jewish spirit-the folkways of our people. as in our machanot. 61 . We desire to aid each individual to become self-sufficient. We want to make him realize his own worth. in our lives. Camp Kvutza and the Movement I. though it is hardest to define in -words. Judaism A. This. and use privileges well. singing. to be able to make decisions. Zionism It is our purpose in Kvutza. and a positive. the identification with the people and its struggle. We strive to develop a historical sense and an identification with the past and present struggle of the Jewish people. personally. We want to develop or intensify an appreciation of the Jewish tradition and a desire for participation in and perpetuation of this culture. The Individual A. dancing.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING II. are experiencing these things. Into this spirit goes the appreciation of the culture and tradition. comfortable feeling of being Jewish. We approach this through our Shabbat and holiday celebrations. We want to develop in our people a feeling of belonging to all that ever was and is Jewish. carry responsibility. We want to develop in Kvutza. The Haggada says that as we read at the Seder Pesach of the Exodus from Egypt. C.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA B. D. Kvutza is a stimulant to movement work -When haverim come from Kvutza. discussion groups. C. reading circles. When people have a place in the social setup of the movement. general and Jewish. We strive to develop within him a community mindedness: the ability to live within a group. All of the foregoing is important to the machaneh. In the course of such participation. KM. they are more willing to devote time and energy to the movement. Through the achievement of all the above. III. and to be able to influence without becoming domineering. Habonim becomes the social group. He develops loyalties. stimulating. For many of our people. This is especially important for us because it makes for strong ties among members of Habonim and for cohesive groups. II. having had a full. and standards. and stimulation in a group. B. The Machaneh A. courage. to conform without losing his individuality. become an integral and pleasant part of their lives because it is so for their friends also. The individual and the group are closely interrelated." An individual gains significance. Through self-study. his personality develops and a socializing takes place. We expect the haver to develop intellectually during the course of the summer. and enjoyable summer. and hav- 62 . 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. Meetings. There are satisfactions which an individual cannot obtain alone. one has a real opportunity to increase his knowledge. The Group A. Every person needs a sense of belonging. discussions with other haverim and with madrichim. "In unity there is strength. group attitudes. and the hanhaga. a haver is more willing and able to be active in the movement during the course of the organizational year.
Kvutza is a democratic. to make a quick decision where necessary-in other words. He can influence the entire atmosphere of a Camp Kvutza. Leadership qualities are developed . 63 . like the madrichim. This gives them a greater responsibility to the group.Through opportunities for leadership. C. committee work. B. They have been assigned their roles by virtue of their wider experience and greater insight and understanding. The rosh. C. and rosh are integral parts of this group. Their function is within the group and not above and outside of it.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ing formed strong group ties. or simply through the group experience. "The whole is greater than its parts. The madrichim are perhaps the equivalent to elected officers in a democratic society. cooperative community. IV. He is responsible for Kvutza as a whole and for each of its facets. educate and induct new members. It is not a vacation from our "real" lives." Kvutza Is a Living Community I. The campers. to feel and understand the tempo of the camp. It is his responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of the Kvutza and its people. The movement is strengthened by the activities and stimulation of Camp Kvutza. The Movement A. many return from Kvutza in a position to influence and lead others. We come together and have an opportunity to live a portion of our lives as we believe and desire. madrichim. is a vital part of the community. they are usually anxious to get started on machaneh activities and have a lot to offer intellectually and spiritually. Kvutza offers an excellent opportunity to attract. B. Kvutza Is a Living Community A.
socially. The madrich that works with a group must be part of that group. They are not technicians functioning in the limited sphere of their specialties. has veto power over decisions of madrichim and campers in matters of health and safety. This is the first community expression of the campers. Relationships in Camp Kvutza A. The first day of camp sets the tone for the entire period. however. intellectually. Future relationships between madrichim and campers can stem from impressions received on the first day. A. The First Day I. The rosh.The first meeting is the most important one of the season. There is a definite carry-over of attitudes. because of his particular position. The rosh and madrichim must work closely together in order to achieve the best possible results for the group. in turn.” We want the haverim to understand that. 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. If we are successful.GROWTH OF AN IDEA II. The Meeting . in relation to all others madrichim and campers alike-that he influences people. B. though it is natural that the rosh and the youngest tzofeh are not 64 . It is also one of the biggest factors in the tone and atmosphere of the camps. There we put into practice our theory that Kvutza is a "living community. the group stimulates him. and in a creative manner. There we will determine the policy and principles of Kvutza. He also has the job of making decisions necessary for the best functioning of the Kvutza. It is in all of the madrich's behavior as a social being. The madrichim in a Kvutza are not counselors in the usual sense. we enrich our lives through this relationship. He stimulates the group and. The relationship between rosh and madrichim is important in forming attitudes and understanding in madrich-camper relations.
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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
For instance.. Now the plumb line and the level go into action. and shared by. in an article entitled. such as the one described above. issue of The Reconstructionist. "At a Work Camp of the American Jewish Society for Service. This is a key job.. with its emphasis on the dignity of labor and cooperation among men. one can find a strikingly familiar description of a day at camp in the March 14. Today. 1954. ranging from agency camps. The camp individualist. our camps are no longer unique. . Sankel. the parents themselves. It is actually a description of a typical "work camp" of which there are many. The foundation is about to be laid. They visited the cities. He begins to see the value of working together with his fellow camper for a common goal. 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. Still others are digging a ditch to lay the sewer pipe. to private camps charging high tuition rates. for visas at the Israel Consul's office. 69 .. He must ask for help." This could be a description of a very successful work project at a Habonim camp. Every year. cannot do the job alone. for example. Here.. The monopoly we once had in the field of creative Jewish living" is no longer ours either. Cooperation is essential. new camps come into being which stress similar approaches to the very ideals in camping which were once almost exclusively ours. is a description of a B'nai B'rith camp: "The most popular of the subjects studied was the imaginary trip to Israel . Others are busily mixing mortar and cement for the foundation of the house. The cement is ready..ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING their children to our camps. Emanuel. realistically enough. Two boys and a girl start to saw wood for the flooring of the house they are erecting . . " The day's work is beginning ." by Hyman R. The children were started on this imaginary trip by applying. from the point of view of progressive educational techniques and values..
on the contrary. Let no one conclude from my foregoing remarks that our particular type of camping has outlived its usefulness. we find that we are not the only progressive Jewish camp on the scene. But one need not have a technically primitive. ill-managed camp in order to educate towards that goal. which is on the Gilboa. and landmarks of the country. they could sense the immense drama which has taken place and is taking place around this famous mountain . A good madrich should be able to educate towards the aims of Habonim in a modern. in terms of our movement's needs. technically we have failed to keep pace with the other camps. And today. in a modern. " 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. in 1954. For in Habonim. . f acing the Arab Triangle. an even more important conclusion. On the other hand. The physical setup and technical functioning of the camp finally chosen may well be the deciding factors. on the contrary. which can be drawn from this and other examples. and only our camps can educate towards that aim. in a primitive one. we want to create halutzim. well-operated camp. using the approach to Jewish camping which such an activity typifies. So now. unlike other Jewish organizations. When they entered the kibbutz Yizr'el. Habonim camping is as necessary and important to us as it ever was. if not better than. Each site was investigated for its ancient and modern significance. or among the few. . the madrich has more tools and materials at his disposal 70 . is that we are no longer alone. well-run camp as well as. the Jewish parent pays increasing attention to the physical setup of the camp to which lie sends his child. though educationally Jewish camping has caught up to us.GROWTH OF AN IDEA famous settlements. well-equipped. there are so many Jewish camps from which to choose that he may well be particular as to the one he finally decides upon. more than ever before.
Habonim camping is now at a crucial turning point. If we do not advance technically. If we do advance.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING to aid him in his job. Dex Srauss. and administrative spheres so that we can once again compete with other Jewish camps and be acceptable to the modern Jewish parent. whose first concern is with his child's health and safety. We must face up to the realities of the situation and solve the problems confronting us in a responsible and mature manner. technical. we may once again find ourselves in a leading position in the field of Jewish camping in America. as we have set out to do. The need then is to bring our camps up to date in the physical. a time will come when our camps will be empty. 1954 71 . To defend the primitive camp on ideological terms is to distort the entire meaning of our ideology.
History and Development .
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS It all began in 1932. By 1939. the fundamentals of Camp Kvutza were developed: 1) collective-democratic living. This committee established a series of minimum requirements. but there was already a feeling that means must be found of assuring permanency and continuity in the operation of our camps. the Cincinnati Habonim convention in December. The following year. Accord stands out in the memories of all the old-timers for its sheer physical beauty and difficult pioneering conditions. 2) a full Jewish life. In 1936. 74 . and in preparation for the 1941 season. Los Angeles had its first camp. with fourteen haverim in a tent. 1940. In many cases permission was secured to use the site for an indefinite period of time. two more Kvutzot were opened in 1935-in Montreal. In educational methodology. This by no means meant that our camps were becoming standardized. Habonim established its first Camp Kvutza at Accord. The summer Kvutza had become Habonim's most powerful and most effective educational weapon and had also become a "big business" operation. and in Chicago at Camp Tel Hai. most sites were rented. 3) self-labor. New York. As a result. began to work on the first Kvutza Manual. called for the organization of a Habonim Kvutza Committee. During that first summer. new camps were projected for Texas and Winnipeg. living and studying together for a month. Close to 1500 haverim attended the camps in 1940. they ran the gamut from experiments in Lieberman's Creative Camping to semi-military discipline. With the development and expansion of the camps came a need for better planning and direction of both their educational and administrative aspects. Inspired by Accord. and set up a systematic program for selecting the volunteers to staff the camps. Moshava (Baltimore) and Kinneret (Detroit) were founded. Only a few of the camps were on permanent sites.
gained the backing of six bureaus of education in various cities which sent scholarship students. Los Angeles. and at Creamridge. New York. fairly large numbers of non- 75 . 1946 saw perhaps one of the peak years in Habonim camping when over two thousand campers attended Kvutza. The objective of this experiment was to create a positive attitude toward collective living and halutziut among non-affiliated American Jewish youth. Later. Baltimore. In 1945. but the collapse of the movement in the city brought about the demise of the camp as well.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING In 1943. At Amenia (1949) and Killingworth (1950). 1600 youngsters spent the summer at eleven camps. Toronto. Connecticut (for New York). Amal itself was at Creamridge. Amal. St. Winnipeg. in 1951. Foremost among these was the national Hebrew camp. In later years. One of the significant results of Amal has been the proof that under proper conditions. Influenced and sparked by Amal alumni. a number of highly successful Camp Avoda seasons were conducted at the farms with groups drawn from within the movement. Its first season in 1948 opened on a rented site in Vermont with 26 campers. Dallas. For several seasons this was a work camp in the process of construction. Camp Avoda was operated for the first time at the Hehalutz training farm in Creamridge. Louis had its Kvutza. Montreal. for several years. there have been a number of significant experiments in Habonim camping. a number of interesting and important Hebrew programs were planned at Kinneret and Moshava. New York bought a new camp site at Amenia. and became established as one of the foremost Hebrew camps in the country. During the years. in Killingworth. Ottawa. The primary educational factor in Camp Avoda was its proximity to the collective group and the farm. Detroit. Philadelphia founded its own camp (Galil). the camp accommodated fifty campers. New Jersey. Tel Natan. Habonim was the only Zionist organization to sponsor a Hebrew camp. Chicago.
Toronto conducted a "rambling camp. This pattern was followed the next year at Montreal and St. There has been a trend to put the administration of our camps on a semi-commercial basis. the sports and cultural festival. too. In 1948. Each subsequent summer has witnessed large seminars of madrichim. and during the summer of 1953. Many more camps are on permanent sites into which large investments have been put by the local Labor Zionist movements and Merkaz Habonim. most camps have conducted training programs for prospective madrichim. it was decided to discontinue Amal as a separate institution and to stress Hebrew at all Habonim camps. and noar. and pre-embarkation seminars for the Habonim Youth Workshop in Israel. one in Vermont for the East and one in Detroit for the West. The national Habonim Camping Association has been showing steady but slow improvement in the handling of national aspects of 76 . The past few years. 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. In addition. Mahaneh madrichim is an experiment in the realm of leadership training rather than strictly camping. two madrichim camps were held.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT movement people can be attracted to our camps and integrated into the movement. in which all the campers participate. The three camps in the East have conducted an annual Maccabia. 1950 also saw another experiment long under consideration." A number of haverim made a long trip by truck. bonim. Amal was conducted at Moshava. at Galil. one national madrichim camp was conducted at Kinneret. In 1950. At the 1953 convention of Habonim. Louis. have seen a number of interesting variations and experiments in the Habonim camping picture. carrying full supplies and equipment and camping nights at previously selected sites. In 1952.
Red Hook. Kvutza Manual. was purchased in 1953. Gabriola Island. New camp sites were purchased for the Midwest in 1956 and for Camp Miriam in Vancouver in 1956. British Columbia. Quebec. Pennsylvania. 1957 77 . Ottsville. the following seven Kvutzot. and increasingly aware of its potentiality as an instrument for expansion. New York. Camp Kvutza. During 1957. California. Saugus. Camp Kvutza Galil. Annapolis. Faustin. all on permanent sites. The permanent New York Kvutza at Red Hook. St. Camp Miriam. Camp Moshava. Maryland.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING camp. Camp Naame. New York. We are aware that Camp Kvutza is our most effective educational instrument. Midwest Camp Habonim. Three Rivers. Michigan. will be conducted: Camp Habonim.
Accord. New York. . Joev Criden and friends. A lecture at Accord.The Kitchen at Accord. at Kendall. "Brocky".
Accord. Kieve Skidell. Accord. Discussion under "tree of knowledge". . Accord. 1938. 1937. Rosh at Accord. Carl Allentuck working on "sanitation". Enzo Sereni and friends ponder a problem.David Breslau. 1939.
Tent Area. N. Accord.Work at Accord. 1935. .Y. Accord. The Dining Room and Kitchen at Accord. 1935. Building at Accord. N.Y. Campers.
Montreal. Kinneret. 1942. . 1941. Abe Meadow installing electricity. "All aboard for the noar seminar". 1941. Kinneret. Kinneret. Youth Day. Kinneret. Campers. Kinneret. Building the Migdal. 1941. 1940.Dining Room at Camp Kvutza.
Mid-June. bumpy. Kerhonkson-never beard of the places.. efforts. and ingenuity.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KVUTSA IN THE NEW YORK AREA CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN The last days of August. Three hours. Unser Camp offered too many comforts and too many distractions. we have lost our way a half-dozen times. we accept this bid as meaning us. The haverim have learned much and have had a lot of fun. four hours. but the country gets more and more beautiful as the road becomes steeper and the hairpin curves sharper.. Finally one morning we are off to the Catskills: Accord." For lack of a more specific address.. 1932 . . The fourteen pioneers have been together for a full month and have valiantly tried to imbibe three lecture and discussion periods a day.. and from an unexpected quarter. Soon there is no highway at all. Somehow.. with two or three lectures in each period. 82 . The closing hours are devoted to evaluation and self-criticism. 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. We are getting panicky. it was a camp and not a Kvutza. The sister would like to do something for "the Jewish people. The first Young Poale Zion Kvutza is winding up its four-week session at Unser Camp. 1933. Farband summer colony at Highland Mills. Summer is knocking at the door and still no Kvutza site. .. Granite. farmers' dirt road into a wilderness. Our hearts sink. A series of interviews. yet everyone feels that something was missing ... spirits flag. only a deep-rutted. Next year we must have a real Kvutza. Life in the big tent has been most congenial. We were guests and not creators . enthusiasm waxes high. it wasn't our own. dusty. no matter what the difficulties. New York. too. Suddenly. and the more primitive the better! Next year we must learn not only theory but also how to provide for ourselves. the product of our own labors. an undreamed of opportunity.
we'll owe . Who can forget the day when the big truck came rumbling across the wooden bridge to unload the first $400 worth of lumber .. We need a car . Two coming from Rochester . . Can you borrow dishes. no house (it burned down when the place was abandoned seven years before). . . How are registrations coming? . Raise money. . . There is only an indescribable shack occupied by our benefactress and her partner in the summer ... . Far? What of it? Wild? We've got a job to do.. silverware? .. back in the city. The next day. the answer to our prayers. .. .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING A few more minutes and we find ourselves on the summit of a hill.. All right now. a beautiful valley below. Persuade some Pioneer Women to come out as "cookies. . . lay it out cross-wise so that the kitchen part will come right over the spring. . Ten haverim want to build a dining room and platforms for the tents . . . . here is what we have to do.. a meeting of the National Executive is hastily convened. a ring of mountains that seems to change color before your eyes. . a glorious tingle in the blood we are building our own Kvutza! Yes. ." . . get lumber . Time is short-so short! A matter of days now… And through it all. really building! . we'll borrow. And how about discussion leaders? . . but also with sadness when we see how the land lies waste and neglected-grass and weeds waisthigh. . So much to do . . . . Take advantage as much as we can of the cement floor of the 83 . . This is the place. . No shelter? We'll build our own. No money? We'll beg. Haven't heard from Buffalo . Buy tents. Here. 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. . . . and in the near distance. cots . Clear the site on top of the hill. And how about the program? . What will they eat? Who will cook for them? . the earth is parched. Feverish days and nights . .
Friday all day they come trekking in. Everyone is working against time . 1942 84 . and the old farmer's stove bought for $4 refuses to get fired. In the meantime. . . The Kvutza is scheduled to open Sunday. . There. The long tables in the dining room are scrubbed clean. Every newcomer is pressed into service as soon as he has a bite to eat ." sit down to break bread together. Here. We've got to finish the kitchen first. The single pyramid tent that had housed the work crew is now joined by three others. They form a thrilling silhouette against the sky. .. The cookies become more and more exasperated as the number of mouths to feed increases. . But the cookies work hardest of all. the original number of the work group is more than doubled. Every hour brings one or two more haverim. ready for the first Shabbat in our own Kvutza. In the deepening twilight.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT burnt-down barn. Over the dining room we can stretch canvas if necessary. and decked with flowers. our sages tell us. By nightfall. down below. The Shabbat.. Thursday noon. . Nerves are on edge . we will build platforms for the tents . scrubbed clean at the brook and dressed in our "best. set with dishes and silverware. miracles have been happening. the outhouse. should be received with rejoicing. twenty-four of us. and it seems as if everything is still to be done. We fulfilled the mitzva with overflowing hearts. The seven-year growth of grass and weeds has been cut. Jacob Katzman.
and how to extinguish them quickly once they started up–and last but not least. brushing teeth. over dangerous cliffs and precipices to get to the “sink and washtubs”–a swirling.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING LISTEN HERE. We had to support the doddering building. One of our own members. how to replace a broken grate. Take Accord. and constructed the new building. Soon after we braced it. 85 . 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. No sooner was the shack or dining hall constructed than we had a real project on our hands. None of those new-fangled ideas like faucets for us pioneers! In the old days we trekked down from the hill to the creek. but did you have any programs?” Why. estimated the materials. swishing torrent of icy brook water. how to keep the flames from climbing the wooden walls. you had lots of spirit back in 1934-35. how to keep the sickly stove from falling apart. It took a genius to know how to line the stove with fire brick. YOUNGSTERS! You know. sometimes it makes me mad! You who go to Kvutza these days have a way of saying: “Well – of course. under the expert direction of the Philadelphia engineers. We decided to construct a brand new dining hall. or any time we wanted to wash our hands – you have an idea of the tremendous work involved in keeping clean. When you realize that we had to take the same hike for washing clothes. how to make that stove cook the food the right way at the right time. Keeping ourselves and our clothes clean was another constant work project. Zalman. made the plans. we had a program of activities you’ll find it mighty hard to match! Just making it possible to live was program enough. we really had work to do. how to stack the wood so as to direct the heat towards the pots and away from the cook. for instance. for taking swims or showers.
the truck–or even midnight swims. As one man.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT And with all the work we had to do. One of them related his experiences in Eretz Yisrael to us. A howling wind and flashes of lightning accompanied the rain. Celeritas. I guess I haven’t the space to tell about the revolution at Tel Hai. Well. 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. Then you’ll see how much spirit and how much program we had in the early days of our Kvutza. People from the village of Accord came out in cars and trucks to take our baggage to safety. I’ll always remember the time we had two visitors from New York. Maybe someday I’ll write a book of memories. Let me tell you–I was proud of our campers during that real danger. 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. We survived the event of course. 1942 86 . all responded to the emergency. 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. we still made time for our cultural programs. 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. the wind tackled one tent after another until five tents toppled over–two of them torn to shreds. Saadia Gelb. None of us noticed the gathering clouds as he spoke. safe summer resort.
The fact that the Galil campers were living in the cabins and most of the New Yorkers in a separate tent-camp. Finally. not a memorial. it often seemed as if we New Yorkers were marking time. The name of Yohanan Tartakower was completely unknown to me. the news was announced: New York Habonim had a new home-at the (then stupendous) cost of almost fifty thousand dollars. When we returned to the city. The first reaction: We were ap- 87 . the division between the two groups was extremely sharp. and the registration of Tel Yohanan promised to expand enormously. Despite this attitude. I'd say that many of us did not know at the time who Yohanan was. That summer of 1951 in Tel Yohanan was a six-week honeymoon with the movement for all of us. 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 great tales of "adventure" found willing ears. The Merkaz wore out tempers and tires in everlasting jaunts around New York State looking for a new camp site. and the majority of the Galilniks were of solelim-tzofim age. but we lived in such a way that he continued to exist in us. in the early spring of 1953. New York was determined to build a Kvutza of its own once again.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK That summer. spending my first year in Camp Kvutza. In June. faced its first meeting with Habonim during a spring session in 1953. The mahaneh in Red Hook. During the summer of 1952. I was a still-wet-behind-the-ears tzofa. but Mahaneh Tel Yohanan was a living thing. Who wanted to go anywhere but to our own Tel Yohanan for the summer? Nonetheless. the shock of hearing that Tel Yohanan had been wrecked by vandals was numbing. did not help the situation at all. we went to Galil. New York. Since the majority of the New Yorkers were of bonim age.
outhouses. the number of Habonim campers from the New York region was under fifty. The next summer was somewhat less of a memorable experienceperhaps because the previous season had been so overwhelmingly successful. The first summer in Camp Habonim. no electricity. Camp Hatzofeh. active Habonim within the camp did not exceed forty percent of the total population.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT palled! It was all too civilized for our tastes. At the same time. 1954 was the "honeymoon" season at Red Hook. The campers responded. we could not afford to let our ideals go by the board. 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. in the activities run by the campers themselves.even cheers were care- 88 . Red Hook. while the Habonim population remained at roughly the same level. 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. We had not only to adapt ourselves to a new concept of camping with its attendant responsibilities. but were also faced with a previously unknown problem of incorporating a large percentage of nonmembers. This perhaps was the more serious of the two. A comradely atmosphere from the outset . In Tel Yohanan and again in Galil. too. served to dispel a few illusions. It was a wonderful experience for both camps. and (we thought) no halutziut. It was felt. a separate shower-house. Gone were the days of cold water only. In accepting the "luxury" of our new home. The population at Red Hook climbed to more than double that number. There was a Habonim atmosphere. It will be remembered as the year of the Habonim Maccabia with the summer camp of Hanoar Hatzioni. It became as natural for some madrichim to converse in Hebrew as for the campers to try to emulate the actions of the staff.
a new dimension of education had been added to the Maccabia which made its meaning even fuller for the participants. Each summer has seen the development of the concept of Habonim camping-from the tents. 1957 89 .both wanted to "rip up the score sheets. Once again held at Galil.upon which the cheers. at camp. and songs were based." 1955 saw a new venture in Habonim camping-that of a successful Leaders' Training program. In addition to the spirit of comradeship which grew up in the three days. 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. the New Yorkers won. What is to happen to New York camping in the future? That is in the hands of the haverim themselves.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fully censored to exclude any derogatory material about the opposing camp. it was the high point of the season. and Negev for Moshava .Yehuda for Red Hook. Ziffy Entin. though not until a contest had been waged in which every point was in doubt. with a large number of participants.cold-water stage to the cabins-hot water stage. As usual. Galil for Galil. evening program presentation. Remember the afternoon spent in track events. with people from all three camps cheering the competitors impartially? Each camp had a theme . The spirit of the entire competition may be imagined from the unanimous protest of the two camps directly before the close of the Maccabia . 1956 saw the revival of the Habonim Inter-Kvutza Maccabia.
Several ex-G. It handled thirty to fifty-five children per week. Buffalo. the Habonim camping experience would have been denied to most of the Habonim in this region.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KENDALL Camp Kvutza at Kendall. inhabited by the ghost of two-fingered. However." Camp Kvutza catered to the Habonim of Rochester. It is not difficult to measure the importance of Camp Kvutza to upstate New York. The burned-out remains of a house nearby. Some of the haverim who were campers are now in 90 . our departed haver and teacher. A large two story barn served as the kitchen and recreation hall.I. and as a result. one-eyed Pete. This group existed from 1946 to 1949 and was probably as active a Zionist group as existed in this country. I cannot comment on the feverish activity involved in trying to set up the camp for the first time. the loyalties it helped cement bore fruit after the war years in 1946. thirty miles west of Rochester. I can fully appreciate the time and effort expended by the "older haverim. Permanent fixtures at the camp. however. The woods behind the tents and the hay loft behind the barn served as "rooms" for discussions and Hebrew lessons. Our camp was not a large-one. Many new Habonim members were obtained through the camp. Hanopolsky.'s (and ex-Habonim) formed the Enzo Sereni Labor Zionist group in Rochester. aside from many of the Habonim members. and the empty "haunted house" down the road gave the camp additional atmosphere. Had it not been for the camp. 1941 was the last year of Camp Kvutza. Havera Atlas. were the cook. opened in 1937 and ran through 1941. and Syracuse. and was responsible for many lasting friendships. From my experience on pre-registration camp committees in later years. New York. and Mark B. It was situated on farm land along Lake Ontario. I was only thirteen in 1937 when I spent one week at Camp Kvutza.
shook his head. In these three weeks. and so we pushed her slowly to the garage and told the mechanic to get her in running condition for that evening. Michigan. rusty-looking. and that this little scene was actually the first practical beginning of Habonim's second Kvutza in America at New Buffalo. the super truck driver-to-be. even for members of Habonim. three "big shots" were pushing an old. 91 . business manager. 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. The advance crew would have three weeks of unceasing work to get the place in shape for the opening. 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. 1957 KVUTSA IN THE MIDWEST "KVUTZIE" It was a hot June day in 1936. She had been given to us for nothing. Tel Hai. to realize that the three were none other than Nahum Guttman. and we were pushing that truck to a garage to get her running. Danny Owerbach. The fire had left a desolate spot. The previous week. now overgrown with weeds and grass and ruins all about. and said he'd see what he could do. tiredeflated 1926 Dodge truck. but which had been ravaged by fire. Julius Cohen. and down Douglas Boulevard in Chicago. But we knew she would run again. dilapidated.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Israel. He looked at us and grinned. for upon her depended all the transportation of haverim and materials for this crucial period and for the Kvutza season itself. It was hard. Only three weeks remained before the opening of Kvutza. rosh Kvutza. we had to revive a place which was once a beautiful Farband camp. we had received our first application with $1 deposit. and myself.
The streets of Chicago are renowned for their holes and bumps and I didn't miss one of them. "Come on. Then on the way. got into the seat next to me. After a harrowing hour and a half we were finally out of the city. We started her up. Here we picked up fourteen brave souls and were on our way. Cries of "ouch" rang out and the people along Western Avenue stared. Kvutzie!" and thus she was named. One of the haverim climbed up on top of the cab and shone his flashlight down on the road in front of the truck. Trembling. 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. we got the Dodge started on her way back to Chicago-just Julie and I. fearlessly risking their lives. We could take the chance of using her that night if we wanted. Those in the back were frozen from the cold night air.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In the evening when we returned. when the battery went completely dead. We decided to take the chance. 92 . but he wouldn't advise it. We decided to continue. the driver completely new. It was now about midnight and the traffic was not very heavy. we finally reached Tel Hai. I got into the driver's seat. she was indeed able to run-but no telling how. I urged her on by calling out. With the aid of that flashlight and the full moon. and then somehow managed to drive to the center. when she began sputtering over a little hill. We had no lights. The Dodge was old. but all the way. We looked up at the sky and saw that the moon was full. Before we left. She needed a new generator and new battery. What should we do? Turning back would mean another precious day wasted. Julie and Nahum. those in front roasted from the heat of the motor. there was spirited singing and joking. After a few hours' sleep and a little more pushing. and through the grace of an inefficient police force.
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. Frightened parents trembled as Kvutzie pulled out of the dirt road onto the highway at three in the morning. how many flats she would have. and everything was against our getting there. and the sixty hours of traveling. "What? With Kvutzie? Never!" Well. But we survived the trip. Then we decided to take a number of haverim 1000 miles to the seminar at Accord. aided by a Jewish girl of about twenty. we found four almost new tires for Kvutzie. We played guessing games as to what time she would return from a trip. They dismantled her and used her parts on other trucks. the source of the greatest fear. the mountains.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Kvutzie was the cause of most of the joy and sorrow of that first season. we'd see. our New York Kvutza. New Jersey. we sold Kvutzie to the Hehalutz farm at Creamridge. But Kvutzie had been running on love and sympathy. the rain. Her every arrival was the source of the greatest excitement. 93 . We arrived at Accord amid great celebrating (and without a single flat tire on the entire trip). she soon died. Songs were written about her. Miraculously. Without them. her every departure. There. at Accord. Kvutzie became a legend. she served us through the entire summer. who had inherited the junk yard from her father and who was sitting among old rims and tires and spare parts writing a book. What a night that was! We packed eighteen haverim into the back of Kvutzie and started the trip! It thundered and rained. and whom and what she would bring back with her. Then we went to buy her new shoes at an old junk yard about two miles from Michigan City. There. We had her gear fixed so it would stay in high.
the overnight hikes. Again I went through the same procedure. the comradeship." I thanked the gentleman for his kind offer and consideration and hung up. the wonderful spirit." said a bass voice. I remember Kvutzie for she was the creator of that spirit. I spun around three times and placed my finger on the page. "Sure enough. And it's only 9. "I have just the place for you. a spirit which could take a dead object and give it the soul that Kvutzie had. the Meshugoyim (mad ones). little did we expect that it would be our last summer there. Moshe Goldberg. WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? When we left Tel Hai at the close of the Kvutza season last summer. I supply the blasting powder. the discussion. 94 . 1942 KVUTZA." I hung up. KVUTZA.762 1/2 miles from Milwaukee. How should we go about it? Where should we start? Whom should we contact? The method we used was quite simple. Real Estate. A committee was elected to look for a site. none of us were too sad.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Others may remember the camp fires. and an official title was given the committee. All you have to do is put a dozen steam shovels to work for two years and you've got it. "Yes. It was decided that Wisconsin would be the lucky state containing the new Habonim Kvutza. With eyes closed. We took out the trusty telephone book and began paging through it. But it was. that first season of Kvutzat Tel Hai. "I have just what you want. None other like it in the whole state. R-Radiators-Radios-ah." said the man on the other side of the line. I phoned that number. see? Nothing to worry about. When at the winter seminar it was decided to leave Tel Hai and look for a new site for the Midwest Kvutza. Only in the wonderful life that is ours at Kvutza could such a spirit come to be.
twenty acres of which belonged to the Farband. we will probably be building for the 1944 Kvutza season. and level. This they immediately staked out as the perfect spot for their future ventures. our haverim cleared a road through the swamp. hilly. While exploring the area south of their encampment. among them Ben Kaminker. high land. A large group of Cincinnati 95 . but for all other facilities. only thirty-five miles from Milwaukee. Mordecai Salinger. pooled their resources to purchase a couple of tents which they pitched on the side of a hill overlooking Waterloo Road near Chelsea. Nevertheless. Michigan. 1944 KINNERET In the summer of 1938. they enlisted the moral and financial assistance of active seniors who helped plan construction of the new Habonim camp to be known as Kinneret. a few members of the group waded through a swamp to find a large tract of unused ground. Armon Kamesar. Kinneret was a success and ready for further expansion when Mordecai Salinger took over as rosh Kvutza in 1940. During the summer of 1939. and with the assistance of a professional carpenter. That winter. A patch of grass surrounded by a D-shaped trench formed the open-air dining table. heavy woods. after calling for enough times to have lost count.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Well. erected platforms for the tents. the hardy group turned to Farband Camp. their neighbors across the road and owners of their camp site. It meets all the requirements and we are awaiting word as to the possibilities of our developing the lake into a swimming pool. under the leadership of Ben Kaminker. and sank a shallow well. a place with real possibilities turned up. and Danny Ginsburg. built a dining hall and kitchen. by the time you'll be reading this article. a small group of Detroit Habonim.
the rosh. and all became sweetness and light at Kinneret-for once we were genteel. with Ettie Skidell in charge of camp and the boys hard at work moving mountains of dirt to lay the sanitation distribution field. In 1944. The rosh was Paul Milgrom (Pinhas Rimon). separate outhouses were under way. In 1945. raising the number of campers to an average of sixty during that summer. and the hills around Kinneret resounded with labor songs. We built a cabin. while Aharon Remez was the fair-haired boy whose experience and muscle were relied on to continue with the building program. The washing facilities were enclosed and work began on a real outhouse. and the arrival of four girls from Cleveland marked the beginning of Kinneret as a regional camp.at Kinneret. Artie Goldberg was rosh Kvutza. but the campers carried on valiantly under the expert whistle blowing of Esty Carson. and last but not least. New tent platforms. We added our 96 . We began work on the hospital. a migdal. The hospital was nominally finished and we began our eternal project.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT haverim joined the Detroiters. work was again the watchword. arrived late. Shalom Wurm set the pattern for cultural activities at camp. which was dedicated to Donny Lee of Cleveland. enlarged the dining room by moving the kitchen to a new addition. 1942 was another year of big construction . In 1943. Electricity was installed. Leon Adler became rosh. Harry Spoon. under the tutelage of Yosef Israeli. and dug another distribution field for the modern improved shower house. 1944 also saw the end of the beloved tower-the termites and old age finally beat the creosote and supports. with Shirley Milgrom who came along for the honeymoon. the storage cellar. the Ashkenazy building. 1941 was a quiet year.
The emphasis was on speaking Hebrew. The season gushed with culture. This was the year of the "flexible schedule. Murray Weingarten. 97 ." and also a year of strong emphasis on scoutcraft. Pipeline HaNegev. the greatest stunt ever at Kinneret. In 1950. and Evvy Weingarten made her famous leap from rooftop to Ann Arbor hospital. Several more cabins were built. Of the season. was rosh in 1946. Haim Stopak was rosh." and Blue-White Day was distinguished by its blood and gore. modern dance. In 1948. in honor of sixteen-month-old Donny. art. the Detroit United Hebrew Schools said that more Hebrew was learned by their students that year than any other. including many younger children. A madrichim camp was held after the regular season. There were many midnight "Arab attacks. drama. 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. Camp doubled its enrollment on weekends-an ambitious weekend program. Dvora Frankel was rosh in 1949. That was the year of Doris Dombey's bouncing bed. 1947 was the year of Joey Criden. with Dave Katz as his right-hand man. Doodle Horowitz led Kinneret in its first year as a Hebrewspeaking camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING annual brick to the storage cellar and spent the rest of the season looking for work. In 1951. There was an ambitious work program mainly centered about maintenance-there were no new projects. Abba (Cherniak) Tzuriel was rosh. Joey named his quarters. and the discussion program centered about the False Messiahs. Detroit's United Hebrew Schools provided a number of full scholarships and there was a large enrollment.
a group of “old-timers” packed box-lunches. Jerry Katz. 1955 was Kinneret's last year. There was no big construction projects because of the lack of people. A new truck was purchased. Louis and Cincinnati mahanot in 1947 and 1948. Tel Natan was named for our dear haver. Detroit had had a very successful year and camp registration was up. Abbie Haklay was rosh. Prior to opening. and assorted spouses and progeny. but a marvelous business manager. Esther Goldberg. 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. baby carriages. managed to make money even on only twenty campers. Dani Kerman returned in 1953. Dani Kerman was rosh and Kinneret was still a Hebrew-speaking camp. but things picked up.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT 1952 opened with a low registration. Geli Gelfond was rosh. In 1954. and the last year of Kinneret closed with a Bonim Seminar. Tel Natan. and spent a day of labor at Kinneret. It was unique in having complete facilities. again including younger children. Seymour Salinger. 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. Chicago and Detroit combined efforts in staff and campers. 1957 TEL NATAN Tel Natan was the Camp Kvutza for the St. Nathan Kanter. Harriet Gelfond. who was one of the most sincere and dedicated members of the Labor Zionist movement and represented the best that is found in Habonim. 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 .
We broke even. plenty of hot and cold water. who was our cook). and since the swimming at Cheetham Pond was not too good anyway. examined and leased the camp site sixty miles west of St.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING there would be no camp in the Chicago area to serve the St. a large dining room. Missouri. I'm not sure why the camp failed or what lesson other camps can learn from Tel Natan. hospital. Perhaps St. The first season was a success. and after one more season. The camp and the setting were beautiful and the facilities excellent (two stoves. Perhaps it was too easy. and the activities and discussions excellent. bought a truck. We did not have to struggle and fight to establish our camp. an electric refrigerator. and several buildings we never used. The camp. and printed application blanks. Louis mahaneh. the camp discontinued operation. two tons of dishes and pots. we were convinced that we had made a wonderful beginning as the first year-round Camp Kvutza in history. known to the Missouri State Park Commission as Camp C1. We were wrong. Troy. The cabins were warm. was located on a high hill in the heart of a 6. Louis was just not ready to con- 99 . no one lost any weight (thanks to Havera Kanter.000 acre park. Forty haverim spent four satisfying weeks at Tel Natan. formed the Habonim Camping Association of Missouri. After we shut down the camp for the winter. Nate's mother. We returned to Tel Natan for a winter conference. Louis. Quiure River State Park. ten large cabins. All that we missed was the swimming. guest house. the food was good. a walk-in icebox. office. a recreation hall. and the two tons of dishes and pots did not arrive till fall. This was even more successful than the summer session. we contacted the movement in Cincinnati. shower house. In a matter of days. no one complained. four sinks.
1957 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM Midwest Camp Habonim! A rather plain. which was mainly older. Wil Schoomer. These are names that really bring back memories of our youth. It was a concept of a place where young Labor Zionists would build their own camp with their own hands from the ground up. of bonfires and Shabbat celebrations. or moved on to other personal activity. and left a void. a bold. Yad Ari. Nothing romantic or exciting or exotic or even emotional about this name. and a feeling of deep regret that the monument we began to erect in memory of Nate Kanter in 1947 was never finished. of singing and dancing. 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. And yet this name holds for us twenty-five years of memories-memories of other camps with other names. Kinneret.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT duct and sustain its own camp. created by a slowdown in activity during the war. All that is left of Tel Natan is fond memories. to other movement assignments. was probably the main cause of failure. This void. went on aliya. I believe that Tel Natan failed because the leadership in the mahaneh. names such Tel Hai. of exciting days and romantic nights. where they would govern themselves in a truly democratic fashion and work out their plans for building a new Eretz Yisrael. of work and love and devotion. some photographs. memories of a glorious. thrilling one for our haverim of those early 100 . innocuous name. This was a new idea. 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 .the Labor Zionist Youth.
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 . so we had to travel ten miles to go swimming. No other buildings.but nothing. Hai. which served the ChicagoMilwaukee-Minneapolis area. Most important of all. two of which were spent at a rented camp near Savannah. Here was the opportunity for Habonim to truly build its own camp. Many fine and beautiful traditions were built here. 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. This was camp Yad Ari. Tel. The tents. which has since proven to be the most memorable part of the whole camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING years. were built. In 1948. and the camp itself was always clean and well kept. who recall those days with love and tenderness. Then followed an interim period of three years. however. however. occasionally someone would get wet at night when he forgot to close the tent flaps. The first Habonim camp in the Midwest (and the second to be established in the United States) was Tel Hai. and will continue to go on for many. and a modern shower house. The name. and they did! They built a big. beautiful dining room. Michigan. near New Buffalo. when it was destroyed by fire. 160 acres of land were purchased near Waupaca. were spacious and comfortable. Its tenure came to an abrupt end. in northcentral Wisconsin. Illinois. Here the ideals of Camp Kvutza could really flourish. It was a good idea. which doubled as a recreation room. not even the fin- 101 . today stirs beautiful memories among many of our senior haverim. except for a dispensary. They planted a pine forest. however. 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. and so it remained a tent camp. was the fact that the campers and the staff were satisfied and happy. many years. containing all the necessary facilities.
that resiliency which can change disaster to triumph. the feeling of real group living. It was to serve merely for the transition period until 102 . A good concept. of a closeness and oneness that could be achieved nowhere else-the indomitable spirit of Habonim. with everyone in white. But. modern Camp Habonim. 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. the dignity of the flag raising. the true Habonim spirit. central Michigan was much nearer the center of this region than northern Wisconsin-therefore. We had to have fewer but much larger and better (physically speaking) camps. could ever be a substitute for the most wonderful of intangibles. can never forget. and 1955 saw Camp Yad Ari and Camp Kinneret combined at Camp Kinneret near Chelsea. Why choose Kinneret over Yad Ari? Mainly because of the location. This was Yad Ari. A new concept of camping had been born in the minds of the leadership of Habonim. Obviously. the combining of the two small camps into one large camp at Kinneret. Yad Ari was abandoned. haverim. This was the idea that the very small. as all good things do. or the simple beauty of a Friday evening meal by candlelight. It was too small and lacked the proper facilities for a large number of campers. wherever or whenever it might have been. and one that has proven itself. a more modern one. turn tears into laughter. Michigan. Thus. with the singing and the dancing afterwards? Those of you who ever attended Camp Habonim.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT est of facilities or the most beautiful buildings and grounds. Can you remember. this also came to an end. At the end of the 1954 season. The combined areas would now extend as far east as Pittsburgh and as far south and west as St. this was Camp Habonim. Kinneret was the choice. Louis and Minneapolis. more intimate type of camp was no longer feasible. Kinneret was never meant to be the permanent new home of the large.
that we are giving up the old idea of Camp Kvutza? Not at all.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING a new site would be found. de- 103 . The next season found us in the new camp. Its many high windows overlook the lake and present a truly scenic picture for the diners. The dining hall is probably one of the most ideally situated spots in camp. The cabins are all equipped with electric lights and even the grounds are illuminated at night. All toilet facilities are indoors . The good old flashlight. It did just that. were purchased by Habonim. self-government. the new cabins come equipped with these appurtenances. is now almost a thing of the past. all the modern conveniences that one associates with the best in modern camps are present at our new Midwest Camp Habonim. Midwest Camp Habonim today is. we have improved upon many of the primitive physical facilities. 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. Negotiations were completed early in May and two additional cabins were begun. a combination of the best of the old and of the new. We now come to the current chapter. Michigan. With the new buildings we can now house seventy-five campers comfortably and we have enough room to expand to a hundred and fifty. This camp had been a farm resort and was situated on beautiful Kaiser Lake. In short. But to go along with more modern practices. we believe. 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). however.in fact. We have not lost sight of the unique Habonim camping program and we retain that spirit that typifies Habonim. with which all Habonim campers are so familiar.self-labor. Does this mean. The most important features remain . and did it well. the new Midwest Camp Habonim. eighty acres of beautiful grounds near Three Rivers. In the spring of 1956.
Lenny Zurakov. and water had to be brought by car from about a mile away. we can honestly say that we have compiled a tradition of living Judaism which would be difficult for any group or organization to match. that feeling of kinship and real comradely spirit. that can compare favorably with any in the area. the physical plant of the camp.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT mocracy. but in all parts of the American Jewish community. and cities. and the results were a full camping season which was followed uninterruptedly for the next twenty-one years. the concept of a common fund. Sleeping was mostly outdoors. these were the ingredients of the first Camp Kvutza in the West in the year 1936. twenty sprightly youngsters. For the first time. in kibbutzim. the permanent camp in the Angeles National Forest. and Ben Cherner. and a program superior to most. with Ben's arrival in Los Angeles.C. the determination indomitable. and once a child has had a positive camping experience at camp. Swimming was in a public pool. cooking in an abandoned shack. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE WEST A goat farm. 104 . camping experience in 1937 and Azusa in 1938. Old-timers remember the C. In 1939. and of course. This is a record that speaks for itself. Many graduates of Habonim camp have gone to live in Israel. becomes an attraction for newcomers to our movement. as well as the program. that the idea of Habonim camping ripened and the first camp was established. In looking back upon twenty-five years of Habonim camping. moshavim. It was during that summer. We feel that we now have a camp. and many others have remained here to become leaders not only in the Labor Zionist movement. his chances of remaining in Habonim are excellent.C. But spirits were high.
During the entire period. as well as some that were specifically camp activities. Situated. literary trials. Our general camp theme was: "Jewish Heroism Through the Ages. Camp Program and Activities Our camp program consisted of a general camp theme. models. 173 campers availed themselves of our facilities and spent with us 498 camper-weeks. The camp has served Los Angeles Jewish youth for twenty years now and several thousand young people have gone through it. the several activities directly associated with it." Through lectures. 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. fifteen percent of the campers stayed for the entire six weeks. 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. Campers could register for a minimum period of two weeks. the children at camp became acquainted with the heroic moments in Jewish history. as the camp is. and the arts. 105 . its original owner's home was remodeled into a dining room and kitchen. on a hilly and wooded thirty-nine-acre estate. was bought and the permanent home for Habonim camping established. Arts and crafts were integrated into this program.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fifty-five miles from Los Angeles. games. A swimming pool was built and many other facilities added as late as last year. discussions.
the discussion of Jewish problems and of Jewish achievements. we felt it even more in the conversations with the parents of the campers. hiking. arts and crafts. singing. Camp accomplished in a very few weeks what efforts by parents could not achieve for years. scouting. all this left an indelible impression upon the campers. The Shabbat celebration. We also extended our camp season to eight weeks. the Israel and Zionist spirit of all our activities. and other camp diversions which took place regularly. the following camp activities were open to all campers: swimming. Much new equipment was purchased. the daily Hebrew classes. they were in a thoroughly children's atmosphere as well as in a thoroughly Jewish one. Here. the Shabbat morning Tanach circle. dancing. Four large new cabins were built. We anticipate doubling our registration this summer. We are beginning to receive campers from other cities on the West Coast and are rapidly becoming an all-Western camp. 106 . and for many campers for the first time. We felt it in the expressions of the children at camp. The sports facilities were improved. sports. including showers. toilets and wash basins. photography.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In addition. 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. we felt it in the one hundred percent attendance at the first camp reunion. Future Plans All this progress was made possible through a building expansion program undertaken last spring.
In 1935 Mr. many changes have occurred since that memorable year. to improve the present shower building. and whose campers came from Baltimore only-to a large camp sponsored by Habonim following the amalgamation of Habonim with Gordonia. The two groups were the Hashomer Hatzair and the Gordonia organization of Baltimore." Such is the effect "Mosh" has on its campers. to enlarge and improve our dining and kitchen facilities. while Gordonia would have the camp in August. Mosh has changed from a small camp sponsored by Gordoniawhose tents were pitched on the bare ground. And so Moshava began its first season! Needless to say. David Yaroslovsky. July. 1935. Hashomer would use the camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Our plans for this summer are to build a staff building. 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. 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. to build several new concrete platforms. The capacity is now seventy-five to eighty campers from all over the Atlantic seaboard. The first month of the summer season. Sigfrid Sonniborn of Baltimore gave 162 acres of land near Annapolis to two Zionist groups to be used for a camp site. with seven tents pitch- 107 . And it is no wonder that we all love it. an arts and crafts pavilion. where there was no electricity whatsoever. for not only do we spend some of the happiest weeks of the year there. but the setting is so perfect and the scenery so beautiful that we never want to forget it. whose dining room had a canvas top.
a well-filled library. a large roomy kitchen. and here and there. These two cabins begin the camp proper. gazing at the stars. The center of this circle is the center field.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT ed on platforms. The picture Moshava presents is truly a beautiful one. get an invigorating swim in the deeper cold water further from shore. and electrical connections. a newly reinforced dining room. volleyball and basketball courts. But this is not all. the tents and stage are arranged in an almost perfect circle. an outdoor stage. horseshoe. this scene is dimly repeated. a popular place for rehearsals or for a nocturnal group wishing to read Edgar Allen Poe in just the proper atmosphere. tantalizing monkey vines swing just above your reach. Only from the water tower. four large airy cabins. and track events take place during sports periods. Here on this trail is the wellknown "Tree" on whose roots many a couple sit wrapped in the velvety darkness of night. for flanking them. In all directions there is green foliage that beckons to you with its coolness in the heat of the day. 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. 108 . Scrambling down the side of the cliff. From there. can one see it completely. however. This trail is the most popular of all. one sees the side road leading from the water tower to the hospital opposite. we come to the long uneven trail that leads back to the central field. wide and level. Past interesting coves and the beach. a piano. One can relax in the mildly cool river water. It is lined with clinging vines draped around the trees. or go to sleep on the sandy beach while taking a sun bath. and far on the distant side of the river. Following the path further. one arrives at last at the old cliff that overlooks the Severn River. one finds oneself on the bench near the river. where baseball. and listening to the waves lap on the beach. spreading below. a modern hospital with up-to-date equipment. basketball.
contacted sympathizers. So the determined Quakers set to work. In May. the Sunday of the 23rd. Then came the eventful day when fourteen haverim. They slept and ate and grew gray hair over pledges. The manor house after being scrubbed from top to bottom revealed an immense dining room. 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.former anarchist hangout and spiders' hideout. printed stationary. the first expedition set out armed to the hilt with mops. worked with characteristic irregularity. influenced by their anarchist background. one of which leaked from the luxurious 109 . Through mosquito-ridden New Jersey to mosquito-ridden Pennsylvania until they came upon Camp Germinal . hot and cold water. and nagged the National Executive. They transformed a chicken coop into a habitable shack. It was a crime to travel hundreds of miles for the inspiration and learning we could achieve on our own grounds. They formed committees. Camp Tax became the byword. Far and wide they traveled. "Mosh" Diary. 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. a site for camp. The scrubbed and rubbed. And now. and soap. and ten stall showers which. buckets. brooms. three kitchens.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING It is also on this trail that we find the path leading to the new cliff. They screened and painted. The central field is not far ahead and soon one can be in the midst of activity again.
Ernst who drowned you trying to teach life saving. named for his predecessor. The office served as a lounge. or on a line to the Delaware. who often stopped to admire the flowers by the wayside? He carried our haverim down to the swimming hole in the Shamony. Who of us can ever forget Sir Ferdinand. 1938 110 . Leslie and his hair washing.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT bath upstairs every time one of the girls decided to miss a discussion. could be persuaded only by Schmeer up to the hill again to camp. Yak and his travels in Ferdy. Aba Kibbile's drama group. and Shlomo and his hat. Tzip and her hatred of kitchen duty. Yona and her trying girls. Galil Diary. And their famous idiosyncrasies. Leo and his driving mania. Sossy from Chicago. Edi and Brown Betty. and then after a sojourn with the flowers. and the other which had a natural waterfall coming from the center roof every time the dishes fell. the bull. Cookie and the chocolate pudding. The six master bedrooms did come in handy when the fourteen pioneers increased to sixty. and dance studio. music room. Or can we forget our staff-rising and falling like the stock market? One week ten and the next week four. Clara's operetta.
F. Overnight hike at Montreal. Montreal. Chana Reitman. Rose Breslau. 1956. Kinneret. Moshe Goldberg. All proceeds to the J. 1957. Laizer Blitt. . 1956. Shirley Goldberg. Montreal. Kinneret. 1941. 1957.N. Etty Skidell. "The Women". 1941. Gaby Stalzenberg at work. Corn for sale at Camp Habonim. Aviva Gootman.The "Ten Lost Tribes" prepare to return.
1957. N. Camp Habonim. Solelim Dance at Red Hook. Dining Room at Tel Yochanan. "B'tayavon".Y. . The Dining Room at Camp Habonim. N. Red Hook.Visiting Day. 1957. Amenia.Y. Montreal. The Lake at Tel Yochanan. 1957.
Ottsville. 1957. 1957. . Maryland. Camp Habonim.Flag Raising at Moshava.Y. The Waterfront at Moshava. 1948. Pennsylvania. Red Hook. N. Bridging the Creek at Galil. Annapolis. Galil Choir performs for Visitors Day.
1957. Taking a dip in the enlarged "L" shaped pool at Camp Habonim. 1957. Harvesting Corn at Camp Habonim. 1957. Moshava. "Chalil and Drum Corps. my people".A discussion under the trees. "Comfort ye. 1955. Tisha B’Av. Moshava. Moshava. .
we were determined to have a camp of our own. During the summer of 1939. which could be rented for the summer. and staffed mainly by older haverim of Habonim. Upon returning from Moshava at the end of the 1939 summer season. 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.500). the Philadelphia haverim rented the old anarchist Camp Germinal near Jamison. a magnificent barn. plans were made for finding. however.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING GALIL In 1938. Yak Rycus was imported from the Midwest to act as rosh Kvutza. and immediately upon the close of the summer. War clouds were gathering. It included a well-constructed farm house. Our appetites were whetted. a site was found near Pipersville. a permanent site for a Philadelphia camp. A county highway divided the cabins from the rest of the site. had two unfortunate deficiencies. After much searching. One must recall the times in which this thinking took place. In 1939. at the height of the depression and with much trepidation because of the lack of finances. and the first Camp Galil came into existence. for the summer. as many of our members as possible spent the summer at Moshava near Baltimore. The White Paper was soon to be issued and the horror of Hitler-Europe was soon to be upon us. Fortunately. 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. a very successful summer program was carried out. let alone talk in terms of developing a permanent camp. The site. and a number of cabins which at one time had beeii4 chicken coops. Pennsylvania. and the swimming facilities were reached by climbing a very steep hill at a considerable distance from the 115 . Pennsylvania (for the then large sum of $1.
were the roshim. The most striking memory of this summer. a principal of a Philadelphia Talmud Torah. I believe. In addition. was a member of the staff. with the help of some adults. and frequently more. One remembers nostalgically the first contact with shlihim. So much so that at the beginning of the summer. The summer itself was full of interesting and varied experiences. was the first national mahaneh madrichim. did not detract from a very fine summer. they managed to deface and almost destroy the dock we had built at the creek. no further incidents took place. Irv Sternberg and his wife. Dr. In retrospect. the German American Bund was active in the area. had to do with the last three weeks of camp which was devoted to what. The effectiveness of this endeavor 116 . Construction went well. Guard duty became an important job.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT cabins. one recalls a most interesting and unusual Hebrew program. at the younger haverim. The purpose of this particular mahaneh madrichim was to train madrichei tzofim. began intensive construction projects to make the site as serviceable as possible for the summer. and daily Hebrew sessions were a part of the program. At that particular period. The rampant anti-Semitism which existed and which was manifested so clearly made a deep impression upon our younger haverim. This unpleasantness. Haverim came from all over the country and friendships were created which were to last to this very day. notwithstanding the broken arm of one of our haverim who managed to fall off a roof while shingling it. Meyer Cohen. however. Word was passed around and fortunately. however. The group was small-I doubt if there were more than fifty at any one time-but the spirit was high. it became a nightly occurrence for a truckload of these hooligans to drive slowly through the camp hurling epithets. the haverim of Habonim. Undaunted. To counteract these activities. Irv approached the local sheriff and received a permit to carry guns. Edie.
it became clear that the local mahaneh could not really grow. and the water supply was dependent upon an old gasoline engine which worked on occasion. supplied the necessary labor and technical knowledge to begin im- 117 . this dedication to the importance of the summer Kvutza soon manifested itself. whose membership came from ex-Habonim members. Most of our haverim spent that summer either at Killingworth. The impetus of the Camp Kvutza. From 1941 through 1945. Connecticut. that the young Labor Zionist movement of Philadelphia grew and was strengthened because of a program which revolved around the camp. All efforts were bent toward getting a camp for Philadelphia and vicinity. 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. It can truthfully be said.000 from the YWCA. this pattern was repeated. The camp was quite primitive-there was no electricity. was shared by one haver of the senior movement of Philadelphia. this dream of having a camp of our own. The camp was purchased for the sum of $30. Almost singlehandedly. returned from the service. The movement suffered accordingly. Conditions brought about by the imminence of war 'unfortunately dictated against a camp of our own in 1941. or as inspiration for a new year's activities cannot be minimized. the kitchen had an old wood-burning stove. whether as a culmination of a year's work.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. without whom there would have been no Camp Galil today. Happily for Habonim. The young branches. for without a camp. or returned to Moshava. 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. When the war ended and Habonim haverim. Abe Segal.
it was at first difficult to utilize the camp to its fullest extent. the civil engineers in the group directed the building of the necessary footbridge to cross the stream. but there are many local differences and loyalties which can be positive. designed. Aside from the fact that Philadelphia haverim acquired Brooklyn accents. The cycle was rather vicious. camp rarely. We are all part of one movement. during the struggle for Statehood. despite the fact that campers came from as far as Wilmington and the Vineland-Toms River areas. if ever. The experience for Philadelphia. serviced that number-this. Interest in the camp was further heightened by the events of 1947-48. and installed electricity. and the general membership supplied the muscle-power to dig the ditches so that all electric wires would be underground. one would retain the name Galil and 118 . The idea as finally formulated called for the establishment of two camps on the Galil site. however. While eighty children could be accommodated. there was no leadership for the winter mahaneh. which would in turn provide children for the summer season. In 1953. was somewhat unnerving. Because of the weakness of Habonim in the city. the New York mahaneh was having its camp difficulties. To solve this dilemma an arrangement was made whereby the New York haverim registered at Galil for the summer. The electrical engineers in the group planned. Interesting results followed. In 1952. The next few years were filled with gradual growth and improvement. Few children came to camp-the camp leadership was not from Philadelphia and. consequently. The lessons learned that summer were to be utilized during the following year.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT proving the camp site. 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. they were somewhat overwhelmed by the influx of the New Yorkers. Killingworth could no longer be used and the Amenia site was not adequate.
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. It was. The idea of two separate camps with separate staffs and differing orientation was too difficult an undertaking to be of any real success. This meant that the facilities of Galil were to be used to their maximum. The future of Habonim in Philadelphia was therefore dependent upon those unaffiliated children who could be brought to spend a summer at camp. Registration would be limited to forty campers. make use of its facilities by improving the physical plant so as to be able to attract more children. The best that can be said of that summer was that. however. Being on the approved list of the Council brought help 119 . in addition to the everyday terminology. Camp terminology was almost exclusively Hebrew. Galil was helped considerably in registering children by the fact that because of the emphasized Hebrew program. the Council on Jewish Education of Philadelphia approved Camp Galil as one of three Hebrew camps for which it provided scholarships. despite all the handicaps. But this was not enough. quite clear at the end of the summer that such an arrangement could never be repeated. they should become Hebrew centered. and could register up to sixty children. During our camping history.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING would accept campers from ages nine through twelve only. The idea now evolved to include. quite a bit was accomplished in both camps. a great deal of Hebrew was always used. Camp Amal would register children ages thirteen through sixteen who met the Hebraic requirements. It was agreed that every Habonim camp should have as much Hebrew as possible in its program. actual classes for study of the language. and while the camps might never become completely Hebrew-speaking. It was during this year that the movement crystallized its thinking with regard to a central Hebrew-speaking camp.
and in 1957. the Hebrew teachers' training institution of Philadelphia. camp was full. In 1956. registration was closed by the end of March. they have covered the equivalent of a full year's work in the city. Supplementing the Habonim staff were Gratz College students working to our mutual advantage. at least sympathetic to our program and completely cooperative in carrying it out. a number of staff members of Galil were employed from the student body of Gratz College. Galil depended on the creek for water for the swimming pool. 120 . for the first time. the water level of the creek continued to fall so that there were times when the pool could not be properly filled. Many of the youngsters bring with them specific requests from their teachers and principals as to material to be covered. if necessary. It should be noted that the national office was never able to supply the total staff needs of Galil. if not directly connected with our movement. In addition. During the past three summers many of the campers at Galil have made considerable progress in their Hebraic studies. Several of the largest congregations in the city also announced to its membership that it would grant scholarships to children desirous of attending Galil. A second well was dug primarily to provide water for the pool and to act as a supplementary water supply for general use. During the past few summers.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT from other quarters. In most cases. In previous years. In some cases. Not only will this be avoided in the future. the Gratz College students were. The Hebrew program at Galil is flexible enough to be able to provide for these individual needs. A Hebrew Educators Advisory Committee was organized and the Hebrew program of Galil approved. The swimming pool was completely rebuilt. 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. especially in the case of boys. Improvements to camp continue.
All members of the Camp Committee are dedicated to this purpose. But. Our parents. the Kvutza in Israel has also undergone some metamorphoses and the American Kvutza must reflect these changes. "The road of the halutz is a long and difficult one and if it isn't. is to no avail unless it leads to an invigorated and expanded youth movement in the city. I well remember the heated discussions which took place among haverim in Philadelphia when Galil contemplated installing an automatic dishwashing machine. In the "old days. But problems have arisen. and every meeting has on its agenda a report from the rosh mahaneh of Philadelphia Habonim. The Camp Committee has assumed all of the responsibility of a Chay Commission. We are raising a new generation of children and a new generation of parents. and the problems of the youth movement are an integral part of each camp meeting.” This in a sense represented our thinking. Haverim cried that this would violate the principle of self-labor. those of us now responsible for our camps must take this into account.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The future of Galil seems assured. were no less concerned about our welfare during the summer than parents today. immigrants themselves." primitive sites and difficult conditions were almost a matter of principle. All of this. Habonim camping has traveled a long road in the past twenty-five years. like it or not. They are not interested in running a camp just for the sake of a summer business. 121 . deeply committed to Labor Zionism. Parents today seem more concerned for the material aspects of camp life and. however. It has made its mark in the Philadelphia Jewish community and its prestige is at its highest point. make it. We wanted to simulate the life of the Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael as closely as possible. But they were neither shocked nor disturbed by "primitive" conditions.
The Winnipeg movement was young and vigorous then. 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. Once Winnipeg Habonim reached mahaneh status they could settle for nothing less than a Camp Kvutza of their own. but happily there were no experienced campers in Winnipeg and no one withheld his enthusiastic approval. In cannot be changed without destroying the very basis for which our camps were created. 1957 KVUTZA IN CANADA GIMLI. 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. however. Daniel Isaacman. The only clue to his earth-bound past was slyly concealed in his home address: He lived on Burrows Street in Winnipeg.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Educationally. David Biderman. He became a military aircraft inspector for the RCAF stationed in Winnipeg. he went out to organize Habonim at night. when he was through inspecting aircraft for the day. and no one would have suspected that it came about as a sort of by-product of work for the Royal Canadian Air Force. the program we offer has been tried and tested for twenty-five years and reflects our philosophy of life. Winni- 122 . by temperament David Biderman was no one-job man. Immediately a camp plan was drawn up and presented to the community. Only experienced campers would have balked at such a plan. In one of those strange wartime transmutations. who had received a mining engineer's degree from McGill University in Montreal. But miner or airman.
When David and Sully arrived-no matter what the time of day-the whole camp. but the town had not yet lost the Icelandic character of its original settlers. Blond. Mrs. neither in appearance nor in the quarter-acre plot it occupied. a black. There were some summer cottages in 1941. Appropriate to the camp site. Kasedy was cook-and a good oneand as a special dispensation she was permitted to bring along her son. special friend of the court. Geulah Green was the registered nurse and lifeguard. Gimli has changed considerably in recent years. Shimin. high-topped Ford that made the weekly 123 . forty strong. a bright-eyed youngster who was under age for camp. and the town itself is honeycombed with the cottages of Winnipeg vacationers. but special cheers were always reserved for the venerable Bar Mitzva. was at the outskirts of Gimli. The business manager who commuted on weekends was Sully Spector. There was a church of roughhewn stone authentic enough to have been transplanted from the old village back home. about two blocks from the lake and close by a public wooded area. I was imported from New York to be rosh and factotum. turned out to greet them. It was in no way distinguished from other cottages in the neighborhood. The camp site. Calof's cottage. The cottage itself was a one-story wooden building partly enclosed by an L-shaped screened porch. There is a large RCAF airbase nearby. the staff was small and hybrid.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING peg's first Kvutza would be held at Calof's cottage in Gimli on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. The curious campers welcomed the distinguished guests. blue-eyed sons and daughters of Iceland dominated the village streets. He used to drive up with David Biderman. 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. Aliyah Kare was dean of arts and crafts and second in command of the kitchen.
That day I had a job on my hands. Even the cook in the kitchen could not escape them. parents who were torn between their loyalty to Labor Zionism and their concern for the welfare of their child- 124 . and for Winnipeg Habonim it symbolized the indomitable halutz spirit.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT pilgrimage. the advance crew of three set to work pitching tents on the Calof lawn. the mayor.democratic Icelandic law. The Ford often faltered but it never failed. while tent-pegs were held in abeyance. The advantages in the setup were priceless: No one could be out of earshot of the discussions. The constable sent me to the mayor. most assuredly that would have been its fate. It is unlikely that campers anywhere lived more closely than the campers at Gimli.-until the roll call was completed and breathlessly I could report the affirmative vote to the mayor. One day before the opening. And from the mayor I brought word to the constable-and only then did the pegs go in and the first tent go up. 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. The tents could not go up without the mayor's approval. quizzing each on his home ground Nielson in a tractor shed. With the tents up and the campers covered. Olafson in the general store. the season got under way. camp fires at the beach. That tent was not simply pitched. sent me to garner the opinions of the five councilmen. it was pitched according to law . Thors in a garage. I dashed from one councilman to another. I ran around like Chicken Licken taking a census. etc. tired kids. The camp had the usual trials and triumphs: rains that came and tents that fell. So. 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. in his shirtsleeves trimming a hedge.
Strangely enough. As a result. the name of an Eretz. Accord. At first everything was disorganized as everybody went out exploring. others looked around the sleeping quarters. one of the rivers (we are at the junction of two streams) brought fond memories of the beautiful showers of that historic site. still others were disappointed to find the dam unfinished. and Habonim. In his talk. haverim spoke for the Poale Zion. just at that point. with the iron cots and brand new mattresses. There were earnest daydreams and the stubborn belief that somehow all of this was bringing everyone closer to Eretz Yisrael . and one found a most beautiful nook for discussions. In fact. Our Kvutza is named "Afikim. the Pioneer Women. Ontario." Moshe Rubinoff. Moreover. But the wisest of all went exploring in the forests. somehow it did. 1940 125 . 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. . 1957 AFIKIM The opening of Camp Kvutza at Markham. Yisrael Kvutza. Pinhas Rimon. . he offered to rent the spot for every Sunday in the summer. over 125 haverim and friends packed three trucks and several cars and filled the grounds. he stressed the place of America in Labor Zionism in light of the plight of Jewry in Europe. The opening was held around the flag poles. He hoped the Toronto haverim would choose a name for Kvutza in keeping with our ideals. After Tehezakna.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ren. Some inspected the eighty percent-finished dining room and kitchen. was blessed with the unfaltering benevolence of King Saul. There were frenched beds and a pillow fight that covered the grounds with feather-snow. the Farband.
In the fall of 1951. Doodle Horowitz was rosh Kvutza. a Camp Kvutza in the summer was necessary. as rosh. however. thirty miles west of Vancouver. thus precluding our use of the site. It is a nine-acre. Although several places were located. on Gabriola Island.F. About twenty-five attended this first twoweek camp. for a period of two weeks. Moishe Loffman of Winnipeg was rosh Kvutza that year. Camp Hatikvah. itself had extended its own camp period. Because of the primitive conditions. lack of adult supervision at that time made the work of the committee 126 . It was rented for two weeks. Vancouver Habonim was first organized by Bert and Marian Waldman in 1948. the site of Camp Miriam moved back again to its primitive Gabriola Island site.C. the local C. suffered from being too close to civilization. It was soon realized that as an intensive supplement to the program of the mahaneh in the winter.F.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP MIRIAM Camp Miriam was named after Miriam Biderman and is located on Gabriola Island. it has a capacity of sixty people. At that time. heavilywooded camp site with water frontage on a beautiful little cove. This committee spent many pleasant weekends traveling around the scenic local fiords hunting camp sites. This was a two-week camp with the shaliah.C.C. Amram Milner. it turned out that we would not be able to rent this camp in the future because the Zionist Organization of B. Camp Kvutza Miriam was held at Camp Hatikvah. and furthermore. At present. And so in 1951. which was again rented from the C. The mahaneh set up a Camp Site Investigation Committee. We have been a long time in acquiring it. The first Habonim Camp Kvutza of Vancouver Habonim was held in the summer of 1949 at Camp Wordsworth. the idea was first brought forward that Habonim should own a camp site. camp. the camp of the Zionist Organization of British Columbia in 1950.
unhygienic conditions existing there. 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. sold us the camp on very easy terms. we would have to buy it. being fellow Socialists. Although we were still unable to purchase a camp.F. In the summer of 1952.. and so in 1955. Yehuda "Sam" Weissbach was our rosh for that year's three-week camp. The Roberts Creek camp site was even worse than Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island. In 1953 Camp Miriam was again held on Gabriola Island for two weeks with Al Linden as rosh. we again crossed the Straits of Georgia to the Gabriola Island camp site. The 1956 camp was a three-week season with Nahman Goldwasser as rosh. 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. Camp Miriam in 1954 was located at Roberts Creek. at about this time. Fortunately the C. However. Some active parents were approached as well as some seniors of the Labor Zionist movement.C. decided that they would no longer be in the landlord business and that if we wanted to use the camp the following summer.F. The seniors then formed an incorporated society for the purpose of buying the camp property.C. This camp ran for three weeks with Asher Wallfish as shaliah and Allen (Geli) Gelfond as rosh. By this time. the problem of its development is up 127 . Now that the Gabriola Island camp site is the property of the Habonim Zionist Society. on the site of a former girls' camp. the C.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING abortive. the existence of Vancouver Habonim would be seriously threatened. with the growth of the mahaneh. At this time there were about eightyfive camper-weeks and Abbie Haklay was our rosh. This camp was particularly fortunate in having on the staff three Workshoppers. After much hunting. a threeweek Camp Kvutza was made possible. and they were told that if there was no camp that summer.
those who suffered afterwards from lime burn. Max Langer. digging a new garbage pit. many haverim spent wonderful summers at Kvutza and at seminars. the little creek behind the kitchen that was our ice box. the great baseball games at the playing field near the tents. Agathe to get axes sharpened. the haverim who went to Ste. 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. there was a stable (and it still stands today) which housed horses. 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. which are to have priority in the next few years. chasing hornets. Plans for the development of the site include especially development of kitchen facilities and playground. There in Prefontaine. and sort of forgot to come back. the camp season will extend to four weeks for the first time in our history. 1957 MONTREAL Once upon a time. Who can forget whitewashing the kitchen (to cover last summer's soot) and dining room until it was sparkling in the sunlight. and then off to another direction for another pit for another purpose. In 1957. not knowing that one day it was destined to house Habonim.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT to us and the local parents and seniors. or the famous soups that we had in those days which couldn't be had in the Waldorf Astoria. the many times the smoke stack shifted a bit and smoke was heavy and thick? Who can forget the overnight 128 . trudging through the swamp connecting the pipeline bringing water to camp. those who got many blisters chopping firewood to keep the stove going red hot all summer.
It was not until ten years later that such an opportunity presented itself. Irving Brodsky.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING hikes. was organized in the course of the year. Haverim who were at Kvutza in those days have traveled and settled in various parts of the world. Habonim groups were functioning. acting as a committee for the Southwest Habonim. I. Texas. a madrich of the Dallas movement. in Houston and San Antonio. In the summer of 1939. A Camp Bonim Association. selected a site on Lake Dallas for a Habonim Camp Kvutza. Jacob Feldman. Times have changed and so has Kvutza-not like the old camp. a group of friends of Habonim dedicated to the precept of Camp Kvutza. and Tulsa. effort. Among these devoted friends were Harry Sigel. the day one haver climbed over a fence and stepped into a hornet's nest. not any more in Prefontaine. with the writer of this report. the many cases of poison ivy? Years have come and gone. Isaac Goldstein. 129 . and financial means. but new and sparkling and full of Habonim. and Dr. should be mentioned. Several of the Association's members who devoted much time. To everyone's chagrin a polio epidemic made it impossible to open camp in 1940 and necessitated postponement of the program. Cocoa Cheifetz. and Yapha (Jennie) Zesmer. in addition to the four groups in Dallas. having the same wonderful time. Maurice Levy. It was then that Moshe Smith. Camp Kvutza has changed places. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE SOUTHWEST CAMP BONIM. New Orleans Louisiana. Oklahoma. but many miles further in the mountains. the haverim of the Dallas groups planned for a summer camping program. Zesmer. TEXAS Ever since the founding of Gordonia in Texas in 1929. at a place called Lac Quenoilles.
Ami Levin. particularly in the smaller towns where no Jewish education was possible. Meir Sigel. Shahna Kahn. Nad. Raphael Levin. 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. and parents in the communities. Association by friends in the three states for the purchase and improvement of the site. currently of Minneapolis. Yapha Chesnick. veterans in Habonim. and in others throughout Texas. Yaakov Ely. Avraham Groner. In each of these communities. as 130 . Camp Bonim opened its first season on a leased site on Lake Dallas. Weiner of Houston. The invaluable assistance of Kalman Shapiro. Zevi Borofsky. The camping program was extended to an ever-growing movement.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT all of Dallas. committees of friends of Camp Bonim were formed for the purpose of making this decade-old dream a reality. Leah Waltman. worked with the writer to make this success possible. M. David Zesmer. Zalman Schneider. Bruno Sigel. A number of Dallas haverim. I. From the very outset. and Abraham Sinkin. Gerber. all of Dallas.all did a real halutzic job in planning for Camp Bonim and in implementing these plans. Oklahoma. and I. In the summer of 1941. Zalman Kahn. Taubman (currently in Tulsa). and Yitzhak Groner. Herman P.000 was contributed through the Camp Bonim. 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. and Nathan Karin of San Antonio. Bernard Rubenstein. Moshe Smith. Subsequent years were periods of real Habonim expansion in the region. Some $60. and Hannah Wiederman of Houston . called Camp Bonim blessed. and Louisiana. This was always considered by the founders and madrichim. then a member of the Dallas Hebrew School faculty. was always considered phenomenal. Camp Bonim observed kashrut (as do all Habonim camps).
For example. work. kitchen duty. can certainly be handled in this manner. I should not hesitate to give the campers considerable liberty. the campers will decide to do the right thing at Kvutza meetings. Yaakov Levin. Experience. 1957 EXPERIMENTS AND TRENDS THE COMING SEASON My experience last summer with Kinneret.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING an integral must in any Jewish educational program. which no Kvutza should be without. 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. however. if anything. and for this reason. Those of us who drew up plans for Kinneret last summer were alike in one respect-we were all inexperienced. aided me in formulating and developing certain ideas with regard to the basic principles of Kvutza. Shabbat at Camp Bonim was. 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. from the very inception. given the opportunity. handicrafts. Problems such as bedtime. morning exercise. an occasion for perfect rest. The campers may talk 131 . I am sure that. We had ideas. can be discussed at a Kvutza meeting and will undoubtedly be passed with very little opposition. even such a measure as common fund. programs. study. From time to time. The entire camp program was geared toward a full and enriching Jewish experience in the spirit of Labor Eretz Yisrael. near Detroit. would have cramped our style last year. and contemplation. senior haverim would visit the camp for Shabbat and sing the praises of the type of education Camp Bonim offered.
but it means a great deal to about ten boys who had a band in building it. This may be difficult to carry through in some Kvutzot because of unfavorable natural factors. In the case of a permanent Kvutza. Our camps present a golden opportunity for us to put some of the concepts of halutziut into practice. such as poor soil conditions or extreme drought. it might also be wise to plant trees for ornamental purposes as well as for fruit. no one will want to stay up past a reasonable hour. Arm in arm with work goes gardening. and in order to carry out this project successfully.vegetable and floral culture. To my knowledge. they can be counteracted by artificial means. and we should certainly be given an opportunity to build. should play a major role in Kvutza activities and. Both vegetable and flower gardening must be begun in April or May. However poor these conditions may be. even at the expense of a more professional job. Habonim are builders. The best way to give the camp back to the campers is not by merely giving them a voice in their own government.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT about staying up late. but if a discussion of the benefits of an earlier day and the harm done by late hours is carefully conducted. On the surface this may seem a disadvantage. Work. this is a decided advantage since the Kvutza with a garden begins not in July but in April 132 . however. and the cost and effort expended on such a project will be repaid if plans are carefully laid out and executed. even to the extent of killing the idea of a garden. and such a principle as the "conquest of labor" should be exploited to its limit. will receive much enthusiasm on the part of the campers. if planned properly. it is necessary to take a trip to Kvutza every week and put in several hours of work. The dining room at Kinneret is by no means a professional job. of course. Gardening can and should be of two kinds . On second thought. work and handicrafts are not being neglected in our Kvutzot. but by giving them an opportunity to be instrumental in the actual building of the Kvutza.
the garden should develop. gardening entails certain responsibilities which every camper should experience. Other projects can be postponed from day to day.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING or May. and here is a grand opportunity. Flowers and shrubs can transform a barren piece of land into a beautiful scene. In short. 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. This should rather be spent in gaining experience and learning which crops grow most successfully. Flowers and landscaping are also of great significance. The garden might even be developed to such an extent that after a few years. 1940 133 . and labor is of little significance if it does not go hand in hand with a desire for beauty and freshness. A feeling for aesthetics should be inculcated in Habonim. one or two vegetables could be grown in larger quantities to be sold to neighboring markets. however. but postponing work on the garden spells failure. 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. Gardening also furnishes a permanent work project during the season. Danny Ginsburg. Little by little. It is unreasonable to expect a crop for consumption from the vegetable garden the first season.
built around work. cannery. such as picking tomatoes or cleaning chicken coops. where they received an education along Reconstructionist lines. The campers participated in both cultural and agricultural discussions. by the end of last summer. New Jersey. The campers were given an opportunity to participate in the various branches-barn. the campers. chickens. in the course of the summer. and so on. rather than giving them an opportunity to do work which they would find more interesting and which would require a certain degree of skill. High school-age boys and girls came to Creamridge to live and work with an established collective group. while several had almost no knowledge of Eretz Yisrael and Zionism. Fifteen boys and girls between the ages of fifteen and seventeen attended the camp. we found that almost without any conscious guidance on our part. of course. Although we were rather skeptical at the beginning. it is possible to expose successfully young American Jews to collective agricultural life. 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 . most of us were ready to admit that. prepared the daily work schedule. began as an experiment and ended as an established institution. 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.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP AVODA. The campers elected their own person to assign the work who. This was partly due to the assignment of routine jobs to the campers. a number were students of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. garden. not to mention halutziut. The group was a rather heterogeneous one. within reasonable limits. To our surprise. together with us. gradually began to adopt the outlook and standards of intimate collective groups. The life of the camp was. CREAMRIDGE Camp Avoda at the Hehalutz farm in Creamridge.
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 . questions. the work program was not organized in a manner that would have been most beneficial to the campers. the cultural work was too limited and lacking in intensity-for example. Five or six times during the summer. We naturally tried to have Camp Avoda run as democratically as possible. there were innumerable small problems. These discussions aroused considerable h1terest and proved very worthwhile. the campers met to discuss and to decide about the problems that arose in the maintenance and the functioning of the camp. and so on. and except for a few elementary rules upon which we insisted. the campers were given a good deal of freedom of choice and decision. and suggestions brought up at these meetings. A good part of the discussions. Camp Avoda in some ways fell short of what it might have been. of course. there was a discussion about whether boys have to work in the kitchen and clean house as well as girls. we did not have an adequate library of Zionist and other literature which campers could read at their leisure. Several campers wanted a room in the house to be set aside as a recreation and letter-writing room. but the group as a whole was an alert one and there were many lively arguments and debates. Despite the fact that the group was a small one and that camp life followed a rather simple pattern.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING economy. was in reference to our own farm economy. As mentioned before. Because of the varying backgrounds of the campers. 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. 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. some difficulties were encountered in presenting these discussions.
then it was shared among the campers. Several are returning this summer to participate in a larger. Yet. parents sent boxes of candy and cookies. and finally it was decided that the boxes were to be shared equally among the campers and members of the farm alike. heard. on the basis of their own experience. the campers gradually began to realize the advantages of collective living. many of them came to visit us for weekends and holidays. At first the candy was the private property of the particular tent in which the recipient lived. the idea of keeping clothes collectively. There was a good deal of disagreement about whether this type of life was possible on a large scale at the present time. as something that did not need further proof. Most of us thought it likely that they would ridicule. but everyone who spoke assumed. but it was just the opposite. there were also a good many technical shortcomings which should have been avoided. better planned. The campers went home with a very real appreciation of the farm and at least an acquaintance with halutziut. When at the beginning of the summer. to extol or criticize it. As happens in every camp. They liked us and they liked the way we lived. they began to adopt more and more of our methods.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT weeks. we feel that we achieved the basic purposes of Camp Avoda. After a time. During the year. that living collectively was better and preferable to any other way of life. Purely on the basis of what they saw. for instance. we met with almost complete opposition. A few weeks before the end of the season. they were asked to analyze collective living. later the campers themselves again brought up the suggestion and it was accepted. we proposed a common fund. and felt. and better organized Camp Avoda. Al Weingrod. 1944 136 .
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING AMAL IN RETROSPECT Amal. It was but three years ago that we hesitantly opened Amal on a rented site in Vermont. 137 . Institutions. in its three years of existence. and chose to ignore the pressing need of Eretz Yisrael: an American halutz aliya. We were disturbed by the cloistered atmosphere of many existing camps. The staff had little Hebrew camping experience and was poorly prepared. Habonim has never had an opportunity to determine the future of this nascent institution. however. The movement greeted this venture with singular indifference. Habonim's Hebrew-speaking camp. Even a cursory evaluation would disclose that Amal has fostered the study of Hebrew in our movement. has attracted a considerable number of new haverim. it has won national recognition as one of the outstanding Hebrew-speaking camps in America. But it might also be shown that Amal's successes have not been achieved without prejudicing the halutzic character of our camps. We opened in the summer of 1948 with a handful of campers. After three uncertain years of experimentation. Few haverim expressed interest in attending Amal. They were fostering a native Hebrew-speaking elite. has established its own camping patterns and set into motion uncertain forces. Amal has realized the dreams of its founders. nearly decided to abandon the project. Bialik. In view of the small registration. Amal. They glibly spoke of the national poet. Therefore. We have been too concerned with the very survival of Amal to give adequate consideration to its role within the movement. do not await official decisions. we decided in favor of continuing our efforts on behalf of Amal. has completed its third season. the Merkaz. and gained for Habonim new prestige in the Jewish educational world. But we felt strongly that we had a mission to fulfill in Hebrew camping. This was hardly an auspicious beginning. despite the initial movement apathy. on one occasion. Their educational program bypassed halutziut.
In recognition of Amal's promise. and this we had seemingly accomplished without vitiating our halutzic Zionist program. and the national budget could not again sustain a financial loss such as it had in Amal's first season. This was to be its last chance. there were but dim hopes of registering an adequate number of campers. Several Jewish educational institutions were induced to award scholarships to Amal. As evidence of our coming of age. in Connecticut. the camper response was more encouraging. Prominent Hebrew educators were solicited to add their names to our list of sponsors. Hebrew educators from many sections of America visited Amal during the season and were im- 138 .HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Haverim seriously questioned reopening Amal in 1949. to a large extent. the Merkaz assigned Tel Meir. we succeeded. On August 9th. We ended our second season with the realization that Amal had proved itself. Amal's partisans were soon active on all fronts. an ambitious program was prepared for the public. Many observers claimed that our campers spoke more Hebrew than the campers of any other Hebrew-speaking camp in America. It was no longer an experiment. During the winter of 1949-1950. Strong arguments were advanced for giving up Amal-our personnel shortage was acute. a performance of Yitzhak Lamdan's Masada was witnessed and applauded by sixty parents and guests. and twenty-two scholarships were awarded to Amal by various Hebrew school systems. Nor did our work go unnoticed in the Jewish community. They felt that it had failed. It was therefore with great trepidation that the Merkaz finally decided in favor of reopening the camp. This past summer we confidently opened the season with sixty haverim. This time. the number of sponsoring Jewish educational institutions increased from two to six. The season began with forty-five campers who were determined to make it a success. to its fledgling Hebrew camp as its permanent site. We hoped to create a camp modeled along the lines of our other camps. And.
1950 139 . Moshe Margalit. and great emphasis in the discussion program was placed upon Jewish history.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING pressed with the serious educational work that we attempted. The 1950 season was most successful. Daily formal class work had been introduced.
Kvutza and the Individual .
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. Soft winds rock The trees.NIGHT WATCH Two o'clock The raindrops fall. 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. 1937 142 .
This evening we have a hike to Accord via the new route discovered by Benny and Yehiel. Tuesday. Stan and Sol are prize kibitzers. and everyone. July 4th Today the regular daily program begins: Rise and shine – exercise – washing – breakfast . there is great rejoicing over the new outhouse. is it swell to be back!" echoes and reechoes to the bewilderment of the newcomers. Amid much excitement. 143 . in comfortable camp clothes. to drop right off to dreamland. "Oh boy. no less. Here we are refreshed by popsicles and exactly $. to say nothing of Avram. Washing is over. And so to bed. under the direction of Benny. tents and madrichim are assigned.discussion groups – activities – dip – lunch rest and correspondence – sports – swimming – supper . and singing for all. Monday. with dancing for those who are not too tired after the long train ride.and one of the many evening activities possible in Kvutza. we finally reach home. tired but happy. to find talent for the Drama Circle-to-be. Then a camp fire. Tiptoeing through the metropolis so as not to wake the immense population. Among last year's haverim. and quiet. Sleep now. Block.01 worth of candy-no more. First and last stop is the place of business of Mr. Tonight we have an amateur hour. July 5th The regular program again today.clean-up . and the exclamation. July 3rd Campers arrive.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD DIARY Sunday. leans back (on his neighbor) after a muchneeded supper and listens to Dave's welcoming speech.
Three Rivers. Michigan. Michigan. Chelsea. Galil. 1953. 1957. 1957.Midwest Camp Habonim. Flag Raising at Midwest Camp Habonim. Kinneret. Scout-craft Competition at Maccabia. Attacking the Weeds. 1957. Campers at Midwest Camp Habonim. . 1957. 1954. 1957. Volleyball at Kinneret. Basketball at Maccabia.
1957.In the tradition at Kinneret: Building the Migdal. 1957. Habonim Camp Kvutza Naame. Green Valley Station. Friday afternoon lunch on the patio. Midwest Camp Habonim. . Saugus. Camp Kvutza Naame. Campfire at Midwest Camp Habonim. 1956. California.
. and Camp Habonim. Camp Habonim. Midwest Camp Habonim.Hora around the Campfire. Campers from Moshava. Dedicating the new Arts and Crafts Pavilion. arriving at Galil for Maccabia. 1957. 1957. 1957. Camp Kvutza Naame. 1957.
Gabriola Island. Waiting for the Ferry to Camp Miriam. Joint Flag Raising of the three camps at Maccabia. Canada. Visitors Day. . 1957. 1956. British Columbia.The Swimming Pool at Camp Kvutza Naame. Yemenite Dance. Camp Kvutza Naame. Galil.
Gathered on the hill. The camp paper . July 8th All day today is given over to preparation for Shabbat. Sammy and Marvin (who declares that at least he is a confirmed bachelor) are the unworthy specimens of humanity who lead this ridiculous movement. At lunch the Celibates Club is organized at a special table which excludes haverot." Thursday. and we march down the hill singing happily. As the haverim tear themselves away to bed. luxury. to the great delight of our intelligentsia. The library is open. and the boys are working on an aquarium in which to keep material for Sammy's dissection mania. . July 9th Ah. Two haverim volunteer to wash the dining room and kitchen floors. we hear The Cookooricoo read by Stan and then sing songs of Shabbat. July 7th Looking about this morning. they feel that the stars sparkling in the velvet heavens have come nearer to earth and are watching over Kvutza. it begins to rain. Saturday. Their motto is: O. We have a leisurely breakfast. Friday. 148 . Everyone is dressed in white shorts and blue Habonim shirts for Friday night. we gather together on the grass to sing. Struck by the magnificent beauty of the sky and surrounding mountains. As the Bible circles in Hebrew and English begin this afternoon. We have free time tonight. We do our laundry in the creek.is begun under the expert direction of Judy G. we sleep an extra half hour this morning. one sees a veritable hive of industry. July 6th It is agreed that "Harishona" is a suitable name for our Accord Kvutza since we were literally "the first.Off Ferns Forever.F. and clean up.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL Wednesday.F. At the table the candles are lit and the prayer sung by Edna before we sit down to eat.The Cookooricoo . discussion.
"Heigh ho. July 11th Today we are settled again. And then to bed. Later. Wednesday. we gather in the dining room for songs and games. Each tent presents a skit or a like exhibition. No morning exercises.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Sunday. begging Dave for an extra hour of sleep tomorrow. stunt night. July 13th Kvutza seems empty this morning with only half the haverim here. The grass is very wet as we walk up the hill to bed. July 12th We are awakened this morning by reveille blown by Harriet on her trumpet. Yehiel's determination is of some avail because the shower suddenly stops. after which 149 . heigh ho. 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. Finally the sun breaks through the clouds just in time to set. The elements. It is decided that haverim of fifteen and over will take an overnight hike tonight after supper. So the younger haverim go to bed. seem to regard this with disfavor for it starts to rain. Tonight we have a camp fire with singing. A new batch of haverim come from the city and there is much excitement during the meeting of old friends and new. with one or two people doubling up because some trunks have not yet arrived. Monday. All the haverim are back for a delayed lunch. Tuesday. July 10th This morning there is a talk and discussion conducted by Shlomo on the present situation in Eretz Yisrael. the group sets out. This afternoon it rains and. it's off to Minewaska we go!" And amid the cheers of the remaining campers. Parents begin to arrive. however. as on previous days.
while at the top of the hill are horseshoe and deck tennis games. 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. After lunch. Ready for supper. we listen to The Cookooricoo as read by Avram. It seems a perfect antidote for insomnia. we watch Mutzie present Barry with a diploma from Fibber's College. Still gathered on the rocks.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. Thursday. our tents and persons spotless. July 14th There are discussions this morning on the trials in Russia. 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. Reading circles are the only activities this afternoon. 150 . Back by the tents and joined by the kitchen committee. we have arts and crafts and scoutcraft. A "Candid Camera Fiend" or two stay behind to record on film our march down the hill. Down by the kitchen we have ping-pong. and Dave R. Now bed and sleep at last. are on guard duty so all hopes for a peaceful night are futile. and the waterfall competes with Dave's voice as he reads to us the past week's diary and news from the other camps." Today the equipment for all sorts of sports is spread over the camp. Friday. besides clean-up. The stream goes by. we have free time. but-Miriam L. For Shabbat we snap pictures of our haverim in Habonim shirts and white shorts. and preparation for a debate-" Resolved: That Socialism as such will solve the Jewish problem. and following supper. Now to our tents after singing and dancing.
of course. because the people who live there are differentcoming from various countries. the bottom floor used as a dining room and kitchen. Most of the farmers are Norwegians and the relations between the camp and the farmers are excellent. Swimming is naturally one of the main activi- 151 . New York.a few trees mark the spot. the same program and activities-yet each Kvutza represents a unique world of its own. homes. Just as all settlements in Eretz Yisrael differ. civilizations-so do the varying backgrounds of our haverim place an individual stamp upon each Camp Kvutza. the same institutions. there is dancing and singing.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Saturday. Amid much excitement and conflicting emotions in the cheering section. July 16th Today is the final conflict: let each stand in his place-the campers play a baseball game of chills and thrills. one from the other. the top floor used as a handicrafts and cultural room -that is the entire camp. Situated on a plain on the shore of Lake Ontario-no mountains or bills . What triumph! What humiliation! The drama group presents an anti-war play at the camp fire tonight. schools. And so the second week of camp ends.for are they not organized and managed the same way. 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 expects them all to be a like . the campers beat the madrichim 17-7. Five wigwam tents in a straight line and a large and spacious two-story barn. Accord Diary. and the author. the Kvutza which serves our upstate New York movements. Afterwards. the same bylaws. written by Benny Lappin and produced by Ruth L. My first stop this year was at Kendall. Farm land stretches out on all sides.
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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-
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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
to attend a staff meeting. They are not antagonistic to culture and education-the only reason for their nonattendance at discussions is evidently that they know it all. 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. And now. that is. their non-appearance at work does not mean that they are lazy. These very exclusive affairs can do wonders for the worst 160 . and go on night watch. you have underestimated the wide range of their capabilities. And finally. They thrive best if left to themselves to eat. however. being a madrich of tzofim is a splendid occupation. sleep. if you reach the end of the day a fairly sane person.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL active than their mild looks indicate. 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. dear prospective madrich. you will be requested to solve all their little affaires de coeur. But the modern tzofeh brings new problems with which the madrich can expect to cope. And so. while a guest speaker sits under a tree talking to the few staff members disguised as bonim to save the reputation of the camp. there are the bonim. and if you don't think that kids of this age are concerned with such problems. These languid creatures have neither the solelim spirit nor the tzofim trust and confidence in a madrich. you will be required. after everyone else is in bed. you may be sure that the bonim are lounging comfortably in their tents and cabins holding discussion of their own-of a different sort. On the whole. For example. gossip. 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. Likewise. if you are interested in practicing some early teen-age psychology. Yes.
I once tried it. to rotate about the room pricking the madrichim with pins. 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. Jupiter-and here the story lies. That was three years ago. I decided to try it again. 1942 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS Dear Mom: You know that right across the way from the camp there is a high mountain called Mt. someone found out that I had the only knapsack in Kvutza. Two persons are appointed. If you do not fall prey to the sandman's charms. but only on the condition that it be continued tomorrow when everyone will be fresh as a daisy. but being out of condition. Sandy. got no more than half way up. who is pretty good looking so we had no trouble getting several girls to go." Well. We hiked two miles in the nice summer sun and began to climb the mountain single file. one needs little convincing that a post-midnight snack is in order. As we started out. you won't be able to keep your mind on the meeting anyway. Finally it does break up. After such a fatiguing meeting. and all troop over to the dining room. in back of 161 . but having become a fine physical specimen at Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING case of insomnia. and when the darn meeting is going to end. 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. Jerry. and they do quite a bit of hurrying about in an effort to keep at least three people awake at all times. Jeannie Reisapfel. loudly shhh-ing each other although it's quite obvious that the whole camp is still awake. You'll keep wondering if the cabin that's doing all the yelling is yours. so they let me carry all the lunches plus a first aid kit and camera.
How sorry I was. I shall explain: A firebreak is a long.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL me. send me $7 and a snake-bite kit. If you don't know what a firebreak is. I felt just like killing a rattlesnake. we found a rattlesnake had been killed a few minutes before we got there. Don't worry. There was of course no turning back. Norman 1942 162 . I played soldier all the way down and it was very realistic. I am sure that this tractor found the steepest part of the whole range of mountains. I want to stay longer. took pictures (my film). We finally got to the bottom drawn out over a half mile or so of ground. After waiting until we all gathered-including the loose parts-we began to hike home. Once you begin going down it is very difficult to stop. cleared strip through the mountain. and then began to go down. Your dear son. too. We went down a firebreak. designed to stop a forest or brush fire. sang songs which the ranger liked though he didn't know what they were all about (nor did we). and made me sick. and ate lunch (sandwiches and fruit from the knapsack I was carrying). bad been eating garlic all morning and whenever we stopped. Just as we got near camp. Oh yes. We sat around. Also it is quite uncomfortable to find that you cannot stop at the edge of a cliff. It is made by big tractors which try to find the steepest part of the mountain they can go up without turning over. After fighting our way through the brush (the ranger and I wore short pants and my legs are disfigured for life). I almost became a casualty when I tripped. Well. It is not true that it is easier to come down than to go up. we arrived at the top. I stopped. Love. Dave Bleviss was at the rear and no one could squeeze by. he would put his head over my shoulder to see what was doing. goodbye now. Mom.
antiquated clothes that you have long ago forgotten about. School will follow soon after. Also make sure that they are washable. and presto. because we play. we are very active in Kvutza. because by the time you go home. And once the Kvutza has been awakened from its winter's sleep. and just between us. play shirts. clothes. 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. You are going to wash them yourself. clothes that are too dilapidated for city wear. and you will have a great part of your Kvutza wardrobe. Drag out all your old clothes. Therefore. some of us don't feel so easy about this packing business. Our parents 163 . You see. let me-a veteran-give you a few hints as to what to pack and what not to pack. and dress shirts for Shabbat and Sundays. very little will remain of them anyway. Nothing is too bad for Kvutza when it comes to clothes. But your clothes must have one important virtue . we know what kind of a laundry man you are. we are in Kvutza! Yet.they must be able to endure rough treatment.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING NEED HELP PACKING? Spring is well along. First. 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. Have your wardrobe include work shirts (for we all work).
don't forget your pants. You'll need a sweater. Brrr! Nights are sometimes cold in Kvutza. So don't forget these important items. and warm pajamas. When it doesn't come to us (in the form of rain). a warm jacket. I almost forgot to mention the pants that go with the shirts. Besides. and FUN! But in order to get around in presentable shape. Yet. reading and study groups. Perhaps you'll feel like sleeping for some strange reason one night. That's just to remind you that you'll need a bathing suit. a cap. 164 . I'll have to use yours. And don't forget the shoe polish. it can rain even in Kvutza. Mind you. By all means. we don't always hide from water. We have indoor games in the dining hall. bless me. 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. So you might as well take along some sheets and warm blankets. because I'm warning you. One item that should be carefully chosen is shoes. haverim. I'm not going to lend you mine. we go to it (in the form of a swimming pool). 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?"). Oh. I'm sure to forget to bring some. and a bathrobe. yet you can never tell. Shorts or slacks or anything that goes under that general heading by a stretch of the imagination will do.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. But we don't let that interfere with our activities. in which case. Have a pair of hard-soled shoes for hiking and a pair of soft-soled ones for play and work. you'll need a raincoat and boots.
If she is unreasonable in the amount of underwear she makes you take. And the memories engulfed us. you will have use for the extra pairs on masquerade nights. Birdie Dekelbaum. About filling in the details. That last night. tactics. Our feet remembered all-day hikes. haverim remembered the discussions we had had. 1944 KINNERET SHELI We stood quietly meditating in the gathering twilight of the field of Kinneret. we remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. The soles of our feet recollected our nature walks. The scouts remembered how we had hiked through the swamps of Kinneret. Our eyes remembered watching for the answering flags flashing in the sun. thought-provoking periods. raising the watchtower that would guard Kinneret. We had slept under its benevolent shadow that summer of 1955. my advice is that you comply with your mother's demands. We remembered lively.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING That's the general idea.. Our toes could feel again the sand rippling as we walked through the Farband camp on the way to 165 . Then our hands remembered the semaphore code: K-i-n-n-e-r-e-t s-he-l-i. We recalled nights of Hagana. We remembered the arduous trek to the lake.. The builders remember the watchtower-chopping the trees. The haverim who had built Kinneret gathered on the last night of the last season. The message was received! We had talked to each other from afar. We remembered sleeping through them. We remembered discussing leadership problems. As we watched the torches for the last time. knotting the ropes. constructing the frame.. We bade farewell to Kvutzat Kinneret.
KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL swim. we floated in a dream of memories. 1957 166 . This was our camp. We danced again to the familiar tunes. The cooling relief of the ointments soothed us. We remembered Shabbat as dusk fell the last time at Kvutzat Kinneret. comfortable feeling of Shabbat. We swam. We recalled how we had danced the hora hour upon hour. Once again we swayed and swerved to the sound of the shepherd's flute. We remembered the mosquitoes only too well. Avraham Bass. The beauty of the Shabbat celebration haunted us. to the rhythms of Eretz Yisrael. We swatted away at the infernal pests. The raft seemed to beckon to us anew. We had built it-Kinneret. We relived the glorious. We bade farewell to a friend. The clammy feel of seaweed lingered in our minds. We remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. We stood quietly in the gathering twilight. Kvutzat Kinneret. In our memories we sang.
The aeroplanes overhead wing their way with peaceful cargoes. Brothers. the uniform of their captors only changed. Over the blood-soaked plains of Poland. there is no peace and your battle is not done.In Memoriam HAZKARA The cannons are still. The mighty of the earth decreed it so. comrades. 168 . 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. But brothers resting in many lands. resting in many lands. The last prisoners of Theresienstadt still stand behind barbed wire. this is called peace. the sound of firing still is heard And the dazed survivors of your people flee before the same pursuing mob. the rifles are stacked. the bombracks off.
Only in a brief moment of council. Auschwitz and Stryj. From the Rhineland plains and woods. the roll call of the resting places from continent to continent. the gaps that never can be filled. And what avail soon crumbling stone carved in our sacred script to puzzle future archaeologists. From the bitter hedgerow battles of Normandy. From ghetto and from concentration camp. From beachheads and from far Pacific Isles with strange exotic names like Iwo Jima. for the remnant of the exile does not stop. even from the waters of the seas. the roster of our dead commands memorial. the hard-contested hills of Italy. The familiar faces missing from our ranks. The record of the graves.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Even in this western land of liberty. Majdanek. 169 . Brothers resting in the distant lands. the voices of the Nazi foe still echo and repeat the ancient vicious lies. Where in the same wide war fell our sons defending Kfar Giladi. the battle. From every forest haunt and cave where desperate guerilla bands struck at the foe. Lublin. we pause to consider a fitting monument and to tell our losses. The hundreds upon thousands upon millions. The distant isles and seas engulf us with the magnitude of our loss. from Warsaw. yet calls afresh each loved one gone. Bialystok. cry for memorial.
shivering limbs of the wasted few who somehow did not die. still further struggle. oh brothers. will they live? Will this your people.G. Rest.IN MEMORIAM Shall your memorial be the silence of forgotten history. into the ship that bears illegal freight out of the graveyard of Europe. let us dedicate the memorial to our dead scattered through many lands.E. to the camp. for we dedicate to you a monument eternalWe are your memorial. a line of valiant battles dearly won. in graves of honor and in lime pits of shame. Worn and weary but imbued with the flame which kindled them at the foot of Sinai's peak. 1945 170 . O Brothers. Habonim Convention. The records of an extinct folk. strewn before our feet. And in the valley. Lying in fields throughout the earth. Brothers. the weary. Look and say. And the monument we dedicate is their own people. Ahead. December. D. The mounds and graves of the ending of our seed We pause as on a mountain top and see. behind. shrunken. these dried bones yet live? With loving hands and humbled spirits. from your graves look out! Look out upon your people! Look into the ghetto.
During one of the war years. Nevertheless. She came to us because she had decided upon the path of selfrealization. The number of haverim that we have lost is mounting too quickly. upon him she centered all her efforts. She was one of the few people who was ours completely. She strove for selffulfillment in our movement even before she went on aliya. unbelievable. Each time it seems impossible. she had a great capacity for hard work. She brought a real understanding of the meaning of education into our movement. how to react. she served as rosh of the New York region. as rosh of several madrichim groups. 171 . even the old timers were able to learn a great deal from her. Her primary concern was always the development of the individual. their purpose and justification being to instill values and attitudes within the haverim. but as one guiding the individual. Sometimes it seemed as if she carried the whole burden of our movement and our people on her slight shoulders. Thus she worked closely with the individual haver. as rosh of our national funds work. she threw herself entirely into our work. She was a madricha in the true sense of the term. when we were suffering from a critical shortage of leadership personnel. Each time it seems that our best is taken.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING MIRIAM BIDERMAN We are a movement of young people. We are at a loss as to what to say or do. the mahaneh activities. Miriam came to us late. and as editor of Alot (the national publication specifically for our halutzim)-all these at the same time. as rosh of one of the mahanot. Camp Kvutza-these she considered as means to an end. She was among our most devoted. Miriam was a school teacher by profession. The small group discussions. all of us. And she exerted a tremendous amount of influence upon those with whom she worked. She understood her educational function not as one of directing the group. Immediately. She joined us when she was already in her twenties.
with. in Baltimore. Shabbat celebration. indicate to us the creative being whose "life song" was "suddenly cut off. troubled havera who "before her time . she left her heritage: a corps of responsible haverim. 172 . Miriam was brought up in an Orthodox religious home. Both in our movement here and later in the kibbutz in Eretz Yisrael. to synthesize the old and the new. of her articles in our various publications. passed away. a Third Seder. understanding. 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. for the tasks of movement leadership and self-realization... Wherever she went. Thus. The volume of her Shabbat and other program material. in Winnipeg. she sought out young haverim with devotion. and worked with them. She continually championed traditional practices in our movement. sensitive. the lack of traditional observance caused her a great deal of discontent. she came to us with a deep appreciation for Jewish tradition.IN MEMORIAM Her aim was to prepare younger haverim." Her many letters to haverim gave us an insight into this devoted. or Tisha B'Av program in which Miriam had a hand always made a powerful impression. Miriam wrote prolifically and she has left us a rich legacy of her written word. She was able to put meaning into Jewish tradition. in New York. with ability. And wherever she worked.
It was at that time that we decided to be heartless toward Ben. as we subsequently have been to every organizer and shaliah. he was a veteran. We were very modest. By 1934. He had done his duty. and was supposed to receive permission for aliya. who toured the New England region in 1933. . all told) decided that he must remain for another year to help in the transition from Young Poale Zion Alliance to Habonim. I do not think that Ben went to college or had much formal training. His task was to go into a community. 173 . get together the remnants of the YPZA. The outstanding "first" in relation to Ben was that lie was the first organizer of Habonim. but he knew how to train people to follow in his footsteps so that there was a second and third and fourth. contact parents and prospective madrichim. he had had his fill of peanuts and of traveling for the movement. By 1934. There is always an aura about the figure of a man who carries the title of "first" but who we do not remember. The stories of organizers struggling and living on peanuts refer to Ben Cherner. shortly after Habonim was established. though you may not know his name or you may not realize that you know him. But the National Executive (four people we were. Ben Cherner had not only served his apprenticeship in the movement but had already acted as an organizer for the Young Poale Zion Alliance. The adjective stuck to Ben because he had the faculty of attracting people to himself to carry on. that we felt that one way of its taking root in America was to send out emissaries. and transform them into a mahaneh of Habonim. We wanted organizers to establish our new system of education. It was in 1934. By 1934.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING BEN CHERNER Many of you know Ben Cherner. We didn't think of shlihim from Eretz Yisrael. I am certain that he took no courses in leadership technique. Many usages prevailing in the movement to this day are traditions which had their inception with him.
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. Then Ben went to Chicago. one must visualize the years in which these were made. soft-spoken boy. There existed a loose connection between the New York center and the groups. We were getting news of a growing community in Los Angeles. his home town. It was a dynasty: from Ben Cherner to Joey Criden. That trip in 1935 was the first link in the chain which ultimately led to the development of the Los Angeles mahaneh. The movement was kept alive by personal contact. The visitor was the warm link representing the movement. He set up several mahanot. the Buffalo movement waned. He knew how to sing and he knew how to gather people around him. There was not too much money for printing. Ben was a simple. Hence a good deal depended on whom was sent. the stream of organizers. There is a "first" in connection with Ben which relates to the Pacific Coast. of a Far West in which Folk Shulen graduates knew Hebrew. His first stop was Buffalo. The mail was inadequate. When Moshe was called to New York. we obtained $75 from several Los Angeles haverim. He went to private homes and got 174 .IN MEMORIAM Ben was not much of an orator. from Joey to Moshe Goldberg. we called on Ben to make the trip. 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. the summer Kvutza. He went into a city without benefit of publicity notices or mass meetings. After negotiations. Naturally. The organizer for whom Ben paved the way made Chicago the center of our movement for many years. To understand the significance of Ben's organizational tours. He spoke quietly and intimately.
American halutzim who could not adjust to the rigors of pioneering did not help the atmosphere by returning home. there was a nucleus which somehow carried on. There was one specific job Ben tried to do which ultimately resulted in failure. At that time. When Enzo Sereni came. When he left. It was more than a one-man job. and one in Illinois. in a sense. That too was a service.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING people around him to sing with him and talk with him. There was no other candidate who could have done the organizational work. The senior leaders of the Labor Zionist movement set a disheartening example by not permitting their children to remain in Eretz Yisrael. The repercussions of the action of the Detroit group. He loved people. a useful service. It was in 1936 that he finally left. approachability. No course in leadership or technical training or knowledge could have made 175 . A large percentage of the "halutzim" were malcontents who could not earn a living. unsanitary farms struggling under extremely difficult conditions. adjusted. there were training farms in Baltimore. which was paradise by contrast. We felt that we were committing a crime against Ben by holding him back but there was no alternative. he set an example. The fact that Ben failed is not a reflection on him. They were small. poor. to go to Eretz Yisrael was a feat. He tried to maintain the agricultural training center in Illinois. inadequate. We had held him back two years beyond his time. Of Ben's many qualities. and refined. Ben's was a permanent influence because he did not talk only of Eretz Yisrael. his primary one was his humanity. He liked young people. we consolidated all of these farms into the one at Creamridge. his. For a/person who is normal. It was into such conditions that Ben plunged to try to clean up the place. Even his leaving was. to live in it. in Minneapolis. and to introduce a new atmosphere. Perhaps this accounted for his ability to gather young people around him. who returned from Eretz Yisrael and spread stories to justify themselves. were serious. He was young himself.
He had stuck to Naan no matter how strongly he was urged to join the American kibbutz. He showed his enthusiasm by explaining his idea and then setting about carrying it out so well that the job seemed easily done. the rest of us did not believe in it either. For good or for ill. His singing possessed an enchanting. In our relationship to Ben. or anyone to refer to. Only during the last two years did he begin to waver and to talk of transferring to Kfar Blum. quality. Our attitude was changed by the realities of life. Many of our songs are versions which he taught to the first groups of Habonim. That was one of the reasons why he did not return to America as a shaliah. In that period. He was by no means a professional singer. himself as a leader. We did not want an American landsmanshaft in Eretz Yisrael. 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 in the line of duty. His singing had a good deal to do with his influence in the movement. he held them for hours. When he went to do organizational work. but Ben was stubborn. 176 . Ben did not believe in the concentration of Americans in Eretz Yisrael. He considered himself a soldier. so solid that perhaps they account for one of the tragedies of his life. when he helped to organize the Union of Jewish World Combatants. Similarly. Yet when he sat with a group of people around a camp fire. when he went to Eretz Yisrael. He would not get excited or rush off to his work. some camp fire traditions and some of the stories reprinted by us in Haboneh have their origin in Ben's fertile mind. They sat and sang without moving or talking. it was realization. we appreciated his enthusiasm. Ben never thought of himself as a leader. Ben had very solid convictions. it was in the line of duty. He never permitted himself to think of.IN MEMORIAM up for that basic human element.
177 . "one must see his life in terms of a personality that was unfolding.. and ever expanding . At first he saw one important objective ahead -that was the establishment of a real Jewish institution in the heart of the American scene. in the long run. He had become widely known and loved-he was no longer Danny Ginsburg of Detroit." wrote one of his friends from the Midwest. that we carry forward that struggle today. he would talk of simple and prosaic tasks. impossible to console. If there is meaning in the memory of our haverim and of their services. Saadia Gelb Furrows.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING If Ben were here and could talk to us. and he would finish by saying that. is the fitting memorial to Ben Cherner. His role in Habonim for more than eight years is invaluable.. it is the realization that they represented a continuation of the Jewish struggle for survival which began before them. of the trials and tribulations of training and of self-realization in Eretz Yisrael. The knowledge of his irrevocable loss to us is difficult to comprehend. it seems to me. 1947 DANNY GINSBURG Once again the battlefront has claimed the life of one of our haverim. 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. where he made his most specific contributions to the life of Habonim. and that those after us will not falter. January. this kind of obstinacy would succeed. his future was inextricably bound up with the highest hopes of the movement. developing. "To understand Danny. 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. That.
strong determination. Sometime later.IN MEMORIAM This goal was the establishment of a summer Kvutza. lie arrived at the personal decision to join Kibbutz Aliya and prepare himself for a true realization of his burning idealism. as a leader in discussions. and under his energetic leadership. His personal influence over others was so strong that many who might not have taken the same road followed it upon his leadership. find it difficult to separate the two. nothing could stop him. who have known him at seminars and other movement gatherings. When Danny danced. through the mails. near Detroit. and his place and importance within Habonim grew as he did. He was one of those exceptional individuals who throws himself into every activity with the completeness of a passionate spirit. to take part in the solution of prob- 178 . Danny's was truly a constantly developing personality. the movement there flourished remarkably. through going to Eretz Yisrael. to contribute to Kibbutz Aliya discussions. Kinneret. sincerity. When he went into active service more than twenty months ago. he became rosh of the Detroit Habonim. There was always a glow about him as he worked. of hard work. " The many members of Habonim throughout the country who remember him at conventions as chairman at sessions. a determination that held out until he convinced or was convinced. when he participated in a discussion. that would be built by and for Habonim. well remember that it was not only physically that he worked hard. and above all. After his initiation of the work for a summer Kvutza near Detroit. He continued. Danny continued to participate in Habonim life. it was with the determination born of his intense sincerity. His influence was felt as well among the haverim in the neighboring cities. All who came in contact with him were imbued with his spirit of idealism. "Those who saw Danny at work in Kinneret. Yes.
it's all right too. can prove the true worth of his short life. through embodying his spirit in our work in Habonim. perhaps the leading member of the future. it's the machine that counts. I only hope I'll get a chance to make it more so in the future. 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. When Danny learned that he and his men were to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima. I haven't learned very much-just enough to realize that I still have a great deal to learn. "I guess I haven't done much in my short life so far. one of the leading members of Habonim.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING lems of the local groups he had led as well as those of national Habonim. then I think my life so far has been worthwhile. He continued to be. But if I've served as a stimulus to even a few kids to try to reach higher." He has not been granted the chance he hoped for. But in case I don't. not the little cogs. he wrote to his Detroit haverim in these words: "Naturally. Furrows. to bring some good into the world. After all. but we who are carrying on. May. 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. 1945 179 . in the minds of all of us.
1947 180 . He was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from a meeting of Habonim. February. Furrows. Louis. On his return to St. because he personified the ideals of our movement. Halutziut came easily for Nate. both in his work in the movement and in his relations with his haverim. On his days off. At the time of his death he was making plans to leave for Eretz Yisrael in the spring. he left home and began training at the National Farm School. he entered the Navy and served two and a half years. even those who had never met him. He was preparing for life in Eretz Yisrael at an age when most haverim are just beginning to consider halutziut. His loss is a tremendous blow for all of us.IN MEMORIAM NATE KANTER Every haver in Habonim knew Nate Kanter. New Jersey. 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. unselfish. He has left a gap which cannot be filled. to him it was the natural way of life. hard-working boy who became so close to them. unassuming. largely in the Pacific. He was a complete halutz-devoted. working ceaselessly. One of his first activities was a visit to the training farm at Creamridge. he was a frequent visitor at the Hehalutz Training Farm at Creamridge. he threw himself into movement work more vigorously than ever. He came to be one of the most active and respected haverim in the machaneh. Those haverim now in Eretz Yisrael will remember the quiet. When he reached eighteen. At sixteen.
Only the clump-clump of hundreds of boots walking through the mud could be heard. . While he was working. music. The people followed near and behind the coffin. April. Kieve said a few words before the coffin was lowered into the ground. and from there. No one said anything. And all the time. on the other hand.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ARI LASHNER It happened yesterday between 10:30 and 11:30 in the morning. . 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. It is still incredible. That picture of Ari. the desire to come to Eretz Yisrael and take part in its upbuilding. He spoke about the conflict in Ari's nature: How he loved beautiful things a good book. various pictures of Ari flashed through my mind. The quietness and stillness were uncanny. will always remain with me. The entire kibbutz was shocked and stricken by his death. Kieve spoke about his years in the movement. his years at sea. People gathered and stood together in small groups for comfort. art. a trigger happy Arab from Salchia shot him in the back. and his work with the ships He spoke simply and beautifully. carried and driven to the little cemetery near the garden. 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 . a glass of wine-and how he had. 1948 181 . There was an escort of men with guns to protect us. I cannot really describe the great feeling of despair that took hold of us at his going and the manner of his going. Rose Breslau Furrows. young and vital. His body was taken to the Mazkirut building.
to Europe and to Eretz Yisrael. of 'music. there was his smiling. the pleasurable interludes of gentle conversation. For he was a central figure. but left such deep impressions on all whom he met. 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. to express their sense of loss. of strolling about the city. He went through life so unassumingly.he inspired in others a sincere and warm recognition of his own capabilities. and he was destined to contribute in important measure to the Jewish State in the future. A cohesive group that grew up in the movement and had planted firm roots in Eretz Yisrael feels shattered. someone on whom we all leaned. America. We feel more alone in a darker world. of drives into the country. The ignorant Arab sniper's bullet that cut short his life at Kfar Blum on March 16th caused far more than a personal loss. diverse individuals have felt impelled to communicate with others who knew him.just because of these qualities . and the movement produced. For Ari exemplified the best that the combination of Judaism. unchanged.IN MEMORIAM ARI LASHNER Ari Lashner has left us. His wife and child had gone to Eretz Yisrael before him. for just as he was a leader of the most complete modesty and honesty . and a springtime era of the movement. bringing in thousands on his Hagana ship. There will never take place that meeting in Eretz Yisrael to which I looked forward so greatly. You would never have guessed from Ari's quiet work-day. He had 182 . From all parts of the world. a ship that ran the blockade and then returned to Europe for a second load. But always before. He went away many times before-to distant cities for the movement. With him went a whole period in the youth of those who grew up with him. good-humored greeting again. Everyone who knew him would agree to this. to war as a marine. an inexhaustible source of reminiscence and humor.
and respecting feeling in others. who hated even the raised voice. In this connection. He was never heard by anyone to shout in anger. by the development of universal theories which solved all problems. tempering the feelings. for which he was too naturally gifted). he gave full credence to the role of the irrational in life. this realistic tendency intervened even in his enjoyment of abstract beauty in painting and poetry (never in music. For a time. yet not your own. Ghandi could not have abhorred violence more than Ari Lashner. But he never drove others. He died in war. attaching at least as much weight to his feelings as to his reason. or seeking a way out by processes of rationalization. He did not enjoy the conscious role of "organizer" or even of halutz. tolerant and receptive 183 . Thus he could not consider the fate of the Jewish people without including himself in the solution.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING not known when or how he would see them again and he wanted to be with them desperately. He had strong passions. What he could not tolerate in himself and others was covering up the problem. and impatience. there was a definite mellowing in him. it is his insistence that the individual search for his own truth and act in consequence. anger. He assumed you were wrestling honestly with your problems as he was with his. But in recent years. But he longed for the day of peace when he could realize himself in some way in the Jewish Land. and under the pressure of very wide experience. excusing oneself. or to descend to the vulgar or unseemly in any way. Not that he was a "gentleman." unless "gentleman" is redefined to be what he was. which all who experienced him felt. to gossip in malice. And there was frequent cause for anger and impatience in those years. Principles divorced from circumstances and action did not exist for him except as scholastic exercises with which he was -very impatient. If a keynote is to be sought in his pervasive influence.
He saw the evils of America. The very casting of whole societies. concert balls. parks. The man with a "reputation" as a music lover doesn't tell such stories about himself with detached enjoyment. His greatest pleasure was to drive through its countryside. observe people. From the earliest days when. until almost the last full day together. we went driving out on Long Island until dawn.IN MEMORIAM by nature. While he understood and admired a Vronsky and an Anna Karenina. into formal molds with neat tags was foreign to his mind. He enjoyed greatly the scene of the “visit to the uncle” in War and Peace. Any account of Ari would be incomplete without mentioning his love for America. stores. visit galleries. the enjoyment of beautiful things in many forms became a welcome release for him. of people. I associate him with trips into the green countryside and 1 recall his avid appreciation of it. He was a Socialist. He once told of hearing a musical work on the radio while working on something. He knew it well to California. but he weighed things relatively and he knew the enormous importance of the measure of basic civil liberties enjoyed here. after our Young Poale Zion Alliance meetings. when we drove into New England. He loved to stop at roadside inns. but he would take any capitalism over a Socialism that gave a whit less of individual liberty. but without the slightest trace of the envy that stems from vanity and leads to pretenses and false emulation. 184 . his favorite was Levin. whether in art or in farming. walk in cities. He muttered to himself: "What on earth is this endless hodgepodge?" It was announced as the Kreutzer Sonata. too. The piece went on interminably. He felt humble and inferior to the point of discomfort before anyone with special talent. He loved honesty and simplicity. and of complex ways of life.
and counterdemonstrations. and every week saw demonstrations.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The 1930's were a difficult test for radical youth. actually. Here. He dropped his teacher-training course when it gradually became apparent to him that his future lay with the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. He saw the Jewish people again singled out for persecution and he felt that concrete' special efforts by Jews themselves were demanded. Socialists and Communists drove the black and white stereotypes of doctrinaire radicalism to absolute extremes. He felt like a victim of himself. But they were a little above him. We Labor Zionists participated in all radical activities but as a collateral thing. The concept of doubt in the sense of debating one's path by purely mental processes cannot rightly be used for him. He was unaware of the courage it took to drift with the tide of one's being. expulsions. It was the Frederick B. Ari admired the courage and the intellectual acumen of the radical leaders and even admitted that their panaceas might be right. He was always ready to admit that the paths others were following were right. He seemed to be. without some trustworthy reference point in reality. just drifting. His life was the result of an evolutionary process. another essential characteristic is illustrated. and thought uneasily himself that he was. and it was difficult to perceive at what stage this process actually became a form of reduction ad absurdum. There never were any dramatic announcements or obvious soul struggle." But he spoke about the other things that were nice to do with a certain detachment. These have been called his "doubts" and his "conflict. He spoke nostalgically about the interesting careers others were following. What it was and what had gone into it was flowing irrevocably in a certain 185 . In the rarefied atmosphere of college. Their solutions for the whole world still left him uncomfortable as an individual. Ari Lashner's reference point was his emotional Jewishness and Labor Zionism to which he attached significant weight. Robinson era at City College. Impossible.
desires. Harry Levtow.IN MEMORIAM direction and be would have thought it absurd that some sudden idea should be able to change it. And he did it as usual-well. all these have come about through the vision. It is probably reserved only to those who knew him to feel the true loss. in the conventional sense. There is a whole generation of young people who remember how Ari led them in song and dance. Ari would not want to be singled out or separated from his comrades. increased aliya. April. nobly. Labor Eretz Yisrael and the ideals of halutziut proudly became the central educational idea of the movement. emphasis on Hebrew. It is not possible to believe and. as every individual was in life. But the Yishuv has always commemorated its dead lovingly. for my part. So he followed the path of the halutz. is true. sometimes looking wistfully back at the green fields of America. faithfully. no analogy with anyone else. there are those to whom the loss is a terrible reality. and energy of the small group of which Ari was a central figure. I do not think of Ari as having died. I am rendering a faint duty inadequately because I knew Ari. one of us. Furrows. No hero picture. I merely consider that he has crossed another boundary before us as he did so often before. by virtue of his great truth to himself. It is futile to try to recreate by words the vital essence of a complicated personality like Ari. how he spoke at camps and conferences-vital and human. 1948 186 . courage. 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. the expanded hachshara farms. Every soul is precious. but the epitome of us. And so for every one of those who are dying in Eretz Yisrael. of thoughts. Every one of those good Hebrew names we read is only a symbol of a face smiling to someone. working. and acts known and beloved somewhere. Camp Kvutza.
He was drawn to the broad. He was an adventurer. On closer acquaintance. 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 187 . We also found some boards for the future kitchen. The camp consisted of a hilltop cluttered with tents which had obviously seen better days in the army. had proved too stifling. open fieldsthe sort of boy that can develop into a hero or an adventurer. We knew then that he was moody and ready to tell stories of his adventures throughout the United States. people who were tired of civilization and routine. and dishes (slightly cracked). He had a leader's qualities and could influence people either for better or worse. He used to spend many days and nights with hoboes and his stories were remarkable. and the discipline of a school. even in early childhood.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. We were most impressed with the big. Tired after a day of hard work. always seeking new thrills and experiences. old farmer's stove. For the stormy nature of this boy. We saw a different world. I well remember the delightful evenings and sunsets in the camp which were so inspiring. Hayim could be found on one of the cots in the tent. a few boxes of cups (without handles). salvaged from Unser Camp for whose guests they were not deemed worthy. We were met by the advance crew of a few boys. the walls of his home. and the old Ford that we were barely able to purchase for $10." One of the advance crew was Hayim Rambam. They felt free as birds and so did Hayim. he gave up that kind of life and returned home. Once he admitted to me that only because of the deep love for his father. you learned that a few warm friendly words could easily quell the storm raging in him.
destroying many houses in the neighborhood and flooding all the valleys. We all gathered in our one "building. Incidents of that summer keep coming to mind. so we decided for safety's sake to make our way to a nearby boarding house. The Ford that had not the least desire to climb the smallest hill. lashed by the wind! It was one of those moments when old and young display all their shortcomings and weaknesses and. We felt that the very foundation of our camp would not survive that night. that constantly refused to get back to camp on time. riding in the Ford. a hurricane suddenly pounced upon us. He was also our "life saver. 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. I am sure that it was solely to Hayim's credit that we came away that summer sound in limb. was an obedient. Hayim and I. Hayim showed himself to be the second sort of person. Hayim was the driver of the Ford on which we depended for supplies from the nearby town and water from the well. because of whose caprices we always had to bring along a couple of "footmen" to help push when the inevitable need arose. knee-deep in water.IN MEMORIAM many a time I thought that perhaps Hayim may turn out to be another Jack London. Towards the end of the summer." to whom many campers literally owed their lives. on the other hand. Our ancient army tents. without a path to follow. 188 . Here we are. when a person may forget about and sacrifice himself for the general welfare." squatting on the tables with only a roof overhead while the torrent of rain drenched us through the open sides. How well I remember that procession in the thick blackness. willing servant in Hayim's skillful hands.
In the meantime. more serious in outlook. he went on his own. It was clear that Eretz Yisrael had had a marked effect upon him. his enthusiasm. 1942 JOSEPH ROSENBERG There will be many vacant places in our ranks when this war is over. I really learned to appreciate his character at the Leaders' Seminar in Pipersville in 1940. a second was lost in a mission over Germany. and he hoped to obtain a certificate to go to Eretz Yisrael. a third while performing his duty in the Near East. I did not see him for a long time after that but heard he was employed as a tractor driver in Mikveh Yisrael. I also went to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Jerusalem with my husband. he drank from a spring he did not know was contaminated. It did not occur to him that tiny microbes would conquer his powerful body and quiet his stormy nature for eternity. But a month later he was dead. Suddenly. 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. The fourth of our haverim is gone. I was impressed with his youthfulness. . his devotion.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The work in Camp Kvutza became a form of training for Hayim. . and now Joseph Rosenberg is reported missing in action at sea. When he did not receive a certificate. less restless. Leak Brown Haboneh June. under the hot sun. He was about to become rosh mahaneh of Detroit and he spent hours 189 . He dreamed of participating in the defense of the country . Hayim showed up in Jerusalem during a holiday. He was much changed-more mature. his zeal. One died flying in this country. While working in the fields.
Joey was one of the first to join and carry out its program.that during the period that he was stationed at San Diego in training. he was certain that he would be able to organize a Habonim group. 1944 190 . We remember that when a Kibbutz Aliya was formed in Detroit. 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. We remember that while others were delving into deep discussion about the problems of labor.IN MEMORIAM with me discussing his plans. his ideas. He showed me his neat notebook. Joey joined the local union and made himself heard there.. G. It is an irreparable loss for the movement here and for Kfar Blum in Eretz Yisrael. Joey entered a trade school to prepare himself for the life of a halutz. D. He lived his life in search of a better world and gave his life in the struggle for it. he led us through one of the strongest years of our existence. we talked about his doubts and his ambitions. But those who stayed with the group remember that while others were spouting high-sounding phrases about becoming halutzim.. * * * * * Joey joined Habonim in 1935 at the age of eleven. his plans. We remember that when Joey came out to camp weekends. I read his outlines. when we grow older. D. he spent every spare moment making contacts and speaking to people. B. he would do more work than others had done all week. June. Furrows. You may not know. We remember how as rosh mahaneh of Detroit Habonim.
about whom relatives in the Allied countries had made inquiries. Today. when the best part of his contribution to Zionism surely lay ahead of him. one-time halutz from America. missing in action for over a year. 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. Sereni. 191 . through a search conducted by Ben Zion (now a sergeant in the Jewish Brigade). I obtained permission from the British army bureau in charge of these searches to institute a search for Enzo Sereni. Together with another member of the team. A letter from Kieve Skidell tells the following story which ends all hope that Enzo. but traces of him. might still be alive: “On the streets of Paris I ran into Sgt. Together with Ben Zion Ilan of Afikim who was then an Eretz Yisrael delegate to the youth movement. as you may know. led to the concentration camp at Dachau. His mission was to work with Italian partisans behind the German lines. 1944.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. as Hehalutz delegate. whose energy and imagination made Habonim possible. 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. we are finally beyond any question of doubt certain that Enzo is dead-dead at the age of thirty-nine. it was primarily Enzo Sereni. and together with American haverim. Eretz Yisrael delegate to the American Habonim. after his capture by the Germans. and now a sergeant in the Second Battalion of the Jewish Brigade. The details of his capture are not known. Yet that is what has occurred to Habonim through the murder of Enzo Sereni in Dachau on November 17-18. Ben Zion Ilan. engaged in the search for prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates in Germany.
His body was cremated at the local crematorium. Of his end he knew nothing since he had been taken away from Dachau before it came. Block 23. all of whom have disappeared without a trace. 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. we filled an urn with ashes from the crematorium. “ ‘We then looked up the pastor. 17 November 1944. Taken to Special Punishment Cell for interrogation. 113160. those ashes will be placed there together with those of our other martyrs. V3 (code for member of the British forces). Those were not his ashes alone but they were sacred. we turned immediately to the card index of all those who had ever been in the place. “ ‘One can only surmise from this information that he was brought to his death by torture. Entered 9 October 1944. When the projected memorial to the Gola is erected in Jerusalem. Died 18 November 1944. Shmuel. Born 22 June 1905 at Jerusalem. Resident at Tel Aviv.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. he was bubbling with energy and intellectual curiosity. It turned out that he had been the secretary of the block Sereni was in and he remembered him well. his own tormentors no doubt among them. who had been in the same block with him in Dachau. " 'Before leaving Dachau. 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. Barda. and there we found a card with the following information on it: “ ‘Prisoner No. 192 . “ ‘When we came to Dachau. Sereni impressed him as a man of extremely high intellectual acumen. and he couldn't forget how even in the environment of Dachau.
but to make sure. 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. he left an indelible impression. between 7:30 and 8:00 A. Whatever the language. going through the Eretz Yisrael press. 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. only a few months ago. There is no longer any doubt. Even those who lived with him at that famous Bet Hehalutz on Riverside Drive probably never knew when he awoke. We were skeptical because some Brigade boys had been there around that time and had said nothing about it. when a report reached us that Sereni had been seen alive in the concentration camp at Mauthausen. as far as that goes. I never did find out when he arrived. he. Austria. But there is no one there today but a number of Russian troops who are billeted there. I came back from a trip out of town in the wee hours of the morning. Soon after his earliest appearance in America.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING " 'For us the search seemed ended. Everywhere he went. In this way I hoped to find out when Enzo did come in.M. and there was no trace of him whatsoever. I had been rather vain of my speed in reading but Sereni was insufferably superior. as I recall. Another blow to my own pride was the way he went through the Hebrew press-or any other reading matter. Apparently he never slept except for forty winks occasionally on buses and on railroad coaches-and every morning when he was in New York. he would sail through texts like a swift Italian breeze. We all 193 . I woke up. would appear at the office bright and early to greet the first-comers and shame the others. We who worked with him in the office of Hehalutz were consumed with envy and despair at his incredible energy and tirelessness. we went out there and got permission from the Russian commandant of nearby Linz to visit the place. I remember. to find Sereni sitting opposite me at his desk.
Sereni was so clever that slower minds distrusted him. of course. I noted in the comments on Sereni's death. his paradoxes and rapid-fire patter. He threw himself with unlimited devotion-perhaps the proper word is abandoninto the cause he wished to serve. He never counted costs-one of the things. with roots in Italy as far back as 70 A. perhaps. which set him apart from many comrades was that in certain things. Sereni enjoyed many elements of ultimate security which enabled him to be not only daring. Then afterwards.IN MEMORIAM harbored dark suspicions about how thoroughly he had read.D. In fact. I was a witness to the same phenomenon here. Sereni would be able to deposit it all on my desk. He had a firm viewpoint. but after a halfhour with a huge batch of literature. 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. They were inclined to worry about his most innocent proposal for fear of some ingenious trap. the flashing play of his wit and thought. 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. and a strong sense of the direction in which he wished to go. which have recently appeared in the Eretz Yisrael press. a fighter in a certain sense. and with assured status in the academic and professional society of contemporary Rome. but one might even say a daredevil. in conversation. Sereni was. It was not only the Germans with their gruendlichkeit who were uneasy at his mental athletics. he had less need than they to count costs. prominent Roman Jewish family. even made them rather suspicious. 194 . efficiently marked to indicate the essential items for digesting or writing up. according to repute. in all his dangerous missions for the Histadrut. 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. A scion of a rather wealthy.
indeed. Rabbi Joachim Prinz tells this story of Sereni. After a while she found Prinz and he was released. It is true that he used his opponents' lower resistance to fire deliberately. I can well believe that he sustained an intense mental activity in his last days at Dachau. 195 . He was also capable of using an argument largely for its effect. He was capable of the most astounding self-contradictions and mental flexibility. gave him another formidable advantage in debate which only increased the confusion and unfounded suspicions of many opponents. This. In the most furious argument.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The same lusty combativeness marked his fights for his ideas within the Histadrut. Prinz's wife learned of the affair and tore the town apart trying to locate the two and obtain their release. 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. In spite of a frantic search they could not find Sereni until midnight. Sereni was basically cool. covering the theory and practice of both German Nazism and Italian fascism. and they could not get him to leave until he had made a few last points. They found him in the midst of a lively discussion with his guards. Opponents often mistook his vehemence for vindictiveness. He was indeed a man whom an opponent had to know to love. Sereni remained detached and capable of appreciating an opposing view. the product of a scientifically-trained mind. was almost fantastically reflected in his volatile whims and witticisms. In the utmost heat of contention. Sereni's fundamental open-mindedness. He boiled rapidly but only on the surface. because in the most opposing statements he could appreciate the grains of truth. never were they more wrong. At last they discovered the prison where he was kept and were permitted to see him.
who at once asked whether it were true that there was a current vogue for Marxism in America. just off the boat. or simple selfdelusion if one took the Hashomer Hatzair view. were in reality tentative statements." Said Grodzensky: "Do you believe in Marxism. so to speak. raise the standard of living by cooperative methods of consumption and mutual aid. of course. All these. Sereni said: "Excellent! You know. of course. He therefore argued that the Jewish worker must have the idealism to come down to the Arab level in order to meet him and. meant either deferring such solidarity to an indefinite future if one took the Mapai view. I remember when he was in this country. Reluctantly. and often went to practically fantastic lengths of logic in this matter. a simpleton. in Sereni's mind. 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. Practically rubbing his hands with glee. experimental hypotheses. Enzo was always a strong adherent of the idea of a Jewish-Arab collaboration. and we never knew how seriously to take them.IN MEMORIAM Shlomo Grodzensky tells this of his first encounter with Enzo: He met a sturdy little Italian. I'm a first-rate expert at arguing Zionism from a Marxist basis. 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. What particularly upset the assurance of some of us was that 196 . on the theory that the Arab's must be raised to the Jewish level. 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. Enzo shot back: "What do you think I am. Shlomo admitted that this was the case. 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. But he was an extreme realist as well. then?" Outraged.
and what he thought.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. Sereni argued that the disturbances of 1936-38 were a good thing in the history of Arab-Jewish relations. though the kibbutz would not assign him to stand watch. I was astonished to hear that Enzo was not allowed to stand his turn at guard duty because. even to a notion of provisional. where peace and mutual forbearance had ensued between groups after a decisive measuring of strength. notably the British-Boer case. When I came to Givat Brenner. But this was no final stand for Sereni. Sereni had obviously considered that factor already for he promptly replied that there were also instances. 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. during the period of my own stay in Eretz Yisrael (1939). entailed serious consequences in action for Sereni. However. one might even say heuristic. Even the most fleeting adherence to an idea. He would never wait for a bus to take him home and he scoffed at the danger from Arab 197 . if only in order to make them think on their own. I remember an instance by which I was particularly impressed: In America. value in his life-course. the first few times he had gone out without a rifle. as I learned. As a member of a kibbutz which. It was brought up in discussion that bloodshed between groups had historically tended to implant mutual hatred that long outlasted the fighting. suffered its casualties like any other rural settlement. But these hypotheses were also formative elements in his own thoughts. Sereni knew very well what the costs were of Arab terrorism to the Jews. it could not stop him from breaking the rule against walking through certain officially designated dangerous areas between Rehovot and Givat Brenner. he acted.
This was the man who.IN MEMORIAM neighbors whom he had known. We saw him as the "happy warrior" child. deracinated Jews-yet under Sereni's ministrations their success as kibbutz members was. In a late picture taken in Eretz Yisrael and published in the memorial issue of Hapoel Hatzair. But he took his bearings by love. confronting unforeseen and portentous immensities. Far deeper than his intellectual constructions was a deep. he had swung towards pacifism. outstanding and phenomenally smooth. for this reason he would often mock us by declaring himself nearer a Christian than a Jew in religious sensibility. In the recent picture. and I can attest to it. taking delight in the explosive effects of his intellectual gunfire. approaching forty. let us say-would you give her up? " If you answered. when I spoke to him. But what was it which put those omens of fear into Sereni's eyes in his latest pictures? We can only guess. romantic strain of love in Sereni. volunteered for sabotage and underground work behind the lines in Italy. 198 . ~ he looks like a lost child. if you loved a woman. bravely but with solemnity. childlike. Later. full of fire and sparkle. He always had a childlike look. No. Products of fascism. moving mountains of apathy and mental torpor with a logical witticism. I learned the basic intellectual reasons for these new meshugassen of Sereni's. He told me that having had long conversations in America with Hayim Greenberg. He was completely aware of it. 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. and another claimed her-her husband. Sereni presents an altogether different aspect from what was familiar to us. if I may abuse a phrase. I remember Sereni loved to propound this question: "Tell me. he would acclaim you a Zionist. Solemnity was a look I often saw in him at Givat Brenner.
the Kibbutz Hameuhad. as in the life of an individual. he contributed inestimably to the formulation of the program and policies of Habonim. One of the first organizers. which he barely knew. December. Lithuanians and Germans alike. though only thirty-one when he died. we see that it was able to put a reflection of fear even into those eyes. and the Italian people. 199 . Jews-Eastern European Jews. 1945 IRV STERNBERG The early days in the life of a movement. to learn to meet the inevitable situations of adult life. who died early in June. the Histadrut. Mapai. German Jews. his own kibbutz. Ben Halpern Furrows. the Young Poale Zion Alliance.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING These things he loved: Italy-Italian art. but to take new strength from the spirit he displayed. to Germany. He had invested far more than a lifetime of labor. We know from writings that reach us from Eretz Yisrael how deeply the split in the Mapai affected Sereni. even Italian historiography. Italian philosophy. a member of the National Executive. and later the Merkaz. and never had he failed to realize what he risked. are shaped and influenced by those few who conceive and develop the ideas which give it birth. He used to say that everywhere he went-to Eretz Yisrael. his friends. From his latest picture. he had invested his love. was a veteran in Habonim and its predecessor. the Yiddish language. As a movement grows up. Irv. Irv Sternberg. to learn to mourn the death of a comrade. Givat Brenner. it must begin to accept the responsibilities of maturity. his own home and family. his metaphysical moorings. to America-he invested his money in the Histadrut. was one of those who contributed to the conception and development of Habonim.
conceive new ideas. Irv nevertheless translated his Socialist Zionism into his personal life. Habonim will remember Irv. July. His exceptional ability in artistic handwork led him to organize Habonim crafts groups. His knowledge of the essence of the movement led him to create programs. 1944 200 . his passion for the unique. seek new methods of educating others in it. 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. His love of literature and art. when he was elected on the Poale Zion list as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress. the background that molded all his discussions of our problems. Irv was a haver with diverse and intense interests. the type of material he assembled when he served as editor of Haboneh last year. In 1939 Irv received some measure of reward for the work he had done so devotedly for so long. 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. long regret his untimely loss to us. were reflected in those things he wrote. Furrows. and all of these he applied in his work for Habonim. At the founding convention of Habonim in Buffalo.IN MEMORIAM A halutz who knew that because of his serious illness he could never realize life in Eretz Yisrael. and long be grateful for the share he contributed to Habonim.
too-that is why these words are meaningless to me. 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. I cannot transform and reduce this intangible thing into pitifully inadequate sentences. That is the best tribute I can give him. and I call to all those others who believe as Johanan did to rouse themselves. We must believe in the things Johanan died for and fight for them. 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. of the work we did when he was my rosh mahaneh. 1944 201 . I shall endeavor to do what my friend Johanan wanted to do-I will try to realize his dreams. 1944. November. Harry Brumberger Furrows.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING JOHANAN TARTAKOWER "Johanan Tartakower was killed in action in the European Theater of Operations on September 29th. so that the vision of which Johanan was symbolic shall find new strength and fervor. And I can say with a determination which I have never felt before that we must not let the chain of halutzim be broken. He was one of our best haverim. We must fill the gap." He was my friend. of the dreams we had together of Eretz Yisrael and "our" kibbutz. to accept the task of the halutz. lest the Jewish people never find their future.
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