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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.
anchored in its summer camps. From that initial summer. The movement has founded seven kibbutzim in Israel and played pivotal roles over the years in the labor.” Today we know that they were indeed making history. But as movement veteran Saadia Gelb would recall years later. teaching the commitment and forging the lifelong friendships that drove everything else. feminist and Middle East peace movements. The Habonim Dror youth movement. but there was nothing inevitable about any of it. Jewish pride and progressive social awareness. civil rights. has nurtured multiple generations of activists and leaders in Israeli and American Jewish life. They believed they had a role to play in these great dramas. They knew well that they were living in historic times—a Depression at home. fascism rising in Europe and the first waves of Arab violence threatening the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. Habonim camping evolved and grew into a network of facilities across the United States and Canada that has educated tens of thousands of young Jews to values of Zionism. Throughout the decades. “none of us in the 1930s thought of himself as ‘making history’. Habonim camps have been the heart of the movement experience.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. Habonim Dror and its camps have been a resounding success. It all started when the Young . generating the passion.
the socialist Zionist pioneers who were rebuilding the land of Israel. Labor Zionism’s main constituency. they agreed to set aside the radical politics of Poale Zion and build . Others argued that the children of working class immigrants. prosaically named Buds. Chapters were formed here and there. but the results were dispiriting. had been successful enough to merit another round the following year. New York. Many of the senior Labor Zionists were convinced that summer camp meant volley ball and boating. Young Poale Zion had been trying since the 1920s to establish a children’s organization for ten-toeighteen-year-olds. for all its uncertainties. after a new Labor Zionist scouting organization established in England in 1929. Nothing like it existed anywhere in America. and the camp thrived. The numbers remained small and enthusiasm was low. who had settled in Palestine and was now in New York as a shlicha. even within their own movement. couldn’t afford summer camp. the young adult wing of the Labor Zionist movement. The founders themselves weren’t entirely sure what they had in mind. They hadn’t even settled yet on the name Habonim. That first summer of 1932. with the help of Young Poale Zion alumna Golda Meir. After the 1934 camp season ended. Painfully. not living as a commune. They named it Habonim. leaders of Young Poale Zion gathered at Accord to discuss the future of their education program. The summer camp would eventually provide the missing spark. Following days of stormy debate they decided to create a new children’s organization as an autonomous unit within the movement.Poale Zion Alliance. In the spring of 1933. and the camp’s first advocates faced strong opposition. debating ideology and hauling their own trash. the movement acquired a campsite of its own in Accord. The new location proved enormously popular. 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.
The new organization grew quickly. youngsters developed intimate bonds with each other and the group. marching for civil rights in 1957. the Young Poale Zion Alliance dissolved itself and became the senior division of its own offshoot. protesting the Vietnam war in 1969. too. rallying for Soviet Jews and California farm-workers in 1975. Gordonia. . And the camp program was unique. Three more were added in 1939 and more the following summer and the summer after that. Living for weeks away from their families in a community of their peers. but the campers still wanted to be together. renewed each summer and deepened over time.the Habonim education program around character-building. Summer might end. and so they spent their weekends going to ken meetings and regional seminars to see their friends. that had been struggling for a decade to find its footing. scoutcraft. The impact of the camp experience could be seen not only on the individual Habonim members. in Michigan and Quebec.600 campers. And when a few Habonim members showed up for a major public event. Camp had become the heart of the movement experience. resulting in a powerful brew that was stronger than any of its components. The fastest growth was in the summer camps. Habonim. Two years after that. devotion to Israel and the ideals of kibbutz pioneering. By the mid-1940s. Traditional summer camp songs and cheers were combined with Labor Zionist ideology and the movement’s sense of mission. By 1945 Habonim was operating eleven camps across the continent with a total enrollment of some 1. yielded for many youngsters a set of lifelong friendships and a powerful movement loyalty. but on the movement and everything it did. By 1938 it was strong enough to take over a smaller Labor Zionist youth group. it was clear that camp was no longer just an adjunct to the year-round Habonim educational program. Those bonds and those lessons. Two new ones were opened in 1935. many Habonim members showed up—protesting outside British consulates in 1946.
They went.” They’ve been written off many times. Those movements dominate the Jewish public square so thoroughly that many American Jews are surprised to hear that Habonim camps are still in business. And because they wanted to be with their friends from camp. Today. settling in urban communes in slums and development towns. Jewish summer camps existed to provide children with exercise and fresh air and to give their parents a breather. They’re not as shiny or high tech as some of the better known camps. When the first fourteen Labor Zionist teenagers pitched their tent in the Catskills in 1932. The . 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. Hundreds moved to Israel in its early years as members of garinim. because they wanted to make a difference and to live out their values. and in the 1970s and 1980s to found the new kibbutzim of Gezer. Habonim members continued to move to Israel in garinim. Jewish values camping is high fashion. though they had an inkling. Even in the 1990s and beyond. but that’s always been part of their charm — the old Habonim principle that it’s “chalutzic to be schmutzik. hundreds of Habonim members — nearly the entire senior membership — went there to volunteer. The path that Habonim pioneered in 1932 was trod a decade later by Young Judaea and the Ramah camps of Conservative Judaism. of course. communal settlement groups. Grofit and Ravid. and soon after that by the Reform movement. But they are still here. It’s not even clear that the Young Poale Zion organizers knew themselves exactly where they were headed. when the kibbutz movement was sunk in crisis and Zionism had become a subject of cynicism or worse.When Israel won its independence in 1948 and took to the battlefield to defend it. They continued going over in garinim in the 1950s and 1960s to join Gesher Haziv and Urim. as big as they were in their heyday in the 1940s.
And still they carry on. three-quarters of a century after they began. 2009 . Goldberg. the kids want to be with their friends.J. They still have an urgent message to transmit. Besides. They have to.New York and Los Angeles camps have gone bust and then risen again. J. resurrected by faithful alumni and determined groups of teenagers.
.......................16 THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING ........ 33 THE MEANING OF KVUTZA ............................................. 129 THE COMING SEASON ................................................................................................................. 115 GIMLI........................... 87 KENDALL ......................................................................................................................... 122 AFIKIM ........................................................................................................................................................................... 125 CAMP MIRIAM................... 32 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING ............ MANITOBA .................................................................... 49 COMING OF AGE ............. 90 "KVUTZIE"........14 Introduction ......................................................................................................... 95 TEL NATAN ......................................................... 107 GALIL'S FIRST YEAR ................................................................................................................ 100 KVUTZA IN THE WEST .............................................................................................................................................. 109 GALIL ...................................................... KVUTZA...................................... YOUNGSTERS!...... 131 CAMP AVODA....................... 98 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM .1933 ..........................................6 Foreword from Original Publication ............ 128 CAMP BONIM....... 74 CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN .............................................................................. TEXAS ............ 25 GROWTH OF AN IDEA "KVUTZA" AND KVUTZA .................................................................................................................. 20 ACCORD ............................................................................................................................................................................. 104 THE STORY OF "MOSH"...................... 68 HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... CREAMRIDGE .................................................................................................................................................................................. 60 THE TURNING POINT ...... 91 KVUTZA............................................................. 134 AMAL IN RETROSPECT ............................................................................................................. 55 PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY................................................................................................................................... 137 ............................................ 94 KINNERET ..................................... 85 TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK .............................................................................................Contents Foreword .............................................................................................................................. 82 LISTEN HERE........................................................................................ 126 MONTREAL ....... WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? .....................................................
............................................................................................161 NEED HELP PACKING? ...........................................................................................................156 THE TREE ................................................155 TO KVUTZA ............................... ACCORD ..............................................................................................................199 JOHANAN TARTAKOWER ..............171 BEN CHERNER ..................................................................................180 ARI LASHNER .......................................159 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS .................................165 IN MEMORIUM HAZKARA ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................142 ACCORD DIARY ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................143 PEEKING IN WITH OUR SHALIAH ...................191 IRV STERNBERG .................189 ENZO SERENI ...............................................................................177 NATE KANTER .....155 NIGTH WATCH ......151 UNTIL NEXT YEAR ................163 KINNERET SHELI ..........................................173 DANNY GINSBURG ..................................................................187 JOSEPH ROSENBERG ................................................153 VIEW FROM KVUTZA HILL........................................................................................181 HAYIM RAMBAM ............201 ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................168 MIRIAM BIDERMAN ............................................................................................................................................................................KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL NIGHT WATCH .............................................................................................................................................157 SO YOU WANT TO BE A MADRICH .
* * * The Chay Commission. Because of the tragic impression brought on by the forces of evil. 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. and to all those who have cooperated in 14 . the Labor Zionist Commission on Halutziut.” It is worthy of note that in that same year.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. Perhaps it is an indication that the latter are more normal. Aliya and Youth. historians are prone to deal with those events much more so than with construction elements which make for progress in the world. whose purpose it has been to develop further the ideals which the Habonim camps have been inculcating. * * * 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. 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. 1932.
Bert Goldstein Chairman. Chay Commission 15 .the research and the compilation of Adventure in Pioneering. * * * 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. 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. 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. It is the fond hope of the Chay Commission that its courageous story will find the appreciation of a much wider circle as well.
They dedicated themselves to a form of society based on principles of self-labor and mutual cooperation.creating their own society of the future. Thus. It is correct to say that Camp Kvutza is the basic source of strength for the entire Labor Zionist Movement in America. as are most of our chalutzim in Israel. Camp Kvutza enriched the lives of all who participated in its growth and development.Introduction During the past twenty-five years. Many were 16 . Today's leaders of Habonim are veterans of Camp Kvutza. The leaders and chalutzim of tomorrow are at Camp Kvutza today. Through these years. These pioneers transmitted their zeal and vision to succeeding generations of Jewish youth in Habonim who followed in their footsteps. close to five generations of youth have participated in the Habonim Camps. playing . much has been written both for Habonim and for the Jewish educational world on this unique form of camping. The pioneers of Camp Kvutza were imbued with an all-consuming desire for creative Jewish living. working. studying.
expansion. the office secretaries. and content of Camp Kvutza.the deliberations within the movement on the development. 1957 17 . and especially our patrons for making possible the publication of this volume. Menahel. Haboneh. our editorial committee. Furrows. But they will find much which may inspire them and will guide them in their movement activities. to that of a leader enlarging on the principles by which Camp Kvutza will function. to that of educators and community leaders analyzing and evaluating the significance of this departure in Jewish camping. Merkaz Habonim. convention reports. and with varying levels of presentation: from that of a thirteen-year old describing his experiences with childish enthusiasm. but have presented the material in the differing forms in which it originally appeared. 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. In compiling this collection. however. Out of these diverse sources. Many present members of Habonim will no doubt discover herein a world seemingly remote from today's reality. Many were the reactions written by campers while at Kvutza and upon their return to the city. We hope. we have not attempted to create a literary unit. we were confronted with the wealth of material which has been accumulated for a quarter of a century. that each reader will find herein something of intimate significance as well as informational value. Most of the material included has been gleaned from the Habonim archives: News and Views. and internal organizational and educational bulletins. The Editors Summer. * * * We want to take this opportunity to thank the Chay Commission.
The Beginning .
we tried by our own living to create a new world: a world in which the Jew would live in his own country. We lived in our ideal: a worker's life in Eretz Yisrael. were far away from all that worried Americans. Some came to the country as young children. but at that time. They guided and directed our lives. American Jewish living surrounded us. the economic collapse after 1929. the studies. But in truth and most sincerely. one senses how much importance there was to this beginning. one retraces the years and comes to the beginning: the first Camp Kvutza. the camp. So much comes alive: the chaverim. As one looks back twenty-five years. the forms of living there to be based on Socialism. It was the time of the depression. how "peculiar." Many of us were born in the United States. Our schooling. a mutual investigation of the problems inherent in the ideals which we held in common. It was very hard for we were going against the stream. Yet we. our style of life. how strange it was. how revolutionary. Today the conception of "idealist" has acquired a strange interpretation. with making a livelihood.the beginning. We loved this country with its sense of human 20 .THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING An anniversary is a time of reflection. Our minds and our hearts were concerned with another land and our problems were foreign and distant to American life. the tiny group of Poale Zion youth. the campfire with its songs. All around us the youth was concerned with jobs. the Kvutza: the living and studying together. but above all. At the Camp Kvutza these ideals were most meaningful. our thoughts were molded by the country we lived in. Looking backward. and it may even sound boastful to say that we were an idealistic Jewish youth. there was merely the living together at a Camp Kvutza among the gentle hills of New York State. Suddenly all is focused clearly and is full of an inner glow .
We were overwhelmed by its vastness. art. In some homes. its mountains and plains. and saw ourselves in our mind's eye with our comrades in the Promised Land. the stirrings of the vast labor masses . I learned that often the home and the parents were in opposition and added nothing to these unknown deep springs which lived in the consciousness of our comrades. the new theater. and moved one to closeness to all people of the Book." motivated by the thought that Jews need to build a Jewish entity wherever they may be. it dawned in a crowded college auditorium as the Twenty-third Psalm was read by a Christian clergyman. There were before us the grandeur of the West.all this was part and parcel of our day-by-day living. Another was fired by the tales told by a recent arrival from Eretz Yisrael who worked in Petah Tikva with the Chaverim of the Second Aliya. the new forms of the dance. the beauty of the Appalachians. the night club in Harlem. and oceans. its lakes. Yet we dreamt dreams away from all that America was. Why? What moved us? How did we come to these thoughts. it was important to know the reason.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING dignity and freedom. the breadth of the Hudson. this tiny group out of the millions of American Jews? Again and again at the Camp Kvutza. We were conscious of the stirrings of new forces in American literature. Or again. rivers. and music. Russian revolu- 21 . I tried to understand why the chaverim chose this ideal. the charm of the South. and its absorption of the downtrodden and poverty-stricken millions of human beings who flocked to its shores. 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. The life of America was our life: the jazz. the awe of Niagara. vivid with the hope of the liberation of the Jew. Some homes were "Bundist. the politics of the country. its pioneers.
Zionist. and young voices filled the air with Hebrew or Yiddish songs of Eretz Yisrael and Jewish revival. to hold them to some kind of Judaism." 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. exploited by those intent on profits. Why not work here at home? In the first Camp Kvutza. all the above elements were ever present. for in America we were still close to pioneering. For Poale Zion ideology. bright and cheerful. The rhythm. Why Eretz Yisrael? There are two million Jews in New York City alone. We well understood the pioneering life of Eretz Yisrael. the sentiment of rebuilding and heroism. we went to the writings of Borochov and Syrkin. consciousness grew out of this strange soil. and American history glorified the pioneer who moved West to build up the great United States. Poale Zionist. and at times against the wishes of the parents who were aghast at their child's "peculiarities. but not a Jewish folk song. In the short span of time spent at Camp Kvutza. amidst the dark shadows of the trees. We tried to add to the elements already influencing the chaverim. to teach their children about their glorious heritage. We wanted to know more and more about the ideal we so earnestly believed in. there was a large mass of workers with no job security. the poetry of the words. they motivated the program of work. 22 .THE BEGINNING tionary songs of freedom and Siberian exile were sung. Much must be done for them. There were problems to be solved here: tender children working beyond their strength. To the Camp Kvutza was brought much out of the American life in which we found ourselves. Around us was the camp fire. the tense young faces lit by the flame. there was the singing of the Eretz Yisrael songs which linked us with our unknown comrades. all spoke deeply to us.
How happy I was that I was privileged to study under John Dewey. Kilpatrick. namely. were breaking new ground in education. It aimed to enrich the individual by giving him the tools whereby he could continue his investigations. These new me- 23 . the chaverim wholeheartedly accepted these new methods which I so enthusiastically advocated. The new methods were so well fitted to our Poale Zionist ideal. he was taught to work and think in a group. The new education stressed respect and dignity of the individual. Twenty-five years ago their educational philosophy was a complete departure from what was then prevalent. The personality of the learner was stressed. challenging. my teachers. he was motivated. It was a theory of freedom in education and especially John Dewey's philosophy. opposed to all forms of absolutism. It was new. Adult education was assuming its rightful place. The project method was concomitant with these new theories. to study our ideology and to pass on our ideals to many American Jewish youths. T. Both in planning the program of the Camp Kvutza and in carrying it out. his personality was respected. All these methods admirably suited our need. These.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING To the Camp Kvutza we also brought the new educational theories just coming into being in the United States. 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. and E. he studied on his own level. and audacious. which was to give the Jew inheritance in his land. William Kilpatrick. I had just received my Bachelor of Science degree in education from Teachers College of Columbia University. and Thorndike! I was fired by the new philosophy of education which they taught and I had learned the new techniques which they advocated. My special contribution to Camp Kvutza was to bring to our studies the new educational philosophy of John Dewey. Thorndike.
It was group living and learning which was deep and lasting in its influence. Sophie A. Happy are we to have been comrades and partners in that great adventurous undertaking.study deeply and creatively. This group work was in complete accord with the cooperative ideals of Labor Eretz Yisrael. but to study for the love of the subject . and they served in Sinai. Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago was a small pebble thrown into the vast ocean of American Jewish youth. they fought in the War of Liberation of Israel. Udin. The study of Eretz Yisrael problems lent themselves particularly to the new project method. 1957 24 . but never had I enjoyed a more innerly satisfying experience. And the genesis was that first Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago. The small ripple it caused has moved farther and farther. By their example they have influenced others to come to Israel. they were in Cypress. They were on so-called "illegal" boats. For chaverim from the Camp Kvutza have settled on the soil of the land. We sought to draw out every individual to full participation.THE BEGINNING thods taught the individual how to motivate a study not by committing to memory many facts. The waves in its wake have reached the Promised Land. 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. So we studied the creative discussion method. I had some years of organizational work behind me. What a new world these fundamental methods of learning opened up for us! We sensed the democracy of these techniques. Their children are growing up in Israel.
With the help of Golda Meir. was lacking. Berl Locker. who was then 25 .1933 Shortly before I came to America. It was held in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The reasons were: one. of a place that one built with one's own hands. The following winter and spring. the insistence that inasmuch as the movement already has a children's camp. and two. I attended a convention of a Zionist scouting organization with which I had been affiliated. 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. Sophie Udin assumed the leadership. enthusiastically accepted the idea. it was generally felt that the real spirit of a Kvutza. the use of a beautiful spot in the Catskills was gotten. In the summer of 1932.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD . the lack of funds. Jacob Katzman. But most of the other leading chaverim of the senior organizations were skeptical and some were even opposed. and while all who participated gained considerably in their knowledge of Labor Zionism and techniques of leadership. The lingering memories found their expression when in America I became a member of the Central Committee of the Young Poale Zion Alliance. then National Secretary of the Poale Zion. in which one labored and which was governed by its own members. Kinderwelt. ideology. and leadership of a youth movement. something other than a mere replica of the senior Poale Zion. I saw then what such a camping experience can mean in the development of the spirit. therefore. 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. YPZA should utilize that in every way possible. strenuous efforts were made to obtain a campsite of our own. we decided to make an experimental beginning in Unser Camp.
However. Meyer Brown and Shmuel Siegel. whose task it was to bring some modicum of civilization to this wilderness. New Jersey. and to institute self-rule and discipline. supervise all the camping activities. One of the four tents consisted of ten boys from Orange. But Katzman had to leave in the middle of the season to help prepare the forthcoming YPZA national convention. The first substantial help came with the arrival of Mr. and a fine Jewish background.P. we also had some newcomers who could not even pronounce the name of the organization. I found the campers a most heterogeneous group. Margolin. the tuition was only $7 a week and where could one get such a bargain even during the Depression? Under those circumstances. with leadership abilities. young people with organizational tradition. including K. to mold a cohesive group. our senior chaverim started to look upon the camp as something worthwhile. carry water from the well. to most of whom. camping and the Young Poale Zion were quite alien as yet. First of all. who 26 . who immediately instituted a program of Hebrew. and upon his insistence and that of our Central Committee. Among them were some of the best members of the YPZA from several communities. but we succeeded in instilling the proper spirit of cooperation and a form of self-government. Little by little. I bad to conduct all the discussion groups and Shabbat programs. I took over for the remaining period. To this day I don't know how it happened. and assign work for the daily work crews.THE BEGINNING National Secretary of the YPZA and directed our first Kvutza at Accord. has already related the story of its birth elsewhere in this -volume. They came because after all. keep the grounds clean. and a multitude of other jobs. provide wood for the stove. it was very hard to improvise a program to keep the campers busy. a Hebrew teacher. The first few weeks were the hardest. and geography of Eretz Yisrael. Jewish history.
The camp reached its maturity when we instituted the forms of "selfgovernment." Representatives to a camp council were elected by all the campers. The council took its task seriously. had to participate in K. so it was not surprising when occasionally a tent was blown down. The first Accord Kvutza was also rich in adventures. But one stormy late afternoon. but her report to the senior movement was of even greater importance in bringing Camp Kvutza to its attention. 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. Everyone. was quite a chore. they were carried out in a responsible fashion. Her discussions on halutziut were inspiring to the campers. During that time. The age range of the first season in Accord was probab1y older than any of the subsequent seasons. it was during 27 . which. brought back to the city good reports of what was going on in Accord. If ever the spirit of the camp was manifest. This was taken in stride.P. Of inestimable value in this respect were the several days which Golda Meir spent with us. a decision arrived at. The council proved its effectiveness by seeing to it that once a task was undertaken.. There was quite a large proportion of chaverim who had completed their preparatory training and were awaiting aliya certificates. the camp found itself without a single tent standing and without a place for the campers to sleep. under those primitive circumstances (without a heater for hot water). There is a limit to the punishment which even a secondhand army tent can take from the elements. a program mapped out. Work was assigned judiciously and without favoritism.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING came to visit their families. when the velocity of the wind was of hurricane proportion and the rain came down in sheets. without exception. and share in whatever manual labor was required. help police the cleanliness of the grounds and tents.
Mention should be made of the contribution to the camping experience of Rachel Siegel and Leah Brown. 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. wet. and we were all sleepy. One would like to characterize some of the campers but that would take too much space and would be unfair to those not mentioned. this experience became a highlight of that camping season. It pointed the way toward self-discipline and self-government. our clothing was soaked. the brook had overflowed its bank and the water covered the bridge. We emerged from the dining room and began a snake dance to the tune of Chopin's Funeral March. the cots and all the possessions of the campers were put out to dry. the roof leaked. with the exception of a few. who not only saw to it that the food was adequate and wholesome. were transferred to a nearby hotel. The advice of the good people around to break up camp was not heeded. but by their presence. The few that remained on the camp grounds tried as best they could to sleep on the tables in the dining room.THE BEGINNING this emergency. The first season of Accord was the proving ground for the concept of a camp run by youth for youth. and cold to the marrow. As soon as the sun came out. and no matter which way one turned. However. lent dignity to the camp and helped to establish the reliability of Camp Kvutza in the minds of our senior haverim. especially the haverot. All the campers. the tents were put up again. Many have made their mark in Eretz Yisrael as chalutzim and leaders in the Labor Movement. One vividly recalls the morning after-the sky was overcast. on their backs to the other side. and it proved that a camp of this kind lends itself to the pur- 28 . In retrospect. he got wet. But this did not diminish the spirit of those who remained behind. The taller and older chaverim had to carry the younger ones. our cooks. By the time the exodus began.
while giving the campers a practical demonstration of communal living. held immediately after the close of the season on the Labor Day weekend. 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 mainly due to their stand and influence that this convention decided upon the reorganization of the Young Poale Zion. and to lay the groundwork for what later became Habonim. Jacob Lemberger. and problems of the organization.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING suit of serious study of the ideology. history. participants got together to evaluate their achievements and to speak of their experience with a yearning and nostalgia of summer months well spent. Most of the campers attended the Young Poale Zion convention in Philadelphia. It was most gratifying when months after the close of the first season. 1957 29 . to introduce tzofiut.
Growth of an Idea .
study. This attitude toward one's fellow men is the essential ethical motif in our educational program and represents the only true socialist mentality. though expressed in different forms. that true self-esteem and es- 32 . those ideals which motivate our movement. yet one is surprised to what a great extent the essence of Kvutza life is retained. one's entire personality must be overhauled. in as great a measure as possible. The differences between a Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael and our summer Kvutzot are quite evident." Both the question and the intense anxiety for a positive answer represent. All these are expressed through communal living. as if final judgment would be pronounced by the words "yes" or "no. That true comradeship. For what are the great values introduced by and embodied in our Kvutzot in Eretz Yisrael? The mutual relationships between haverim. However. the responsibility which the individual feels to the group. which makes him place all his ability at the disposal of the group without measuring how much he receives in return. and joy. communal labor. from the educational viewpoint. They cannot put what should be into being. and no number of meetings in the city can accomplish this. play. attitudes and states of mind are not created by speeches and lectures and discussions. These instrumentalities are limited in scope. but from a heartfelt recognition of the value of one's haverim. One can master the art of living together only by living together. deeper roots must be sought. Deeper emotions must be stirred. a triumph for our idea. They can indoctrinate a theoretical acknowledgment of what should be. the true equality which arises not from an abstract philosophical belief that all men are equal.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. worry. therein is contained the keen desire to realize personally.
What are meetings? They signify that all present have come from different directions. Jewish camps conducted under communal or semi-communal auspices have sought. self-reliance. and in general. Thus our education. one lives with another. 1937 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING Modern educational camping has increasingly emphasized experience in creative group living and learning. in addition. meet temporarily.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING teem of others. Ben Zion Ilan. and the consideration for the welfare of others which years of preaching could never develop. but from following those paths in common. to provide 33 . one does not meet with another. to enrich his personality. knowledge and skills. cannot be complete without the Kvutza. 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. The camp setting provides the opportunity to help the camper increase his range of interests. The objective is not only to provide a change of physical environment and healthful recreation. does not arise from common outlooks on the paths to be taken. and then all return to their respective different places. develop socialized attitudes and patterns of behavior. In the Kvutza. which aims at creating an individual who will not only have definite ideals but also realize them. 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.
conceiving their work as an extension of the program of Jewish group work agencies in the city. to provide satisfying and creative Jewish experiences. the camps are the extension as well as the annual climax of the Habonim program. To train young Jews to become halutzim. Habonim has the following purposes: 1. 3. 2. as members of the Histadrut Haovdim (General Federation of Jewish Labor of Eretz Yisrael). based on the principles of economic and political democracy. is essential to know something about the aims of Habonim. To prepare young Jews for" participation in the upbuilding of a new social order throughout the world. have a ten-year history under the auspices of the Labor Zionist Youth Organization. To strengthen the bonds between American Jewry and Eretz Yisrael. This paper describes a type of Jewish camping program which attempts to apply this philosophy and technique of educational camping. and actively to support the rebuilding of the Jewish National Home. 34 . in Eretz Yisrael and. Modeled after the Eretz Yisrael collective settlements. known as Camp Kvutza. Habonim.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Jewish educational experiences. and at the same time. to create a cooperative Jewish Commonwealth. which caters to young people of the age level of 14 to 21. 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. These camps. Educational Objectives of Habonim In order to properly understand the motivation and character of Camp Kvutza.
5. and personnel. 6. In one camp there may be more free choice of activity than in another. "who shall in their own lives realize its aims. for the study of Jewish life.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING 4." This is a central concept in the educational program of the movement. test their validity. Experimentation in methods and program materials varies with the personal predilections of the camp leaders. and culture. To prepare young Jews for active participation in American Jewish community life. To educate young Jews toward the revitalization of traditional Jewish values. physical environment. The camp director enjoys no privileges not available to the youngest camper. Thus. The vegetable garden is a bigger undertaking in California than in Winnipeg for obvious climatic reasons. Differences exist which are based on local circumstances. Equality of all persons in the camp is a cardinal principle. the camps conform within the limits indicated to certain principles and patterns. 35 . Nevertheless. The Montreal camp. Each camp has developed in time a distinctive character. At Camp Kvutza. The reader must not overlook the importance of the words. it does not follow that they are identical in character. toward a feeling of identification with the Jewish rights everywhere. Principles of Camp Program Although all the camps are the expression of a similar social and educational outlook. in a sense. To prepare young Jews for the defense of Jewish rights everywhere. where a camp is located on rented property. for instance. Habonim members live according to the principles they have been studying and. it is deemed inadvisable to put too much effort into construction projects. reflects the Yiddish school influences under which the campers live during the year. history.
The functions of the staff members and leaders are to direct the educational activities -the discussion and study groups. The local Habonim take the initiative in all this 36 . reading circles. and daily routine. nature study. and in other ways. and sports. and elect various committees which are responsible for specific phases of camp life. dramatics. In keeping with the practice of the collectives and cooperatives in Eretz Yisrael. such committees are established in each community and contacts are made by correspondence and personal visits by their members. Staff and Organization Before any Camp Kvutza opens for the summer. The staff and leaders are all members of the organization who contribute their services and regard themselves as members of the camp community.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Neither is he exempt from any of the chores which are a part of the maintenance of the camp. Disciplinary cases which are not easily adjusted may be brought to the attention of the designated committee. Exceptions are made when it is not possible to secure the services of a competent physician or nurse or when. The committees assist in raising funds. a cook has to be engaged. scoutcraft. the singing. an effort is made to have no hired labor in camp. arts and crafts. it is impractical to rely entirely on the campers to build the necessary structures. recruiting campers. on rare occasions. purchasing food staples. A camp committee is established by the local organization. programs. particularly at the establishment of a new site. Self-government is a third basic principle. Representatives of Habonim and the adult Labor Zionist organizations constitute the committees. The regular camp meetings discuss administrative problems. Workmen are also hired when. The executive committee meets often with the director and staff members to act upon various problems. considerable preparations have to be made. Where several cities in a region cooperate in conducting a camp.
the minimum being two weeks. then. the advance crew spends the evenings outlining plans for the summer. 37 . The executive committee is elected. They open the buildings. putting up new structures. With the arrival of the campers. as one of the major activities of camp is to carry forward the program of improving facilities. enlarging the camp. In speaking of staff and leaders. outlining projects. both communal and private. the director or an experienced camper outlines the purposes of Camp Kvutza and indicates some of the specific objectives for the summer. Prior to the arrival of the first group of campers. Campers may register for varying periods. repair the plumbing. to find. an advance crew arrives at camp to prepare for the opening of the season. This is a group of members who generally remain as staff members and leaders. the full program is initiated. and preparing for the discussions and activities they will conduct. it is necessary to bear in mind that we are considering here individuals generally much younger than their "opposite numbers" in other camps. and beautifying the grounds. and the various functional committees are named. clear the grounds. At a meeting of the entire camp. In addition.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING work and carry the burden of responsibility. The year-round program of the Habonim organization provides for the continual preparation of members for or leaders of groups of younger children. They determine the fees to be charged and establish the differential in tuition as between members and nonmembers of the organization. and get the camp generally ready. its responsibilities and functions are discussed. It is very general. both in the cities and in the camps. These leaders are themselves active members of groups of their own age at the same time that they are leading the younger children. set up the tents. No attempt is made to do a complete job of renovation. boys and girls taking responsibility for the leadership of groups of younger children.
This phase of the program has been one of the most fruitful sources of creative expression. and tents is likewise the responsibility of the campers. This has been particularly true where the camp was established on a new site and had to be built "out of nothing. ground cleared and ploughed. The girls painted the dining room and screens. some elements of nutrition. In a four-week period one summer at Kinneret in Michigan. The following year they added a shower house. who is usually a member of an adult Labor Zionist group.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. and in some cases. the cook. designated daily by the committee in charge of assigning individuals to various tasks. In the process they learn menu planning. trees have been cut down. is assisted by campers. The maintenance of the grounds. sheds to cover the pump and washing machine (the 38 . with the local circumstances. In the kitchen work. and problems involved in maintaining the camp within budgetary limits. Building projects are planned and executed sometimes within one season. the group finished waterproofing the roof of the dining room and kitchen." Using hired workmen only where the tasks made this unavoidable. buildings. and clean up after meals. over a period of years. built shelves and drawers for kitchen equipment. The nature of these projects varies. dug a tile tunnel for the water pump. There have been instances where it was necessary to curb the eagerness of the campers to devote themselves to work projects to the virtual exclusion of other activities. new tent platforms. as has been suggested. No one at camp is exempt from taking his or her turn at this work. put up screens and shutters on the doors and windows of the dining room. wait on tables. and buildings erected. Work projects are a consistent feature of every Camp Kvutza. The campers help prepare meals.
I have watched the camp at Killingworth. During the 1942 season. trimmed. infirmary. In some of the camps. Connecticut. This emphasis on work has several motivations. painted and erected so that electric cables could be drawn from the nearest sources of power. shower house." Five trees were cut down. acquire an enlarged dining room. and the beginning of a storage bin. During the weeks of camp. shower house. The advance crew usually prepares the soil and plants a variety of vegetables which mature during July and August. the practice has developed to sell produce to visitors. Moreover. it serves to inculcate in the campers a positive attitude toward work and collective self-sufficiency. In recent years. All this was done in addition to clearing two large wooded areas to accommodate the tents. It is a real-life demonstration of the values inherent in socially useful labor. and the beginnings of a small building intended for use by activity groups in bad weather.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING campers conducted a cooperative laundry). 39 . It is an end in itself inasmuch as it fills immediate needs and serves to beautify the camp. and recreation hall with impressive ceremonies. interest in gardening was heightened by associating this activity with the need for maximum food in this country. the income being contributed to the Jewish National Fund. an outdoor amphitheater dug out of a low hill and furnished with a stage platform. log bridge and dam over a stream which fed the swimming pool. efforts have been made to introduce gardening with varying success. the produce from the garden is used in the kitchen. new garbage pits. The campers acquire considerable information and numerous skills. The complete electrification job was done and celebrated late in the summer when the lights were turned on in the dining room. The greatest adventure was that of "bringing light to Kinneret. Girls have taken to this activity particularly.
At the end of the 1939 season. holidays. The subjects keep changing as events suggest the timeliness of various problems. The topics range from the aims and organizational forms of Habonim. particularly among the younger age groups. to the causes of war and the prospects for permanent peace. The subject matter. and special occasions. the Bible and modern Jewish literature. representatives of the Eretz Yisrael Labor Movement. covers a wide range of topics of Jewish and general interest. "famous unknowns. personalities from Jewish and Socialist history. to the effect of rainfall on the economy of Eretz Yisrael.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. with projects involving related activities being used to a fair degree. Observance of Shabbat Much attention has been focused upon the observance of Shabbat. derived from the basic aims of Habonim. Here the emphasis is on creating new forms 40 . Groups have discussed and read about Jewish historical subjects. and elements of Socialism. from vocational problems of American Jewish youth. and staff members serve frequently as points of departure for discussions. but an atmosphere of purposeful learning permeates the camp at all times. problems of Jewish adjustment. Group discussion is the dominant method." phases and problems of life in Eretz Yisrael. when war was imminent in Europe. Definite periods are set aside for this in the daily schedule. Jewish migrations and refugees. Talks by visitors from nearby communities. Reading of relevant materials goes on simultaneously. long and personalized discussions as to the implications of the war took place in all camps. anti-Semitism. Jewish community organization.
After the meal the singing normally continues. Considerable success has been achieved in this area. all work projects are in abeyance. The ceremonies may begin at flag-lowering. Camp is cleaned up. tables are covered with white table cloths. These ceremonials. and which will be emotionally and aesthetically satisfying. the dining room is furnished with fresh flowers and ferns. and continue in the dining room before and after the meal. 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. laundry is done. The Friday evening at Camp Kvutza is the highlight of the week. they have drawn those which lit particularly the spirit of Shabbat. symptomatic of the swing back from an earlier rejection in radical Jewish circles of all that smacks of the old and "outworn. being original. 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 . At the same time." Groups have prepared special readings from the Bible and the Prophets. the evening closes with folk dancing in the open or in the cleared dining room. 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.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING of observance which will give meaning and significance to the holidays. There may be also a story or brief talk on a subject related to Shabbat. discussions of current events. and a special menu is prepared. Specific themes may be used as the foci of the program. and when this is done the first hint may well appear in the blessing of the candles. Invariably. On Saturday. sports and swimming for longer periods than usual. Preparations for Shabbat go on all day. with or without choral group to provide direction. The use of the traditional Kiddush has spread in recent years. reading circles.
is observed. group re- 42 . each camp takes up anew the question as to how to operate the common fund. the camps have always emphasized the concept of keeping all campers and staff on an equal basis with respect to money. Other Celebrations The anniversaries of Theodor Herzl. They refused to drink their juice. has become a traditional event. are observed regularly with special programs." In keeping with the principle of collective living. the Hebrew poet. involving as they do questions of equality. the founder of political Zionism. which occur during the summer. breakfast is foregone on Tisha B'Av. This was on Monday. On Tuesday the solelim rebelled. and every year. and the money normally spent on the meal is contributed to the Jewish National Fund. individual rights. Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av-date of the destruction of the Temple). The Common Fund One of the most radical features of Camp Kvutza is the elimination of "private capital. and here the tendency to create new ways of observing old holy days finds expression." Reflecting their interest in the general struggle for human freedom and civil rights.GROWTH OF AN IDEA services at sunset. This has not been achieved without some difficulty. The Saturday night campfire. too. it is interesting to note that some camps have observed the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sacco and Vanzetti. after the campers had debated the question of having breakfast or not. The educational value of the discussions is obvious. where the diary of the week is reviewed. The effect of such practices is illustrated in the incident reported from Los Angeles where. and Hayim Nahman Bialik. In all the camps. it was decided that "only the solelim (the youngest children) were to have some fruit juice.
means of curbing excessive demands. the committee advises the camper accordingly. and combs are placed with the committee which fills the orders as the finances permit. 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. particularly with non-members of Habonim or with new campers. Occasionally.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING sponsibility for the individual. How well it has been accepted by the campers is illustrated in the anecdote about the boy who. As indicated. in a discussion as to whether or not there should be a common fund. 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. it has been accepted and has worked out very satisfactorily. as members of the American Hehalutz. frequently over the objections of a minority. tooth brushes. 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. difficulties arise. All requests for supplies such as stamps. problems familiar to all camp directors. Where it includes the agreement to share among the entire camp all foods and candy sent to individual campers. at the same time enabling him to defend his request if he wishes to do so. (A goodly number of former campers are now living in collective settlements in Eretz Yisrael. the troublesome problems associated with these gifts. On the whole. are virtually non-existent. the common fund is not instituted without prior discussion and acceptance. are being trained in agriculture or trades for settlement there. No accounts are kept of what campers give or get. and the like. stationary. or. Experience has varied.) 43 . how will we be able to get stamps and batteries?" After ten years Camp Kvutza has remained true to its original principles. Where a request is considered to be out of line with the budget or unjustifiable for any other reason. asked: "If we don't have one. however.
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. small tent villages with a few "communal" structures. rather than a single -unrelated event in the life of a boy or a girl. Camp Kvutza is the climax of an organic educational experience. Abraham Cohen. forming a part of a continuous year-round program of a youth movement. Concurrently they acquire information and emotional attitudes toward their Jewish heritage and contemporary Jewish life which help to make of them healthy mid creative Jewish personalities.GROWTH OF AN IDEA The camps remain physically primitive and unadorned. Through such experience the campers learn how satisfying and enriching a cooperative society can be.
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.
he is a young Jew who understands what is happening to his people in an alien world and. We familiarize our haverim with our historical past. but followers after the pattern of life being created now in Eretz Yisrael. We believe that there must evolve a new society of cooperation where mankind will develop new values. And 49 . takes part in the renaissance of his people. Were we to believe only in man's right to be a free individual. In specific terms. In the place of this narrow view of life. we interpret our present struggle. We believe in the right of an entire people to be free as a group." that concept which makes man struggle to fill his pockets so that he and his small family may enjoy the fruits of the world. His participation in this renaissance becomes the foremost factor in his life as an individual.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING THE MEANING OF KVUTZA Camp Kvutza is our way of making the ideas we have developed and the ideals in which we believe real for ourselves and for the haverim whom we lead. and who creates within himself a force that drives him on to self-realization. In the new society that we seek to create. for our people. But it is because we believe in the value and the necessity for national living that we are Zionists. for all individuals. In other words. we would choose other avenues than Zionism on which to live. because of the sensitivity within himself. We believe in the right of man to be free as an individual. this means that we want to develop an individual who is awake and sensitive to his world. we are not dreamers after Utopia. who dares to participate in every phase of its life. we try to erase the narrow concept of "me and mine. When we speak of new society and new values. and we point the way to return to nationhood as our only means of survival and our way of participating in the further development of our people and of society. we would implant a concern for mankind.
management of the kitchen. Once at Kvutza. he should become a part of Kvutza. our haver must be made to feel that he is going out on a pioneering adventure to work out a way of life with a group of boys and girls his own age. and social selves. he should bear witness to all the excitement of preparation. If he is too young for this. political. prepare himself to go to Kvutza. and put it in their hearts and in their way of living. photography. cultural. Even before he sees the site. food and equipment purchasing. If he is a responsible boneh. otherwise there is no equality. and sports. Unless the individu- 50 . crafts. dramatics. religious. art. Everyone must become interested in the management of Kvutza: the government. everyone must be made to have an interest in every phase of the day's activity: work. That is our best way of developing the new individual.GROWTH OF AN IDEA this concern would be demonstrated in our economic. In Camp Kvutza we live our ideals. While still in the city. help to raise funds. scouting. This equality and this concern for mankind will become real only when man is judged by his selfless contribution to society. we must educate an entire generation of Jewish youth along new lines of thinking and acting. study. discipline and attitudes of the little community. social. Individual Development at Kvutza Haverim who come to Kvutza must create the Kvutza. and educational programs. music. Discussion is an important part of education. In order to translate these ideas into human living. We seek to take the word equality off the lips of our haverim. development of creative interests such as. and only when he is a laborer for the improvement of that society. he should have a part in the actual planning of construction. but living is by far the greater teacher. Equality must be expressed in every phase of life economic. appearance and cleanliness of the settlement.
To understand the significance of being pioneers in a new form of living. 5. we will fail in our attempt to develop him into the person we want. To learn to live with a large group of individuals. he should be ready with his discussion material. If possible. Now there is only day-by-day living. the madrich sees his haverim only once or twice a week. 4. To know that the future of our people depends on "me. He will create the atmosphere and the spirit. 3. To experience. through discussion and dramatics. songs. it is our training ground for the tomorrow 51 . For in the city. If his role is important in the city. The Madrich of Kvutza Upon the madrich rests the Kvutza. At the very least. For no one in Kvutza is on a vacation. but at Kvutza he is with them during all their waking and sleeping hours. 2. To deal with the problems of life in a group through the creation of a society based on equality and cooperation. it is absolutely vital in the Kvutza. Our aims for the haver who participates in Kvutza may be summed up as follows: 1. through special programs and in daily living. he must be prepared with the proper attitude. the life-struggle of our people today. the individual" and to be so challenged as to take upon himself the task of realizing that future. and rainy-day activities. he will develop-or fail to develop-all the individuals who come to Kvutza. games.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING al is part of the day's activity. The madrich must come to Kvutza prepared for his duties. Now there are no "company manners" between them.
eat enough. "firm" in stating our point of view? The rosh of every Kvutza. The madrich must be wide awake. He faces a serious task. promotes friendly relations among them. he is responsible for the physical well-being of his haverim. He sees that they sleep enough. be is responsible for their development as individuals. with notebook in hand. Exactly what is his responsibility? First. keep themselves and their sleeping quarters clean. turn them loose. and then. We do not bring together a group of youngsters. at times. and spends many hours in just speaking with them about all the big problems we face together and all their personal problems.GROWTH OF AN IDEA of our people. lie. The madrich directs the training. must understand that Kvutza is not merely an educational experiment. 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. wins their confidences. he makes them aware of the role they play in their group. 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. At the same time. The luxury of experiments in edu- 52 . he is responsible for their psychological well-being. Second. He must be a good pal and know how to have f un with them. he draws them into every activity. he discovers their hidden talents and interests. He explains Kvutza and people to them. Freedom with a Pattern Herein lies a real problem for all madrichim. and only one who understands the responsibility should be entrusted with it. Third. He helps them adjust to their surroundings. together with the madrichim. write up our scientific observations.
Our only sin can be the failure to make Kvutza what it must be: a pattern of life for our haverim. in work. The appearance of Kvutza must be orderly-clean grounds.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING cation for their own sake we must leave for people more fortunate than we. Haverim must live on schedule. is not freedom but a weakening of Kvutza spirit. The program should be full so that haverim know that one activity follows another regularly. The rosh and madrichim must keep them in mind always. other institutions may be created to assist in the order of the Kvutza or in 53 . That symbol and its realization are the prime forces behind Kvutza. Let them not be frightened by terms or by name-calling. in any group activity. the day's program-all must add up to steady living. each thing in its place. but more is needed to make this orderliness complete. Kvutza must be a symbol to us-a symbol that we will eventually make real. An Orderly Society Kvutza must be an orderly society. The rosh and madrichim are entrusted with young lives and young minds. A day filled with activity. There should be clean-up committees of campers. Failure to participate in discussions. they are likewise entrusted with a great responsibility to the Labor Zionist movement. Staying awake until all hours of the night is ruinous to health and humor-it is not freedom. We are trying to "turn men into a nation and sand into a country. No amount of "freedom" is real or desirable if it destroys our Kvutza spirit or discolors our Kvutza design. neat haverim. 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. clean buildings that are nicely decorated." Camp Kvutza is our instrument for inspiring and remaking individual young Jewish lives. We need this for the education as well as for the spirit of the Kvutza. meals. Rising. goes far toward creating the orderly society.
the machaneh in which I am now living has chosen its Kvutza committee. should come the specific aims of that Kvutza for the season. not only for the development of our haverim individually. Insofar as possible." They are actually the "backbone" of the machaneh. Poor enrollment of movement members. 2. lack of discipline. the fewer problems will arise. with this committee I have had one discussion from which we concluded: 1. Therefore. as well as a goal toward which they will work. Therefore. our first aim for Kvutza is to integrate these new haverim into the movement. rosh and madrichim should have discussions oil the weaknesses and strengths of the machaneh and its needs." since each case and the individuals concerned must be considered. Our second aim of Kvutza is to 54 . it cannot be stressed too much: Prepare your members for Kvutza.GROWTH OF AN IDEA the handling of haverim who refuse to be a part of the general orderliness. all these problems should be settled between the madrich and the individual concerned through talks. poor participation. Thus there will be an understanding among those who will lead the Kvutza. Before going out to Kvutza. Our machaneh has expanded rapidly so that only about half of our haverim have been to Kvutza and have an understanding of the movement. No general rule may be given for "order" or "discipline. a broken common fund-these reflect the city activities. lack of understanding of Kvutza. Summer Kvutza can do much. The better the madrich. Our machaneh has a good group of Kvutza "veterans. From these discussions. but beyond that and greater than that. Setting Goals Each Kvutza is a reflection of the city from which its people come. Kvutza should develop the machaneh. For example.
that Bar Mitzva is upon us. This year. entitled to a sedate. and must prepare as much as possible for the season." What have we accomplished in these thirteen summers? What institutions can we point to? What have we established. like last. and talkative "Bar Mitzva dinner. an institution such as camp is considered old and established. created. our haverim must feel that in Kvutza they are undergoing training for their role tomorrow. wherever necessary. For although thirteen years is a relatively short period of time in the life of an individual. must think a great deal about Kvutza as an educational institution and as a symbol. This will mean that all who are madrichim must become well acquainted with the objectives of Kvutza before they go. our movement faces a serious lack of leadership for our summer Kvutzot. It was only when I sat down and began to count that I suddenly realized. We have been so occupied in actually preparing for Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING prepare these sixteen-year-old “veterans" to assume. even before the official beginning of Habonim as an organization. we become more certain that we will face still greater responsibilities in the movement here and abroad. complete leadership within the Kvutza and within the machaneh. worries. Therefore. to my amazement. and business of the camp. that we have hardly had time to notice the years creeping up on us. 1935 COMING OF AGE The thirteenth consecutive year of Habonim summer camping has rolled around. With our awareness of what is happening to our people in Europe and in Eretz Yisrael. thoughtful. at that age. by a small group of stubborn young people who were dissatisfied with Jewish summer camping as 55 . contributed? The first Habonim Camp Kvutza was started thirteen years ago. Miriam Biderman. so immersed in the every-day workings.
It is almost a truism that those cities which have a good Camp Kvutza in the vicinity have the strongest. They decided to devote some time each day to discussion of Jewish current affairs. Whereas thirteen years ago there was a group of some ten to fifteen campers. should work several hours a day in and about the camp. dreams incapable of realizationtoday they are part and parcel.GROWTH OF AN IDEA they knew it." Today. most alert. Whereas thirteen years ago the first campers "squatted" on a piece of land loaned to them. thirteen years later. and are constantly expanding our facilities. of our camping system. It is undoubtedly the strongest educational instrument which we have succeeded in developing. Jewish problems. They called the camp "Kvutza. the campers.400 or more each summer. and paid too little attention to intelligent discussion and teaching of Jewish attitudes and heritage. Habonim is operating eight summer camps throughout the United States and Canada. They decided that they. we now own all but one of our camps. They had the impudence to believe that they could operate a camp which could change these things. and preparing to operate nine next summer. They were determined that the spirit of modern Eretz Yisrael should permeate the camp. in a highly developed form. we now have an average of 1. change them for the better. gave too little room for the expression of the creative abilities of campers. Jewish history. They felt it was too occupied with trivialities. They felt that the camp should be run democratically with each camper having a choice in decisions affecting programs and work. as it did last. We have found no better way to develop youth toward an intelligent understanding of Zionism 56 . Whereas thirteen years ago all the principles listed above were dreams-according to some. Today Camp Kvutza is integrally bound up with the life blood of Habonim as a movement. most Jewish-conscious and responsible Habonim groups.
Our staff must consist of a certain type of individual. be concerned simply with supplying a staff for our camps. New systems for activity have to be worked out.and nineteen-year-old haverim who would normally assume positions of leadership are to a large extent unavailable. Thus we have been hit more than ordinary camps by the current war situation. with a certain type of background. Whatever the reasons. to become vitally concerned with our problems. Ways must be found to draw them actively into the cause which circumstance dictates they must fight for though they be unprepared. conditions the type of camp we have. Despite our realization of these things. and it is increasingly difficult for even them to devote themselves to camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING than the twenty-four-hour-a-day. We cannot.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. The fifteen. two-month living course presented by Camp Kvutza. perhaps it is because to an increasing extent they are concerning themselves with problems which have hitherto been considered the domain of their elders. and with roots in Habonim. The nature of our purpose makes for an extremely high rate of change and adaption to circumstance. There are several reasons for this. like others. that we want him to assume responsibility. The eighteen. our 57 . we are reticent about pointing to our accomplishments. Programs have to be adjusted to their level of preparation. By their very nature our camps become institutionalized according to a given pattern. The inner strength of our camps is showing itself in the way this crisis is being met. Perhaps it is because younger people all over are becoming accustomed to a greater degree of responsibility. The fact that we are interested in retaining a permanent hold on the camper through the year as well as in the summer months.
plans for new camps are under serious consideration. 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. But there is another angle from which the whole picture can be viewed. the Labor Zionist movement as a whole has failed to recognize its value and gives it no more than perfunctory backing. there exists no Kvutza because the movement there has failed to become enthusiastic enough about it to undertake the establishment of one. We have continued to develop during the last two difficult summers. We have encountered many problems along these lines and to this day. In others. other ticklish problems arise. All that I have mentioned can definitely be considered on the credit side of the Camp Kvutza ledger. receiving enthusiastic backing of all its segments.GROWTH OF AN IDEA younger haverim have reacted in a way which leaves no doubt as to the future of Habonim camping. the advisability of younger people being entrusted with financial and physical responsibility for what in some cases is a big business. comes into question. new ideas are being contributed. In some cities Kvutza is the summer camp of our entire movement. so good. On the other band. Three new permanent sites have been acquired. 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 . Given the conviction that Camp Kvutza is a good instrument for the advancement of our approach to Jewish life. In others. we have not succeeded in completely solving them. in those places where the senior movement has become interested. So far. camps are being expanded.
lies the road to the establishment of a really alert Labor Zionist youth. That non-members should attend Kvutza. The extent to which the traditional element in Kvutza should be stressed is something which has caused much discussion. 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. more powerful than Hebrew schools. Murray Weingarten. am convinced that Camp Kvutza is the most powerful instrument Habonim has created for the attraction of young American Jews to its cause. All these questions must eventually be resolved. In the establishment of a network of twice and thrice the number of Kvutzot we now have. thus acquiring contact with our ideas and principles. In general. is naturally desirable. and its preservation and strengthening is perhaps the greatest contribution Habonim can make to the cause of Labor Zionist youth in this country. The extent to which non-members of Habonim should be permitted to come to camp is also debatable. Concerted attempts must be made to acquire the greatest moral and material backing possible. It is more powerful than city propaganda. 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. 1944 59 .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING these and other responsibilities removed from us and given to our senior haverim. I. for one.
even construction of buildings.that a man must not be exploited and that he. We have a meeting of the entire camp community to discuss its philosophy.Here. there is never hired labor except where necessary-the cook and the nurse). to each individual. our common fund of money and food from home. Social Justice A.GROWTH OF AN IDEA PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY I. program. for example. B. And we elect our committees and our officers. No individual accounts are kept. sanitation. Self-Government . needs. perhaps for the first time. suggestions. 60 . The maintenance work is done by the camper: kitchen duty. and privileges that carry consequences affecting him directly. Self-Labor . Each person receives what he needs from the common fund. This is in keeping with our belief in the dignity of labor and with the ideal and policy of the Histadrut . cleaning. The food is distributed equally. responsibilities. We have. the haver becomes a full-fledged member of a community with duties. Cooperative Living . in turn. and where necessary and possible. and ways of meeting these needs. 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. This is in keeping with our cooperative ideal: from each according to his ability. to each according to his need. and at the same time.In Kvutza. Each person at Kvutza puts in as much money as he can and whatever food he may bring or receive from home. We discuss the desires. C. and interests of the campers in regard to the Kvutza program. exploit no one.In Kvutza.
The Haggada says that as we read at the Seder Pesach of the Exodus from Egypt. is perhaps the most important part of Kvutza life. Judaism A. C. comfortable feeling of being Jewish. and use privileges well. Into this spirit goes the appreciation of the culture and tradition. We approach this through our Shabbat and holiday celebrations. We want to develop the desire to participate personally in the upbuilding of Eretz Yisrael. Hebrew study. to give the haver an intellectual understanding of Zionism and an emotional feeling of healthy nationalism. B. singing. and in our haverim through Kvutza. We want to make him realize his own worth. as in our machanot. This. in our lives. 61 . The Individual A. dancing. and a positive. to have a healthy self-respect. we must regard it as if we. reading circles. to be able to make decisions. the identification with the people and its struggle. personally. We desire to aid each individual to become self-sufficient. III. Camp Kvutza and the Movement I. We want to develop or intensify an appreciation of the Jewish tradition and a desire for participation in and perpetuation of this culture. though it is hardest to define in -words. are experiencing these things. Zionism It is our purpose in Kvutza. carry responsibility. We strive to develop a historical sense and an identification with the past and present struggle of the Jewish people.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING II. that intangible Jewish spirit-the folkways of our people. We want to develop in our people a feeling of belonging to all that ever was and is Jewish. We want to develop in Kvutza.
his personality develops and a socializing takes place. Through the achievement of all the above. discussions with other haverim and with madrichim. Through self-study. We strive to develop within him a community mindedness: the ability to live within a group. The Group A. B. and standards. "In unity there is strength. II. The Machaneh A. All of the foregoing is important to the machaneh. III. and stimulation in a group. and to be able to influence without becoming domineering. general and Jewish. Meetings. There are satisfactions which an individual cannot obtain alone." An individual gains significance. group attitudes. a haver is more willing and able to be active in the movement during the course of the organizational year. This is especially important for us because it makes for strong ties among members of Habonim and for cohesive groups. become an integral and pleasant part of their lives because it is so for their friends also. He develops loyalties. The individual and the group are closely interrelated. courage. and hav- 62 . We expect the haver to develop intellectually during the course of the summer. discussion groups. In the course of such participation. For many of our people. D. and enjoyable summer. to conform without losing his individuality. and the hanhaga. When people have a place in the social setup of the movement. Kvutza is a stimulant to movement work -When haverim come from Kvutza. Habonim becomes the social group. C. having had a full. reading circles. stimulating. Every person needs a sense of belonging. one has a real opportunity to increase his knowledge. 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. KM.GROWTH OF AN IDEA B. they are more willing to devote time and energy to the movement.
like the madrichim. It is his responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of the Kvutza and its people. cooperative community. B. educate and induct new members. to make a quick decision where necessary-in other words. The Movement A. He is responsible for Kvutza as a whole and for each of its facets. The madrichim are perhaps the equivalent to elected officers in a democratic society. or simply through the group experience. and rosh are integral parts of this group. They have been assigned their roles by virtue of their wider experience and greater insight and understanding. 63 . they are usually anxious to get started on machaneh activities and have a lot to offer intellectually and spiritually. B. committee work. "The whole is greater than its parts. It is not a vacation from our "real" lives. is a vital part of the community. to feel and understand the tempo of the camp. Kvutza offers an excellent opportunity to attract. C. C. Kvutza is a democratic. We come together and have an opportunity to live a portion of our lives as we believe and desire. This gives them a greater responsibility to the group.Through opportunities for leadership. IV. Their function is within the group and not above and outside of it. Leadership qualities are developed . He can influence the entire atmosphere of a Camp Kvutza." Kvutza Is a Living Community I. Kvutza Is a Living Community A.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ing formed strong group ties. madrichim. The movement is strengthened by the activities and stimulation of Camp Kvutza. The rosh. The campers. many return from Kvutza in a position to influence and lead others.
There we will determine the policy and principles of Kvutza. This is the first community expression of the campers. and in a creative manner. There we put into practice our theory that Kvutza is a "living community. B.GROWTH OF AN IDEA II. because of his particular position. They are not technicians functioning in the limited sphere of their specialties. the group stimulates him. The madrich that works with a group must be part of that group. 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. we enrich our lives through this relationship. intellectually. The madrichim in a Kvutza are not counselors in the usual sense. however. The First Day I. The rosh and madrichim must work closely together in order to achieve the best possible results for the group.The first meeting is the most important one of the season.” We want the haverim to understand that. in relation to all others madrichim and campers alike-that he influences people. in turn. The first day of camp sets the tone for the entire period. There is a definite carry-over of attitudes. Future relationships between madrichim and campers can stem from impressions received on the first day. He also has the job of making decisions necessary for the best functioning of the Kvutza. has veto power over decisions of madrichim and campers in matters of health and safety. Relationships in Camp Kvutza A. The rosh. A. socially. The Meeting . He stimulates the group and. If we are successful. It is also one of the biggest factors in the tone and atmosphere of the camps. It is in all of the madrich's behavior as a social being. though it is natural that the rosh and the youngest tzofeh are not 64 . The relationship between rosh and madrichim is important in forming attitudes and understanding in madrich-camper relations.
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
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-
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
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
This is a key job. Now the plumb line and the level go into action. for visas at the Israel Consul's office. Two boys and a girl start to saw wood for the flooring of the house they are erecting .. " The day's work is beginning . from the point of view of progressive educational techniques and values. 69 . Sankel. Cooperation is essential. The camp individualist. The monopoly we once had in the field of creative Jewish living" is no longer ours either. 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." This could be a description of a very successful work project at a Habonim camp.. the parents themselves. He must ask for help. one can find a strikingly familiar description of a day at camp in the March 14." by Hyman R. . It is actually a description of a typical "work camp" of which there are many. for example. The cement is ready. realistically enough. .. Here. our camps are no longer unique. "At a Work Camp of the American Jewish Society for Service. ranging from agency camps.. Today. issue of The Reconstructionist. cannot do the job alone. such as the one described above. For instance. Every year. and shared by.. in an article entitled. with its emphasis on the dignity of labor and cooperation among men. 1954.. He begins to see the value of working together with his fellow camper for a common goal. They visited the cities. The children were started on this imaginary trip by applying. new camps come into being which stress similar approaches to the very ideals in camping which were once almost exclusively ours.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING their children to our camps. to private camps charging high tuition rates. The foundation is about to be laid. Emanuel. 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. Still others are digging a ditch to lay the sewer pipe.
which is on the Gilboa. more than ever before. Habonim camping is as necessary and important to us as it ever was. using the approach to Jewish camping which such an activity typifies. on the contrary. well-run camp as well as. On the other hand. an even more important conclusion. the Jewish parent pays increasing attention to the physical setup of the camp to which lie sends his child. they could sense the immense drama which has taken place and is taking place around this famous mountain . well-equipped. Each site was investigated for its ancient and modern significance. And today. in 1954. the madrich has more tools and materials at his disposal 70 . in a primitive one. The physical setup and technical functioning of the camp finally chosen may well be the deciding factors. is that we are no longer alone. and only our camps can educate towards that aim. When they entered the kibbutz Yizr'el. in terms of our movement's needs. though educationally Jewish camping has caught up to us. ill-managed camp in order to educate towards that goal. well-operated camp. So now. or among the few. f acing the Arab Triangle. we want to create halutzim. in a modern. and landmarks of the country. on the contrary. But one need not have a technically primitive. A good madrich should be able to educate towards the aims of Habonim in a modern. we find that we are not the only progressive Jewish camp on the scene. . Let no one conclude from my foregoing remarks that our particular type of camping has outlived its usefulness. there are so many Jewish camps from which to choose that he may well be particular as to the one he finally decides upon. " 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. For in Habonim. unlike other Jewish organizations. technically we have failed to keep pace with the other camps. .GROWTH OF AN IDEA famous settlements. if not better than. which can be drawn from this and other examples.
a time will come when our camps will be empty. we may once again find ourselves in a leading position in the field of Jewish camping in America. Habonim camping is now at a crucial turning point. 1954 71 . Dex Srauss. We must face up to the realities of the situation and solve the problems confronting us in a responsible and mature manner. whose first concern is with his child's health and safety.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING to aid him in his job. The need then is to bring our camps up to date in the physical. as we have set out to do. technical. and administrative spheres so that we can once again compete with other Jewish camps and be acceptable to the modern Jewish parent. If we do advance. If we do not advance technically. To defend the primitive camp on ideological terms is to distort the entire meaning of our ideology.
History and Development .
with fourteen haverim in a tent. In 1936. began to work on the first Kvutza Manual. and set up a systematic program for selecting the volunteers to staff the camps.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS It all began in 1932. and in Chicago at Camp Tel Hai. and in preparation for the 1941 season. During that first summer. In educational methodology. most sites were rented. the fundamentals of Camp Kvutza were developed: 1) collective-democratic living. This by no means meant that our camps were becoming standardized. 2) a full Jewish life. The following year. Inspired by Accord. living and studying together for a month. Los Angeles had its first camp. they ran the gamut from experiments in Lieberman's Creative Camping to semi-military discipline. As a result. Habonim established its first Camp Kvutza at Accord. 1940. the Cincinnati Habonim convention in December. called for the organization of a Habonim Kvutza Committee. Accord stands out in the memories of all the old-timers for its sheer physical beauty and difficult pioneering conditions. two more Kvutzot were opened in 1935-in Montreal. Only a few of the camps were on permanent sites. 74 . Close to 1500 haverim attended the camps in 1940. By 1939. new camps were projected for Texas and Winnipeg. With the development and expansion of the camps came a need for better planning and direction of both their educational and administrative aspects. 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. In many cases permission was secured to use the site for an indefinite period of time. The summer Kvutza had become Habonim's most powerful and most effective educational weapon and had also become a "big business" operation. New York. 3) self-labor. Moshava (Baltimore) and Kinneret (Detroit) were founded.
and at Creamridge. Winnipeg. Foremost among these was the national Hebrew camp. New York bought a new camp site at Amenia. in Killingworth. The primary educational factor in Camp Avoda was its proximity to the collective group and the farm. For several seasons this was a work camp in the process of construction. Its first season in 1948 opened on a rented site in Vermont with 26 campers. and became established as one of the foremost Hebrew camps in the country. fairly large numbers of non- 75 . the camp accommodated fifty campers. St. Montreal. At Amenia (1949) and Killingworth (1950). Detroit. but the collapse of the movement in the city brought about the demise of the camp as well. Camp Avoda was operated for the first time at the Hehalutz training farm in Creamridge. Baltimore. During the years. Amal. Ottawa. New York. Dallas. 1600 youngsters spent the summer at eleven camps. The objective of this experiment was to create a positive attitude toward collective living and halutziut among non-affiliated American Jewish youth. Los Angeles. in 1951. for several years. gained the backing of six bureaus of education in various cities which sent scholarship students. Later. there have been a number of significant experiments in Habonim camping. Chicago. New Jersey. Tel Natan. 1946 saw perhaps one of the peak years in Habonim camping when over two thousand campers attended Kvutza. a number of interesting and important Hebrew programs were planned at Kinneret and Moshava. In later years. a number of highly successful Camp Avoda seasons were conducted at the farms with groups drawn from within the movement. Amal itself was at Creamridge. Connecticut (for New York). Toronto. In 1945.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING In 1943. Habonim was the only Zionist organization to sponsor a Hebrew camp. Philadelphia founded its own camp (Galil). One of the significant results of Amal has been the proof that under proper conditions. Influenced and sparked by Amal alumni. Louis had its Kvutza.
the sports and cultural festival. Amal was conducted at Moshava. In 1948. The first national mahaneh madrichim was held in the summer of 1940 at Galil for the training of madrichei tzofim. in which all the campers participate. There has been a trend to put the administration of our camps on a semi-commercial basis. 1950 also saw another experiment long under consideration. The national Habonim Camping Association has been showing steady but slow improvement in the handling of national aspects of 76 . Mahaneh madrichim is an experiment in the realm of leadership training rather than strictly camping. one national madrichim camp was conducted at Kinneret. In addition. 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. Louis. The past few years. have seen a number of interesting variations and experiments in the Habonim camping picture.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT movement people can be attracted to our camps and integrated into the movement. In 1952. too. This pattern was followed the next year at Montreal and St. most camps have conducted training programs for prospective madrichim. In 1950. it was decided to discontinue Amal as a separate institution and to stress Hebrew at all Habonim camps." A number of haverim made a long trip by truck. one in Vermont for the East and one in Detroit for the West. bonim. carrying full supplies and equipment and camping nights at previously selected sites. at Galil. There has been an awareness that existing Habonim camps must be put on a more efficient and permanent basis. two madrichim camps were held. and noar. Toronto conducted a "rambling camp. and pre-embarkation seminars for the Habonim Youth Workshop in Israel. The three camps in the East have conducted an annual Maccabia. At the 1953 convention of Habonim. Each subsequent summer has witnessed large seminars of madrichim.
all on permanent sites. Faustin. Quebec. Red Hook. We are aware that Camp Kvutza is our most effective educational instrument. Camp Miriam. Ottsville. and increasingly aware of its potentiality as an instrument for expansion.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING camp. Kvutza Manual. Annapolis. Michigan. Maryland. California. British Columbia. will be conducted: Camp Habonim. was purchased in 1953. Saugus. New York. Camp Kvutza Galil. New camp sites were purchased for the Midwest in 1956 and for Camp Miriam in Vancouver in 1956. The permanent New York Kvutza at Red Hook. Midwest Camp Habonim. St. the following seven Kvutzot. Gabriola Island. Camp Naame. Pennsylvania. Camp Moshava. Camp Kvutza. 1957 77 . Three Rivers. During 1957. New York.
New York.The Kitchen at Accord. Joev Criden and friends. . at Kendall. A lecture at Accord. Accord. "Brocky".
Rosh at Accord. . 1938. Kieve Skidell.David Breslau. Accord. Discussion under "tree of knowledge". Accord. Enzo Sereni and friends ponder a problem. 1939. Carl Allentuck working on "sanitation". Accord. 1937.
Work at Accord.Y. N. N. Accord. . Accord. The Dining Room and Kitchen at Accord. 1935. Building at Accord. Tent Area.Y. 1935. Campers.
1941. 1940. Youth Day. Kinneret. Building the Migdal. 1941. 1941. Kinneret.Dining Room at Camp Kvutza. Abe Meadow installing electricity. 1942. Montreal. "All aboard for the noar seminar". Kinneret. Kinneret. . Campers. Kinneret.
with two or three lectures in each period. The haverim have learned much and have had a lot of fun. it was a camp and not a Kvutza. no matter what the difficulties. 82 . We are getting panicky. Finally one morning we are off to the Catskills: Accord.. but the country gets more and more beautiful as the road becomes steeper and the hairpin curves sharper.. we accept this bid as meaning us. ." For lack of a more specific address. The first Young Poale Zion Kvutza is winding up its four-week session at Unser Camp. Kerhonkson-never beard of the places. farmers' dirt road into a wilderness. 1932 .. Somehow. The sister would like to do something for "the Jewish people. the product of our own labors. yet everyone feels that something was missing . Mid-June. it wasn't our own. bumpy. dusty. Our hearts sink. an undreamed of opportunity. spirits flag. and ingenuity. The fourteen pioneers have been together for a full month and have valiantly tried to imbibe three lecture and discussion periods a day. Next year we must have a real Kvutza. Granite. enthusiasm waxes high.... four hours. only a deep-rutted.. Farband summer colony at Highland Mills. The closing hours are devoted to evaluation and self-criticism. Unser Camp offered too many comforts and too many distractions.. Soon there is no highway at all. Life in the big tent has been most congenial. too.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KVUTSA IN THE NEW YORK AREA CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN The last days of August. 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. Suddenly. 1933. we have lost our way a half-dozen times. and from an unexpected quarter. . We were guests and not creators . efforts. Summer is knocking at the door and still no Kvutza site. New York. A series of interviews. and the more primitive the better! Next year we must learn not only theory but also how to provide for ourselves. Three hours.
This is the place. . . . What will they eat? Who will cook for them? . Time is short-so short! A matter of days now… And through it all. Far? What of it? Wild? We've got a job to do. We need a car . And how about the program? . . . How are registrations coming? . All right now.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING A few more minutes and we find ourselves on the summit of a hill. get lumber . . but also with sadness when we see how the land lies waste and neglected-grass and weeds waisthigh. Haven't heard from Buffalo . the earth is parched. . . lay it out cross-wise so that the kitchen part will come right over the spring. . Buy tents. . . . a ring of mountains that seems to change color before your eyes. back in the city. here is what we have to do. . .. Who can forget the day when the big truck came rumbling across the wooden bridge to unload the first $400 worth of lumber . Raise money. really building! .. Can you borrow dishes. a meeting of the National Executive is hastily convened. Two coming from Rochester . Ten haverim want to build a dining room and platforms for the tents . . . The next day.. And how about discussion leaders? . silverware? . and in the near distance.. . So much to do . .. Persuade some Pioneer Women to come out as "cookies. No money? We'll beg.. . . no house (it burned down when the place was abandoned seven years before). we'll borrow. . Feverish days and nights . 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. a beautiful valley below. . No shelter? We'll build our own. we'll owe . Clear the site on top of the hill.. . Take advantage as much as we can of the cement floor of the 83 . a glorious tingle in the blood we are building our own Kvutza! Yes. cots . the answer to our prayers. There is only an indescribable shack occupied by our benefactress and her partner in the summer . . .." . . Here. . .
scrubbed clean at the brook and dressed in our "best. There. Here. Every hour brings one or two more haverim. In the meantime. The Shabbat. and decked with flowers. Friday all day they come trekking in. we will build platforms for the tents . 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 . Thursday noon. The Kvutza is scheduled to open Sunday." sit down to break bread together. Everyone is working against time . and it seems as if everything is still to be done.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT burnt-down barn. the outhouse. We've got to finish the kitchen first. By nightfall. In the deepening twilight. . They form a thrilling silhouette against the sky. ready for the first Shabbat in our own Kvutza. . twenty-four of us. The seven-year growth of grass and weeds has been cut. Nerves are on edge . our sages tell us. miracles have been happening. 1942 84 . Over the dining room we can stretch canvas if necessary. The single pyramid tent that had housed the work crew is now joined by three others. But the cookies work hardest of all. down below. Jacob Katzman. set with dishes and silverware. and the old farmer's stove bought for $4 refuses to get fired.. . We fulfilled the mitzva with overflowing hearts.. . . The cookies become more and more exasperated as the number of mouths to feed increases. should be received with rejoicing. . the original number of the work group is more than doubled.
how to keep the sickly stove from falling apart. we really had work to do. how to keep the flames from climbing the wooden walls. swishing torrent of icy brook water. Soon after we braced it. and how to extinguish them quickly once they started up–and last but not least. how to make that stove cook the food the right way at the right time. made the plans. brushing teeth. how to stack the wood so as to direct the heat towards the pots and away from the cook. None of those new-fangled ideas like faucets for us pioneers! In the old days we trekked down from the hill to the creek. for taking swims or showers. but did you have any programs?” Why. YOUNGSTERS! You know. No sooner was the shack or dining hall constructed than we had a real project on our hands. One of our own members. under the expert direction of the Philadelphia engineers. and constructed the new building. how to replace a broken grate. over dangerous cliffs and precipices to get to the “sink and washtubs”–a swirling. When you realize that we had to take the same hike for washing clothes. Then the work that was involved in keeping ourselves fed! Becoming acquainted with the personality of our coal stove was the work of an entire summer. estimated the materials. Take Accord. you had lots of spirit back in 1934-35. for instance. or any time we wanted to wash our hands – you have an idea of the tremendous work involved in keeping clean. Zalman. Keeping ourselves and our clothes clean was another constant work project. 85 . sometimes it makes me mad! You who go to Kvutza these days have a way of saying: “Well – of course. It took a genius to know how to line the stove with fire brick. We decided to construct a brand new dining hall. We had to support the doddering building. we had a program of activities you’ll find it mighty hard to match! Just making it possible to live was program enough.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING LISTEN HERE.
Maybe someday I’ll write a book of memories. Let me tell you–I was proud of our campers during that real danger. I guess I haven’t the space to tell about the revolution at Tel Hai. We survived the event of course. 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. all responded to the emergency. Saadia Gelb. A howling wind and flashes of lightning accompanied the rain. None of us noticed the gathering clouds as he spoke. 1942 86 . we still made time for our cultural programs. People from the village of Accord came out in cars and trucks to take our baggage to safety. 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. I’ll always remember the time we had two visitors from New York. 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. safe summer resort. Celeritas. the truck–or even midnight swims. As one man. One of them related his experiences in Eretz Yisrael to us. Then you’ll see how much spirit and how much program we had in the early days of our Kvutza. Well.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT And with all the work we had to do. the wind tackled one tent after another until five tents toppled over–two of them torn to shreds. 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.
In June. spending my first year in Camp Kvutza. That summer of 1951 in Tel Yohanan was a six-week honeymoon with the movement for all of us. The Merkaz wore out tempers and tires in everlasting jaunts around New York State looking for a new camp site. I'd say that many of us did not know at the time who Yohanan was. New York. 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. not a memorial. The fact that the Galil campers were living in the cabins and most of the New Yorkers in a separate tent-camp. but we lived in such a way that he continued to exist in us. The first reaction: We were ap- 87 . the news was announced: New York Habonim had a new home-at the (then stupendous) cost of almost fifty thousand dollars. The mahaneh in Red Hook. did not help the situation at all. and the registration of Tel Yohanan promised to expand enormously. I was a still-wet-behind-the-ears tzofa. Who wanted to go anywhere but to our own Tel Yohanan for the summer? Nonetheless. but Mahaneh Tel Yohanan was a living thing. we went to Galil. in the early spring of 1953. The name of Yohanan Tartakower was completely unknown to me. the shock of hearing that Tel Yohanan had been wrecked by vandals was numbing.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK That summer. New York was determined to build a Kvutza of its own once again. During the summer of 1952. Since the majority of the New Yorkers were of bonim age. faced its first meeting with Habonim during a spring session in 1953. and the majority of the Galilniks were of solelim-tzofim age. it often seemed as if we New Yorkers were marking time. the great tales of "adventure" found willing ears. Finally. the division between the two groups was extremely sharp. Despite this attitude. When we returned to the city.
Red Hook. outhouses. served to dispel a few illusions. no electricity. we could not afford to let our ideals go by the board. We had not only to adapt ourselves to a new concept of camping with its attendant responsibilities.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT palled! It was all too civilized for our tastes. It will be remembered as the year of the Habonim Maccabia with the summer camp of Hanoar Hatzioni. and (we thought) no halutziut.even cheers were care- 88 . It became as natural for some madrichim to converse in Hebrew as for the campers to try to emulate the actions of the staff. Gone were the days of cold water only. A comradely atmosphere from the outset . The campers responded. In accepting the "luxury" of our new home. 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 Tel Yohanan and again in Galil. a separate shower-house. At the same time. the number of Habonim campers from the New York region was under fifty. but were also faced with a previously unknown problem of incorporating a large percentage of nonmembers. The next summer was somewhat less of a memorable experienceperhaps because the previous season had been so overwhelmingly successful. It was a wonderful experience for both camps. The population at Red Hook climbed to more than double that number. It was felt. 1954 was the "honeymoon" season at Red Hook. active Habonim within the camp did not exceed forty percent of the total population. The first summer in Camp Habonim. There was a Habonim atmosphere. too. in the activities run by the campers themselves. This perhaps was the more serious of the two. 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. Camp Hatzofeh.
The spirit of the entire competition may be imagined from the unanimous protest of the two camps directly before the close of the Maccabia .both wanted to "rip up the score sheets. Remember the afternoon spent in track events. 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. Galil for Galil.upon which the cheers.cold-water stage to the cabins-hot water stage. with a large number of participants. with people from all three camps cheering the competitors impartially? Each camp had a theme . a new dimension of education had been added to the Maccabia which made its meaning even fuller for the participants. Once again held at Galil. What is to happen to New York camping in the future? That is in the hands of the haverim themselves. the New Yorkers won. 1957 89 . Ziffy Entin. and songs were based. though not until a contest had been waged in which every point was in doubt. Each summer has seen the development of the concept of Habonim camping-from the tents. As usual. and Negev for Moshava . it was the high point of the season. evening program presentation.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fully censored to exclude any derogatory material about the opposing camp." 1955 saw a new venture in Habonim camping-that of a successful Leaders' Training program. at camp. 1956 saw the revival of the Habonim Inter-Kvutza Maccabia. In addition to the spirit of comradeship which grew up in the three days.Yehuda for Red Hook.
It is not difficult to measure the importance of Camp Kvutza to upstate New York. Some of the haverim who were campers are now in 90 . opened in 1937 and ran through 1941. The burned-out remains of a house nearby. the loyalties it helped cement bore fruit after the war years in 1946. and Syracuse. were the cook. and the empty "haunted house" down the road gave the camp additional atmosphere. I cannot comment on the feverish activity involved in trying to set up the camp for the first time. one-eyed Pete. Many new Habonim members were obtained through the camp. and Mark B. Permanent fixtures at the camp.I. The woods behind the tents and the hay loft behind the barn served as "rooms" for discussions and Hebrew lessons. However. aside from many of the Habonim members. A large two story barn served as the kitchen and recreation hall. From my experience on pre-registration camp committees in later years.'s (and ex-Habonim) formed the Enzo Sereni Labor Zionist group in Rochester. New York. Havera Atlas. Our camp was not a large-one. however. inhabited by the ghost of two-fingered. Several ex-G. our departed haver and teacher. This group existed from 1946 to 1949 and was probably as active a Zionist group as existed in this country. It was situated on farm land along Lake Ontario. I was only thirteen in 1937 when I spent one week at Camp Kvutza. the Habonim camping experience would have been denied to most of the Habonim in this region. It handled thirty to fifty-five children per week.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KENDALL Camp Kvutza at Kendall." Camp Kvutza catered to the Habonim of Rochester. I can fully appreciate the time and effort expended by the "older haverim. Buffalo. 1941 was the last year of Camp Kvutza. and was responsible for many lasting friendships. Hanopolsky. Had it not been for the camp. and as a result. thirty miles west of Rochester.
and myself.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Israel. even for members of Habonim. The previous week. Tel Hai. In these three weeks. He looked at us and grinned. and said he'd see what he could do. Julius Cohen. and down Douglas Boulevard in Chicago. rusty-looking. now overgrown with weeds and grass and ruins all about. for upon her depended all the transportation of haverim and materials for this crucial period and for the Kvutza season itself. She had been given to us for nothing. we had received our first application with $1 deposit. The advance crew would have three weeks of unceasing work to get the place in shape for the opening. we had to revive a place which was once a beautiful Farband camp. but which had been ravaged by fire. It was hard. and so we pushed her slowly to the garage and told the mechanic to get her in running condition for that evening. shook his head. dilapidated. business manager. 1957 KVUTSA IN THE MIDWEST "KVUTZIE" It was a hot June day in 1936. The fire had left a desolate spot. to realize that the three were none other than Nahum Guttman. 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. 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. three "big shots" were pushing an old. But we knew she would run again. Danny Owerbach. tiredeflated 1926 Dodge truck. 91 . Only three weeks remained before the opening of Kvutza. Michigan. rosh Kvutza. the super truck driver-to-be. and we were pushing that truck to a garage to get her running. and that this little scene was actually the first practical beginning of Habonim's second Kvutza in America at New Buffalo.
We had no lights. when the battery went completely dead. she was indeed able to run-but no telling how. What should we do? Turning back would mean another precious day wasted. We started her up.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In the evening when we returned. Then on the way. I got into the driver's seat. there was spirited singing and joking. 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 finally reached Tel Hai. After a harrowing hour and a half we were finally out of the city. Those in the back were frozen from the cold night air. when she began sputtering over a little hill. We looked up at the sky and saw that the moon was full. Cries of "ouch" rang out and the people along Western Avenue stared. Julie and Nahum. It was now about midnight and the traffic was not very heavy. we got the Dodge started on her way back to Chicago-just Julie and I. Kvutzie!" and thus she was named. 92 . With the aid of that flashlight and the full moon. got into the seat next to me. We could take the chance of using her that night if we wanted. She needed a new generator and new battery. 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. those in front roasted from the heat of the motor. fearlessly risking their lives. Here we picked up fourteen brave souls and were on our way. but he wouldn't advise it. We decided to take the chance. "Come on. Before we left. We decided to continue. The streets of Chicago are renowned for their holes and bumps and I didn't miss one of them. but all the way. After a few hours' sleep and a little more pushing. the driver completely new. I urged her on by calling out. and through the grace of an inefficient police force. The Dodge was old. and then somehow managed to drive to the center.
Without them. But Kvutzie had been running on love and sympathy. we sold Kvutzie to the Hehalutz farm at Creamridge. Frightened parents trembled as Kvutzie pulled out of the dirt road onto the highway at three in the morning. the source of the greatest fear. They dismantled her and used her parts on other trucks. we'd see. We had her gear fixed so it would stay in high. New Jersey. But we survived the trip. the rain. and whom and what she would bring back with her. and the sixty hours of traveling. Miraculously. "What? With Kvutzie? Never!" Well. who had inherited the junk yard from her father and who was sitting among old rims and tires and spare parts writing a book. Then we went to buy her new shoes at an old junk yard about two miles from Michigan City. at Accord. Then we decided to take a number of haverim 1000 miles to the seminar at Accord.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Kvutzie was the cause of most of the joy and sorrow of that first season. We played guessing games as to what time she would return from a trip. we found four almost new tires for Kvutzie. how many flats she would have. 93 . There. Songs were written about her. Kvutzie became a legend. Her every arrival was the source of the greatest excitement. she served us through the entire summer. she soon died. What a night that was! We packed eighteen haverim into the back of Kvutzie and started the trip! It thundered and rained. her every departure. the mountains. aided by a Jewish girl of about twenty. We arrived at Accord amid great celebrating (and without a single flat tire on the entire trip). There. and everything was against our getting there. 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. our New York Kvutza.
Only in the wonderful life that is ours at Kvutza could such a spirit come to be." I thanked the gentleman for his kind offer and consideration and hung up. None other like it in the whole state. I phoned that number. little did we expect that it would be our last summer there. Again I went through the same procedure. Moshe Goldberg. With eyes closed. 1942 KVUTZA. none of us were too sad. the comradeship. that first season of Kvutzat Tel Hai. All you have to do is put a dozen steam shovels to work for two years and you've got it. and an official title was given the committee. How should we go about it? Where should we start? Whom should we contact? The method we used was quite simple. I spun around three times and placed my finger on the page.762 1/2 miles from Milwaukee. A committee was elected to look for a site. the Meshugoyim (mad ones). "Yes. But it was. the discussion. R-Radiators-Radios-ah. a spirit which could take a dead object and give it the soul that Kvutzie had. "I have just the place for you. I remember Kvutzie for she was the creator of that spirit. "Sure enough. WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? When we left Tel Hai at the close of the Kvutza season last summer. the wonderful spirit. see? Nothing to worry about. It was decided that Wisconsin would be the lucky state containing the new Habonim Kvutza." said a bass voice. And it's only 9." said the man on the other side of the line. the overnight hikes. We took out the trusty telephone book and began paging through it." I hung up. Real Estate. 94 . "I have just what you want. I supply the blasting powder. When at the winter seminar it was decided to leave Tel Hai and look for a new site for the Midwest Kvutza. KVUTZA.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Others may remember the camp fires.
they enlisted the moral and financial assistance of active seniors who helped plan construction of the new Habonim camp to be known as Kinneret. among them Ben Kaminker. A patch of grass surrounded by a D-shaped trench formed the open-air dining table. 1944 KINNERET In the summer of 1938. their neighbors across the road and owners of their camp site. twenty acres of which belonged to the Farband. built a dining hall and kitchen. erected platforms for the tents. pooled their resources to purchase a couple of tents which they pitched on the side of a hill overlooking Waterloo Road near Chelsea. a place with real possibilities turned up. and with the assistance of a professional carpenter. by the time you'll be reading this article. only thirty-five miles from Milwaukee. high land. Nevertheless. our haverim cleared a road through the swamp. a small group of Detroit Habonim. but for all other facilities. Mordecai Salinger. hilly. That winter. we will probably be building for the 1944 Kvutza season. a few members of the group waded through a swamp to find a large tract of unused ground. the hardy group turned to Farband Camp. A large group of Cincinnati 95 . and level. Kinneret was a success and ready for further expansion when Mordecai Salinger took over as rosh Kvutza in 1940. While exploring the area south of their encampment. Michigan. and Danny Ginsburg. after calling for enough times to have lost count.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Well. During the summer of 1939. heavy woods. and sank a shallow well. Armon Kamesar. This they immediately staked out as the perfect spot for their future ventures. under the leadership of Ben Kaminker. It meets all the requirements and we are awaiting word as to the possibilities of our developing the lake into a swimming pool.
separate outhouses were under way. The washing facilities were enclosed and work began on a real outhouse. 1944 also saw the end of the beloved tower-the termites and old age finally beat the creosote and supports. the storage cellar. Leon Adler became rosh. and dug another distribution field for the modern improved shower house. We began work on the hospital. In 1945. 1941 was a quiet year. In 1943. and the arrival of four girls from Cleveland marked the beginning of Kinneret as a regional camp. which was dedicated to Donny Lee of Cleveland. 1942 was another year of big construction . The rosh was Paul Milgrom (Pinhas Rimon). and all became sweetness and light at Kinneret-for once we were genteel. We added our 96 . arrived late. with Ettie Skidell in charge of camp and the boys hard at work moving mountains of dirt to lay the sanitation distribution field. but the campers carried on valiantly under the expert whistle blowing of Esty Carson. raising the number of campers to an average of sixty during that summer. Artie Goldberg was rosh Kvutza. In 1944. We built a cabin. with Shirley Milgrom who came along for the honeymoon. work was again the watchword. under the tutelage of Yosef Israeli. Harry Spoon. a migdal.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT haverim joined the Detroiters. and last but not least. Shalom Wurm set the pattern for cultural activities at camp. the Ashkenazy building. while Aharon Remez was the fair-haired boy whose experience and muscle were relied on to continue with the building program. New tent platforms. Electricity was installed. enlarged the dining room by moving the kitchen to a new addition. The hospital was nominally finished and we began our eternal project. the rosh. and the hills around Kinneret resounded with labor songs.at Kinneret.
Several more cabins were built. the greatest stunt ever at Kinneret. Joey named his quarters. This was the year of the "flexible schedule. including many younger children. art. In 1951. Detroit's United Hebrew Schools provided a number of full scholarships and there was a large enrollment. That was the year of Doris Dombey's bouncing bed. Dvora Frankel was rosh in 1949. the Detroit United Hebrew Schools said that more Hebrew was learned by their students that year than any other. modern dance. Haim Stopak was rosh. Abba (Cherniak) Tzuriel was rosh. In 1948. In 1950. 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. 1947 was the year of Joey Criden. The season gushed with culture. The emphasis was on speaking Hebrew. Camp doubled its enrollment on weekends-an ambitious weekend program. There was an ambitious work program mainly centered about maintenance-there were no new projects.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING annual brick to the storage cellar and spent the rest of the season looking for work. and Evvy Weingarten made her famous leap from rooftop to Ann Arbor hospital. Pipeline HaNegev. and the discussion program centered about the False Messiahs. Of the season." and also a year of strong emphasis on scoutcraft. with Dave Katz as his right-hand man. There were many midnight "Arab attacks. 97 . Murray Weingarten. A madrichim camp was held after the regular season." and Blue-White Day was distinguished by its blood and gore. in honor of sixteen-month-old Donny. drama. Doodle Horowitz led Kinneret in its first year as a Hebrewspeaking camp. was rosh in 1946.
There was no big construction projects because of the lack of people. 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. again including younger children. baby carriages. Tel Natan was named for our dear haver. Jerry Katz. Prior to opening. Seymour Salinger. who was one of the most sincere and dedicated members of the Labor Zionist movement and represented the best that is found in Habonim. and the last year of Kinneret closed with a Bonim Seminar. Abbie Haklay was rosh. but a marvelous business manager. a group of “old-timers” packed box-lunches. Dani Kerman returned in 1953. Tel Natan. 1955 was Kinneret's last year. Esther Goldberg. and assorted spouses and progeny. 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. Harriet Gelfond. In 1954. Detroit had had a very successful year and camp registration was up. managed to make money even on only twenty campers. Geli Gelfond was rosh. and spent a day of labor at Kinneret. It was unique in having complete facilities. 1957 TEL NATAN Tel Natan was the Camp Kvutza for the St. Louis and Cincinnati mahanot in 1947 and 1948. but things picked up. Dani Kerman was rosh and Kinneret was still a Hebrew-speaking camp.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT 1952 opened with a low registration. 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 . Nathan Kanter. Chicago and Detroit combined efforts in staff and campers. A new truck was purchased.
an electric refrigerator. formed the Habonim Camping Association of Missouri. Perhaps St. Missouri. and printed application blanks. After we shut down the camp for the winter. we were convinced that we had made a wonderful beginning as the first year-round Camp Kvutza in history. Nate's mother. four sinks. a large dining room. we contacted the movement in Cincinnati. Forty haverim spent four satisfying weeks at Tel Natan. We were wrong. Louis mahaneh. Troy. Louis was just not ready to con- 99 . guest house. the food was good. and after one more season. Louis. We returned to Tel Natan for a winter conference. two tons of dishes and pots. a recreation hall. and the activities and discussions excellent. plenty of hot and cold water. examined and leased the camp site sixty miles west of St. no one complained. I'm not sure why the camp failed or what lesson other camps can learn from Tel Natan. We did not have to struggle and fight to establish our camp. Perhaps it was too easy. a walk-in icebox. The cabins were warm. The camp. no one lost any weight (thanks to Havera Kanter. This was even more successful than the summer session. bought a truck.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING there would be no camp in the Chicago area to serve the St.000 acre park. and several buildings we never used. The camp and the setting were beautiful and the facilities excellent (two stoves. known to the Missouri State Park Commission as Camp C1. We broke even. who was our cook). Quiure River State Park. hospital. ten large cabins. All that we missed was the swimming. shower house. was located on a high hill in the heart of a 6. and the two tons of dishes and pots did not arrive till fall. In a matter of days. The first season was a success. office. and since the swimming at Cheetham Pond was not too good anyway. the camp discontinued operation.
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. Kinneret. 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. of work and love and devotion. of exciting days and romantic nights. some photographs. thrilling one for our haverim of those early 100 . names such Tel Hai. or moved on to other personal activity. Yad Ari. created by a slowdown in activity during the war.the Labor Zionist Youth. innocuous name. All that is left of Tel Natan is fond memories. And yet this name holds for us twenty-five years of memories-memories of other camps with other names. memories of a glorious. I believe that Tel Natan failed because the leadership in the mahaneh. and a feeling of deep regret that the monument we began to erect in memory of Nate Kanter in 1947 was never finished. to other movement assignments. was probably the main cause of failure. of bonfires and Shabbat celebrations. and left a void.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT duct and sustain its own camp. Nothing romantic or exciting or exotic or even emotional about this name. This was a new idea. where they would govern themselves in a truly democratic fashion and work out their plans for building a new Eretz Yisrael. which was mainly older. went on aliya. 1957 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM Midwest Camp Habonim! A rather plain. a bold. This void. 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 .
in northcentral Wisconsin. Here the ideals of Camp Kvutza could really flourish.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING years. Illinois. which served the ChicagoMilwaukee-Minneapolis area. two of which were spent at a rented camp near Savannah. however. when it was destroyed by fire. It was a good idea. 160 acres of land were purchased near Waupaca. The name. so we had to travel ten miles to go swimming. and will continue to go on for many. was the fact that the campers and the staff were satisfied and happy. however. Here was the opportunity for Habonim to truly build its own camp. The tents. were built. many years. 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. Tel. except for a dispensary. In 1948. They planted a pine forest. who recall those days with love and tenderness.but nothing. and the camp itself was always clean and well kept. near New Buffalo. which doubled as a recreation room. containing all the necessary facilities. This was camp Yad Ari. No other buildings. beautiful dining room. occasionally someone would get wet at night when he forgot to close the tent flaps. Most important of all. Hai. 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 . The first Habonim camp in the Midwest (and the second to be established in the United States) was Tel Hai. however. Its tenure came to an abrupt end. not even the fin- 101 . Michigan. 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. and so it remained a tent camp. were spacious and comfortable. Then followed an interim period of three years. and they did! They built a big. today stirs beautiful memories among many of our senior haverim. which has since proven to be the most memorable part of the whole camp. Many fine and beautiful traditions were built here. and a modern shower house.
A good concept. Michigan. Louis and Minneapolis. The combined areas would now extend as far east as Pittsburgh and as far south and west as St.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT est of facilities or the most beautiful buildings and grounds. the true Habonim spirit. more intimate type of camp was no longer feasible. this also came to an end. It was too small and lacked the proper facilities for a large number of campers. Why choose Kinneret over Yad Ari? Mainly because of the location. that resiliency which can change disaster to triumph. modern Camp Habonim. the dignity of the flag raising. as all good things do. turn tears into laughter. This was Yad Ari. or the simple beauty of a Friday evening meal by candlelight. with the singing and the dancing afterwards? Those of you who ever attended Camp Habonim. and 1955 saw Camp Yad Ari and Camp Kinneret combined at Camp Kinneret near Chelsea. Thus. with everyone in white. central Michigan was much nearer the center of this region than northern Wisconsin-therefore. could ever be a substitute for the most wonderful of intangibles. of a closeness and oneness that could be achieved nowhere else-the indomitable spirit of Habonim. Kinneret was the choice. haverim. Can you remember. a more modern one. Kinneret was never meant to be the permanent new home of the large. the combining of the two small camps into one large camp at Kinneret. Obviously. Yad Ari was abandoned. can never forget. 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. We had to have fewer but much larger and better (physically speaking) camps. A new concept of camping had been born in the minds of the leadership of Habonim. At the end of the 1954 season. But. This was the idea that the very small. wherever or whenever it might have been. It was to serve merely for the transition period until 102 . this was Camp Habonim. and one that has proven itself. the feeling of real group living.
we believe. We have not lost sight of the unique Habonim camping program and we retain that spirit that typifies Habonim. The most important features remain . Does this mean. Michigan. The good old flashlight. however. Midwest Camp Habonim today is. In the spring of 1956.in fact. The cabins are all equipped with electric lights and even the grounds are illuminated at night. This camp had been a farm resort and was situated on beautiful Kaiser Lake. The next season found us in the new camp. But to go along with more modern practices. were purchased by Habonim. a combination of the best of the old and of the new. In short. that we are giving up the old idea of Camp Kvutza? Not at all. 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. is now almost a thing of the past.self-labor. the new Midwest Camp Habonim.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING a new site would be found. with which all Habonim campers are so familiar. 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). All toilet facilities are indoors . The dining hall is probably one of the most ideally situated spots in camp. and did it well. It did just that. the new cabins come equipped with these appurtenances. we have improved upon many of the primitive physical facilities. Its many high windows overlook the lake and present a truly scenic picture for the diners. We now come to the current chapter. de- 103 . With the new buildings we can now house seventy-five campers comfortably and we have enough room to expand to a hundred and fifty. all the modern conveniences that one associates with the best in modern camps are present at our new Midwest Camp Habonim. Negotiations were completed early in May and two additional cabins were begun. self-government. eighty acres of beautiful grounds near Three Rivers.
and cities. the concept of a common fund. his chances of remaining in Habonim are excellent. We feel that we now have a camp. and water had to be brought by car from about a mile away. and many others have remained here to become leaders not only in the Labor Zionist movement. For the first time. with Ben's arrival in Los Angeles. Sleeping was mostly outdoors. Lenny Zurakov. and of course. and the results were a full camping season which was followed uninterruptedly for the next twenty-one years. Many graduates of Habonim camp have gone to live in Israel. It was during that summer. cooking in an abandoned shack. these were the ingredients of the first Camp Kvutza in the West in the year 1936. Swimming was in a public pool. the permanent camp in the Angeles National Forest. becomes an attraction for newcomers to our movement. This is a record that speaks for itself.C. But spirits were high. as well as the program. the determination indomitable. 104 . and once a child has had a positive camping experience at camp.C. and Ben Cherner. that can compare favorably with any in the area.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT mocracy. in kibbutzim. we can honestly say that we have compiled a tradition of living Judaism which would be difficult for any group or organization to match. the physical plant of the camp. twenty sprightly youngsters. but in all parts of the American Jewish community. and a program superior to most. that feeling of kinship and real comradely spirit. moshavim. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE WEST A goat farm. Old-timers remember the C. In looking back upon twenty-five years of Habonim camping. that the idea of Habonim camping ripened and the first camp was established. In 1939. camping experience in 1937 and Azusa in 1938.
Situated. was bought and the permanent home for Habonim camping established. as well as some that were specifically camp activities. games.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fifty-five miles from Los Angeles. 105 . 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. Arts and crafts were integrated into this program. models. literary trials. Camp Program and Activities Our camp program consisted of a general camp theme. fifteen percent of the campers stayed for the entire six weeks. on a hilly and wooded thirty-nine-acre estate. 173 campers availed themselves of our facilities and spent with us 498 camper-weeks. the several activities directly associated with it. Campers could register for a minimum period of two weeks. A swimming pool was built and many other facilities added as late as last year. its original owner's home was remodeled into a dining room and kitchen. The camp has served Los Angeles Jewish youth for twenty years now and several thousand young people have gone through it. Our general camp theme was: "Jewish Heroism Through the Ages. discussions. and the arts. as the camp is. During the entire period. the children at camp became acquainted with the heroic moments in Jewish history. 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." Through lectures.
and other camp diversions which took place regularly. Much new equipment was purchased. the daily Hebrew classes. dancing. Camp accomplished in a very few weeks what efforts by parents could not achieve for years. they were in a thoroughly children's atmosphere as well as in a thoroughly Jewish one. We are beginning to receive campers from other cities on the West Coast and are rapidly becoming an all-Western camp. 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. the following camp activities were open to all campers: swimming. We anticipate doubling our registration this summer. The sports facilities were improved. singing. arts and crafts. sports. scouting. We also extended our camp season to eight weeks.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In addition. the discussion of Jewish problems and of Jewish achievements. the Shabbat morning Tanach circle. hiking. Future Plans All this progress was made possible through a building expansion program undertaken last spring. We felt it in the expressions of the children at camp. we felt it even more in the conversations with the parents of the campers. Four large new cabins were built. including showers. 106 . The Shabbat celebration. the Israel and Zionist spirit of all our activities. toilets and wash basins. all this left an indelible impression upon the campers. Here. photography. we felt it in the one hundred percent attendance at the first camp reunion. and for many campers for the first time.
to enlarge and improve our dining and kitchen facilities. 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. to improve the present shower building. 1935. The capacity is now seventy-five to eighty campers from all over the Atlantic seaboard. Hashomer would use the camp. an arts and crafts pavilion. David Yaroslovsky. And so Moshava began its first season! Needless to say. many changes have occurred since that memorable year. In 1935 Mr. but the setting is so perfect and the scenery so beautiful that we never want to forget it. to build several new concrete platforms. Habonim camping on the West Coast is confidently looking forward to a secure and ever-expanding future along with all Habonim camping in the United States and Canada. whose dining room had a canvas top. July. Mosh has changed from a small camp sponsored by Gordoniawhose tents were pitched on the bare ground." Such is the effect "Mosh" has on its campers. The two groups were the Hashomer Hatzair and the Gordonia organization of Baltimore. while Gordonia would have the camp in August. for not only do we spend some of the happiest weeks of the year there.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Our plans for this summer are to build a staff building. with seven tents pitch- 107 . and whose campers came from Baltimore only-to a large camp sponsored by Habonim following the amalgamation of Habonim with Gordonia. where there was no electricity whatsoever. And it is no wonder that we all love it. 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.
Here on this trail is the wellknown "Tree" on whose roots many a couple sit wrapped in the velvety darkness of night. One can relax in the mildly cool river water. a modern hospital with up-to-date equipment. horseshoe. or go to sleep on the sandy beach while taking a sun bath. can one see it completely. From there. a large roomy kitchen. one finds oneself on the bench near the river. These two cabins begin the camp proper. for flanking them. The picture Moshava presents is truly a beautiful one. one arrives at last at the old cliff that overlooks the Severn River. and track events take place during sports periods. In all directions there is green foliage that beckons to you with its coolness in the heat of the day. however. basketball. a piano. spreading below. gazing at the stars. 108 . a popular place for rehearsals or for a nocturnal group wishing to read Edgar Allen Poe in just the proper atmosphere. get an invigorating swim in the deeper cold water further from shore. volleyball and basketball courts. an outdoor stage. Following the path further. where baseball. the tents and stage are arranged in an almost perfect circle. 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. It is lined with clinging vines draped around the trees. this scene is dimly repeated.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT ed on platforms. a well-filled library. and far on the distant side of the river. and listening to the waves lap on the beach. we come to the long uneven trail that leads back to the central field. Past interesting coves and the beach. This trail is the most popular of all. four large airy cabins. But this is not all. wide and level. and electrical connections. Scrambling down the side of the cliff. Only from the water tower. tantalizing monkey vines swing just above your reach. a newly reinforced dining room. The center of this circle is the center field. and here and there. one sees the side road leading from the water tower to the hospital opposite.
and a rosh Kvutza set foot on forty acres of poison ivy studded with two outhouses. and soap. printed stationary. So the determined Quakers set to work. contacted sympathizers. the first expedition set out armed to the hilt with mops. In May. Far and wide they traveled. It was a crime to travel hundreds of miles for the inspiration and learning we could achieve on our own grounds. "Mosh" Diary. They formed committees. They screened and painted. They transformed a chicken coop into a habitable shack. 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. Then came the eventful day when fourteen haverim. three kitchens. brooms. worked with characteristic irregularity. But soon the cash thermometer rose and $250 became a realization. The scrubbed and rubbed. one of which leaked from the luxurious 109 . hot and cold water. and ten stall showers which. the Sunday of the 23rd. They slept and ate and grew gray hair over pledges. The central field is not far ahead and soon one can be in the midst of activity again. buckets.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING It is also on this trail that we find the path leading to the new cliff. Camp Tax became the byword. a site for camp. And now. The manor house after being scrubbed from top to bottom revealed an immense dining room. influenced by their anarchist background.former anarchist hangout and spiders' hideout. and nagged the National Executive. Through mosquito-ridden New Jersey to mosquito-ridden Pennsylvania until they came upon Camp Germinal .
music room. who often stopped to admire the flowers by the wayside? He carried our haverim down to the swimming hole in the Shamony. Sossy from Chicago.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT bath upstairs every time one of the girls decided to miss a discussion. Aba Kibbile's drama group. and dance studio. Edi and Brown Betty. and then after a sojourn with the flowers. Ernst who drowned you trying to teach life saving. Who of us can ever forget Sir Ferdinand. Cookie and the chocolate pudding. Leslie and his hair washing. Clara's operetta. Yak and his travels in Ferdy. Yona and her trying girls. The office served as a lounge. named for his predecessor. Tzip and her hatred of kitchen duty. or on a line to the Delaware. Galil Diary. 1938 110 . and Shlomo and his hat. and the other which had a natural waterfall coming from the center roof every time the dishes fell. Leo and his driving mania. The six master bedrooms did come in handy when the fourteen pioneers increased to sixty. the bull. And their famous idiosyncrasies. Or can we forget our staff-rising and falling like the stock market? One week ten and the next week four. could be persuaded only by Schmeer up to the hill again to camp.
Laizer Blitt. 1957.The "Ten Lost Tribes" prepare to return. 1956. Kinneret. Montreal. Kinneret. Gaby Stalzenberg at work. All proceeds to the J. Montreal. Rose Breslau. Chana Reitman. "The Women". Etty Skidell. 1941. 1957. Corn for sale at Camp Habonim. Overnight hike at Montreal. 1941. Moshe Goldberg. . Shirley Goldberg.F.N. Aviva Gootman. 1956.
"B'tayavon". The Dining Room at Camp Habonim. 1957. . Solelim Dance at Red Hook. Dining Room at Tel Yochanan. 1957. Montreal.Visiting Day. Amenia. N.Y. Camp Habonim. 1957. The Lake at Tel Yochanan. Red Hook.Y. N.
Bridging the Creek at Galil. Red Hook. Ottsville. Galil Choir performs for Visitors Day. 1957. Annapolis. 1948. . N. 1957.Flag Raising at Moshava. Pennsylvania. Maryland.Y. The Waterfront at Moshava. Camp Habonim.
"Chalil and Drum Corps. Harvesting Corn at Camp Habonim. 1957.A discussion under the trees. my people". . Moshava. 1957. Taking a dip in the enlarged "L" shaped pool at Camp Habonim. Moshava. "Comfort ye. 1957. Moshava. Tisha B’Av. 1955.
a magnificent barn. In 1939. a site was found near Pipersville. at the height of the depression and with much trepidation because of the lack of finances. plans were made for finding. a very successful summer program was carried out. had two unfortunate deficiencies. 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 county highway divided the cabins from the rest of the site. let alone talk in terms of developing a permanent camp. Pennsylvania. War clouds were gathering. as many of our members as possible spent the summer at Moshava near Baltimore. and the swimming facilities were reached by climbing a very steep hill at a considerable distance from the 115 . the Philadelphia haverim rented the old anarchist Camp Germinal near Jamison. Fortunately. The site. One must recall the times in which this thinking took place. 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. for the summer. During the summer of 1939. Upon returning from Moshava at the end of the 1939 summer season. a permanent site for a Philadelphia camp. however. and a number of cabins which at one time had beeii4 chicken coops. and staffed mainly by older haverim of Habonim. we were determined to have a camp of our own. Pennsylvania (for the then large sum of $1. The White Paper was soon to be issued and the horror of Hitler-Europe was soon to be upon us.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. After much searching. and the first Camp Galil came into existence.500). Our appetites were whetted. It included a well-constructed farm house. which could be rented for the summer.
notwithstanding the broken arm of one of our haverim who managed to fall off a roof while shingling it. however. was a member of the staff. The group was small-I doubt if there were more than fifty at any one time-but the spirit was high. was the first national mahaneh madrichim. I believe. One remembers nostalgically the first contact with shlihim. the haverim of Habonim. Construction went well. Dr. and daily Hebrew sessions were a part of the program. The effectiveness of this endeavor 116 . did not detract from a very fine summer. This unpleasantness. the German American Bund was active in the area. had to do with the last three weeks of camp which was devoted to what. Meyer Cohen. and frequently more. at the younger haverim. no further incidents took place. The rampant anti-Semitism which existed and which was manifested so clearly made a deep impression upon our younger haverim. one recalls a most interesting and unusual Hebrew program. To counteract these activities. The summer itself was full of interesting and varied experiences. they managed to deface and almost destroy the dock we had built at the creek. The most striking memory of this summer. began intensive construction projects to make the site as serviceable as possible for the summer. Guard duty became an important job. At that particular period. however. Word was passed around and fortunately. In retrospect. Edie. Irv approached the local sheriff and received a permit to carry guns. The purpose of this particular mahaneh madrichim was to train madrichei tzofim.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT cabins. with the help of some adults. a principal of a Philadelphia Talmud Torah. Irv Sternberg and his wife. Haverim came from all over the country and friendships were created which were to last to this very day. So much so that at the beginning of the summer. Undaunted. In addition. it became a nightly occurrence for a truckload of these hooligans to drive slowly through the camp hurling epithets. were the roshim.
It can truthfully be said. From 1941 through 1945. it became clear that the local mahaneh could not really grow. returned from the service. that the young Labor Zionist movement of Philadelphia grew and was strengthened because of a program which revolved around the camp. Happily for Habonim. The impetus of the Camp Kvutza. or as inspiration for a new year's activities cannot be minimized. The camp was purchased for the sum of $30. Almost singlehandedly. 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.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. Most of our haverim spent that summer either at Killingworth. The young branches.000 from the YWCA. whether as a culmination of a year's work. was shared by one haver of the senior movement of Philadelphia. this dream of having a camp of our own. this pattern was repeated. Conditions brought about by the imminence of war 'unfortunately dictated against a camp of our own in 1941. The camp was quite primitive-there was no electricity. without whom there would have been no Camp Galil today. and the water supply was dependent upon an old gasoline engine which worked on occasion. whose membership came from ex-Habonim members. 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. The movement suffered accordingly. When the war ended and Habonim haverim. supplied the necessary labor and technical knowledge to begin im- 117 . All efforts were bent toward getting a camp for Philadelphia and vicinity. the kitchen had an old wood-burning stove. Connecticut. or returned to Moshava. this dedication to the importance of the summer Kvutza soon manifested itself. for without a camp. Abe Segal.
Interesting results followed. Because of the weakness of Habonim in the city. and installed electricity. Few children came to camp-the camp leadership was not from Philadelphia and. and the general membership supplied the muscle-power to dig the ditches so that all electric wires would be underground. camp rarely. was somewhat unnerving. if ever. consequently. The electrical engineers in the group planned. We are all part of one movement. The cycle was rather vicious. one would retain the name Galil and 118 . there was no leadership for the winter mahaneh. but there are many local differences and loyalties which can be positive. The lessons learned that summer were to be utilized during the following year. Killingworth could no longer be used and the Amenia site was not adequate. it was at first difficult to utilize the camp to its fullest extent. designed. however. 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. despite the fact that campers came from as far as Wilmington and the Vineland-Toms River areas. Aside from the fact that Philadelphia haverim acquired Brooklyn accents. the New York mahaneh was having its camp difficulties. The next few years were filled with gradual growth and improvement. serviced that number-this. which would in turn provide children for the summer season. In 1952. In 1953. the civil engineers in the group directed the building of the necessary footbridge to cross the stream.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT proving the camp site. The idea as finally formulated called for the establishment of two camps on the Galil site. The experience for Philadelphia. during the struggle for Statehood. Interest in the camp was further heightened by the events of 1947-48. To solve this dilemma an arrangement was made whereby the New York haverim registered at Galil for the summer. While eighty children could be accommodated.
It was agreed that every Habonim camp should have as much Hebrew as possible in its program. This meant that the facilities of Galil were to be used to their maximum. Camp terminology was almost exclusively Hebrew. During our camping history. But this was not enough. however. they should become Hebrew centered. It was during this year that the movement crystallized its thinking with regard to a central Hebrew-speaking camp. Galil was helped considerably in registering children by the fact that because of the emphasized Hebrew program. It was. make use of its facilities by improving the physical plant so as to be able to attract more children. and while the camps might never become completely Hebrew-speaking. The future of Habonim in Philadelphia was therefore dependent upon those unaffiliated children who could be brought to spend a summer at camp. quite clear at the end of the summer that such an arrangement could never be repeated. a great deal of Hebrew was always used.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING would accept campers from ages nine through twelve only. Being on the approved list of the Council brought help 119 . in addition to the everyday terminology. The best that can be said of that summer was that. actual classes for study of the language. at the same time. Registration would be limited to forty campers. The Camp Committee of Galil wholeheartedly endorsed this approach and determined upon a course which would make Galil a truly Hebrew-centered camp and. The idea now evolved to include. quite a bit was accomplished in both camps. Camp Amal would register children ages thirteen through sixteen who met the Hebraic requirements. 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. The idea of two separate camps with separate staffs and differing orientation was too difficult an undertaking to be of any real success. and could register up to sixty children.
Not only will this be avoided in the future. The swimming pool was completely rebuilt. In addition. In some cases. and in 1957. Galil depended on the creek for water for the swimming pool. 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. Improvements to camp continue. The Hebrew program at Galil is flexible enough to be able to provide for these individual needs. It should be noted that the national office was never able to supply the total staff needs of Galil. the Gratz College students were. A second well was dug primarily to provide water for the pool and to act as a supplementary water supply for general use. the Hebrew teachers' training institution of Philadelphia. they have covered the equivalent of a full year's work in the city. During the past three summers many of the campers at Galil have made considerable progress in their Hebraic studies. for the first time. if not directly connected with our movement. During the past few summers. Several of the largest congregations in the city also announced to its membership that it would grant scholarships to children desirous of attending Galil. Many of the youngsters bring with them specific requests from their teachers and principals as to material to be covered. 120 .HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT from other quarters. camp was full. In previous years. 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. if necessary. A Hebrew Educators Advisory Committee was organized and the Hebrew program of Galil approved. In 1956. In most cases. registration was closed by the end of March. Supplementing the Habonim staff were Gratz College students working to our mutual advantage. the water level of the creek continued to fall so that there were times when the pool could not be properly filled.
We are raising a new generation of children and a new generation of parents. those of us now responsible for our camps must take this into account. The Camp Committee has assumed all of the responsibility of a Chay Commission. But.” This in a sense represented our thinking. Parents today seem more concerned for the material aspects of camp life and.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The future of Galil seems assured. however. Our parents. But they were neither shocked nor disturbed by "primitive" conditions. I well remember the heated discussions which took place among haverim in Philadelphia when Galil contemplated installing an automatic dishwashing machine. is to no avail unless it leads to an invigorated and expanded youth movement in the city." primitive sites and difficult conditions were almost a matter of principle. All members of the Camp Committee are dedicated to this purpose. Habonim camping has traveled a long road in the past twenty-five years. immigrants themselves. But problems have arisen. They are not interested in running a camp just for the sake of a summer business. make it. "The road of the halutz is a long and difficult one and if it isn't. 121 . Haverim cried that this would violate the principle of self-labor. and the problems of the youth movement are an integral part of each camp meeting. and every meeting has on its agenda a report from the rosh mahaneh of Philadelphia Habonim. were no less concerned about our welfare during the summer than parents today. the Kvutza in Israel has also undergone some metamorphoses and the American Kvutza must reflect these changes. In the "old days. We wanted to simulate the life of the Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael as closely as possible. like it or not. It has made its mark in the Philadelphia Jewish community and its prestige is at its highest point. All of this. deeply committed to Labor Zionism.
who had received a mining engineer's degree from McGill University in Montreal. In cannot be changed without destroying the very basis for which our camps were created. The Winnipeg movement was young and vigorous then. he went out to organize Habonim at night. He became a military aircraft inspector for the RCAF stationed in Winnipeg. In one of those strange wartime transmutations. by temperament David Biderman was no one-job man. changed overnight from an explorer of the earth's depths to an inspector of flight. when he was through inspecting aircraft for the day. The only clue to his earth-bound past was slyly concealed in his home address: He lived on Burrows Street in Winnipeg. Winni- 122 . But miner or airman. but happily there were no experienced campers in Winnipeg and no one withheld his enthusiastic approval. David Biderman. 1957 KVUTZA IN CANADA GIMLI.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Educationally. Once Winnipeg Habonim reached mahaneh status they could settle for nothing less than a Camp Kvutza of their own. however. Daniel Isaacman. Only experienced campers would have balked at such a plan. 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. Immediately a camp plan was drawn up and presented to the community. the program we offer has been tried and tested for twenty-five years and reflects our philosophy of life. It was David Biderman who wrought the miracle of Habonim in Winnipeg and set the stage for the first camp. and no one would have suspected that it came about as a sort of by-product of work for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
turned out to greet them. Aliyah Kare was dean of arts and crafts and second in command of the kitchen. neither in appearance nor in the quarter-acre plot it occupied. The camp site. and the town itself is honeycombed with the cottages of Winnipeg vacationers. but special cheers were always reserved for the venerable Bar Mitzva.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING peg's first Kvutza would be held at Calof's cottage in Gimli on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. There was a church of roughhewn stone authentic enough to have been transplanted from the old village back home. but the town had not yet lost the Icelandic character of its original settlers. It was in no way distinguished from other cottages in the neighborhood. high-topped Ford that made the weekly 123 . 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. about two blocks from the lake and close by a public wooded area. Mrs. a black. Appropriate to the camp site. When David and Sully arrived-no matter what the time of day-the whole camp. Shimin. The business manager who commuted on weekends was Sully Spector. There were some summer cottages in 1941. Calof's cottage. Kasedy was cook-and a good oneand as a special dispensation she was permitted to bring along her son. the staff was small and hybrid. was at the outskirts of Gimli. There is a large RCAF airbase nearby. Gimli has changed considerably in recent years. a bright-eyed youngster who was under age for camp. special friend of the court. Geulah Green was the registered nurse and lifeguard. blue-eyed sons and daughters of Iceland dominated the village streets. I was imported from New York to be rosh and factotum. The cottage itself was a one-story wooden building partly enclosed by an L-shaped screened porch. He used to drive up with David Biderman. Blond. forty strong. The curious campers welcomed the distinguished guests.
The tents could not go up without the mayor's approval.democratic Icelandic law. it was pitched according to law . 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. One day before the opening.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT pilgrimage. Olafson in the general store. I ran around like Chicken Licken taking a census.-until the roll call was completed and breathlessly I could report the affirmative vote to the mayor. The advantages in the setup were priceless: No one could be out of earshot of the discussions. the mayor. With the tents up and the campers covered. That day I had a job on my hands. So. That tent was not simply pitched. It is unlikely that campers anywhere lived more closely than the campers at Gimli. The local constable (there was only one constable in Gimli and only one cell in the jail) dropped by to inform the workers that an ordinance forbade the pitching of tents within town limits. tired kids. Thors in a garage. and for Winnipeg Habonim it symbolized the indomitable halutz spirit. the season got under way. while tent-pegs were held in abeyance. etc. The constable sent me to the mayor. The Ford often faltered but it never failed. And from the mayor I brought word to the constable-and only then did the pegs go in and the first tent go up. camp fires at the beach. sent me to garner the opinions of the five councilmen. I dashed from one councilman to another. The camp had the usual trials and triumphs: rains that came and tents that fell. parents who were torn between their loyalty to Labor Zionism and their concern for the welfare of their child- 124 . most assuredly that would have been its fate. Even the cook in the kitchen could not escape them. quizzing each on his home ground Nielson in a tractor shed. the advance crew of three set to work pitching tents on the Calof lawn. in his shirtsleeves trimming a hedge.
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. somehow it did. In fact. He hoped the Toronto haverim would choose a name for Kvutza in keeping with our ideals.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ren. Our Kvutza is named "Afikim. the name of an Eretz. Pinhas Rimon. with the iron cots and brand new mattresses. In his talk. one of the rivers (we are at the junction of two streams) brought fond memories of the beautiful showers of that historic site. Moreover. just at that point. . over 125 haverim and friends packed three trucks and several cars and filled the grounds." Moshe Rubinoff. There were earnest daydreams and the stubborn belief that somehow all of this was bringing everyone closer to Eretz Yisrael . There were frenched beds and a pillow fight that covered the grounds with feather-snow. still others were disappointed to find the dam unfinished. Some inspected the eighty percent-finished dining room and kitchen. Accord. the Farband. At first everything was disorganized as everybody went out exploring. the Pioneer Women. As a result. was blessed with the unfaltering benevolence of King Saul. he stressed the place of America in Labor Zionism in light of the plight of Jewry in Europe. 1957 AFIKIM The opening of Camp Kvutza at Markham. haverim spoke for the Poale Zion. he offered to rent the spot for every Sunday in the summer. Ontario. After Tehezakna. But the wisest of all went exploring in the forests. Yisrael Kvutza. others looked around the sleeping quarters. Strangely enough. and one found a most beautiful nook for discussions. 1940 125 . . and Habonim. The opening was held around the flag poles.
The mahaneh set up a Camp Site Investigation Committee. In the fall of 1951. camp. the local C. for a period of two weeks. Because of the primitive conditions. It is a nine-acre. as rosh. thirty miles west of Vancouver. a Camp Kvutza in the summer was necessary.C. Moishe Loffman of Winnipeg was rosh Kvutza that year. Although several places were located. heavilywooded camp site with water frontage on a beautiful little cove. This was a two-week camp with the shaliah. and furthermore. Camp Hatikvah. This committee spent many pleasant weekends traveling around the scenic local fiords hunting camp sites. it turned out that we would not be able to rent this camp in the future because the Zionist Organization of B. however. suffered from being too close to civilization. We have been a long time in acquiring it. the camp of the Zionist Organization of British Columbia in 1950. Camp Kvutza Miriam was held at Camp Hatikvah. At present. lack of adult supervision at that time made the work of the committee 126 .F. on Gabriola Island. It was soon realized that as an intensive supplement to the program of the mahaneh in the winter. Amram Milner. it has a capacity of sixty people. It was rented for two weeks. the site of Camp Miriam moved back again to its primitive Gabriola Island site.C. the idea was first brought forward that Habonim should own a camp site. Doodle Horowitz was rosh Kvutza.F. thus precluding our use of the site. Vancouver Habonim was first organized by Bert and Marian Waldman in 1948. About twenty-five attended this first twoweek camp. At that time.C. which was again rented from the C. The first Habonim Camp Kvutza of Vancouver Habonim was held in the summer of 1949 at Camp Wordsworth. And so in 1951.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP MIRIAM Camp Miriam was named after Miriam Biderman and is located on Gabriola Island. itself had extended its own camp period.
The seniors then formed an incorporated society for the purpose of buying the camp property. At this time there were about eightyfive camper-weeks and Abbie Haklay was our rosh.F.C. This camp was particularly fortunate in having on the staff three Workshoppers. The Roberts Creek camp site was even worse than Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island. the problem of its development is up 127 .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING abortive. and they were told that if there was no camp that summer. In the summer of 1952. 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. However. and so in 1955. we again crossed the Straits of Georgia to the Gabriola Island camp site. Some active parents were approached as well as some seniors of the Labor Zionist movement. Although we were still unable to purchase a camp. 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.C. This camp ran for three weeks with Asher Wallfish as shaliah and Allen (Geli) Gelfond as rosh. Camp Miriam in 1954 was located at Roberts Creek. decided that they would no longer be in the landlord business and that if we wanted to use the camp the following summer. Now that the Gabriola Island camp site is the property of the Habonim Zionist Society. By this time. the C. on the site of a former girls' camp. with the growth of the mahaneh. at about this time. In 1953 Camp Miriam was again held on Gabriola Island for two weeks with Al Linden as rosh.. After much hunting. a threeweek Camp Kvutza was made possible.F. sold us the camp on very easy terms. the existence of Vancouver Habonim would be seriously threatened. unhygienic conditions existing there. we would have to buy it. Yehuda "Sam" Weissbach was our rosh for that year's three-week camp. Fortunately the C. The 1956 camp was a three-week season with Nahman Goldwasser as rosh. being fellow Socialists.
the great baseball games at the playing field near the tents. the haverim who went to Ste. the many times the smoke stack shifted a bit and smoke was heavy and thick? Who can forget the overnight 128 . 1957 MONTREAL Once upon a time. which are to have priority in the next few years. Agathe to get axes sharpened. trudging through the swamp connecting the pipeline bringing water to camp. There in Prefontaine. chasing hornets. Who can forget whitewashing the kitchen (to cover last summer's soot) and dining room until it was sparkling in the sunlight. Plans for the development of the site include especially development of kitchen facilities and playground. many haverim spent wonderful summers at Kvutza and at seminars. not knowing that one day it was destined to house Habonim. and then off to another direction for another pit for another purpose. In 1957. 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. those who suffered afterwards from lime burn. Max Langer. there was a stable (and it still stands today) which housed horses. digging a new garbage pit. or the famous soups that we had in those days which couldn't be had in the Waldorf Astoria. 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. and sort of forgot to come back. those who got many blisters chopping firewood to keep the stove going red hot all summer. the little creek behind the kitchen that was our ice box. the camp season will extend to four weeks for the first time in our history.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT to us and the local parents and seniors.
should be mentioned. TEXAS Ever since the founding of Gordonia in Texas in 1929. Several of the Association's members who devoted much time. Times have changed and so has Kvutza-not like the old camp. Texas. at a place called Lac Quenoilles. Zesmer. selected a site on Lake Dallas for a Habonim Camp Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING hikes. 129 . not any more in Prefontaine. and financial means. Isaac Goldstein. I. Cocoa Cheifetz. In the summer of 1939. Maurice Levy. a madrich of the Dallas movement. Among these devoted friends were Harry Sigel. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE SOUTHWEST CAMP BONIM. Jacob Feldman. New Orleans Louisiana. effort. and Yapha (Jennie) Zesmer. with the writer of this report. in Houston and San Antonio. but new and sparkling and full of Habonim. was organized in the course of the year. but many miles further in the mountains. It was not until ten years later that such an opportunity presented itself. Oklahoma. Habonim groups were functioning. Camp Kvutza has changed places. Irving Brodsky. To everyone's chagrin a polio epidemic made it impossible to open camp in 1940 and necessitated postponement of the program. and Tulsa. the many cases of poison ivy? Years have come and gone. and Dr. the haverim of the Dallas groups planned for a summer camping program. having the same wonderful time. A Camp Bonim Association. in addition to the four groups in Dallas. a group of friends of Habonim dedicated to the precept of Camp Kvutza. acting as a committee for the Southwest Habonim. It was then that Moshe Smith. the day one haver climbed over a fence and stepped into a hornet's nest. Haverim who were at Kvutza in those days have traveled and settled in various parts of the world.
This was always considered by the founders and madrichim. Nad. Shahna Kahn. then a member of the Dallas Hebrew School faculty. Zevi Borofsky. A number of Dallas haverim. and Abraham Sinkin. Herman P. currently of Minneapolis. was always considered phenomenal. committees of friends of Camp Bonim were formed for the purpose of making this decade-old dream a reality. In the summer of 1941. as 130 . Subsequent years were periods of real Habonim expansion in the region. and Nathan Karin of San Antonio. The winter of 1945 saw the purchase of a site on Lake Dallas. called Camp Bonim blessed. Ami Levin. worked with the writer to make this success possible. M. Association by friends in the three states for the purchase and improvement of the site. veterans in Habonim. Yapha Chesnick. Yaakov Ely. Bruno Sigel. David Zesmer. Some $60.000 was contributed through the Camp Bonim. Bernard Rubenstein. and Louisiana. In each of these communities. Leah Waltman. Zalman Kahn. The invaluable assistance of Kalman Shapiro. all of Dallas. Avraham Groner. and Hannah Wiederman of Houston . Weiner of Houston. and parents in the communities. Camp Bonim observed kashrut (as do all Habonim camps). Camp Bonim opened its first season on a leased site on Lake Dallas. and Yitzhak Groner. Moshe Smith. Gerber. Taubman (currently in Tulsa). and in others throughout Texas. Zalman Schneider.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT all of Dallas. From the very outset. The camping program was extended to an ever-growing movement. and the summer of that year brought two hundred campers to Camp Bonim. Oklahoma. Raphael Levin. particularly in the smaller towns where no Jewish education was possible. 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. I. and I. Meir Sigel.all did a real halutzic job in planning for Camp Bonim and in implementing these plans.
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. from the very inception. The campers may talk 131 . if anything. can be discussed at a Kvutza meeting and will undoubtedly be passed with very little opposition. even such a measure as common fund. given the opportunity. For example. Problems such as bedtime. work. the campers will decide to do the right thing at Kvutza meetings. The entire camp program was geared toward a full and enriching Jewish experience in the spirit of Labor Eretz Yisrael. an occasion for perfect rest. and for this reason. aided me in formulating and developing certain ideas with regard to the basic principles of Kvutza. can certainly be handled in this manner. From time to time.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING an integral must in any Jewish educational program. Shabbat at Camp Bonim was. however. and contemplation. We had ideas. would have cramped our style last year. 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. Yaakov Levin. near Detroit. Those of us who drew up plans for Kinneret last summer were alike in one respect-we were all inexperienced. handicrafts. I should not hesitate to give the campers considerable liberty. I am sure that. morning exercise. Experience. 1957 EXPERIMENTS AND TRENDS THE COMING SEASON My experience last summer with Kinneret. senior haverim would visit the camp for Shabbat and sing the praises of the type of education Camp Bonim offered. programs. kitchen duty. study.
Arm in arm with work goes gardening. work and handicrafts are not being neglected in our Kvutzot. and the cost and effort expended on such a project will be repaid if plans are carefully laid out and executed. but it means a great deal to about ten boys who had a band in building it. Our camps present a golden opportunity for us to put some of the concepts of halutziut into practice. Gardening can and should be of two kinds . 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. should play a major role in Kvutza activities and. and such a principle as the "conquest of labor" should be exploited to its limit. of course. even at the expense of a more professional job. no one will want to stay up past a reasonable hour. and in order to carry out this project successfully. will receive much enthusiasm on the part of the campers. and we should certainly be given an opportunity to build. such as poor soil conditions or extreme drought. it is necessary to take a trip to Kvutza every week and put in several hours of work. but if a discussion of the benefits of an earlier day and the harm done by late hours is carefully conducted. they can be counteracted by artificial means. Work. however. The dining room at Kinneret is by no means a professional job. it might also be wise to plant trees for ornamental purposes as well as for fruit.vegetable and floral culture. On the surface this may seem a disadvantage. Habonim are builders. To my knowledge. but by giving them an opportunity to be instrumental in the actual building of the Kvutza. However poor these conditions may be. this is a decided advantage since the Kvutza with a garden begins not in July but in April 132 . On second thought. if planned properly. Both vegetable and flower gardening must be begun in April or May. This may be difficult to carry through in some Kvutzot because of unfavorable natural factors. In the case of a permanent Kvutza. even to the extent of killing the idea of a garden.
In short. It is unreasonable to expect a crop for consumption from the vegetable garden the first season. A feeling for aesthetics should be inculcated in Habonim. 1940 133 . Little by little. however. Other projects can be postponed from day to day. Flowers and shrubs can transform a barren piece of land into a beautiful scene. and labor is of little significance if it does not go hand in hand with a desire for beauty and freshness. The garden might even be developed to such an extent that after a few years. 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 entails certain responsibilities which every camper should experience. This should rather be spent in gaining experience and learning which crops grow most successfully. one or two vegetables could be grown in larger quantities to be sold to neighboring markets. 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. Flowers and landscaping are also of great significance. Gardening also furnishes a permanent work project during the season. but postponing work on the garden spells failure.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING or May. Danny Ginsburg. the garden should develop. and here is a grand opportunity.
rather than giving them an opportunity to do work which they would find more interesting and which would require a certain degree of skill. within reasonable limits. prepared the daily work schedule. chickens. of course. it is possible to expose successfully young American Jews to collective agricultural life.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP AVODA. The campers were given an opportunity to participate in the various branches-barn. began as an experiment and ended as an established institution. cannery. garden. the campers. where they received an education along Reconstructionist lines. in the course of the summer. This was partly due to the assignment of routine jobs to the campers. The group was a rather heterogeneous one. 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. The campers elected their own person to assign the work who. such as picking tomatoes or cleaning chicken coops. New Jersey. The campers participated in both cultural and agricultural discussions. a number were students of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. we found that almost without any conscious guidance on our part. CREAMRIDGE Camp Avoda at the Hehalutz farm in Creamridge. Fifteen boys and girls between the ages of fifteen and seventeen attended the camp. and so on. most of us were ready to admit that. 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 . The life of the camp was. built around work. not to mention halutziut. gradually began to adopt the outlook and standards of intimate collective groups. High school-age boys and girls came to Creamridge to live and work with an established collective group. Although we were rather skeptical at the beginning. To our surprise. while several had almost no knowledge of Eretz Yisrael and Zionism. together with us. by the end of last summer.
One evening a week was devoted to a cultural discussion concerning aspects of modern Jewish life throughout the world with particular emphasis on Zionism. there were innumerable small problems. During the first few 135 . the cultural work was too limited and lacking in intensity-for example. the work program was not organized in a manner that would have been most beneficial to the campers. Five or six times during the summer. As mentioned before. and so on. questions. there was a discussion about whether boys have to work in the kitchen and clean house as well as girls. We naturally tried to have Camp Avoda run as democratically as possible. of course. and except for a few elementary rules upon which we insisted.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING economy. 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. A good part of the discussions. and suggestions brought up at these meetings. was in reference to our own farm economy. but the group as a whole was an alert one and there were many lively arguments and debates. the campers were given a good deal of freedom of choice and decision. Because of the varying backgrounds of the campers. These discussions aroused considerable h1terest and proved very worthwhile. some difficulties were encountered in presenting these discussions. Camp Avoda in some ways fell short of what it might have been. the campers met to discuss and to decide about the problems that arose in the maintenance and the functioning of the camp. we did not have an adequate library of Zionist and other literature which campers could read at their leisure. 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. Despite the fact that the group was a small one and that camp life followed a rather simple pattern. Several campers wanted a room in the house to be set aside as a recreation and letter-writing room.
and felt. later the campers themselves again brought up the suggestion and it was accepted. for instance. 1944 136 . A few weeks before the end of the season. Several are returning this summer to participate in a larger. the campers gradually began to realize the advantages of collective living. that living collectively was better and preferable to any other way of life. but everyone who spoke assumed. heard. As happens in every camp. They liked us and they liked the way we lived. Purely on the basis of what they saw. many of them came to visit us for weekends and holidays.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT weeks. then it was shared among the campers. to extol or criticize it. Al Weingrod. better planned. The campers went home with a very real appreciation of the farm and at least an acquaintance with halutziut. as something that did not need further proof. they began to adopt more and more of our methods. At first the candy was the private property of the particular tent in which the recipient lived. on the basis of their own experience. Most of us thought it likely that they would ridicule. parents sent boxes of candy and cookies. we proposed a common fund. During the year. After a time. the idea of keeping clothes collectively. and better organized Camp Avoda. they were asked to analyze collective living. and finally it was decided that the boxes were to be shared equally among the campers and members of the farm alike. but it was just the opposite. When at the beginning of the summer. Yet. we met with almost complete opposition. we feel that we achieved the basic purposes of Camp Avoda. there were also a good many technical shortcomings which should have been avoided. There was a good deal of disagreement about whether this type of life was possible on a large scale at the present time.
despite the initial movement apathy. They were fostering a native Hebrew-speaking elite. This was hardly an auspicious beginning. however. Amal has realized the dreams of its founders. The movement greeted this venture with singular indifference. Few haverim expressed interest in attending Amal. In view of the small registration. and chose to ignore the pressing need of Eretz Yisrael: an American halutz aliya. It was but three years ago that we hesitantly opened Amal on a rented site in Vermont. it has won national recognition as one of the outstanding Hebrew-speaking camps in America. the Merkaz. Habonim's Hebrew-speaking camp. do not await official decisions.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING AMAL IN RETROSPECT Amal. But it might also be shown that Amal's successes have not been achieved without prejudicing the halutzic character of our camps. Institutions. in its three years of existence. we decided in favor of continuing our efforts on behalf of Amal. But we felt strongly that we had a mission to fulfill in Hebrew camping. Their educational program bypassed halutziut. has attracted a considerable number of new haverim. has completed its third season. Therefore. We opened in the summer of 1948 with a handful of campers. on one occasion. Habonim has never had an opportunity to determine the future of this nascent institution. 137 . Even a cursory evaluation would disclose that Amal has fostered the study of Hebrew in our movement. We have been too concerned with the very survival of Amal to give adequate consideration to its role within the movement. We were disturbed by the cloistered atmosphere of many existing camps. Bialik. They glibly spoke of the national poet. has established its own camping patterns and set into motion uncertain forces. Amal. and gained for Habonim new prestige in the Jewish educational world. After three uncertain years of experimentation. nearly decided to abandon the project. The staff had little Hebrew camping experience and was poorly prepared.
Nor did our work go unnoticed in the Jewish community. we succeeded. And. in Connecticut. They felt that it had failed. Amal's partisans were soon active on all fronts. a performance of Yitzhak Lamdan's Masada was witnessed and applauded by sixty parents and guests. to its fledgling Hebrew camp as its permanent site. Hebrew educators from many sections of America visited Amal during the season and were im- 138 . During the winter of 1949-1950. This time. This past summer we confidently opened the season with sixty haverim. the camper response was more encouraging. the Merkaz assigned Tel Meir. Prominent Hebrew educators were solicited to add their names to our list of sponsors. and twenty-two scholarships were awarded to Amal by various Hebrew school systems. an ambitious program was prepared for the public. Several Jewish educational institutions were induced to award scholarships to Amal. In recognition of Amal's promise. We ended our second season with the realization that Amal had proved itself. As evidence of our coming of age. the number of sponsoring Jewish educational institutions increased from two to six. On August 9th. We hoped to create a camp modeled along the lines of our other camps. and this we had seemingly accomplished without vitiating our halutzic Zionist program. It was therefore with great trepidation that the Merkaz finally decided in favor of reopening the camp. It was no longer an experiment. and the national budget could not again sustain a financial loss such as it had in Amal's first season. to a large extent. there were but dim hopes of registering an adequate number of campers. The season began with forty-five campers who were determined to make it a success.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Haverim seriously questioned reopening Amal in 1949. Many observers claimed that our campers spoke more Hebrew than the campers of any other Hebrew-speaking camp in America. Strong arguments were advanced for giving up Amal-our personnel shortage was acute. This was to be its last chance.
1950 139 . The 1950 season was most successful. Moshe Margalit. and great emphasis in the discussion program was placed upon Jewish history. Daily formal class work had been introduced.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING pressed with the serious educational work that we attempted.
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.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. Soft winds rock The trees. 1937 142 .
Stan and Sol are prize kibitzers. July 5th The regular program again today. Tuesday. tents and madrichim are assigned. we finally reach home. and singing for all. This evening we have a hike to Accord via the new route discovered by Benny and Yehiel. Amid much excitement. under the direction of Benny. and quiet. Then a camp fire. And so to bed. and the exclamation. 143 . to say nothing of Avram.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD DIARY Sunday. July 4th Today the regular daily program begins: Rise and shine – exercise – washing – breakfast . Among last year's haverim.discussion groups – activities – dip – lunch rest and correspondence – sports – swimming – supper . to find talent for the Drama Circle-to-be. Monday. with dancing for those who are not too tired after the long train ride. Tonight we have an amateur hour. and everyone. July 3rd Campers arrive. in comfortable camp clothes.and one of the many evening activities possible in Kvutza. to drop right off to dreamland. Block.01 worth of candy-no more. "Oh boy. there is great rejoicing over the new outhouse. is it swell to be back!" echoes and reechoes to the bewilderment of the newcomers. First and last stop is the place of business of Mr. no less.clean-up . leans back (on his neighbor) after a muchneeded supper and listens to Dave's welcoming speech. tired but happy. Washing is over. Sleep now. Tiptoeing through the metropolis so as not to wake the immense population. Here we are refreshed by popsicles and exactly $.
1957. Galil. Volleyball at Kinneret. . Chelsea. 1957. Michigan.Midwest Camp Habonim. 1957. Flag Raising at Midwest Camp Habonim. Scout-craft Competition at Maccabia. Attacking the Weeds. 1954. Michigan. 1953. Basketball at Maccabia. Three Rivers. Kinneret. 1957. 1957. Campers at Midwest Camp Habonim.
. Green Valley Station.In the tradition at Kinneret: Building the Migdal. California. 1957. 1956. Camp Kvutza Naame. Midwest Camp Habonim. Friday afternoon lunch on the patio. Habonim Camp Kvutza Naame. Saugus. 1957. Campfire at Midwest Camp Habonim.
1957. Campers from Moshava. Dedicating the new Arts and Crafts Pavilion. 1957. Camp Habonim. 1957. arriving at Galil for Maccabia. Camp Kvutza Naame.Hora around the Campfire. Midwest Camp Habonim. . and Camp Habonim. 1957.
Galil. Gabriola Island. British Columbia. Waiting for the Ferry to Camp Miriam. Camp Kvutza Naame.The Swimming Pool at Camp Kvutza Naame. Visitors Day. Canada. Joint Flag Raising of the three camps at Maccabia. . Yemenite Dance. 1957. 1956.
one sees a veritable hive of industry.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL Wednesday. 148 . We have free time tonight. Friday. Their motto is: O. As the haverim tear themselves away to bed. it begins to rain. Everyone is dressed in white shorts and blue Habonim shirts for Friday night. Struck by the magnificent beauty of the sky and surrounding mountains. .Off Ferns Forever. July 9th Ah. we sleep an extra half hour this morning. luxury.The Cookooricoo . we gather together on the grass to sing. At lunch the Celibates Club is organized at a special table which excludes haverot." Thursday.F. As the Bible circles in Hebrew and English begin this afternoon.F. Gathered on the hill. Two haverim volunteer to wash the dining room and kitchen floors. The library is open.is begun under the expert direction of Judy G. We have a leisurely breakfast. and clean up. Sammy and Marvin (who declares that at least he is a confirmed bachelor) are the unworthy specimens of humanity who lead this ridiculous movement. we hear The Cookooricoo read by Stan and then sing songs of Shabbat. discussion. and we march down the hill singing happily. they feel that the stars sparkling in the velvet heavens have come nearer to earth and are watching over Kvutza. Saturday. and the boys are working on an aquarium in which to keep material for Sammy's dissection mania. We do our laundry in the creek. July 8th All day today is given over to preparation for Shabbat. At the table the candles are lit and the prayer sung by Edna before we sit down to eat. to the great delight of our intelligentsia. The camp paper . July 7th Looking about this morning. July 6th It is agreed that "Harishona" is a suitable name for our Accord Kvutza since we were literally "the first.
Yehiel's determination is of some avail because the shower suddenly stops. stunt night. seem to regard this with disfavor for it starts to rain. So the younger haverim go to bed. The elements. with one or two people doubling up because some trunks have not yet arrived. And then to bed. as on previous days. it's off to Minewaska we go!" And amid the cheers of the remaining campers.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Sunday. July 12th We are awakened this morning by reveille blown by Harriet on her trumpet. July 11th Today we are settled again. Parents begin to arrive. "Heigh ho. July 10th This morning there is a talk and discussion conducted by Shlomo on the present situation in Eretz Yisrael. the group sets out. Monday. Later. Tonight we have a camp fire with singing. however. A new batch of haverim come from the city and there is much excitement during the meeting of old friends and new. Tuesday. All the haverim are back for a delayed lunch. July 13th Kvutza seems empty this morning with only half the haverim here. No morning exercises. we gather in the dining room for songs and games. heigh ho. Wednesday. The grass is very wet as we walk up the hill to bed. Finally the sun breaks through the clouds just in time to set. begging Dave for an extra hour of sleep tomorrow. It is decided that haverim of fifteen and over will take an overnight hike tonight after supper. 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. Each tent presents a skit or a like exhibition. This afternoon it rains and. after which 149 .
It seems a perfect antidote for insomnia. and preparation for a debate-" Resolved: That Socialism as such will solve the Jewish problem. July 14th There are discussions this morning on the trials in Russia. while at the top of the hill are horseshoe and deck tennis games. and following supper. Now bed and sleep at last. and the waterfall competes with Dave's voice as he reads to us the past week's diary and news from the other camps. are on guard duty so all hopes for a peaceful night are futile. Reading circles are the only activities this afternoon. Thursday. 150 . we watch Mutzie present Barry with a diploma from Fibber's College. Down by the kitchen we have ping-pong. 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. Friday." Today the equipment for all sorts of sports is spread over the camp. Ready for supper. besides clean-up. we have free time. Back by the tents and joined by the kitchen committee. but-Miriam L. we listen to The Cookooricoo as read by Avram.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. and Dave R. our tents and persons spotless. The stream goes by. 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. For Shabbat we snap pictures of our haverim in Habonim shirts and white shorts. Still gathered on the rocks. After lunch. Now to our tents after singing and dancing. A "Candid Camera Fiend" or two stay behind to record on film our march down the hill. we have arts and crafts and scoutcraft.
schools. New York. the campers beat the madrichim 17-7. July 16th Today is the final conflict: let each stand in his place-the campers play a baseball game of chills and thrills. 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. homes.for are they not organized and managed the same way. Farm land stretches out on all sides. And so the second week of camp ends. One expects them all to be a like . the same institutions. written by Benny Lappin and produced by Ruth L. Amid much excitement and conflicting emotions in the cheering section. Accord Diary. there is dancing and singing.a few trees mark the spot. Swimming is naturally one of the main activi- 151 . Most of the farmers are Norwegians and the relations between the camp and the farmers are excellent. the top floor used as a handicrafts and cultural room -that is the entire camp. Afterwards. the same bylaws. Just as all settlements in Eretz Yisrael differ. of course. the same program and activities-yet each Kvutza represents a unique world of its own.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Saturday. the bottom floor used as a dining room and kitchen. Five wigwam tents in a straight line and a large and spacious two-story barn. because the people who live there are differentcoming from various countries. and the author. What triumph! What humiliation! The drama group presents an anti-war play at the camp fire tonight. one from the other. civilizations-so do the varying backgrounds of our haverim place an individual stamp upon each Camp Kvutza. the Kvutza which serves our upstate New York movements. Situated on a plain on the shore of Lake Ontario-no mountains or bills . My first stop this year was at Kendall.
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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
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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
you will be requested to solve all their little affaires de coeur. These languid creatures have neither the solelim spirit nor the tzofim trust and confidence in a madrich. being a madrich of tzofim is a splendid occupation. And finally. Yes. and if you don't think that kids of this age are concerned with such problems. 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. that is. if you are interested in practicing some early teen-age psychology. 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. sleep. there are the bonim. 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. you will be required. dear prospective madrich. and go on night watch. their non-appearance at work does not mean that they are lazy. And now. you may be sure that the bonim are lounging comfortably in their tents and cabins holding discussion of their own-of a different sort. They are not antagonistic to culture and education-the only reason for their nonattendance at discussions is evidently that they know it all. while a guest speaker sits under a tree talking to the few staff members disguised as bonim to save the reputation of the camp. Likewise. They thrive best if left to themselves to eat. On the whole. And so. But the modern tzofeh brings new problems with which the madrich can expect to cope. if you reach the end of the day a fairly sane person. you have underestimated the wide range of their capabilities. however. to attend a staff meeting. These very exclusive affairs can do wonders for the worst 160 . after everyone else is in bed. For example.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL active than their mild looks indicate. gossip.
someone found out that I had the only knapsack in Kvutza. 1942 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS Dear Mom: You know that right across the way from the camp there is a high mountain called Mt.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING case of insomnia. loudly shhh-ing each other although it's quite obvious that the whole camp is still awake. Jupiter-and here the story lies. one needs little convincing that a post-midnight snack is in order. Jerry. you won't be able to keep your mind on the meeting anyway. We were to be guided by the forest ranger. to rotate about the room pricking the madrichim with pins. We hiked two miles in the nice summer sun and began to climb the mountain single file. That was three years ago. You'll keep wondering if the cabin that's doing all the yelling is yours. Jeannie Reisapfel. in two-hour shifts. I decided to try it again. and all troop over to the dining room. Sandy. but having become a fine physical specimen at Kvutza. but being out of condition. If you do not fall prey to the sandman's charms. got no more than half way up. but only on the condition that it be continued tomorrow when everyone will be fresh as a daisy. Two persons are appointed. 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. After such a fatiguing meeting. in back of 161 ." Well. so they let me carry all the lunches plus a first aid kit and camera. and when the darn meeting is going to end. who is pretty good looking so we had no trouble getting several girls to go. As we started out. I once tried it. and they do quite a bit of hurrying about in an effort to keep at least three people awake at all times. Finally it does break up. and when you're going to prepare the discussion you have to lead tomorrow morning.
send me $7 and a snake-bite kit. After waiting until we all gathered-including the loose parts-we began to hike home. Oh yes. Love. we found a rattlesnake had been killed a few minutes before we got there. Well. Don't worry. and made me sick. It is not true that it is easier to come down than to go up. and ate lunch (sandwiches and fruit from the knapsack I was carrying). We went down a firebreak. I am sure that this tractor found the steepest part of the whole range of mountains. After fighting our way through the brush (the ranger and I wore short pants and my legs are disfigured for life). Once you begin going down it is very difficult to stop. We finally got to the bottom drawn out over a half mile or so of ground. cleared strip through the mountain. we arrived at the top. bad been eating garlic all morning and whenever we stopped. too. took pictures (my film). sang songs which the ranger liked though he didn't know what they were all about (nor did we). Just as we got near camp. goodbye now. How sorry I was. designed to stop a forest or brush fire. It is made by big tractors which try to find the steepest part of the mountain they can go up without turning over. I played soldier all the way down and it was very realistic.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL me. Your dear son. If you don't know what a firebreak is. We sat around. Mom. I stopped. There was of course no turning back. Norman 1942 162 . I shall explain: A firebreak is a long. I want to stay longer. he would put his head over my shoulder to see what was doing. and then began to go down. I felt just like killing a rattlesnake. Dave Bleviss was at the rear and no one could squeeze by. I almost became a casualty when I tripped. Also it is quite uncomfortable to find that you cannot stop at the edge of a cliff.
Drag out all your old clothes. clothes that are too dilapidated for city wear. play shirts. and you will have a great part of your Kvutza wardrobe. School will follow soon after. And once the Kvutza has been awakened from its winter's sleep. Our parents 163 . because we play. clothes. too. very little will remain of them anyway. Nothing is too bad for Kvutza when it comes to clothes. and presto. and just between us. Also make sure that they are washable. antiquated clothes that you have long ago forgotten about.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING NEED HELP PACKING? Spring is well along. we are in Kvutza! Yet. we are very active in Kvutza. 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.they must be able to endure rough treatment. First. because by the time you go home. Have your wardrobe include work shirts (for we all work). You are going to wash them yourself. we know what kind of a laundry man you are. Therefore. and dress shirts for Shabbat and Sundays. You see. let me-a veteran-give you a few hints as to what to pack and what not to pack. But your clothes must have one important virtue . some of us don't feel so easy about this packing business. 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.
because I'm warning you. Oh. reading and study groups. we don't always hide from water. in which case. Perhaps you'll feel like sleeping for some strange reason one night. And don't forget the shoe polish. don't forget your pants. But we don't let that interfere with our activities. Brrr! Nights are sometimes cold in Kvutza. I'll have to use yours. That's just to remind you that you'll need a bathing suit. Yet. it can rain even in Kvutza. When it doesn't come to us (in the form of rain). One item that should be carefully chosen is shoes. You'll need a sweater. Besides. and FUN! But in order to get around in presentable shape. By all means. So you might as well take along some sheets and warm blankets. 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?"). 164 . bless me. yet you can never tell. I'm sure to forget to bring some. Mind you.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. you'll need a raincoat and boots. we go to it (in the form of a swimming pool). We have indoor games in the dining hall. a warm jacket. 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. haverim. Have a pair of hard-soled shoes for hiking and a pair of soft-soled ones for play and work. I'm not going to lend you mine. So don't forget these important items. I almost forgot to mention the pants that go with the shirts. a cap. Shorts or slacks or anything that goes under that general heading by a stretch of the imagination will do. and warm pajamas. and a bathrobe.
. The message was received! We had talked to each other from afar.. About filling in the details. Our eyes remembered watching for the answering flags flashing in the sun. thought-provoking periods. As we watched the torches for the last time. The scouts remembered how we had hiked through the swamps of Kinneret. 1944 KINNERET SHELI We stood quietly meditating in the gathering twilight of the field of Kinneret. We remembered the arduous trek to the lake. haverim remembered the discussions we had had. you will have use for the extra pairs on masquerade nights. We remembered discussing leadership problems. We bade farewell to Kvutzat Kinneret. we remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. Then our hands remembered the semaphore code: K-i-n-n-e-r-e-t s-he-l-i. We remembered lively. We remembered sleeping through them. And the memories engulfed us. The builders remember the watchtower-chopping the trees. tactics.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING That's the general idea. Our feet remembered all-day hikes. The haverim who had built Kinneret gathered on the last night of the last season. raising the watchtower that would guard Kinneret. my advice is that you comply with your mother's demands. Our toes could feel again the sand rippling as we walked through the Farband camp on the way to 165 . knotting the ropes. constructing the frame. Birdie Dekelbaum.. We had slept under its benevolent shadow that summer of 1955. The soles of our feet recollected our nature walks. We recalled nights of Hagana. That last night. If she is unreasonable in the amount of underwear she makes you take.
The beauty of the Shabbat celebration haunted us. to the rhythms of Eretz Yisrael. This was our camp. We swam. We had built it-Kinneret. We danced again to the familiar tunes. The cooling relief of the ointments soothed us. In our memories we sang. We swatted away at the infernal pests. Avraham Bass. We remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. we floated in a dream of memories. We remembered the mosquitoes only too well. We recalled how we had danced the hora hour upon hour. We relived the glorious. We bade farewell to a friend. We stood quietly in the gathering twilight. 1957 166 . The raft seemed to beckon to us anew. We remembered Shabbat as dusk fell the last time at Kvutzat Kinneret. Kvutzat Kinneret. comfortable feeling of Shabbat. The clammy feel of seaweed lingered in our minds.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL swim. Once again we swayed and swerved to the sound of the shepherd's flute.
there is no peace and your battle is not done. the sound of firing still is heard And the dazed survivors of your people flee before the same pursuing mob. Brothers.In Memoriam HAZKARA The cannons are still. resting in many lands. the rifles are stacked. the bombracks off. The aeroplanes overhead wing their way with peaceful cargoes. comrades. 168 . But brothers resting in many lands. this is called peace. 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. the uniform of their captors only changed. The last prisoners of Theresienstadt still stand behind barbed wire. The mighty of the earth decreed it so. Over the blood-soaked plains of Poland.
Lublin. From beachheads and from far Pacific Isles with strange exotic names like Iwo Jima. Bialystok. the gaps that never can be filled. The distant isles and seas engulf us with the magnitude of our loss. for the remnant of the exile does not stop. The hundreds upon thousands upon millions. Majdanek. Brothers resting in the distant lands. From every forest haunt and cave where desperate guerilla bands struck at the foe. the battle. The record of the graves. 169 . from Warsaw. From ghetto and from concentration camp. Where in the same wide war fell our sons defending Kfar Giladi. Only in a brief moment of council. the voices of the Nazi foe still echo and repeat the ancient vicious lies. even from the waters of the seas. the hard-contested hills of Italy. From the bitter hedgerow battles of Normandy. The familiar faces missing from our ranks. the roster of our dead commands memorial. the roll call of the resting places from continent to continent. Auschwitz and Stryj. And what avail soon crumbling stone carved in our sacred script to puzzle future archaeologists. yet calls afresh each loved one gone. From the Rhineland plains and woods. cry for memorial.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Even in this western land of liberty. we pause to consider a fitting monument and to tell our losses.
December.IN MEMORIAM Shall your memorial be the silence of forgotten history. O Brothers. in graves of honor and in lime pits of shame. shivering limbs of the wasted few who somehow did not die. let us dedicate the memorial to our dead scattered through many lands. behind. 1945 170 . Look and say. The records of an extinct folk. into the ship that bears illegal freight out of the graveyard of Europe. a line of valiant battles dearly won. these dried bones yet live? With loving hands and humbled spirits.E. strewn before our feet. The mounds and graves of the ending of our seed We pause as on a mountain top and see. for we dedicate to you a monument eternalWe are your memorial. still further struggle. from your graves look out! Look out upon your people! Look into the ghetto. to the camp. And in the valley. Brothers. Worn and weary but imbued with the flame which kindled them at the foot of Sinai's peak. the weary. Habonim Convention. shrunken. Rest. Lying in fields throughout the earth. Ahead. And the monument we dedicate is their own people.G. oh brothers. D. will they live? Will this your people.
Each time it seems that our best is taken. The small group discussions. She was among our most devoted. Nevertheless. And she exerted a tremendous amount of influence upon those with whom she worked. Her primary concern was always the development of the individual. when we were suffering from a critical shortage of leadership personnel. She strove for selffulfillment in our movement even before she went on aliya. as rosh of one of the mahanot. upon him she centered all her efforts. their purpose and justification being to instill values and attitudes within the haverim. We are at a loss as to what to say or do. Immediately. the mahaneh activities. she had a great capacity for hard work. unbelievable. Miriam was a school teacher by profession.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING MIRIAM BIDERMAN We are a movement of young people. and as editor of Alot (the national publication specifically for our halutzim)-all these at the same time. Camp Kvutza-these she considered as means to an end. she served as rosh of the New York region. She came to us because she had decided upon the path of selfrealization. all of us. She was a madricha in the true sense of the term. The number of haverim that we have lost is mounting too quickly. During one of the war years. Thus she worked closely with the individual haver. as rosh of our national funds work. She understood her educational function not as one of directing the group. Sometimes it seemed as if she carried the whole burden of our movement and our people on her slight shoulders. how to react. 171 . She was one of the few people who was ours completely. Each time it seems impossible. even the old timers were able to learn a great deal from her. she threw herself entirely into our work. as rosh of several madrichim groups. but as one guiding the individual. She joined us when she was already in her twenties. She brought a real understanding of the meaning of education into our movement. Miriam came to us late.
. Shabbat celebration. she left her heritage: a corps of responsible haverim. or Tisha B'Av program in which Miriam had a hand always made a powerful impression. understanding. 172 . indicate to us the creative being whose "life song" was "suddenly cut off. for the tasks of movement leadership and self-realization.. of her articles in our various publications. Thus." Her many letters to haverim gave us an insight into this devoted. Wherever she went. sensitive. in Baltimore. The volume of her Shabbat and other program material. she sought out young haverim with devotion. with ability.IN MEMORIAM Her aim was to prepare younger haverim. 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. passed away. Miriam wrote prolifically and she has left us a rich legacy of her written word. Both in our movement here and later in the kibbutz in Eretz Yisrael. in Winnipeg. Miriam was brought up in an Orthodox religious home. a Third Seder. she came to us with a deep appreciation for Jewish tradition. She continually championed traditional practices in our movement. in New York. the lack of traditional observance caused her a great deal of discontent. to synthesize the old and the new. with. and worked with them. She was able to put meaning into Jewish tradition. troubled havera who "before her time . And wherever she worked.
By 1934. By 1934. though you may not know his name or you may not realize that you know him. all told) decided that he must remain for another year to help in the transition from Young Poale Zion Alliance to Habonim. It was at that time that we decided to be heartless toward Ben. contact parents and prospective madrichim. shortly after Habonim was established. . 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. But the National Executive (four people we were. He had done his duty. I am certain that he took no courses in leadership technique. It was in 1934. as we subsequently have been to every organizer and shaliah. I do not think that Ben went to college or had much formal training. We didn't think of shlihim from Eretz Yisrael.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING BEN CHERNER Many of you know Ben Cherner. but he knew how to train people to follow in his footsteps so that there was a second and third and fourth. Ben Cherner had not only served his apprenticeship in the movement but had already acted as an organizer for the Young Poale Zion Alliance. We wanted organizers to establish our new system of education. 173 . get together the remnants of the YPZA. who toured the New England region in 1933. he had had his fill of peanuts and of traveling for the movement. he was a veteran. By 1934. We were very modest. The outstanding "first" in relation to Ben was that lie was the first organizer of Habonim. The stories of organizers struggling and living on peanuts refer to Ben Cherner. The adjective stuck to Ben because he had the faculty of attracting people to himself to carry on. There is always an aura about the figure of a man who carries the title of "first" but who we do not remember. Many usages prevailing in the movement to this day are traditions which had their inception with him. and was supposed to receive permission for aliya. His task was to go into a community.
we called on Ben to make the trip. He went into a city without benefit of publicity notices or mass meetings. When Moshe was called to New York. After negotiations. He spoke quietly and intimately. Ben was a simple. His first stop was Buffalo. He knew how to sing and he knew how to gather people around him. The movement was kept alive by personal contact. from Joey to Moshe Goldberg. the stream of organizers. of a Far West in which Folk Shulen graduates knew Hebrew. 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.IN MEMORIAM Ben was not much of an orator. we obtained $75 from several Los Angeles haverim. Naturally. The organizer for whom Ben paved the way made Chicago the center of our movement for many years. There was not too much money for printing. The mail was inadequate. Then Ben went to Chicago. It was a dynasty: from Ben Cherner to Joey Criden. his home town. He went to private homes and got 174 . That trip in 1935 was the first link in the chain which ultimately led to the development of the Los Angeles mahaneh. the Buffalo movement waned. soft-spoken boy. the summer Kvutza. He set up several mahanot. There existed a loose connection between the New York center and the groups. There is a "first" in connection with Ben which relates to the Pacific Coast. We were getting news of a growing community in Los Angeles. Hence a good deal depended on whom was sent. 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. one must visualize the years in which these were made. To understand the significance of Ben's organizational tours. The visitor was the warm link representing the movement.
A large percentage of the "halutzim" were malcontents who could not earn a living. there was a nucleus which somehow carried on. For a/person who is normal. There was one specific job Ben tried to do which ultimately resulted in failure. It was more than a one-man job. approachability. Perhaps this accounted for his ability to gather young people around him. there were training farms in Baltimore. He liked young people. and one in Illinois. his. The repercussions of the action of the Detroit group. he set an example. When he left. to live in it. There was no other candidate who could have done the organizational work. adjusted. in a sense. No course in leadership or technical training or knowledge could have made 175 . He was young himself. They were small. Of Ben's many qualities. Even his leaving was. and to introduce a new atmosphere. American halutzim who could not adjust to the rigors of pioneering did not help the atmosphere by returning home. At that time. That too was a service.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING people around him to sing with him and talk with him. unsanitary farms struggling under extremely difficult conditions. We had held him back two years beyond his time. The fact that Ben failed is not a reflection on him. and refined. his primary one was his humanity. poor. We felt that we were committing a crime against Ben by holding him back but there was no alternative. were serious. who returned from Eretz Yisrael and spread stories to justify themselves. in Minneapolis. which was paradise by contrast. It was into such conditions that Ben plunged to try to clean up the place. It was in 1936 that he finally left. we consolidated all of these farms into the one at Creamridge. He loved people. He tried to maintain the agricultural training center in Illinois. When Enzo Sereni came. to go to Eretz Yisrael was a feat. Ben's was a permanent influence because he did not talk only of Eretz Yisrael. The senior leaders of the Labor Zionist movement set a disheartening example by not permitting their children to remain in Eretz Yisrael. inadequate. a useful service.
the rest of us did not believe in it either. Ben never thought of himself as a leader. so solid that perhaps they account for one of the tragedies of his life. He had stuck to Naan no matter how strongly he was urged to join the American kibbutz. Ben had very solid convictions. Yet when he sat with a group of people around a camp fire. 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. That was one of the reasons why he did not return to America as a shaliah. He was by no means a professional singer. himself as a leader. Our attitude was changed by the realities of life. 176 . For good or for ill. it was in the line of duty. when he helped to organize the Union of Jewish World Combatants. it was in the line of duty. He considered himself a soldier. He would not get excited or rush off to his work. when he went to Eretz Yisrael. or anyone to refer to. In that period. he held them for hours. we appreciated his enthusiasm. but Ben was stubborn. quality. Similarly. some camp fire traditions and some of the stories reprinted by us in Haboneh have their origin in Ben's fertile mind. We did not want an American landsmanshaft in Eretz Yisrael. When he went to do organizational work. Many of our songs are versions which he taught to the first groups of Habonim. His singing possessed an enchanting. They sat and sang without moving or talking. He never permitted himself to think of. In our relationship to Ben. His singing had a good deal to do with his influence in the movement. Only during the last two years did he begin to waver and to talk of transferring to Kfar Blum. it was realization. Ben did not believe in the concentration of Americans in Eretz Yisrael. He showed his enthusiasm by explaining his idea and then setting about carrying it out so well that the job seemed easily done.IN MEMORIAM up for that basic human element.
that we carry forward that struggle today. of the trials and tribulations of training and of self-realization in Eretz Yisrael. it seems to me. this kind of obstinacy would succeed..ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING If Ben were here and could talk to us. and ever expanding . Saadia Gelb Furrows. 1947 DANNY GINSBURG Once again the battlefront has claimed the life of one of our haverim. January. he would talk of simple and prosaic tasks. 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. The knowledge of his irrevocable loss to us is difficult to comprehend." wrote one of his friends from the Midwest. That. At first he saw one important objective ahead -that was the establishment of a real Jewish institution in the heart of the American scene. "one must see his life in terms of a personality that was unfolding.. in the long run. and that those after us will not falter. and he would finish by saying that. He had become widely known and loved-he was no longer Danny Ginsburg of Detroit. 177 . is the fitting memorial to Ben Cherner. His role in Habonim for more than eight years is invaluable. his future was inextricably bound up with the highest hopes of the movement. it is the realization that they represented a continuation of the Jewish struggle for survival which began before them. impossible to console. where he made his most specific contributions to the life of Habonim. If there is meaning in the memory of our haverim and of their services. He would talk of the needs for another Kvutza and another mahaneh and of dogged perseverance in organizational work. "To understand Danny. he was Danny Ginsburg of Habonim. developing.
lie arrived at the personal decision to join Kibbutz Aliya and prepare himself for a true realization of his burning idealism. Danny's was truly a constantly developing personality. as a leader in discussions. and his place and importance within Habonim grew as he did. through going to Eretz Yisrael. and above all. it was with the determination born of his intense sincerity. to take part in the solution of prob- 178 . that would be built by and for Habonim. the movement there flourished remarkably. Kinneret. "Those who saw Danny at work in Kinneret. well remember that it was not only physically that he worked hard. when he participated in a discussion. Yes. to contribute to Kibbutz Aliya discussions. strong determination. After his initiation of the work for a summer Kvutza near Detroit. of hard work. Danny continued to participate in Habonim life. a determination that held out until he convinced or was convinced. When Danny danced. he became rosh of the Detroit Habonim. When he went into active service more than twenty months ago. find it difficult to separate the two. There was always a glow about him as he worked. who have known him at seminars and other movement gatherings. His personal influence over others was so strong that many who might not have taken the same road followed it upon his leadership. sincerity. " The many members of Habonim throughout the country who remember him at conventions as chairman at sessions. He was one of those exceptional individuals who throws himself into every activity with the completeness of a passionate spirit. Sometime later. nothing could stop him. His influence was felt as well among the haverim in the neighboring cities. near Detroit. and under his energetic leadership. He continued. All who came in contact with him were imbued with his spirit of idealism.IN MEMORIAM This goal was the establishment of a summer Kvutza. through the mails.
then I think my life so far has been worthwhile. May. one of the leading members of Habonim. through embodying his spirit in our work in Habonim. can prove the true worth of his short life. After all. it's the machine that counts. I haven't learned very much-just enough to realize that I still have a great deal to learn. He continued to be. But in case I don't. "I guess I haven't done much in my short life so far. Furrows. 1945 179 . it's all right too. to bring some good into the world. When Danny learned that he and his men were to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima. in the minds of all of us. but we who are carrying on. 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.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING lems of the local groups he had led as well as those of national Habonim. 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." He has not been granted the chance he hoped for. But if I've served as a stimulus to even a few kids to try to reach higher. he wrote to his Detroit haverim in these words: "Naturally. perhaps the leading member of the future. not the little cogs.
One of his first activities was a visit to the training farm at Creamridge. He was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from a meeting of Habonim. He was a complete halutz-devoted. Halutziut came easily for Nate. working ceaselessly. He came to be one of the most active and respected haverim in the machaneh. February. because he personified the ideals of our movement. to him it was the natural way of life. both in his work in the movement and in his relations with his haverim. Louis. He was preparing for life in Eretz Yisrael at an age when most haverim are just beginning to consider halutziut. 1947 180 . At the time of his death he was making plans to leave for Eretz Yisrael in the spring. The things he wanted for himself will never be realized-but the fulfillment of the things he wanted for his haverim and for his people lies in our hands. New Jersey. On his days off. he entered the Navy and served two and a half years. he left home and began training at the National Farm School. even those who had never met him. unselfish. At sixteen.IN MEMORIAM NATE KANTER Every haver in Habonim knew Nate Kanter. largely in the Pacific. hard-working boy who became so close to them. On his return to St. he was a frequent visitor at the Hehalutz Training Farm at Creamridge. he threw himself into movement work more vigorously than ever. His loss is a tremendous blow for all of us. He has left a gap which cannot be filled. unassuming. When he reached eighteen. Furrows. Those haverim now in Eretz Yisrael will remember the quiet.
The quietness and stillness were uncanny. 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 . Only the clump-clump of hundreds of boots walking through the mud could be heard. The entire kibbutz was shocked and stricken by his death. the desire to come to Eretz Yisrael and take part in its upbuilding. 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. The people followed near and behind the coffin. He spoke about the conflict in Ari's nature: How he loved beautiful things a good book. Kieve spoke about his years in the movement. his years at sea. a glass of wine-and how he had. And all the time. and his work with the ships He spoke simply and beautifully. April. a trigger happy Arab from Salchia shot him in the back. on the other hand. 1948 181 . . There was an escort of men with guns to protect us. While he was working. That picture of Ari. various pictures of Ari flashed through my mind.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ARI LASHNER It happened yesterday between 10:30 and 11:30 in the morning. Rose Breslau Furrows. art. and from there. carried and driven to the little cemetery near the garden. young and vital. music. I cannot really describe the great feeling of despair that took hold of us at his going and the manner of his going. Kieve said a few words before the coffin was lowered into the ground. His body was taken to the Mazkirut building. People gathered and stood together in small groups for comfort. . will always remain with me. No one said anything. It is still incredible.
someone on whom we all leaned. But always before. 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. good-humored greeting again.he inspired in others a sincere and warm recognition of his own capabilities. He went through life so unassumingly. to war as a marine. We feel more alone in a darker world. of drives into the country. of 'music. to Europe and to Eretz Yisrael. of strolling about the city. A cohesive group that grew up in the movement and had planted firm roots in Eretz Yisrael feels shattered.just because of these qualities . the pleasurable interludes of gentle conversation. an inexhaustible source of reminiscence and humor. a ship that ran the blockade and then returned to Europe for a second load. For Ari exemplified the best that the combination of Judaism. You would never have guessed from Ari's quiet work-day. but left such deep impressions on all whom he met. America. Everyone who knew him would agree to this. and he was destined to contribute in important measure to the Jewish State in the future. The ignorant Arab sniper's bullet that cut short his life at Kfar Blum on March 16th caused far more than a personal loss. there was his smiling. He went away many times before-to distant cities for the movement. There will never take place that meeting in Eretz Yisrael to which I looked forward so greatly. and the movement produced. to express their sense of loss. For he was a central figure. He had 182 . for just as he was a leader of the most complete modesty and honesty . unchanged. His wife and child had gone to Eretz Yisrael before him. bringing in thousands on his Hagana ship. With him went a whole period in the youth of those who grew up with him. diverse individuals have felt impelled to communicate with others who knew him. and a springtime era of the movement.IN MEMORIAM ARI LASHNER Ari Lashner has left us. From all parts of the world.
" unless "gentleman" is redefined to be what he was. yet not your own. Ghandi could not have abhorred violence more than Ari Lashner. and respecting feeling in others. tolerant and receptive 183 . this realistic tendency intervened even in his enjoyment of abstract beauty in painting and poetry (never in music. But he never drove others. Not that he was a "gentleman. But he longed for the day of peace when he could realize himself in some way in the Jewish Land. he gave full credence to the role of the irrational in life. He assumed you were wrestling honestly with your problems as he was with his. who hated even the raised voice.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING not known when or how he would see them again and he wanted to be with them desperately. there was a definite mellowing in him. anger. by the development of universal theories which solved all problems. or to descend to the vulgar or unseemly in any way. Thus he could not consider the fate of the Jewish people without including himself in the solution. And there was frequent cause for anger and impatience in those years. tempering the feelings. He died in war. excusing oneself. attaching at least as much weight to his feelings as to his reason. For a time. and under the pressure of very wide experience. He had strong passions. which all who experienced him felt. He did not enjoy the conscious role of "organizer" or even of halutz. and impatience. But in recent years. Principles divorced from circumstances and action did not exist for him except as scholastic exercises with which he was -very impatient. to gossip in malice. He was never heard by anyone to shout in anger. In this connection. or seeking a way out by processes of rationalization. What he could not tolerate in himself and others was covering up the problem. for which he was too naturally gifted). it is his insistence that the individual search for his own truth and act in consequence. If a keynote is to be sought in his pervasive influence.
He was a Socialist. too. concert balls. into formal molds with neat tags was foreign to his mind. but without the slightest trace of the envy that stems from vanity and leads to pretenses and false emulation. From the earliest days when. when we drove into New England. The very casting of whole societies. the enjoyment of beautiful things in many forms became a welcome release for him.IN MEMORIAM by nature. The piece went on interminably. walk in cities. He loved to stop at roadside inns. we went driving out on Long Island until dawn. He loved honesty and simplicity. but he weighed things relatively and he knew the enormous importance of the measure of basic civil liberties enjoyed here. Any account of Ari would be incomplete without mentioning his love for America. He once told of hearing a musical work on the radio while working on something. after our Young Poale Zion Alliance meetings. The man with a "reputation" as a music lover doesn't tell such stories about himself with detached enjoyment. but he would take any capitalism over a Socialism that gave a whit less of individual liberty. observe people. 184 . He muttered to himself: "What on earth is this endless hodgepodge?" It was announced as the Kreutzer Sonata. He saw the evils of America. visit galleries. his favorite was Levin. until almost the last full day together. He felt humble and inferior to the point of discomfort before anyone with special talent. whether in art or in farming. I associate him with trips into the green countryside and 1 recall his avid appreciation of it. He knew it well to California. of people. His greatest pleasure was to drive through its countryside. and of complex ways of life. parks. He enjoyed greatly the scene of the “visit to the uncle” in War and Peace. stores. While he understood and admired a Vronsky and an Anna Karenina.
just drifting. expulsions. Ari admired the courage and the intellectual acumen of the radical leaders and even admitted that their panaceas might be right. We Labor Zionists participated in all radical activities but as a collateral thing. But they were a little above him. He seemed to be. He was always ready to admit that the paths others were following were right. actually. Their solutions for the whole world still left him uncomfortable as an individual. In the rarefied atmosphere of college. His life was the result of an evolutionary process. These have been called his "doubts" and his "conflict. and it was difficult to perceive at what stage this process actually became a form of reduction ad absurdum.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The 1930's were a difficult test for radical youth. another essential characteristic is illustrated. There never were any dramatic announcements or obvious soul struggle. Ari Lashner's reference point was his emotional Jewishness and Labor Zionism to which he attached significant weight. and counterdemonstrations. It was the Frederick B. He spoke nostalgically about the interesting careers others were following. Socialists and Communists drove the black and white stereotypes of doctrinaire radicalism to absolute extremes. The concept of doubt in the sense of debating one's path by purely mental processes cannot rightly be used for him. Robinson era at City College. He was unaware of the courage it took to drift with the tide of one's being. Here. and every week saw demonstrations. He felt like a victim of himself. Impossible. without some trustworthy reference point in reality. and thought uneasily himself that he was." But he spoke about the other things that were nice to do with a certain detachment. He dropped his teacher-training course when it gradually became apparent to him that his future lay with the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. What it was and what had gone into it was flowing irrevocably in a certain 185 . He saw the Jewish people again singled out for persecution and he felt that concrete' special efforts by Jews themselves were demanded.
Ari would not want to be singled out or separated from his comrades. It is probably reserved only to those who knew him to feel the true loss. and energy of the small group of which Ari was a central figure. And he did it as usual-well. 1948 186 . So he followed the path of the halutz. for my part. in the conventional sense. there are those to whom the loss is a terrible reality. as every individual was in life. one of us. working. Furrows. and acts known and beloved somewhere. is true. no analogy with anyone else. Camp Kvutza. I am rendering a faint duty inadequately because I knew Ari. There is a whole generation of young people who remember how Ari led them in song and dance. Every one of those good Hebrew names we read is only a symbol of a face smiling to someone. April. 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. desires. increased aliya. No hero picture. Harry Levtow. Every soul is precious. But the Yishuv has always commemorated its dead lovingly. 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. all these have come about through the vision. but the epitome of us. faithfully.IN MEMORIAM direction and be would have thought it absurd that some sudden idea should be able to change it. And so for every one of those who are dying in Eretz Yisrael. emphasis on Hebrew. of thoughts. I do not think of Ari as having died. courage. It is not possible to believe and. nobly. by virtue of his great truth to himself. I merely consider that he has crossed another boundary before us as he did so often before. Labor Eretz Yisrael and the ideals of halutziut proudly became the central educational idea of the movement. sometimes looking wistfully back at the green fields of America.
people who were tired of civilization and routine. He used to spend many days and nights with hoboes and his stories were remarkable. salvaged from Unser Camp for whose guests they were not deemed worthy. 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." One of the advance crew was Hayim Rambam. He had a leader's qualities and could influence people either for better or worse. We also found some boards for the future kitchen. On closer acquaintance. The camp consisted of a hilltop cluttered with tents which had obviously seen better days in the army. We saw a different world. had proved too stifling. you learned that a few warm friendly words could easily quell the storm raging in him. the walls of his home. a few boxes of cups (without handles). 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. always seeking new thrills and experiences. I well remember the delightful evenings and sunsets in the camp which were so inspiring. Tired after a day of hard work. We were met by the advance crew of a few boys. old farmer's stove. We knew then that he was moody and ready to tell stories of his adventures throughout the United States. They felt free as birds and so did Hayim. and dishes (slightly cracked). and the discipline of a school. He was drawn to the broad.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. even in early childhood. and the old Ford that we were barely able to purchase for $10. He was an adventurer. For the stormy nature of this boy. And 187 . Hayim could be found on one of the cots in the tent. open fieldsthe sort of boy that can develop into a hero or an adventurer.
that constantly refused to get back to camp on time. We felt that the very foundation of our camp would not survive that night. when a person may forget about and sacrifice himself for the general welfare. Hayim and I. Towards the end of the summer. We all gathered in our one "building. a hurricane suddenly pounced upon us. willing servant in Hayim's skillful hands. because of whose caprices we always had to bring along a couple of "footmen" to help push when the inevitable need arose." to whom many campers literally owed their lives. lashed by the wind! It was one of those moments when old and young display all their shortcomings and weaknesses and. destroying many houses in the neighborhood and flooding all the valleys. on the other hand. Our ancient army tents. I am sure that it was solely to Hayim's credit that we came away that summer sound in limb. 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. The Ford that had not the least desire to climb the smallest hill. Here we are.IN MEMORIAM many a time I thought that perhaps Hayim may turn out to be another Jack London. He was also our "life saver. How well I remember that procession in the thick blackness. Incidents of that summer keep coming to mind. so we decided for safety's sake to make our way to a nearby boarding house. knee-deep in water. Hayim was the driver of the Ford on which we depended for supplies from the nearby town and water from the well." squatting on the tables with only a roof overhead while the torrent of rain drenched us through the open sides. Hayim showed himself to be the second sort of person. riding in the Ford. 188 . without a path to follow. was an obedient.
Suddenly. The fourth of our haverim is gone. and he hoped to obtain a certificate to go to Eretz Yisrael. a second was lost in a mission over Germany. . his devotion. his zeal. 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. his enthusiasm. It was clear that Eretz Yisrael had had a marked effect upon him. . It did not occur to him that tiny microbes would conquer his powerful body and quiet his stormy nature for eternity.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The work in Camp Kvutza became a form of training for Hayim. 1942 JOSEPH ROSENBERG There will be many vacant places in our ranks when this war is over. he drank from a spring he did not know was contaminated. less restless. He was about to become rosh mahaneh of Detroit and he spent hours 189 . In the meantime. Leak Brown Haboneh June. He dreamed of participating in the defense of the country . and now Joseph Rosenberg is reported missing in action at sea. I did not see him for a long time after that but heard he was employed as a tractor driver in Mikveh Yisrael. I really learned to appreciate his character at the Leaders' Seminar in Pipersville in 1940. I also went to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Jerusalem with my husband. I was impressed with his youthfulness. more serious in outlook. under the hot sun. When he did not receive a certificate. he went on his own. Hayim showed up in Jerusalem during a holiday. But a month later he was dead. a third while performing his duty in the Near East. One died flying in this country. While working in the fields. He was much changed-more mature.
he would do more work than others had done all week. We remember how as rosh mahaneh of Detroit Habonim. You may not know. Joey joined the local union and made himself heard there. 1944 190 . his ideas. We remember that while others were delving into deep discussion about the problems of labor. Furrows. I read his outlines. June. he led us through one of the strongest years of our existence. his plans.. D. D. he was certain that he would be able to organize a Habonim group. He showed me his neat notebook. G. * * * * * Joey joined Habonim in 1935 at the age of eleven. he spent every spare moment making contacts and speaking to people. Joey was one of the first to join and carry out its program. 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. when we grow older. B.IN MEMORIAM with me discussing his plans. Joey entered a trade school to prepare himself for the life of a halutz. It is an irreparable loss for the movement here and for Kfar Blum in Eretz Yisrael. We remember that when Joey came out to camp weekends.. But those who stayed with the group remember that while others were spouting high-sounding phrases about becoming halutzim. We remember that when a Kibbutz Aliya was formed in Detroit.that during the period that he was stationed at San Diego in training. we talked about his doubts and his ambitions. He lived his life in search of a better world and gave his life in the struggle for it.
His mission was to work with Italian partisans behind the German lines. it was primarily Enzo Sereni. 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. 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. whose energy and imagination made Habonim possible. Together with another member of the team. when the best part of his contribution to Zionism surely lay ahead of him. we are finally beyond any question of doubt certain that Enzo is dead-dead at the age of thirty-nine. one-time halutz from America. Together with Ben Zion Ilan of Afikim who was then an Eretz Yisrael delegate to the youth movement. 191 . about whom relatives in the Allied countries had made inquiries. missing in action for over a year. I obtained permission from the British army bureau in charge of these searches to institute a search for Enzo Sereni. through a search conducted by Ben Zion (now a sergeant in the Jewish Brigade). Sereni. A letter from Kieve Skidell tells the following story which ends all hope that Enzo. after his capture by the Germans. led to the concentration camp at Dachau. but traces of him. and now a sergeant in the Second Battalion of the Jewish Brigade. Today. Eretz Yisrael delegate to the American Habonim. Ben Zion Ilan. 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. and together with American haverim. 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. engaged in the search for prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates in Germany. as you may know. might still be alive: “On the streets of Paris I ran into Sgt. as Hehalutz delegate.
we filled an urn with ashes from the crematorium. those ashes will be placed there together with those of our other martyrs. Those were not his ashes alone but they were sacred. " 'Before leaving Dachau. he was bubbling with energy and intellectual curiosity. Shmuel. Block 23. 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. Entered 9 October 1944. 113160. 192 . He remembered that he was usually together with one French and two other British officers.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 remembered well the long discussions they used to have on philosophical as well as world political and Jewish topics. Died 18 November 1944. and he couldn't forget how even in the environment of Dachau. Sereni impressed him as a man of extremely high intellectual acumen. and there we found a card with the following information on it: “ ‘Prisoner No. who had been in the same block with him in Dachau. “ ‘One can only surmise from this information that he was brought to his death by torture. It turned out that he had been the secretary of the block Sereni was in and he remembered him well. “ ‘We then looked up the pastor. His body was cremated at the local crematorium. Taken to Special Punishment Cell for interrogation. we turned immediately to the card index of all those who had ever been in the place. Born 22 June 1905 at Jerusalem. Of his end he knew nothing since he had been taken away from Dachau before it came. When the projected memorial to the Gola is erected in Jerusalem. Barda. V3 (code for member of the British forces). his own tormentors no doubt among them. 17 November 1944. Resident at Tel Aviv. “ ‘When we came to Dachau. all of whom have disappeared without a trace.
Even those who lived with him at that famous Bet Hehalutz on Riverside Drive probably never knew when he awoke. I woke up. Soon after his earliest appearance in America. going through the Eretz Yisrael press. to find Sereni sitting opposite me at his desk. I remember. Apparently he never slept except for forty winks occasionally on buses and on railroad coaches-and every morning when he was in New York.M. Everywhere he went. between 7:30 and 8:00 A. Another blow to my own pride was the way he went through the Hebrew press-or any other reading matter. it became a current story that Sereni spoke the best broken English anyone had ever heard. would appear at the office bright and early to greet the first-comers and shame the others. We were skeptical because some Brigade boys had been there around that time and had said nothing about it. he left an indelible impression. only a few months ago. One day. as I recall. when a report reached us that Sereni had been seen alive in the concentration camp at Mauthausen. We who worked with him in the office of Hehalutz were consumed with envy and despair at his incredible energy and tirelessness. I had been rather vain of my speed in reading but Sereni was insufferably superior. In this way I hoped to find out when Enzo did come in. I came back from a trip out of town in the wee hours of the morning. But there is no one there today but a number of Russian troops who are billeted there. we went out there and got permission from the Russian commandant of nearby Linz to visit the place. he. and there was no trace of him whatsoever. Whatever the language.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING " 'For us the search seemed ended. as far as that goes. Austria. We all 193 . but to make sure. he would sail through texts like a swift Italian breeze. I never did find out when he arrived. There is no longer any doubt.' " To those who knew Enzo there is no need to define our loss. I determined not to go home to clean up but to get the rest of my sleep on a bench in the office.
prominent Roman Jewish family. 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.D. a fighter in a certain sense. which set him apart from many comrades was that in certain things. In fact. even made them rather suspicious. He never counted costs-one of the things. he had less need than they to count costs. They were inclined to worry about his most innocent proposal for fear of some ingenious trap. Then afterwards. in all his dangerous missions for the Histadrut. but one might even say a daredevil. of course.IN MEMORIAM harbored dark suspicions about how thoroughly he had read. with roots in Italy as far back as 70 A. and a strong sense of the direction in which he wished to go. Sereni would be able to deposit it all on my desk. Sereni was so clever that slower minds distrusted him. his paradoxes and rapid-fire patter. the flashing play of his wit and thought. efficiently marked to indicate the essential items for digesting or writing up. according to repute. A scion of a rather wealthy. Sereni was. He threw himself with unlimited devotion-perhaps the proper word is abandoninto the cause he wished to serve. He had a firm viewpoint. It was not only the Germans with their gruendlichkeit who were uneasy at his mental athletics. 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. I noted in the comments on Sereni's death. I was a witness to the same phenomenon here. 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. in conversation. but after a halfhour with a huge batch of literature. which have recently appeared in the Eretz Yisrael press. 194 . perhaps. Sereni enjoyed many elements of ultimate security which enabled him to be not only daring. and with assured status in the academic and professional society of contemporary Rome.
because in the most opposing statements he could appreciate the grains of truth. They found him in the midst of a lively discussion with his guards. At last they discovered the prison where he was kept and were permitted to see him. was almost fantastically reflected in his volatile whims and witticisms. never were they more wrong. In the utmost heat of contention. the product of a scientifically-trained mind. It is true that he used his opponents' lower resistance to fire deliberately. Sereni remained detached and capable of appreciating an opposing view. Rabbi Joachim Prinz tells this story of Sereni. covering the theory and practice of both German Nazism and Italian fascism. He was also capable of using an argument largely for its effect. I can well believe that he sustained an intense mental activity in his last days at Dachau. This. indeed. 195 . He was indeed a man whom an opponent had to know to love. In spite of a frantic search they could not find Sereni until midnight. He boiled rapidly but only on the surface. Opponents often mistook his vehemence for vindictiveness. Sereni was basically cool. After a while she found Prinz and he was released. He was capable of the most astounding self-contradictions and mental flexibility. In the most furious argument. 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. Prinz's wife learned of the affair and tore the town apart trying to locate the two and obtain their release. gave him another formidable advantage in debate which only increased the confusion and unfounded suspicions of many opponents. Sereni's fundamental open-mindedness. and they could not get him to leave until he had made a few last points.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The same lusty combativeness marked his fights for his ideas within the Histadrut.
Shlomo admitted that this was the case. I'm a first-rate expert at arguing Zionism from a Marxist basis. of course." Said Grodzensky: "Do you believe in Marxism. raise the standard of living by cooperative methods of consumption and mutual aid. He also noted the basic and obvious fact that one element in Arab-Jewish conflict was the great difference in the economic level of the two communities. of course. so to speak. But he was an extreme realist as well. Reluctantly.IN MEMORIAM Shlomo Grodzensky tells this of his first encounter with Enzo: He met a sturdy little Italian. I remember when he was in this country. a simpleton. and we never knew how seriously to take them. 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. in Sereni's mind. meant either deferring such solidarity to an indefinite future if one took the Mapai view. 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. What particularly upset the assurance of some of us was that 196 . or simple selfdelusion if one took the Hashomer Hatzair view. and often went to practically fantastic lengths of logic in this matter. experimental hypotheses. who at once asked whether it were true that there was a current vogue for Marxism in America. All these. Sereni said: "Excellent! You know. He therefore argued that the Jewish worker must have the idealism to come down to the Arab level in order to meet him and. just off the boat. Enzo shot back: "What do you think I am. Enzo was always a strong adherent of the idea of a Jewish-Arab collaboration. then?" Outraged. were in reality tentative statements. 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. Practically rubbing his hands with glee.
Sereni knew very well what the costs were of Arab terrorism to the Jews. As a member of a kibbutz which. entailed serious consequences in action for Sereni. When I came to Givat Brenner. I remember an instance by which I was particularly impressed: In America. But this was no final stand for Sereni. 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. if only in order to make them think on their own. He would never wait for a bus to take him home and he scoffed at the danger from Arab 197 . I was astonished to hear that Enzo was not allowed to stand his turn at guard duty because. where peace and mutual forbearance had ensued between groups after a decisive measuring of strength. during the period of my own stay in Eretz Yisrael (1939).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. even to a notion of provisional. it could not stop him from breaking the rule against walking through certain officially designated dangerous areas between Rehovot and Givat Brenner. notably the British-Boer case. the first few times he had gone out without a rifle. and what he thought. Sereni had obviously considered that factor already for he promptly replied that there were also instances. suffered its casualties like any other rural settlement. It was brought up in discussion that bloodshed between groups had historically tended to implant mutual hatred that long outlasted the fighting. Even the most fleeting adherence to an idea. But these hypotheses were also formative elements in his own thoughts. he acted. one might even say heuristic. value in his life-course. Sereni argued that the disturbances of 1936-38 were a good thing in the history of Arab-Jewish relations. as I learned. However. though the kibbutz would not assign him to stand watch.
Products of fascism. if I may abuse a phrase. In a late picture taken in Eretz Yisrael and published in the memorial issue of Hapoel Hatzair. childlike. for this reason he would often mock us by declaring himself nearer a Christian than a Jew in religious sensibility. approaching forty. We saw him as the "happy warrior" child. volunteered for sabotage and underground work behind the lines in Italy. He was completely aware of it. outstanding and phenomenally smooth. if you loved a woman. moving mountains of apathy and mental torpor with a logical witticism. let us say-would you give her up? " If you answered. There was high seriousness in the devotion with which he cared for the small group of Italian halutzim whom he had assembled there in 1939. He told me that having had long conversations in America with Hayim Greenberg. confronting unforeseen and portentous immensities. romantic strain of love in Sereni.IN MEMORIAM neighbors whom he had known. and another claimed her-her husband. taking delight in the explosive effects of his intellectual gunfire. full of fire and sparkle. No. Later. he would acclaim you a Zionist. Sereni presents an altogether different aspect from what was familiar to us. I learned the basic intellectual reasons for these new meshugassen of Sereni's. he had swung towards pacifism. Far deeper than his intellectual constructions was a deep. In the recent picture. 198 . This was the man who. when I spoke to him. He always had a childlike look. But what was it which put those omens of fear into Sereni's eyes in his latest pictures? We can only guess. and I can attest to it. bravely but with solemnity. I remember Sereni loved to propound this question: "Tell me. But he took his bearings by love. deracinated Jews-yet under Sereni's ministrations their success as kibbutz members was. Solemnity was a look I often saw in him at Givat Brenner. ~ he looks like a lost child.
his own kibbutz. and later the Merkaz. the Young Poale Zion Alliance. One of the first organizers. which he barely knew. Jews-Eastern European Jews. it must begin to accept the responsibilities of maturity. 1945 IRV STERNBERG The early days in the life of a movement. his metaphysical moorings. Irv. his friends.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING These things he loved: Italy-Italian art. he had invested his love. Ben Halpern Furrows. From his latest picture. He had invested far more than a lifetime of labor. to Germany. the Kibbutz Hameuhad. but to take new strength from the spirit he displayed. 199 . a member of the National Executive. and the Italian people. Lithuanians and Germans alike. We know from writings that reach us from Eretz Yisrael how deeply the split in the Mapai affected Sereni. December. to learn to meet the inevitable situations of adult life. we see that it was able to put a reflection of fear even into those eyes. As a movement grows up. to learn to mourn the death of a comrade. Irv Sternberg. though only thirty-one when he died. as in the life of an individual. Givat Brenner. Mapai. Italian philosophy. he contributed inestimably to the formulation of the program and policies of Habonim. even Italian historiography. 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. the Histadrut. his own home and family. and never had he failed to realize what he risked. the Yiddish language. was one of those who contributed to the conception and development of Habonim. German Jews. who died early in June. to America-he invested his money in the Histadrut. was a veteran in Habonim and its predecessor.
when he was elected on the Poale Zion list as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress. His exceptional ability in artistic handwork led him to organize Habonim crafts groups. July. 1944 200 . long regret his untimely loss to us.IN MEMORIAM A halutz who knew that because of his serious illness he could never realize life in Eretz Yisrael. the type of material he assembled when he served as editor of Haboneh last year. and long be grateful for the share he contributed to Habonim. 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. seek new methods of educating others in it. Irv nevertheless translated his Socialist Zionism into his personal life. Irv was a haver with diverse and intense interests. At the founding convention of Habonim in Buffalo. conceive new ideas. Furrows. Habonim will remember Irv. the background that molded all his discussions of our problems. His knowledge of the essence of the movement led him to create programs. and all of these he applied in his work for Habonim. were reflected in those things he wrote. In 1939 Irv received some measure of reward for the work he had done so devotedly for so long. his passion for the unique. His love of literature and art. 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.
of the work we did when he was my rosh mahaneh. That is the best tribute I can give him. He was one of our best haverim. too-that is why these words are meaningless to me.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING JOHANAN TARTAKOWER "Johanan Tartakower was killed in action in the European Theater of Operations on September 29th." He was my friend. We must fill the gap. of the dreams we had together of Eretz Yisrael and "our" kibbutz. 1944. Harry Brumberger Furrows. 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. to accept the task of the halutz. 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. I cannot transform and reduce this intangible thing into pitifully inadequate sentences. We must believe in the things Johanan died for and fight for them. lest the Jewish people never find their future. November. 1944 201 . and I call to all those others who believe as Johanan did to rouse themselves. 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. I shall endeavor to do what my friend Johanan wanted to do-I will try to realize his dreams.
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