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