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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.
It all started when the Young . 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. Habonim camps have been the heart of the movement experience. teaching the commitment and forging the lifelong friendships that drove everything else. Throughout the decades. The movement has founded seven kibbutzim in Israel and played pivotal roles over the years in the labor. generating the passion.” Today we know that they were indeed making history. fascism rising in Europe and the first waves of Arab violence threatening the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. “none of us in the 1930s thought of himself as ‘making history’.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. From that initial summer. has nurtured multiple generations of activists and leaders in Israeli and American Jewish life. The Habonim Dror youth movement. But as movement veteran Saadia Gelb would recall years later. Jewish pride and progressive social awareness. but there was nothing inevitable about any of it. They knew well that they were living in historic times—a Depression at home. Habonim Dror and its camps have been a resounding success. feminist and Middle East peace movements. civil rights. They believed they had a role to play in these great dramas. anchored in its summer camps.
the young adult wing of the Labor Zionist movement. and the camp’s first advocates faced strong opposition. They named it Habonim. but the results were dispiriting. The numbers remained small and enthusiasm was low. leaders of Young Poale Zion gathered at Accord to discuss the future of their education program. New York. That first summer of 1932. The founders themselves weren’t entirely sure what they had in mind. after a new Labor Zionist scouting organization established in England in 1929. even within their own movement. After the 1934 camp season ended. they agreed to set aside the radical politics of Poale Zion and build . and the camp thrived. Many of the senior Labor Zionists were convinced that summer camp meant volley ball and boating. Young Poale Zion had been trying since the 1920s to establish a children’s organization for ten-toeighteen-year-olds. Painfully. They hadn’t even settled yet on the name Habonim. The summer camp would eventually provide the missing spark. had been successful enough to merit another round the following year. who had settled in Palestine and was now in New York as a shlicha. The new location proved enormously popular. Nothing like it existed anywhere in America. decided in that spring of 1932 to try what amounted to a cross-cultural experiment: to see if the American summer camp could be reimagined in the spirit of the kibbutz and the chalutzim. prosaically named Buds.Poale Zion Alliance. Others argued that the children of working class immigrants. Following days of stormy debate they decided to create a new children’s organization as an autonomous unit within the movement. Chapters were formed here and there. In the spring of 1933. couldn’t afford summer camp. with the help of Young Poale Zion alumna Golda Meir. Labor Zionism’s main constituency. the socialist Zionist pioneers who were rebuilding the land of Israel. debating ideology and hauling their own trash. for all its uncertainties. not living as a commune. the movement acquired a campsite of its own in Accord.
devotion to Israel and the ideals of kibbutz pioneering. but the campers still wanted to be together. yielded for many youngsters a set of lifelong friendships and a powerful movement loyalty. and so they spent their weekends going to ken meetings and regional seminars to see their friends. marching for civil rights in 1957. many Habonim members showed up—protesting outside British consulates in 1946. youngsters developed intimate bonds with each other and the group. Habonim. Those bonds and those lessons. And the camp program was unique. Two new ones were opened in 1935. The fastest growth was in the summer camps. in Michigan and Quebec. renewed each summer and deepened over time. Summer might end. Three more were added in 1939 and more the following summer and the summer after that. but on the movement and everything it did. Camp had become the heart of the movement experience. Gordonia. And when a few Habonim members showed up for a major public event. protesting the Vietnam war in 1969.the Habonim education program around character-building. Living for weeks away from their families in a community of their peers. rallying for Soviet Jews and California farm-workers in 1975. scoutcraft. that had been struggling for a decade to find its footing. the Young Poale Zion Alliance dissolved itself and became the senior division of its own offshoot. The new organization grew quickly. too. By the mid-1940s. resulting in a powerful brew that was stronger than any of its components. The impact of the camp experience could be seen not only on the individual Habonim members. .600 campers. By 1945 Habonim was operating eleven camps across the continent with a total enrollment of some 1. Two years after that. By 1938 it was strong enough to take over a smaller Labor Zionist youth group. it was clear that camp was no longer just an adjunct to the year-round Habonim educational program. Traditional summer camp songs and cheers were combined with Labor Zionist ideology and the movement’s sense of mission.
communal settlement groups.When Israel won its independence in 1948 and took to the battlefield to defend it. They’re not as shiny or high tech as some of the better known camps. The notion of camping as a laboratory for values education and movement building was something new in American Jewish education. Jewish values camping is high fashion. settling in urban communes in slums and development towns. Hundreds moved to Israel in its early years as members of garinim. when the kibbutz movement was sunk in crisis and Zionism had become a subject of cynicism or worse. When the first fourteen Labor Zionist teenagers pitched their tent in the Catskills in 1932. Even in the 1990s and beyond. and in the 1970s and 1980s to found the new kibbutzim of Gezer. It’s not even clear that the Young Poale Zion organizers knew themselves exactly where they were headed.” They’ve been written off many times. They continued going over in garinim in the 1950s and 1960s to join Gesher Haziv and Urim. And because they wanted to be with their friends from camp. Today. as big as they were in their heyday in the 1940s. Jewish summer camps existed to provide children with exercise and fresh air and to give their parents a breather. The . The path that Habonim pioneered in 1932 was trod a decade later by Young Judaea and the Ramah camps of Conservative Judaism. though they had an inkling. but that’s always been part of their charm — the old Habonim principle that it’s “chalutzic to be schmutzik. hundreds of Habonim members — nearly the entire senior membership — went there to volunteer. and soon after that by the Reform movement. of course. Habonim members continued to move to Israel in garinim. Grofit and Ravid. Those movements dominate the Jewish public square so thoroughly that many American Jews are surprised to hear that Habonim camps are still in business. that founded Kibbutz Gesher Haziv and Kibbutz Urim. They went. But they are still here. because they wanted to make a difference and to live out their values.
J. the kids want to be with their friends. three-quarters of a century after they began. resurrected by faithful alumni and determined groups of teenagers. And still they carry on.J. Goldberg. 2009 .New York and Los Angeles camps have gone bust and then risen again. They still have an urgent message to transmit. They have to. Besides.
................................... MANITOBA ................ 74 CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN .......................................................................................................................................................................... 85 TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK ................................................................................ WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? .................................... 134 AMAL IN RETROSPECT ............16 THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING ..... 95 TEL NATAN ......................................................................................................... 100 KVUTZA IN THE WEST .............. 137 ........................ 68 HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ...................... YOUNGSTERS!............................................................................................................................................................................................... 115 GIMLI................. 91 KVUTZA........................................................................... 87 KENDALL ...........................................1933 ........................................................................................................................................................ 98 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM ............................ 104 THE STORY OF "MOSH"...................................................................................................................................................................................................................6 Foreword from Original Publication .................................................................................................................................................................. 33 THE MEANING OF KVUTZA ................................................................................ 55 PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 82 LISTEN HERE............................. 90 "KVUTZIE".............................................................. 107 GALIL'S FIRST YEAR ....................................... CREAMRIDGE .... KVUTZA................................................... 122 AFIKIM .......... TEXAS .............14 Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 131 CAMP AVODA...........................................................................................Contents Foreword ........................... 125 CAMP MIRIAM........................................... 32 A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE IN COOPERATIVE JEWISH CAMPING ............. 49 COMING OF AGE ...................................................................... 109 GALIL ......................................................... 60 THE TURNING POINT ... 129 THE COMING SEASON ..................................................................................................................... 94 KINNERET ...................... 128 CAMP BONIM........................................................................................................................ 126 MONTREAL ............................................................. 20 ACCORD ................................................................................................................................................. 25 GROWTH OF AN IDEA "KVUTZA" AND KVUTZA ..............
........................................189 ENZO SERENI .......................................................................143 PEEKING IN WITH OUR SHALIAH ...161 NEED HELP PACKING? ...............187 JOSEPH ROSENBERG ............................................................................................................165 IN MEMORIUM HAZKARA ..........................................................................................................................................................................................155 TO KVUTZA .............................155 NIGTH WATCH ................................................................................................................................180 ARI LASHNER ....................................163 KINNERET SHELI ...........................191 IRV STERNBERG ...................................................................................142 ACCORD DIARY ......................201 ........................................................159 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................177 NATE KANTER .........157 SO YOU WANT TO BE A MADRICH ............ ACCORD ..............KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL NIGHT WATCH ..........................................................................................................................................................................................173 DANNY GINSBURG .......................................................................................................................151 UNTIL NEXT YEAR .....................153 VIEW FROM KVUTZA HILL......................................................................................................................................................................................156 THE TREE ...........199 JOHANAN TARTAKOWER .......................171 BEN CHERNER ........................................................168 MIRIAM BIDERMAN ..................................................................181 HAYIM RAMBAM .................................................................................................................................
Because of the tragic impression brought on by the forces of evil. takes pleasure in making the publication of this book possible and expresses its gratitude to the editors to whom this has been a labor of love. * * * The Chay Commission.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. historians are prone to deal with those events much more so than with construction elements which make for progress in the world.” It is worthy of note that in that same year. Perhaps it is an indication that the latter are more normal. whose purpose it has been to develop further the ideals which the Habonim camps have been inculcating. the Labor Zionist Commission on Halutziut. 1932. Habonim started an important chapter in its youthful story–youthful and on behalf of youth–that was destined to play a significant role in the psychological struggle which confronted Jewish youth in the fearsome years of hatred and violence that were to follow. 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. and to all those who have cooperated in 14 .
It is the fond hope of the Chay Commission that its courageous story will find the appreciation of a much wider circle as well.the research and the compilation of Adventure in Pioneering. Chay Commission 15 . The Chay Commission wishes to thank our patrons whose greetings appear in a special supplement which accompanies Adventure in Pioneering. * * * Twenty-five years of Habonim camping will undoubtedly afford mixed feelings of reminiscence and of nostalgia to those who have experienced the pleasure and the vicissitudes of summers within the orbit of these camps. We are especially indebted to David Goldberg for reading the manuscript. Bert Goldstein Chairman. to Chana Haklay and Zelde Krulewitz for their work in preparing the manuscript for printing and to Josh Schwartz of Leeds Advertising whose assistance in designing the book was invaluable.
Through these years. studying. It is correct to say that Camp Kvutza is the basic source of strength for the entire Labor Zionist Movement in America. close to five generations of youth have participated in the Habonim Camps. playing . Thus. These pioneers transmitted their zeal and vision to succeeding generations of Jewish youth in Habonim who followed in their footsteps.creating their own society of the future. working.Introduction During the past twenty-five years. 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. 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. Many were 16 . The leaders and chalutzim of tomorrow are at Camp Kvutza today. much has been written both for Habonim and for the Jewish educational world on this unique form of camping. as are most of our chalutzim in Israel.
that each reader will find herein something of intimate significance as well as informational value. Menahel. and content of Camp Kvutza. to that of educators and community leaders analyzing and evaluating the significance of this departure in Jewish camping. but have presented the material in the differing forms in which it originally appeared. our editorial committee. and with varying levels of presentation: from that of a thirteen-year old describing his experiences with childish enthusiasm. But they will find much which may inspire them and will guide them in their movement activities. Many were the reactions written by campers while at Kvutza and upon their return to the city. and internal organizational and educational bulletins. we were confronted with the wealth of material which has been accumulated for a quarter of a century. Merkaz Habonim. convention reports. the office secretaries. and especially our patrons for making possible the publication of this volume. Most of the material included has been gleaned from the Habonim archives: News and Views. Out of these diverse sources. The Editors Summer. expansion. Furrows. * * * We want to take this opportunity to thank the Chay Commission. 1957 17 . to that of a leader enlarging on the principles by which Camp Kvutza will function. however. we have not attempted to create a literary unit. We hope. In compiling this collection. 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. Many present members of Habonim will no doubt discover herein a world seemingly remote from today's reality. Haboneh.the deliberations within the movement on the development.
The Beginning .
there was merely the living together at a Camp Kvutza among the gentle hills of New York State. Our schooling. Yet we. one retraces the years and comes to the beginning: the first Camp Kvutza." Many of us were born in the United States. one senses how much importance there was to this beginning. As one looks back twenty-five years. Today the conception of "idealist" has acquired a strange interpretation. but at that time. the camp. Suddenly all is focused clearly and is full of an inner glow . how revolutionary. our thoughts were molded by the country we lived in. the economic collapse after 1929. the studies. Some came to the country as young children. At the Camp Kvutza these ideals were most meaningful. We lived in our ideal: a worker's life in Eretz Yisrael. All around us the youth was concerned with jobs. we tried by our own living to create a new world: a world in which the Jew would live in his own country. Looking backward.THE BEGINNING THE BEGINNING An anniversary is a time of reflection. the campfire with its songs. but above all. the Kvutza: the living and studying together. our style of life. We loved this country with its sense of human 20 . American Jewish living surrounded us.the beginning. the tiny group of Poale Zion youth. a mutual investigation of the problems inherent in the ideals which we held in common. with making a livelihood. They guided and directed our lives. the forms of living there to be based on Socialism. It was very hard for we were going against the stream. how strange it was. But in truth and most sincerely. So much comes alive: the chaverim. were far away from all that worried Americans. Our minds and our hearts were concerned with another land and our problems were foreign and distant to American life. It was the time of the depression. how "peculiar. and it may even sound boastful to say that we were an idealistic Jewish youth.
We were conscious of the stirrings of new forces in American literature. Why? What moved us? How did we come to these thoughts. it dawned in a crowded college auditorium as the Twenty-third Psalm was read by a Christian clergyman. Or again. and oceans. 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.all this was part and parcel of our day-by-day living. Some homes were "Bundist. rivers. There were before us the grandeur of the West. the new forms of the dance. the new theater. Yet we dreamt dreams away from all that America was. the beauty of the Appalachians. its lakes. 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. and its absorption of the downtrodden and poverty-stricken millions of human beings who flocked to its shores. We were overwhelmed by its vastness." motivated by the thought that Jews need to build a Jewish entity wherever they may be.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING dignity and freedom. the night club in Harlem. In some homes. its mountains and plains. I tried to understand why the chaverim chose this ideal. the awe of Niagara. this tiny group out of the millions of American Jews? Again and again at the Camp Kvutza. its pioneers. it was important to know the reason. and moved one to closeness to all people of the Book. The life of America was our life: the jazz. the stirrings of the vast labor masses . the charm of the South. the politics of the country. and saw ourselves in our mind's eye with our comrades in the Promised Land. vivid with the hope of the liberation of the Jew. and music. Russian revolu- 21 . art. 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.
amidst the dark shadows of the trees. Why not work here at home? In the first Camp Kvutza. Poale Zionist. there was a large mass of workers with no job security. for in America we were still close to pioneering. For Poale Zion ideology. exploited by those intent on profits.THE BEGINNING tionary songs of freedom and Siberian exile were sung. consciousness grew out of this strange soil. We tried to add to the elements already influencing the chaverim. but not a Jewish folk song. they motivated the program of work. and at times against the wishes of the parents who were aghast at their child's "peculiarities. the poetry of the words. Around us was the camp fire. the sentiment of rebuilding and heroism. There were problems to be solved here: tender children working beyond their strength. there was the singing of the Eretz Yisrael songs which linked us with our unknown comrades. all spoke deeply to us. We well understood the pioneering life of Eretz Yisrael. 22 . and young voices filled the air with Hebrew or Yiddish songs of Eretz Yisrael and Jewish revival. bright and cheerful. and American history glorified the pioneer who moved West to build up the great United States. we went to the writings of Borochov and Syrkin. Much must be done for them. Why Eretz Yisrael? There are two million Jews in New York City alone. all the above elements were ever present. The rhythm. We wanted to know more and more about the ideal we so earnestly believed in. Zionist. to hold them to some kind of Judaism. In the short span of time spent at Camp Kvutza. to teach their children about their glorious heritage. To the Camp Kvutza was brought much out of the American life in which we found ourselves." 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. the tense young faces lit by the flame.
It was a theory of freedom in education and especially John Dewey's philosophy. It aimed to enrich the individual by giving him the tools whereby he could continue his investigations. William Kilpatrick. to study our ideology and to pass on our ideals to many American Jewish youths. The new education stressed respect and dignity of the individual. 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. The new methods were so well fitted to our Poale Zionist ideal. which was to give the Jew inheritance in his land. Adult education was assuming its rightful place. his personality was respected. and audacious. Twenty-five years ago their educational philosophy was a complete departure from what was then prevalent. were breaking new ground in education. These new me- 23 . my teachers. It was new. Thorndike. and E. The personality of the learner was stressed. opposed to all forms of absolutism. challenging. the chaverim wholeheartedly accepted these new methods which I so enthusiastically advocated. namely. Kilpatrick.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING To the Camp Kvutza we also brought the new educational theories just coming into being in the United States. he studied on his own level. T. How happy I was that I was privileged to study under John Dewey. These. My special contribution to Camp Kvutza was to bring to our studies the new educational philosophy of John Dewey. 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. All these methods admirably suited our need. Both in planning the program of the Camp Kvutza and in carrying it out. he was motivated. he was taught to work and think in a group. and Thorndike! I was fired by the new philosophy of education which they taught and I had learned the new techniques which they advocated.
The waves in its wake have reached the Promised Land. Udin. but never had I enjoyed a more innerly satisfying experience. Their children are growing up in Israel. they were in Cypress. but to study for the love of the subject . 1957 24 . By their example they have influenced others to come to Israel. Happy are we to have been comrades and partners in that great adventurous undertaking. This group work was in complete accord with the cooperative ideals of Labor Eretz Yisrael. For chaverim from the Camp Kvutza have settled on the soil of the land. We sought to draw out every individual to full participation. So we studied the creative discussion method.study deeply and creatively.THE BEGINNING thods taught the individual how to motivate a study not by committing to memory many facts. I had some years of organizational work behind me. Sophie A. The small ripple it caused has moved farther and farther. they fought in the War of Liberation of Israel. It was group living and learning which was deep and lasting in its influence. What a new world these fundamental methods of learning opened up for us! We sensed the democracy of these techniques. They were on so-called "illegal" boats. And the genesis was that first Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago. Camp Kvutza twenty-five years ago was a small pebble thrown into the vast ocean of American Jewish youth. The study of Eretz Yisrael problems lent themselves particularly to the new project method. Especially suited to our Camp Kvutza idea was the fact that these new educational methods stressed group work and participation in group discussion and reaching conclusions by group thinking. and they served in Sinai.
It was held in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. strenuous efforts were made to obtain a campsite of our own. the use of a beautiful spot in the Catskills was gotten. Many of us began to think in terms of making of the Labor Zionist youth movement a youth movement in fact. the insistence that inasmuch as the movement already has a children's camp. the lack of funds. and leadership of a youth movement. I saw then what such a camping experience can mean in the development of the spirit. With the help of Golda Meir. something other than a mere replica of the senior Poale Zion. it was generally felt that the real spirit of a Kvutza. enthusiastically accepted the idea. was lacking. and while all who participated gained considerably in their knowledge of Labor Zionism and techniques of leadership. Jacob Katzman. Other members of the YPZA Central Committee were like-minded. of a place that one built with one's own hands. then National Secretary of the Poale Zion. YPZA should utilize that in every way possible. we decided to make an experimental beginning in Unser Camp. who was then 25 . Sophie Udin assumed the leadership. and two.1933 Shortly before I came to America. But most of the other leading chaverim of the senior organizations were skeptical and some were even opposed. In the summer of 1932. Berl Locker. ideology. I attended a convention of a Zionist scouting organization with which I had been affiliated. Kinderwelt. therefore. The lingering memories found their expression when in America I became a member of the Central Committee of the Young Poale Zion Alliance. in which one labored and which was governed by its own members. The following winter and spring. The reasons were: one. 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.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD .
our senior chaverim started to look upon the camp as something worthwhile. and upon his insistence and that of our Central Committee. Meyer Brown and Shmuel Siegel. Among them were some of the best members of the YPZA from several communities. Margolin. and to institute self-rule and discipline. and geography of Eretz Yisrael.P. but we succeeded in instilling the proper spirit of cooperation and a form of self-government. But Katzman had to leave in the middle of the season to help prepare the forthcoming YPZA national convention. with leadership abilities. I found the campers a most heterogeneous group. I bad to conduct all the discussion groups and Shabbat programs. keep the grounds clean. who 26 . supervise all the camping activities. the tuition was only $7 a week and where could one get such a bargain even during the Depression? Under those circumstances. Little by little. has already related the story of its birth elsewhere in this -volume. To this day I don't know how it happened. whose task it was to bring some modicum of civilization to this wilderness. to mold a cohesive group.THE BEGINNING National Secretary of the YPZA and directed our first Kvutza at Accord. a Hebrew teacher. However. and a fine Jewish background. I took over for the remaining period. carry water from the well. it was very hard to improvise a program to keep the campers busy. including K. New Jersey. One of the four tents consisted of ten boys from Orange. to most of whom. First of all. camping and the Young Poale Zion were quite alien as yet. The first few weeks were the hardest. young people with organizational tradition. They came because after all. Jewish history. and a multitude of other jobs. provide wood for the stove. who immediately instituted a program of Hebrew. The first substantial help came with the arrival of Mr. we also had some newcomers who could not even pronounce the name of the organization. and assign work for the daily work crews.
it was during 27 . Her discussions on halutziut were inspiring to the campers. The camp reached its maturity when we instituted the forms of "selfgovernment. The council proved its effectiveness by seeing to it that once a task was undertaken. The age range of the first season in Accord was probab1y older than any of the subsequent seasons. brought back to the city good reports of what was going on in Accord." Representatives to a camp council were elected by all the campers.. without exception. This was taken in stride. but her report to the senior movement was of even greater importance in bringing Camp Kvutza to its attention. help police the cleanliness of the grounds and tents. Work was assigned judiciously and without favoritism. when the velocity of the wind was of hurricane proportion and the rain came down in sheets. a decision arrived at. Everyone.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING came to visit their families. under those primitive circumstances (without a heater for hot water). a program mapped out. 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. was quite a chore. had to participate in K. so it was not surprising when occasionally a tent was blown down. If ever the spirit of the camp was manifest. During that time.P. The council took its task seriously. and share in whatever manual labor was required. But one stormy late afternoon. The first Accord Kvutza was also rich in adventures. they were carried out in a responsible fashion. There was quite a large proportion of chaverim who had completed their preparatory training and were awaiting aliya certificates. There is a limit to the punishment which even a secondhand army tent can take from the elements. the camp found itself without a single tent standing and without a place for the campers to sleep. Of inestimable value in this respect were the several days which Golda Meir spent with us. which.
All the campers. the tents were put up again. and it proved that a camp of this kind lends itself to the pur- 28 . and we were all sleepy. the brook had overflowed its bank and the water covered the bridge.THE BEGINNING this emergency. our clothing was soaked. who not only saw to it that the food was adequate and wholesome. The taller and older chaverim had to carry the younger ones. wet. By the time the exodus began. he got wet. on their backs to the other side. 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. The few that remained on the camp grounds tried as best they could to sleep on the tables in the dining room. Mention should be made of the contribution to the camping experience of Rachel Siegel and Leah Brown. the cots and all the possessions of the campers were put out to dry. Many have made their mark in Eretz Yisrael as chalutzim and leaders in the Labor Movement. were transferred to a nearby hotel. with the exception of a few. and cold to the marrow. and no matter which way one turned. The advice of the good people around to break up camp was not heeded. this experience became a highlight of that camping season. the roof leaked. In retrospect. lent dignity to the camp and helped to establish the reliability of Camp Kvutza in the minds of our senior haverim. but by their presence. As soon as the sun came out. One vividly recalls the morning after-the sky was overcast. especially the haverot. The first season of Accord was the proving ground for the concept of a camp run by youth for youth. But this did not diminish the spirit of those who remained behind. We emerged from the dining room and began a snake dance to the tune of Chopin's Funeral March. It pointed the way toward self-discipline and self-government. our cooks. However. One would like to characterize some of the campers but that would take too much space and would be unfair to those not mentioned.
held immediately after the close of the season on the Labor Day weekend. history.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING suit of serious study of the ideology. and problems of the organization. It was most gratifying when months after the close of the first season. participants got together to evaluate their achievements and to speak of their experience with a yearning and nostalgia of summer months well spent. to introduce tzofiut. The basic idea of the camp was that no member of the staff was paid or received any other special consideration outside of the authority deserved for good leadership. Most of the campers attended the Young Poale Zion convention in Philadelphia. and to lay the groundwork for what later became Habonim. 1957 29 . while giving the campers a practical demonstration of communal living. Jacob Lemberger. It was mainly due to their stand and influence that this convention decided upon the reorganization of the Young Poale Zion.
Growth of an Idea .
One can master the art of living together only by living together. though expressed in different forms.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. deeper roots must be sought. that true self-esteem and es- 32 . and no number of meetings in the city can accomplish this. therein is contained the keen desire to realize personally. but from a heartfelt recognition of the value of one's haverim." Both the question and the intense anxiety for a positive answer represent. study. They cannot put what should be into being. play. one's entire personality must be overhauled. That true comradeship. yet one is surprised to what a great extent the essence of Kvutza life is retained. For what are the great values introduced by and embodied in our Kvutzot in Eretz Yisrael? The mutual relationships between haverim. a triumph for our idea. The differences between a Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael and our summer Kvutzot are quite evident. in as great a measure as possible. which makes him place all his ability at the disposal of the group without measuring how much he receives in return. communal labor. the responsibility which the individual feels to the group. the true equality which arises not from an abstract philosophical belief that all men are equal. those ideals which motivate our movement. as if final judgment would be pronounced by the words "yes" or "no. attitudes and states of mind are not created by speeches and lectures and discussions. from the educational viewpoint. and joy. This attitude toward one's fellow men is the essential ethical motif in our educational program and represents the only true socialist mentality. Deeper emotions must be stirred. These instrumentalities are limited in scope. They can indoctrinate a theoretical acknowledgment of what should be. However. All these are expressed through communal living. worry.
In the Kvutza. self-reliance. to enrich his personality. Ben Zion Ilan. develop socialized attitudes and patterns of behavior. to provide 33 . and the consideration for the welfare of others which years of preaching could never develop.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING teem of others. does not arise from common outlooks on the paths to be taken. guarding the health of others-enjoying starry evenings of collective singing and group dancing the sum of all these moments which make up Camp Kvutza life is that self-discipline. The camp setting provides the opportunity to help the camper increase his range of interests. and then all return to their respective different places. 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 lives with another. knowledge and skills. which aims at creating an individual who will not only have definite ideals but also realize them. 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. cannot be complete without the Kvutza. in addition. What are meetings? They signify that all present have come from different directions. but from following those paths in common. and in general. one does not meet with another. The objective is not only to provide a change of physical environment and healthful recreation. Thus our education. meet temporarily.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA Jewish educational experiences. and at the same time. Modeled after the Eretz Yisrael collective settlements. which caters to young people of the age level of 14 to 21. known as Camp Kvutza. 34 . To prepare young Jews for" participation in the upbuilding of a new social order throughout the world. To train young Jews to become halutzim. conceiving their work as an extension of the program of Jewish group work agencies in the city. These camps. to create a cooperative Jewish Commonwealth. Habonim. in Eretz Yisrael and. and actively to support the rebuilding of the Jewish National Home. To strengthen the bonds between American Jewry and Eretz Yisrael. the camps are the extension as well as the annual climax of the Habonim program. These aims were formulated at the 1940 convention of Habonim as follows: As an educational youth movement aiming to develop within its ranks haverim who shall in their own lives realize its aims. as members of the Histadrut Haovdim (General Federation of Jewish Labor of Eretz Yisrael). to provide satisfying and creative Jewish experiences. 2. Habonim has the following purposes: 1. is essential to know something about the aims of Habonim. This paper describes a type of Jewish camping program which attempts to apply this philosophy and technique of educational camping. Educational Objectives of Habonim In order to properly understand the motivation and character of 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. 3.
history. 35 . 5. "who shall in their own lives realize its aims. 6. Differences exist which are based on local circumstances. The vegetable garden is a bigger undertaking in California than in Winnipeg for obvious climatic reasons. for instance. The camp director enjoys no privileges not available to the youngest camper. for the study of Jewish life. To educate young Jews toward the revitalization of traditional Jewish values. it is deemed inadvisable to put too much effort into construction projects. physical environment. In one camp there may be more free choice of activity than in another. reflects the Yiddish school influences under which the campers live during the year. At Camp Kvutza. the camps conform within the limits indicated to certain principles and patterns. Thus. Each camp has developed in time a distinctive character. test their validity. and culture." This is a central concept in the educational program of the movement. To prepare young Jews for the defense of Jewish rights everywhere. and personnel. where a camp is located on rented property. To prepare young Jews for active participation in American Jewish community life. in a sense. Equality of all persons in the camp is a cardinal principle. Habonim members live according to the principles they have been studying and.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING 4. Experimentation in methods and program materials varies with the personal predilections of the camp leaders. Nevertheless. it does not follow that they are identical in character. Principles of Camp Program Although all the camps are the expression of a similar social and educational outlook. The reader must not overlook the importance of the words. toward a feeling of identification with the Jewish rights everywhere. The Montreal camp.
on rare occasions. recruiting campers. dramatics. considerable preparations have to be made. and in other ways. The functions of the staff members and leaders are to direct the educational activities -the discussion and study groups. scoutcraft. a cook has to be engaged. Self-government is a third basic principle. Staff and Organization Before any Camp Kvutza opens for the summer. reading circles. and elect various committees which are responsible for specific phases of camp life. Exceptions are made when it is not possible to secure the services of a competent physician or nurse or when. Representatives of Habonim and the adult Labor Zionist organizations constitute the committees. In keeping with the practice of the collectives and cooperatives in Eretz Yisrael. arts and crafts. and daily routine. A camp committee is established by the local organization. and sports. nature study. The staff and leaders are all members of the organization who contribute their services and regard themselves as members of the camp community. the singing. such committees are established in each community and contacts are made by correspondence and personal visits by their members.GROWTH OF AN IDEA Neither is he exempt from any of the chores which are a part of the maintenance of the camp. purchasing food staples. particularly at the establishment of a new site. Where several cities in a region cooperate in conducting a camp. Workmen are also hired when. The executive committee meets often with the director and staff members to act upon various problems. The committees assist in raising funds. it is impractical to rely entirely on the campers to build the necessary structures. Disciplinary cases which are not easily adjusted may be brought to the attention of the designated committee. programs. The local Habonim take the initiative in all this 36 . The regular camp meetings discuss administrative problems. an effort is made to have no hired labor in camp.
Campers may register for varying periods. They determine the fees to be charged and establish the differential in tuition as between members and nonmembers of the organization. both in the cities and in the camps. then. clear the grounds. set up the tents. This is a group of members who generally remain as staff members and leaders. as one of the major activities of camp is to carry forward the program of improving facilities. the advance crew spends the evenings outlining plans for the summer. These leaders are themselves active members of groups of their own age at the same time that they are leading the younger children.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING work and carry the burden of responsibility. No attempt is made to do a complete job of renovation. an advance crew arrives at camp to prepare for the opening of the season. both communal and private. 37 . boys and girls taking responsibility for the leadership of groups of younger children. and get the camp generally ready. to find. It is very general. repair the plumbing. its responsibilities and functions are discussed. Prior to the arrival of the first group of campers. and beautifying the grounds. the minimum being two weeks. the director or an experienced camper outlines the purposes of Camp Kvutza and indicates some of the specific objectives for the summer. At a meeting of the entire camp. They open the buildings. The executive committee is elected. it is necessary to bear in mind that we are considering here individuals generally much younger than their "opposite numbers" in other camps. and the various functional committees are named. enlarging the camp. and preparing for the discussions and activities they will conduct. With the arrival of the campers. putting up new structures. In speaking of staff and leaders. In addition. outlining projects. the full program is initiated. The year-round program of the Habonim organization provides for the continual preparation of members for or leaders of groups of younger children.
and tents is likewise the responsibility of the campers. The maintenance of the grounds. designated daily by the committee in charge of assigning individuals to various tasks. buildings.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. In the kitchen work. This phase of the program has been one of the most fruitful sources of creative expression. with the local circumstances. No one at camp is exempt from taking his or her turn at this work." Using hired workmen only where the tasks made this unavoidable. ground cleared and ploughed. who is usually a member of an adult Labor Zionist group. built shelves and drawers for kitchen equipment. This has been particularly true where the camp was established on a new site and had to be built "out of nothing. In the process they learn menu planning. The campers help prepare meals. the group finished waterproofing the roof of the dining room and kitchen. as has been suggested. The following year they added a shower house. some elements of nutrition. the cook. wait on tables. sheds to cover the pump and washing machine (the 38 . new tent platforms. Building projects are planned and executed sometimes within one season. trees have been cut down. and buildings erected. In a four-week period one summer at Kinneret in Michigan. is assisted by campers. The nature of these projects varies. and in some cases. put up screens and shutters on the doors and windows of the dining room. 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. over a period of years. dug a tile tunnel for the water pump. and problems involved in maintaining the camp within budgetary limits. The girls painted the dining room and screens. and clean up after meals. Work projects are a consistent feature of every Camp Kvutza.
and the beginnings of a small building intended for use by activity groups in bad weather. infirmary. Moreover. I have watched the camp at Killingworth. In some of the camps. In recent years. it serves to inculcate in the campers a positive attitude toward work and collective self-sufficiency. interest in gardening was heightened by associating this activity with the need for maximum food in this country. shower house. shower house. All this was done in addition to clearing two large wooded areas to accommodate the tents. It is an end in itself inasmuch as it fills immediate needs and serves to beautify the camp. It is a real-life demonstration of the values inherent in socially useful labor. new garbage pits. an outdoor amphitheater dug out of a low hill and furnished with a stage platform. the practice has developed to sell produce to visitors. The greatest adventure was that of "bringing light to Kinneret. acquire an enlarged dining room. The complete electrification job was done and celebrated late in the summer when the lights were turned on in the dining room." Five trees were cut down. The campers acquire considerable information and numerous skills. the income being contributed to the Jewish National Fund. the produce from the garden is used in the kitchen. The advance crew usually prepares the soil and plants a variety of vegetables which mature during July and August. and the beginning of a storage bin. Connecticut. During the weeks of camp. 39 . efforts have been made to introduce gardening with varying success. This emphasis on work has several motivations. During the 1942 season. and recreation hall with impressive ceremonies.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING campers conducted a cooperative laundry). painted and erected so that electric cables could be drawn from the nearest sources of power. log bridge and dam over a stream which fed the swimming pool. trimmed. Girls have taken to this activity particularly.
Groups have discussed and read about Jewish historical subjects. Observance of Shabbat Much attention has been focused upon the observance of Shabbat. to the effect of rainfall on the economy of Eretz Yisrael. but an atmosphere of purposeful learning permeates the camp at all times. with projects involving related activities being used to a fair degree. The subjects keep changing as events suggest the timeliness of various problems. problems of Jewish adjustment. to the causes of war and the prospects for permanent peace. long and personalized discussions as to the implications of the war took place in all camps." phases and problems of life in Eretz Yisrael. Definite periods are set aside for this in the daily schedule. anti-Semitism. The topics range from the aims and organizational forms of Habonim. from vocational problems of American Jewish youth. personalities from Jewish and Socialist history. particularly among the younger age groups. derived from the basic aims of Habonim. the Bible and modern Jewish literature. Jewish community organization. covers a wide range of topics of Jewish and general interest. Jewish migrations and refugees. and special occasions. The subject matter. "famous unknowns. and staff members serve frequently as points of departure for discussions. Reading of relevant materials goes on simultaneously. Talks by visitors from nearby communities. Group discussion is the dominant method. Here the emphasis is on creating new forms 40 . holidays. representatives of the Eretz Yisrael Labor Movement.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. and elements of Socialism. when war was imminent in Europe.
reading circles. The day is characterized by more leisure. discussions of current events. The Friday evening at Camp Kvutza is the highlight of the week. with or without choral group to provide direction. and which will be emotionally and aesthetically satisfying. the evening closes with folk dancing in the open or in the cleared dining room. The ceremonies may begin at flag-lowering. Specific themes may be used as the foci of the program. all work projects are in abeyance. and a special menu is prepared. give to the observance a spontaneity which is so often lacking where the traditional orthodox customs are practiced. On Saturday. the dining room is furnished with fresh flowers and ferns. These ceremonials. There may be also a story or brief talk on a subject related to Shabbat. The use of the traditional Kiddush has spread in recent years.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING of observance which will give meaning and significance to the holidays. Camp is cleaned up." Groups have prepared special readings from the Bible and the Prophets. Invariably. At the same time. and continue in the dining room before and after the meal. and when this is done the first hint may well appear in the blessing of the candles. 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. tables are covered with white table cloths. After the meal the singing normally continues. being original. symptomatic of the swing back from an earlier rejection in radical Jewish circles of all that smacks of the old and "outworn. sports and swimming for longer periods than usual. and from their extensive repertoire of Hebrew and Yiddish songs. Considerable success has been achieved in this area. Some experiments have been made with developing new forms for Saturday morning and with the Havdala 41 . they have drawn those which lit particularly the spirit of Shabbat. Preparations for Shabbat go on all day. laundry is done.
The Common Fund One of the most radical features of Camp Kvutza is the elimination of "private capital. it is interesting to note that some camps have observed the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sacco and Vanzetti. The Saturday night campfire. the camps have always emphasized the concept of keeping all campers and staff on an equal basis with respect to money." Reflecting their interest in the general struggle for human freedom and civil rights. and Hayim Nahman Bialik. Other Celebrations The anniversaries of Theodor Herzl. which occur during the summer. The educational value of the discussions is obvious. the founder of political Zionism. and the money normally spent on the meal is contributed to the Jewish National Fund. the Hebrew poet. it was decided that "only the solelim (the youngest children) were to have some fruit juice. breakfast is foregone on Tisha B'Av. individual rights.GROWTH OF AN IDEA services at sunset." In keeping with the principle of collective living. This has not been achieved without some difficulty. each camp takes up anew the question as to how to operate the common fund. are observed regularly with special programs. This was on Monday. In all the camps. Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av-date of the destruction of the Temple). has become a traditional event. They refused to drink their juice. On Tuesday the solelim rebelled. The effect of such practices is illustrated in the incident reported from Los Angeles where. involving as they do questions of equality. too. and here the tendency to create new ways of observing old holy days finds expression. where the diary of the week is reviewed. is observed. and every year. after the campers had debated the question of having breakfast or not. group re- 42 .
the common fund is not instituted without prior discussion and acceptance. and the like. (A goodly number of former campers are now living in collective settlements in Eretz Yisrael. are virtually non-existent. stationary. Where a request is considered to be out of line with the budget or unjustifiable for any other reason. it has been accepted and has worked out very satisfactorily.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING sponsibility for the individual. tooth brushes. How well it has been accepted by the campers is illustrated in the anecdote about the boy who. All requests for supplies such as stamps. 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. and combs are placed with the committee which fills the orders as the finances permit. means of curbing excessive demands. As indicated. are being trained in agriculture or trades for settlement there. the committee advises the camper accordingly. how will we be able to get stamps and batteries?" After ten years Camp Kvutza has remained true to its original principles. Where it includes the agreement to share among the entire camp all foods and candy sent to individual campers. the troublesome problems associated with these gifts. 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. No accounts are kept of what campers give or get. in a discussion as to whether or not there should be a common fund. particularly with non-members of Habonim or with new campers. On the whole. problems familiar to all camp directors. as members of the American Hehalutz. or. however. Experience has varied. at the same time enabling him to defend his request if he wishes to do so. Occasionally. difficulties arise.) 43 . frequently over the objections of a minority. 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. asked: "If we don't have one.
1943 44 . rather than a single -unrelated event in the life of a boy or a girl. so that the pioneering spirit may not be lost.GROWTH OF AN IDEA The camps remain physically primitive and unadorned. Abraham Cohen. Through such experience the campers learn how satisfying and enriching a cooperative society can be. Concurrently they acquire information and emotional attitudes toward their Jewish heritage and contemporary Jewish life which help to make of them healthy mid creative Jewish personalities. Camp Kvutza is the climax of an organic educational experience. small tent villages with a few "communal" structures. forming a part of a continuous year-round program of a youth movement. 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.
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.
And 49 . he is a young Jew who understands what is happening to his people in an alien world and. But it is because we believe in the value and the necessity for national living that we are Zionists. for all individuals. takes part in the renaissance of his people. We familiarize our haverim with our historical past. we interpret our present struggle. 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. we try to erase the narrow concept of "me and mine. we would implant a concern for mankind.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING THE MEANING OF KVUTZA Camp Kvutza is our way of making the ideas we have developed and the ideals in which we believe real for ourselves and for the haverim whom we lead. and who creates within himself a force that drives him on to self-realization. In the place of this narrow view of life. we are not dreamers after Utopia. and we point the way to return to nationhood as our only means of survival and our way of participating in the further development of our people and of society. We believe in the right of an entire people to be free as a group. for our people. When we speak of new society and new values. In the new society that we seek to create. Were we to believe only in man's right to be a free individual. In other words." that concept which makes man struggle to fill his pockets so that he and his small family may enjoy the fruits of the world. His participation in this renaissance becomes the foremost factor in his life as an individual. We believe that there must evolve a new society of cooperation where mankind will develop new values. We believe in the right of man to be free as an individual. because of the sensitivity within himself. In specific terms. but followers after the pattern of life being created now in Eretz Yisrael. we would choose other avenues than Zionism on which to live.
social. 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. development of creative interests such as. While still in the city. If he is a responsible boneh. dramatics. he should become a part of Kvutza. he should have a part in the actual planning of construction. That is our best way of developing the new individual. Once at Kvutza. prepare himself to go to Kvutza. cultural.GROWTH OF AN IDEA this concern would be demonstrated in our economic. We seek to take the word equality off the lips of our haverim. Even before he sees the site. help to raise funds. This equality and this concern for mankind will become real only when man is judged by his selfless contribution to society. but living is by far the greater teacher. Equality must be expressed in every phase of life economic. religious. Everyone must become interested in the management of Kvutza: the government. music. appearance and cleanliness of the settlement. Individual Development at Kvutza Haverim who come to Kvutza must create the Kvutza. photography. art. he should bear witness to all the excitement of preparation. study. management of the kitchen. and sports. crafts. food and equipment purchasing. Unless the individu- 50 . everyone must be made to have an interest in every phase of the day's activity: work. and put it in their hearts and in their way of living. and social selves. In Camp Kvutza we live our ideals. If he is too young for this. In order to translate these ideas into human living. scouting. discipline and attitudes of the little community. Discussion is an important part of education. otherwise there is no equality. we must educate an entire generation of Jewish youth along new lines of thinking and acting. political. and only when he is a laborer for the improvement of that society. and educational programs.
He will create the atmosphere and the spirit. If possible. For no one in Kvutza is on a vacation. To deal with the problems of life in a group through the creation of a society based on equality and cooperation. 3. he must be prepared with the proper attitude. through special programs and in daily living. the individual" and to be so challenged as to take upon himself the task of realizing that future. Now there are no "company manners" between them. To know that the future of our people depends on "me. To understand the significance of being pioneers in a new form of living. To learn to live with a large group of individuals. the life-struggle of our people today. songs. 5. If his role is important in the city. 2. To experience. For in the city. Now there is only day-by-day living. the madrich sees his haverim only once or twice a week. The madrich must come to Kvutza prepared for his duties. games. he should be ready with his discussion material. The Madrich of Kvutza Upon the madrich rests the Kvutza. it is absolutely vital in the Kvutza. Our aims for the haver who participates in Kvutza may be summed up as follows: 1. and rainy-day activities. At the very least.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING al is part of the day's activity. but at Kvutza he is with them during all their waking and sleeping hours. he will develop-or fail to develop-all the individuals who come to Kvutza. we will fail in our attempt to develop him into the person we want. through discussion and dramatics. 4. it is our training ground for the tomorrow 51 .
The madrich must be wide awake. "firm" in stating our point of view? The rosh of every Kvutza. wins their confidences. Second. The madrich directs the training. lie. He helps them adjust to their surroundings. He must foresee problems before his youngsters create them so that he can divert energies to other channels. promotes friendly relations among them. keep themselves and their sleeping quarters clean. with notebook in hand. We do not bring together a group of youngsters. Third. 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. The luxury of experiments in edu- 52 . He sees that they sleep enough. Exactly what is his responsibility? First. must know how to put across his way of thinking and the desired way of acting. must understand that Kvutza is not merely an educational experiment. Freedom with a Pattern Herein lies a real problem for all madrichim.GROWTH OF AN IDEA of our people. turn them loose. he is responsible for the physical well-being of his haverim. He faces a serious task. together with the madrichim. He must be a good pal and know how to have f un with them. He explains Kvutza and people to them. and then. 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. he discovers their hidden talents and interests. he draws them into every activity. at times. he is responsible for their psychological well-being. eat enough. At the same time. be is responsible for their development as individuals. write up our scientific observations.
they are likewise entrusted with a great responsibility to the Labor Zionist movement. The program should be full so that haverim know that one activity follows another regularly. The rosh and madrichim must keep them in mind always. clean buildings that are nicely decorated. A day filled with activity. Haverim must live on schedule. 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. Staying awake until all hours of the night is ruinous to health and humor-it is not freedom." Camp Kvutza is our instrument for inspiring and remaking individual young Jewish lives. We are trying to "turn men into a nation and sand into a country. in work. is not freedom but a weakening of Kvutza spirit. in any group activity. No amount of "freedom" is real or desirable if it destroys our Kvutza spirit or discolors our Kvutza design. Rising. neat haverim. An Orderly Society Kvutza must be an orderly society. each thing in its place. The appearance of Kvutza must be orderly-clean grounds. but more is needed to make this orderliness complete. the day's program-all must add up to steady living. other institutions may be created to assist in the order of the Kvutza or in 53 . meals. Let them not be frightened by terms or by name-calling. The rosh and madrichim are entrusted with young lives and young minds. We need this for the education as well as for the spirit of the Kvutza. Failure to participate in discussions. That symbol and its realization are the prime forces behind Kvutza.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING cation for their own sake we must leave for people more fortunate than we. There should be clean-up committees of campers. Our only sin can be the failure to make Kvutza what it must be: a pattern of life for our haverim. goes far toward creating the orderly society. Kvutza must be a symbol to us-a symbol that we will eventually make real.
lack of discipline. Summer Kvutza can do much. rosh and madrichim should have discussions oil the weaknesses and strengths of the machaneh and its needs." They are actually the "backbone" of the machaneh." since each case and the individuals concerned must be considered. No general rule may be given for "order" or "discipline. Our machaneh has a good group of Kvutza "veterans. Kvutza should develop the machaneh. as well as a goal toward which they will work. Our machaneh has expanded rapidly so that only about half of our haverim have been to Kvutza and have an understanding of the movement. From these discussions. Therefore.GROWTH OF AN IDEA the handling of haverim who refuse to be a part of the general orderliness. poor participation. 2. not only for the development of our haverim individually. the machaneh in which I am now living has chosen its Kvutza committee. For example. all these problems should be settled between the madrich and the individual concerned through talks. with this committee I have had one discussion from which we concluded: 1. Insofar as possible. our first aim for Kvutza is to integrate these new haverim into the movement. 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. but beyond that and greater than that. should come the specific aims of that Kvutza for the season. Our second aim of Kvutza is to 54 . Before going out to Kvutza. Poor enrollment of movement members. it cannot be stressed too much: Prepare your members for Kvutza. the fewer problems will arise. Therefore. a broken common fund-these reflect the city activities. lack of understanding of Kvutza. The better the madrich.
1935 COMING OF AGE The thirteenth consecutive year of Habonim summer camping has rolled around. Therefore." What have we accomplished in these thirteen summers? What institutions can we point to? What have we established. complete leadership within the Kvutza and within the machaneh. so immersed in the every-day workings. worries. Miriam Biderman. and talkative "Bar Mitzva dinner. by a small group of stubborn young people who were dissatisfied with Jewish summer camping as 55 . that Bar Mitzva is upon us. thoughtful. and business of the camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING prepare these sixteen-year-old “veterans" to assume. like last. at that age. our movement faces a serious lack of leadership for our summer Kvutzot. contributed? The first Habonim Camp Kvutza was started thirteen years ago. an institution such as camp is considered old and established. wherever necessary. we become more certain that we will face still greater responsibilities in the movement here and abroad. It was only when I sat down and began to count that I suddenly realized. and must prepare as much as possible for the season. 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. our haverim must feel that in Kvutza they are undergoing training for their role tomorrow. that we have hardly had time to notice the years creeping up on us. created. For although thirteen years is a relatively short period of time in the life of an individual. even before the official beginning of Habonim as an organization. We have been so occupied in actually preparing for Kvutza. to my amazement. This year. must think a great deal about Kvutza as an educational institution and as a symbol. entitled to a sedate.
change them for the better. as it did last. They decided that they. and preparing to operate nine next summer.GROWTH OF AN IDEA they knew it. Jewish problems. They had the impudence to believe that they could operate a camp which could change these things. gave too little room for the expression of the creative abilities of campers. we now have an average of 1.400 or more each summer. most alert. Today Camp Kvutza is integrally bound up with the life blood of Habonim as a movement. It is almost a truism that those cities which have a good Camp Kvutza in the vicinity have the strongest. dreams incapable of realizationtoday they are part and parcel. thirteen years later. in a highly developed form. It is undoubtedly the strongest educational instrument which we have succeeded in developing. the campers. Whereas thirteen years ago there was a group of some ten to fifteen campers. most Jewish-conscious and responsible Habonim groups." Today. Habonim is operating eight summer camps throughout the United States and Canada. They were determined that the spirit of modern Eretz Yisrael should permeate the camp. and are constantly expanding our facilities. They felt that the camp should be run democratically with each camper having a choice in decisions affecting programs and work. we now own all but one of our camps. Jewish history. and paid too little attention to intelligent discussion and teaching of Jewish attitudes and heritage. They felt it was too occupied with trivialities. They decided to devote some time each day to discussion of Jewish current affairs. Whereas thirteen years ago all the principles listed above were dreams-according to some. They called the camp "Kvutza. of our camping system. Whereas thirteen years ago the first campers "squatted" on a piece of land loaned to them. should work several hours a day in and about the camp. We have found no better way to develop youth toward an intelligent understanding of Zionism 56 .
be concerned simply with supplying a staff for our camps. We cannot. Ways must be found to draw them actively into the cause which circumstance dictates they must fight for though they be unprepared. 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. we are reticent about pointing to our accomplishments. The fifteen. conditions the type of camp we have. Thus we have been hit more than ordinary camps by the current war situation. and with roots in Habonim. like others. The nature of our purpose makes for an extremely high rate of change and adaption to circumstance.and nineteen-year-old haverim who would normally assume positions of leadership are to a large extent unavailable. with a certain type of background. Perhaps it is because younger people all over are becoming accustomed to a greater degree of responsibility. Programs have to be adjusted to their level of preparation. to become vitally concerned with our problems. Whatever the reasons. our 57 . There are several reasons for this. By their very nature our camps become institutionalized according to a given pattern. that we want him to assume responsibility. Our staff must consist of a certain type of individual. The inner strength of our camps is showing itself in the way this crisis is being met. perhaps it is because to an increasing extent they are concerning themselves with problems which have hitherto been considered the domain of their elders.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING than the twenty-four-hour-a-day. and it is increasingly difficult for even them to devote themselves to camp. The eighteen. New systems for activity have to be worked out.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. two-month living course presented by Camp Kvutza.
But there is another angle from which the whole picture can be viewed. new ideas are being contributed. there exists no Kvutza because the movement there has failed to become enthusiastic enough about it to undertake the establishment of one. So far. Three new permanent sites have been acquired. we have not succeeded in completely solving them. In others. We have always felt that an important element in shaping the character and initiative of the campers would be lost were 58 . 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. other ticklish problems arise. On the other band. The extent to which Habonim should actually run the camp. plans for new camps are under serious consideration. the Labor Zionist movement as a whole has failed to recognize its value and gives it no more than perfunctory backing. camps are being expanded. In others. In some cities Kvutza is the summer camp of our entire movement. We have encountered many problems along these lines and to this day. so good. All that I have mentioned can definitely be considered on the credit side of the Camp Kvutza ledger. Given the conviction that Camp Kvutza is a good instrument for the advancement of our approach to Jewish life.GROWTH OF AN IDEA younger haverim have reacted in a way which leaves no doubt as to the future of Habonim camping. We have continued to develop during the last two difficult summers. in those places where the senior movement has become interested. the advisability of younger people being entrusted with financial and physical responsibility for what in some cases is a big business. receiving enthusiastic backing of all its segments.
1944 59 . Murray Weingarten. That non-members should attend Kvutza. am convinced that Camp Kvutza is the most powerful instrument Habonim has created for the attraction of young American Jews to its cause.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING these and other responsibilities removed from us and given to our senior haverim. is naturally desirable. for one. 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. All these questions must eventually be resolved. lies the road to the establishment of a really alert Labor Zionist youth. and its preservation and strengthening is perhaps the greatest contribution Habonim can make to the cause of Labor Zionist youth in this country. The extent to which the traditional element in Kvutza should be stressed is something which has caused much discussion. It is more powerful than city propaganda. I. 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. In general. But it is the general feeling that their number should be limited to a certain percentage of the campers in order to preserve the Habonim character. more powerful than Hebrew schools. thus acquiring contact with our ideas and principles.
for example. the haver becomes a full-fledged member of a community with duties. B. We discuss the desires. Cooperative Living .In Kvutza. Self-Government . program. and interests of the campers in regard to the Kvutza program. needs. 60 . and at the same time. This is in keeping with our cooperative ideal: from each according to his ability. perhaps for the first time. in turn. We have a meeting of the entire camp community to discuss its philosophy. This is in keeping with our belief in the dignity of labor and with the ideal and policy of the Histadrut . suggestions. and where necessary and possible. sanitation. cleaning. The food is distributed equally. our common fund of money and food from home. 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. and ways of meeting these needs. responsibilities. We have. No individual accounts are kept. The maintenance work is done by the camper: kitchen duty.that a man must not be exploited and that he. and privileges that carry consequences affecting him directly. even construction of buildings. Social Justice A. Self-Labor .GROWTH OF AN IDEA PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHY I.In Kvutza.Here. there is never hired labor except where necessary-the cook and the nurse). C. Each person receives what he needs from the common fund. to each individual. exploit no one. And we elect our committees and our officers. to each according to his need. Each person at Kvutza puts in as much money as he can and whatever food he may bring or receive from home.
dancing. reading circles. We strive to develop a historical sense and an identification with the past and present struggle of the Jewish people. that intangible Jewish spirit-the folkways of our people. 61 .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING II. and a positive. We want to develop in Kvutza. Into this spirit goes the appreciation of the culture and tradition. as in our machanot. Zionism It is our purpose in Kvutza. We desire to aid each individual to become self-sufficient. and in our haverim through Kvutza. We want to develop or intensify an appreciation of the Jewish tradition and a desire for participation in and perpetuation of this culture. III. to have a healthy self-respect. to be able to make decisions. we must regard it as if we. comfortable feeling of being Jewish. and use privileges well. personally. Judaism A. Camp Kvutza and the Movement I. We approach this through our Shabbat and holiday celebrations. singing. to give the haver an intellectual understanding of Zionism and an emotional feeling of healthy nationalism. are experiencing these things. though it is hardest to define in -words. in our lives. is perhaps the most important part of Kvutza life. This. Hebrew study. We want to make him realize his own worth. We want to develop in our people a feeling of belonging to all that ever was and is Jewish. The Haggada says that as we read at the Seder Pesach of the Exodus from Egypt. the identification with the people and its struggle. C. B. carry responsibility. The Individual A. We want to develop the desire to participate personally in the upbuilding of Eretz Yisrael.
Through self-study. All of the foregoing is important to the machaneh. He develops loyalties. The Machaneh A. and to be able to influence without becoming domineering. courage. and standards. KM. Meetings." An individual gains significance. a haver is more willing and able to be active in the movement during the course of the organizational year. "In unity there is strength. III. C. Kvutza is a stimulant to movement work -When haverim come from Kvutza. one has a real opportunity to increase his knowledge. his personality develops and a socializing takes place. discussion groups. they are more willing to devote time and energy to the movement. Every person needs a sense of belonging. Habonim becomes the social group. For many of our people. There are satisfactions which an individual cannot obtain alone. We strive to develop within him a community mindedness: the ability to live within a group. reading circles. become an integral and pleasant part of their lives because it is so for their friends also. Through the achievement of all the above.GROWTH OF AN IDEA B. to conform without losing his individuality. and hav- 62 . This is especially important for us because it makes for strong ties among members of Habonim and for cohesive groups. and stimulation in a group. The Group A. discussions with other haverim and with madrichim. In the course of such participation. II. stimulating. general and Jewish. D. having had a full. We expect the haver to develop intellectually during the course of the summer. and the hanhaga. 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. group attitudes. The individual and the group are closely interrelated. and enjoyable summer. When people have a place in the social setup of the movement.
to make a quick decision where necessary-in other words. is a vital part of the community. "The whole is greater than its parts. The rosh. This gives them a greater responsibility to the group. Leadership qualities are developed . C. He is responsible for Kvutza as a whole and for each of its facets. madrichim. Their function is within the group and not above and outside of it. educate and induct new members. many return from Kvutza in a position to influence and lead others. B. 63 . The campers. It is his responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of the Kvutza and its people. The Movement A. They have been assigned their roles by virtue of their wider experience and greater insight and understanding. cooperative community. The movement is strengthened by the activities and stimulation of Camp Kvutza. He can influence the entire atmosphere of a Camp Kvutza. C.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ing formed strong group ties. like the madrichim. Kvutza offers an excellent opportunity to attract. It is not a vacation from our "real" lives. committee work.Through opportunities for leadership. Kvutza is a democratic. and rosh are integral parts of this group. We come together and have an opportunity to live a portion of our lives as we believe and desire. they are usually anxious to get started on machaneh activities and have a lot to offer intellectually and spiritually. to feel and understand the tempo of the camp." Kvutza Is a Living Community I. or simply through the group experience. Kvutza Is a Living Community A. IV. The madrichim are perhaps the equivalent to elected officers in a democratic society. B.
The First Day I. The madrichim in a Kvutza are not counselors in the usual sense. The rosh. has veto power over decisions of madrichim and campers in matters of health and safety. The rosh and madrichim must work closely together in order to achieve the best possible results for the group. The Meeting . in relation to all others madrichim and campers alike-that he influences people. though it is natural that the rosh and the youngest tzofeh are not 64 . There we will determine the policy and principles of Kvutza.” We want the haverim to understand that. because of his particular position. He stimulates the group and. in turn. 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. The madrich that works with a group must be part of that group. They are not technicians functioning in the limited sphere of their specialties. There is a definite carry-over of attitudes. and in a creative manner. It is also one of the biggest factors in the tone and atmosphere of the camps. Future relationships between madrichim and campers can stem from impressions received on the first day. Relationships in Camp Kvutza A. The relationship between rosh and madrichim is important in forming attitudes and understanding in madrich-camper relations. This is the first community expression of the campers. however.GROWTH OF AN IDEA II. socially.The first meeting is the most important one of the season. the group stimulates him. B. A. If we are successful. There we put into practice our theory that Kvutza is a "living community. we enrich our lives through this relationship. The first day of camp sets the tone for the entire period. He also has the job of making decisions necessary for the best functioning of the Kvutza. intellectually. It is in all of the madrich's behavior as a social being.
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equal in influence, they are equal in right of expression. The madrichim also are an integral part of this community meeting, with full voting rights and complete freedom of expression. Let us clarify the question of jurisdiction which will arise in some form. The madrichim will deal with our general educational policy and health and safety measures. The madrichim must have an appreciation and an understanding of all other camp problems. The primary function of the general meeting, on the other hand, is to discuss the group life-the community life such as common fund, work committee, evening programs, and daily schedule. It is clear, however, that an explanation of the guiding principles of our health and safety measures is necessary, that a discussion on the educational aspects of camp can be a positive thing. If the thoughts of the campers on this aspect of camp life are feasible, then they certainly are acceptable. B. Common Fund - Our purpose in advocating the common fund is to teach the first fundamental principle of a Labor Zionist life. It is not advisable, however, to impose such a decision on Kvutza. Our job must be to educate in such a fashion that the haverim will decide themselves that it is practical and necessary. Our approach should be: How do you want to handle spending money and food packages? We can get across the point that beside the educational value, it is practical, pleasurable (isn't it more fun to do things together as friends?), and is wanted. Educational Tools I. We have, in our movement and in Kvutza, established certain definite and characteristic methods of "getting things across.” We utilize the discussion, the reading circle, creative group activities, and Shabbat and holiday programs. These are our educational tools.
GROWTH OF AN IDEA
A. The Discussion-The discussion has traditionally been our way of disseminating information. We have considered it our chief "tool." We realize that informational lectures seldom move a young person or change his attitudes or ideas. Our discussions have often been reduced to information-giving periods, and only by carefully planning and preparing them, can we avoid making lectures of the discussions. Methods that are interesting, provocative, and attractive must be utilized. B. The Reading Circle-The reading circle is a pliable "tool.” It can be used in connection with the discussions, as well as independent of them (Zionist classics, for instance). It can also be a device for transmitting certain attitudes and feelings. As an example of this last, reading stories and poetry from Hebrew and Yiddish literature in the original or translation may help in developing an understanding of and feeling for the literature and folkways of our people. In Camp Kvutza, where there are a number of Hebrew-speaking haverim, there is certainly an opportunity for a reading in circle. Personal Preparation I. This coming summer, madrichim in our Kvutzot, on the average, will be younger than ever before. In many cases, this means that the madrich will be lacking in experience and background. We must be prepared to conduct more extensive and intensive training in the city for our madrichim prior to their going out to Kvutza. This can be accomplished in various ways. A. The madrichim responsible for camp work should begin to meet once a week. What does such a group hope to accomplish? The group should aim to have a clear understanding of what Camp Kvutza is, how it differs from the average camp in this country, what we hope to accomplish with our campers, and what the ideas of Habonim are. It should aim to have an under-
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standing of what to do with children and how to make decisions on practical and technical problems of Kvutza. B. This "workshop" is to serve as the instrument whereby the madrichim obtain basic attitudes and ideas for camp work. After concentrated discussion, the madrich should be ready for the necessary personal preparation. Conferences with individuals and supervision of individual assignments is an important aspect of our training. The facilities of the city can be utilized, and various haverim can be assigned to take courses in first aid, dramatics, crafts, carpentry, cooking, sports, swimming, office work, scoutcraft, etc. Others can begin to think in terms of preparing for the discussion groups, evening programs, Shabbat celebrations, rainy-day programs, and the work program. C. The "workshop" and individual preparation do not rule out the necessity for frequent meetings of all the madrichim. The following items must be understood thoroughly: 1. Health and safety requirements and standards 2. Kitchen setup and rules 3. Daily program 4. General educational work 5. Role of the madrich in Camp Kvutza 6. Discipline D. From the beginning we should strive to create the feeling that the madrichim are working as a group, thrashing out plans, discussing theory and practice, and helping establish the basic principles which govern their tasks. The job of this group becomes increasingly important since training and supervision are paramount to achieve the necessary continuity of program and stability of approach. Handbook for Madrichim, 1952
GROWTH OF AN IDEA
THE TURNING POINT Habonim camps, at their inception, introduced new and revolutionary methods and concepts into the field of camping generally, and Jewish camping in particular. Perhaps we, not to speak of authorities in the field of Jewish camping, have never fully evaluated or appreciated the new and progressive approaches we developed in our first camps. Our program was outstandingly different from other Jewish camping programs; in most phases of camping, we led the way and were far ahead of other camps. Alongside the most progressive educational techniques and values, our camps, from the physical point of view, operated on a most primitive level. Campers were generally housed in tents. Outdoor plumbing was the rule and not the exception. Dining halls were small, kitchens totally inadequate. There were no special facilities for infirmaries. Frequently, camps were situated in virtually inaccessible sites. There were no special technical personnel; an older havera with relatively limited experience might well be the cook or nurse, and an older haver, the business manager. And no camp season was complete without at least one good epidemic, fire, or accident, which created the material for "chizbatim" told to this very day. In fact, the more primitive the camp, the more enjoyable and satisfying the camp season appeared to have been. And, surprisingly enough, parents sent their children to such camps. Perhaps it was that in the late thirties and early forties the Jewish community had not as yet reached its present economic middle-class level, with corresponding middle-class standards in regard to the camps. Perhaps parents-and especially those from so-called "Jewish homes" -felt that the uniquely Jewish content which we had to offer their children in such a creative and dynamic manner more than offset the primitive environment to which their children were exposed. Whatever the reason, though they complained, parents sent
" This could be a description of a very successful work project at a Habonim camp. For instance. Sankel. "At a Work Camp of the American Jewish Society for Service. Now the plumb line and the level go into action. The monopoly we once had in the field of creative Jewish living" is no longer ours either. with its emphasis on the dignity of labor and cooperation among men... . our camps are no longer unique. " The day's work is beginning .. The camp individualist. 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. from the point of view of progressive educational techniques and values. The foundation is about to be laid. They visited the cities. He begins to see the value of working together with his fellow camper for a common goal. to private camps charging high tuition rates. 1954. Today. for example. Others are busily mixing mortar and cement for the foundation of the house. Two boys and a girl start to saw wood for the flooring of the house they are erecting .. ranging from agency camps. such as the one described above. .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING their children to our camps. Here. in an article entitled. for visas at the Israel Consul's office. Every year. is a description of a B'nai B'rith camp: "The most popular of the subjects studied was the imaginary trip to Israel . Still others are digging a ditch to lay the sewer pipe. Cooperation is essential. cannot do the job alone. This is a key job. He must ask for help. and shared by. 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. issue of The Reconstructionist.. realistically enough. 69 . the parents themselves. It is actually a description of a typical "work camp" of which there are many. The cement is ready. one can find a strikingly familiar description of a day at camp in the March 14. Emanuel." by Hyman R.
and landmarks of the country. which can be drawn from this and other examples. in a modern. Let no one conclude from my foregoing remarks that our particular type of camping has outlived its usefulness. ill-managed camp in order to educate towards that goal. A good madrich should be able to educate towards the aims of Habonim in a modern. And today. Each site was investigated for its ancient and modern significance. On the other hand. which is on the Gilboa. technically we have failed to keep pace with the other camps.GROWTH OF AN IDEA famous settlements. " 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. The physical setup and technical functioning of the camp finally chosen may well be the deciding factors. unlike other Jewish organizations. in a primitive one. on the contrary. we want to create halutzim. But one need not have a technically primitive. well-run camp as well as. we find that we are not the only progressive Jewish camp on the scene. For in Habonim. there are so many Jewish camps from which to choose that he may well be particular as to the one he finally decides upon. the madrich has more tools and materials at his disposal 70 . or among the few. using the approach to Jewish camping which such an activity typifies. well-operated camp. they could sense the immense drama which has taken place and is taking place around this famous mountain . f acing the Arab Triangle. the Jewish parent pays increasing attention to the physical setup of the camp to which lie sends his child. and only our camps can educate towards that aim. . well-equipped. When they entered the kibbutz Yizr'el. Habonim camping is as necessary and important to us as it ever was. though educationally Jewish camping has caught up to us. in terms of our movement's needs. in 1954. an even more important conclusion. if not better than. is that we are no longer alone. So now. . on the contrary. more than ever before.
Habonim camping is now at a crucial turning point.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING to aid him in his job. To defend the primitive camp on ideological terms is to distort the entire meaning of our ideology. and administrative spheres so that we can once again compete with other Jewish camps and be acceptable to the modern Jewish parent. If we do not advance technically. Dex Srauss. a time will come when our camps will be empty. as we have set out to do. we may once again find ourselves in a leading position in the field of Jewish camping in America. We must face up to the realities of the situation and solve the problems confronting us in a responsible and mature manner. technical. The need then is to bring our camps up to date in the physical. 1954 71 . If we do advance. whose first concern is with his child's health and safety.
History and Development .
New York. Close to 1500 haverim attended the camps in 1940. With the development and expansion of the camps came a need for better planning and direction of both their educational and administrative aspects. most sites were rented. Habonim established its first Camp Kvutza at Accord. with fourteen haverim in a tent. they ran the gamut from experiments in Lieberman's Creative Camping to semi-military discipline. This by no means meant that our camps were becoming standardized. and set up a systematic program for selecting the volunteers to staff the camps. the Cincinnati Habonim convention in December. living and studying together for a month. The summer Kvutza had become Habonim's most powerful and most effective educational weapon and had also become a "big business" operation. and in preparation for the 1941 season. In many cases permission was secured to use the site for an indefinite period of time. and in Chicago at Camp Tel Hai. the fundamentals of Camp Kvutza were developed: 1) collective-democratic living. Moshava (Baltimore) and Kinneret (Detroit) were founded. but there was already a feeling that means must be found of assuring permanency and continuity in the operation of our camps. 74 . The following year. 1940. new camps were projected for Texas and Winnipeg. In educational methodology. By 1939. 2) a full Jewish life. In 1936. 3) self-labor. During that first summer. called for the organization of a Habonim Kvutza Committee. Only a few of the camps were on permanent sites. Los Angeles had its first camp. two more Kvutzot were opened in 1935-in Montreal.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS It all began in 1932. Accord stands out in the memories of all the old-timers for its sheer physical beauty and difficult pioneering conditions. As a result. This committee established a series of minimum requirements. began to work on the first Kvutza Manual. Inspired by Accord.
Foremost among these was the national Hebrew camp. Amal. 1946 saw perhaps one of the peak years in Habonim camping when over two thousand campers attended Kvutza. Detroit.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING In 1943. New Jersey. Ottawa. there have been a number of significant experiments in Habonim camping. Amal itself was at Creamridge. New York. Montreal. and at Creamridge. gained the backing of six bureaus of education in various cities which sent scholarship students. 1600 youngsters spent the summer at eleven camps. Winnipeg. fairly large numbers of non- 75 . During the years. In 1945. The objective of this experiment was to create a positive attitude toward collective living and halutziut among non-affiliated American Jewish youth. Baltimore. One of the significant results of Amal has been the proof that under proper conditions. In later years. New York bought a new camp site at Amenia. for several years. For several seasons this was a work camp in the process of construction. in Killingworth. Philadelphia founded its own camp (Galil). Camp Avoda was operated for the first time at the Hehalutz training farm in Creamridge. Influenced and sparked by Amal alumni. Chicago. the camp accommodated fifty campers. Tel Natan. in 1951. but the collapse of the movement in the city brought about the demise of the camp as well. The primary educational factor in Camp Avoda was its proximity to the collective group and the farm. Connecticut (for New York). Habonim was the only Zionist organization to sponsor a Hebrew camp. Toronto. Dallas. Los Angeles. At Amenia (1949) and Killingworth (1950). a number of interesting and important Hebrew programs were planned at Kinneret and Moshava. St. Its first season in 1948 opened on a rented site in Vermont with 26 campers. Louis had its Kvutza. a number of highly successful Camp Avoda seasons were conducted at the farms with groups drawn from within the movement. Later. and became established as one of the foremost Hebrew camps in the country.
most camps have conducted training programs for prospective madrichim. and noar. 1950 also saw another experiment long under consideration. Amal was conducted at Moshava. in which all the campers participate. too. The past few years. bonim." A number of haverim made a long trip by truck. have seen a number of interesting variations and experiments in the Habonim camping picture. two madrichim camps were held. The three camps in the East have conducted an annual Maccabia. At the 1953 convention of Habonim. There has been an awareness that existing Habonim camps must be put on a more efficient and permanent basis. Toronto conducted a "rambling camp. one national madrichim camp was conducted at Kinneret. Louis. There has been a trend to put the administration of our camps on a semi-commercial basis. at Galil. The national Habonim Camping Association has been showing steady but slow improvement in the handling of national aspects of 76 . In 1950. and during the summer of 1953. This pattern was followed the next year at Montreal and St. In addition. one in Vermont for the East and one in Detroit for the West. The first national mahaneh madrichim was held in the summer of 1940 at Galil for the training of madrichei tzofim. and pre-embarkation seminars for the Habonim Youth Workshop in Israel. Each subsequent summer has witnessed large seminars of madrichim. In 1948. In 1952. Mahaneh madrichim is an experiment in the realm of leadership training rather than strictly camping. the sports and cultural festival. it was decided to discontinue Amal as a separate institution and to stress Hebrew at all Habonim camps. Many more camps are on permanent sites into which large investments have been put by the local Labor Zionist movements and Merkaz Habonim. carrying full supplies and equipment and camping nights at previously selected sites.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT movement people can be attracted to our camps and integrated into the movement.
was purchased in 1953. Camp Moshava. Camp Miriam. During 1957. British Columbia.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING camp. will be conducted: Camp Habonim. New York. The permanent New York Kvutza at Red Hook. Saugus. New York. St. Annapolis. Gabriola Island. Ottsville. 1957 77 . New camp sites were purchased for the Midwest in 1956 and for Camp Miriam in Vancouver in 1956. Pennsylvania. Maryland. Camp Kvutza Galil. California. all on permanent sites. Kvutza Manual. Three Rivers. Midwest Camp Habonim. Michigan. Faustin. the following seven Kvutzot. and increasingly aware of its potentiality as an instrument for expansion. Red Hook. Camp Naame. Camp Kvutza. Quebec. We are aware that Camp Kvutza is our most effective educational instrument.
. at Kendall. A lecture at Accord. Joev Criden and friends. Accord. "Brocky".The Kitchen at Accord. New York.
1938. Accord. Kieve Skidell. 1937.David Breslau. Carl Allentuck working on "sanitation". 1939. Discussion under "tree of knowledge". . Enzo Sereni and friends ponder a problem. Rosh at Accord. Accord. Accord.
Work at Accord. . Accord.Y. Campers. 1935. Tent Area. N. N. The Dining Room and Kitchen at Accord. Building at Accord. 1935. Accord.Y.
1942. "All aboard for the noar seminar". Kinneret. 1941. Kinneret. Abe Meadow installing electricity. Building the Migdal. Kinneret. Montreal.Dining Room at Camp Kvutza. Youth Day. Kinneret. . 1941. Campers. 1941. Kinneret. 1940.
New York. Suddenly. The fourteen pioneers have been together for a full month and have valiantly tried to imbibe three lecture and discussion periods a day. 1933. it wasn't our own. 1932 . 82 . enthusiasm waxes high. The haverim have learned much and have had a lot of fun. farmers' dirt road into a wilderness. .. Somehow.. bumpy. 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. Our hearts sink. yet everyone feels that something was missing . but the country gets more and more beautiful as the road becomes steeper and the hairpin curves sharper.. and from an unexpected quarter. The first Young Poale Zion Kvutza is winding up its four-week session at Unser Camp. Unser Camp offered too many comforts and too many distractions. and the more primitive the better! Next year we must learn not only theory but also how to provide for ourselves. efforts. an undreamed of opportunity. four hours.. Life in the big tent has been most congenial. Granite. spirits flag..HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KVUTSA IN THE NEW YORK AREA CAMP KVUTZA IS BORN The last days of August.. we have lost our way a half-dozen times. Next year we must have a real Kvutza. Mid-June. too.. Summer is knocking at the door and still no Kvutza site. no matter what the difficulties. . with two or three lectures in each period. Kerhonkson-never beard of the places. We are getting panicky. A series of interviews.. Soon there is no highway at all. dusty. Farband summer colony at Highland Mills. The sister would like to do something for "the Jewish people. it was a camp and not a Kvutza. we accept this bid as meaning us." For lack of a more specific address. Three hours. only a deep-rutted. The closing hours are devoted to evaluation and self-criticism. and ingenuity. We were guests and not creators . the product of our own labors. Finally one morning we are off to the Catskills: Accord.
get lumber . here is what we have to do. . back in the city. Feverish days and nights . .. And how about the program? . . No money? We'll beg. Persuade some Pioneer Women to come out as "cookies... . Can you borrow dishes. Who can forget the day when the big truck came rumbling across the wooden bridge to unload the first $400 worth of lumber . . cots . we'll owe . And how about discussion leaders? . the answer to our prayers. . really building! . . but also with sadness when we see how the land lies waste and neglected-grass and weeds waisthigh. .. . Buy tents. Clear the site on top of the hill. So much to do . No shelter? We'll build our own. What will they eat? Who will cook for them? . lay it out cross-wise so that the kitchen part will come right over the spring. no house (it burned down when the place was abandoned seven years before).. . There is only an indescribable shack occupied by our benefactress and her partner in the summer . Raise money. . . a glorious tingle in the blood we are building our own Kvutza! Yes. a beautiful valley below. .. . .. . . silverware? . The next day.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING A few more minutes and we find ourselves on the summit of a hill. Here. This is the place. Ten haverim want to build a dining room and platforms for the tents . . . How are registrations coming? . Two coming from Rochester . 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. . . Time is short-so short! A matter of days now… And through it all. and in the near distance.. . . Take advantage as much as we can of the cement floor of the 83 . a meeting of the National Executive is hastily convened. the earth is parched. Far? What of it? Wild? We've got a job to do. ." . . we'll borrow. We need a car . a ring of mountains that seems to change color before your eyes. . Haven't heard from Buffalo . . .
twenty-four of us. The Kvutza is scheduled to open Sunday. Friday all day they come trekking in. . The long tables in the dining room are scrubbed clean." sit down to break bread together. . Every hour brings one or two more haverim. Nerves are on edge . Over the dining room we can stretch canvas if necessary. We've got to finish the kitchen first. .. scrubbed clean at the brook and dressed in our "best.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT burnt-down barn. Jacob Katzman. ready for the first Shabbat in our own Kvutza. In the meantime. They form a thrilling silhouette against the sky. The single pyramid tent that had housed the work crew is now joined by three others. 1942 84 . Everyone is working against time . Thursday noon. The Shabbat. miracles have been happening. . Here. The cookies become more and more exasperated as the number of mouths to feed increases. and the old farmer's stove bought for $4 refuses to get fired. There. the original number of the work group is more than doubled.. The seven-year growth of grass and weeds has been cut. our sages tell us. Every newcomer is pressed into service as soon as he has a bite to eat . But the cookies work hardest of all. . and decked with flowers. and it seems as if everything is still to be done. down below. we will build platforms for the tents . In the deepening twilight. By nightfall. set with dishes and silverware. We fulfilled the mitzva with overflowing hearts. the outhouse. . should be received with rejoicing.
swishing torrent of icy brook water. for taking swims or showers. and constructed the new building. how to stack the wood so as to direct the heat towards the pots and away from the cook. We decided to construct a brand new dining hall. or any time we wanted to wash our hands – you have an idea of the tremendous work involved in keeping clean. When you realize that we had to take the same hike for washing clothes. Keeping ourselves and our clothes clean was another constant work project. One of our own members. 85 . None of those new-fangled ideas like faucets for us pioneers! In the old days we trekked down from the hill to the creek. sometimes it makes me mad! You who go to Kvutza these days have a way of saying: “Well – of course. how to keep the flames from climbing the wooden walls. Soon after we braced it.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING LISTEN HERE. we really had work to do. and how to extinguish them quickly once they started up–and last but not least. how to keep the sickly stove from falling apart. YOUNGSTERS! You know. you had lots of spirit back in 1934-35. how to replace a broken grate. estimated the materials. how to make that stove cook the food the right way at the right time. No sooner was the shack or dining hall constructed than we had a real project on our hands. for instance. 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. under the expert direction of the Philadelphia engineers. Take Accord. made the plans. over dangerous cliffs and precipices to get to the “sink and washtubs”–a swirling. Zalman. It took a genius to know how to line the stove with fire brick. but did you have any programs?” Why. We had to support the doddering building. we had a program of activities you’ll find it mighty hard to match! Just making it possible to live was program enough. brushing teeth.
I’ll always remember the time we had two visitors from New York. Celeritas. I guess I haven’t the space to tell about the revolution at Tel Hai. the truck–or even midnight swims. Maybe someday I’ll write a book of memories. all responded to the emergency. As one man. Saadia Gelb. 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. 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.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT And with all the work we had to do. Well. 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. safe summer resort. we still made time for our cultural programs. One of them related his experiences in Eretz Yisrael to us. Then you’ll see how much spirit and how much program we had in the early days of our Kvutza. We survived the event of course. A howling wind and flashes of lightning accompanied the rain. 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. Let me tell you–I was proud of our campers during that real danger. the wind tackled one tent after another until five tents toppled over–two of them torn to shreds. People from the village of Accord came out in cars and trucks to take our baggage to safety. None of us noticed the gathering clouds as he spoke. 1942 86 .
we went to Galil. New York was determined to build a Kvutza of its own once again. Since the majority of the New Yorkers were of bonim age. and the registration of Tel Yohanan promised to expand enormously. Finally. Despite this attitude. but we lived in such a way that he continued to exist in us. the news was announced: New York Habonim had a new home-at the (then stupendous) cost of almost fifty thousand dollars. In June. did not help the situation at all. but Mahaneh Tel Yohanan was a living thing. the division between the two groups was extremely sharp. The Merkaz wore out tempers and tires in everlasting jaunts around New York State looking for a new camp site. The name of Yohanan Tartakower was completely unknown to me. not a memorial. The fact that the Galil campers were living in the cabins and most of the New Yorkers in a separate tent-camp. The first reaction: We were ap- 87 . When we returned to the city. New York. faced its first meeting with Habonim during a spring session in 1953. the great tales of "adventure" found willing ears. I'd say that many of us did not know at the time who Yohanan was. and the majority of the Galilniks were of solelim-tzofim age. it often seemed as if we New Yorkers were marking time. the shock of hearing that Tel Yohanan had been wrecked by vandals was numbing. That summer of 1951 in Tel Yohanan was a six-week honeymoon with the movement for all of us. spending my first year in Camp Kvutza. in the early spring of 1953. 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. Who wanted to go anywhere but to our own Tel Yohanan for the summer? Nonetheless.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING TEL YOHANAN AND RED HOOK That summer. I was a still-wet-behind-the-ears tzofa. The mahaneh in Red Hook. During the summer of 1952.
It was a wonderful experience for both camps. This perhaps was the more serious of the two. A comradely atmosphere from the outset . Camp Hatzofeh. Red Hook. the number of Habonim campers from the New York region was under fifty. 1954 was the "honeymoon" season at Red Hook. no electricity. In Tel Yohanan and again in Galil. and (we thought) no halutziut.even cheers were care- 88 . There was a Habonim atmosphere. It will be remembered as the year of the Habonim Maccabia with the summer camp of Hanoar Hatzioni. The population at Red Hook climbed to more than double that number. The campers responded. a separate shower-house. At the same time. served to dispel a few illusions. while the Habonim population remained at roughly the same level. It was felt. we could not afford to let our ideals go by the board. in the activities run by the campers themselves. active Habonim within the camp did not exceed forty percent of the total population. The next summer was somewhat less of a memorable experienceperhaps because the previous season had been so overwhelmingly successful. but were also faced with a previously unknown problem of incorporating a large percentage of nonmembers. In accepting the "luxury" of our new home. It was felt in the unfolding of the daily program and in the Shabbat celebrations which were real "productions" complete with interpretive dance and special effects.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT palled! It was all too civilized for our tastes. Gone were the days of cold water only. We had not only to adapt ourselves to a new concept of camping with its attendant responsibilities. outhouses. It became as natural for some madrichim to converse in Hebrew as for the campers to try to emulate the actions of the staff. The first summer in Camp Habonim. 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. too.
with a large number of participants. with people from all three camps cheering the competitors impartially? Each camp had a theme . a new dimension of education had been added to the Maccabia which made its meaning even fuller for the participants. though not until a contest had been waged in which every point was in doubt. and Negev for Moshava . What is to happen to New York camping in the future? That is in the hands of the haverim themselves. 1956 saw the revival of the Habonim Inter-Kvutza Maccabia. Once again held at Galil. Each summer has seen the development of the concept of Habonim camping-from the tents. evening program presentation.both wanted to "rip up the score sheets. it was the high point of the season. at camp.cold-water stage to the cabins-hot water stage.upon which the cheers. As usual." 1955 saw a new venture in Habonim camping-that of a successful Leaders' Training program. The spirit of the entire competition may be imagined from the unanimous protest of the two camps directly before the close of the Maccabia . Ziffy Entin. Galil for Galil. the New Yorkers won. Remember the afternoon spent in track events.Yehuda for Red Hook. and songs were based.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fully censored to exclude any derogatory material about the opposing camp. 1957 89 . 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. In addition to the spirit of comradeship which grew up in the three days.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT KENDALL Camp Kvutza at Kendall. however. This group existed from 1946 to 1949 and was probably as active a Zionist group as existed in this country. New York. the Habonim camping experience would have been denied to most of the Habonim in this region. Some of the haverim who were campers are now in 90 . Havera Atlas. However.I. I was only thirteen in 1937 when I spent one week at Camp Kvutza. Several ex-G. The woods behind the tents and the hay loft behind the barn served as "rooms" for discussions and Hebrew lessons. It handled thirty to fifty-five children per week. were the cook. and as a result. and was responsible for many lasting friendships. The burned-out remains of a house nearby.'s (and ex-Habonim) formed the Enzo Sereni Labor Zionist group in Rochester. Many new Habonim members were obtained through the camp. Our camp was not a large-one. Had it not been for the camp." Camp Kvutza catered to the Habonim of Rochester. thirty miles west of Rochester. It was situated on farm land along Lake Ontario. A large two story barn served as the kitchen and recreation hall. and Mark B. Buffalo. and Syracuse. aside from many of the Habonim members. the loyalties it helped cement bore fruit after the war years in 1946. one-eyed Pete. 1941 was the last year of Camp Kvutza. our departed haver and teacher. I can fully appreciate the time and effort expended by the "older haverim. It is not difficult to measure the importance of Camp Kvutza to upstate New York. inhabited by the ghost of two-fingered. opened in 1937 and ran through 1941. and the empty "haunted house" down the road gave the camp additional atmosphere. I cannot comment on the feverish activity involved in trying to set up the camp for the first time. Permanent fixtures at the camp. From my experience on pre-registration camp committees in later years. Hanopolsky.
and said he'd see what he could do. Julius Cohen. we had received our first application with $1 deposit. The fire had left a desolate spot. we had to revive a place which was once a beautiful Farband camp. dilapidated. But we knew she would run again. and that this little scene was actually the first practical beginning of Habonim's second Kvutza in America at New Buffalo. It was hard. 1957 KVUTSA IN THE MIDWEST "KVUTZIE" It was a hot June day in 1936. The haver in whose lumber yard she was stationed after serving some time at our short-lived Hehalutz training farm in Indiana was glad to see her go. three "big shots" were pushing an old. Danny Owerbach. and myself. 91 . and so we pushed her slowly to the garage and told the mechanic to get her in running condition for that evening. Michigan. and down Douglas Boulevard in Chicago. tiredeflated 1926 Dodge truck. the super truck driver-to-be. In these three weeks.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Israel. The previous week. but which had been ravaged by fire. 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. rosh Kvutza. even for members of Habonim. Tel Hai. rusty-looking. now overgrown with weeds and grass and ruins all about. shook his head. and we were pushing that truck to a garage to get her running. for upon her depended all the transportation of haverim and materials for this crucial period and for the Kvutza season itself. The advance crew would have three weeks of unceasing work to get the place in shape for the opening. He looked at us and grinned. She had been given to us for nothing. Only three weeks remained before the opening of Kvutza. business manager. to realize that the three were none other than Nahum Guttman.
The Dodge was old. I got into the driver's seat. but all the way. Before we left. We decided to take the chance. we finally reached Tel Hai. and through the grace of an inefficient police force. Then on the way. Kvutzie!" and thus she was named. 92 . After a few hours' sleep and a little more pushing. I urged her on by calling out. fearlessly risking their lives. The streets of Chicago are renowned for their holes and bumps and I didn't miss one of them. We decided to continue. the driver completely new. "Come on. and then somehow managed to drive to the center. After a harrowing hour and a half we were finally out of the city. Those in the back were frozen from the cold night air. We could take the chance of using her that night if we wanted. got into the seat next to me. It was now about midnight and the traffic was not very heavy. She needed a new generator and new battery. we got the Dodge started on her way back to Chicago-just Julie and I. but he wouldn't advise it. Julie and Nahum. We looked up at the sky and saw that the moon was full. those in front roasted from the heat of the motor. when the battery went completely dead. We started her up. she was indeed able to run-but no telling how. Here we picked up fourteen brave souls and were on our way. when she began sputtering over a little hill. With the aid of that flashlight and the full moon. there was spirited singing and joking. Cries of "ouch" rang out and the people along Western Avenue stared.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In the evening when we returned. We had no lights. Trembling. we tried to think of a name for our truck because we could already see that she was to be an important factor in the life of Kvutza. One of the haverim climbed up on top of the cab and shone his flashlight down on the road in front of the truck. What should we do? Turning back would mean another precious day wasted.
Her every arrival was the source of the greatest excitement. the source of the greatest fear. But Kvutzie had been running on love and sympathy. They dismantled her and used her parts on other trucks. But we survived the trip. we sold Kvutzie to the Hehalutz farm at Creamridge. 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. There. Frightened parents trembled as Kvutzie pulled out of the dirt road onto the highway at three in the morning. and everything was against our getting there. we'd see. she soon died. Without them. her every departure. how many flats she would have. New Jersey. our New York Kvutza. she served us through the entire summer. 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. the mountains. There. Songs were written about her.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Kvutzie was the cause of most of the joy and sorrow of that first season. at Accord. we found four almost new tires for Kvutzie. We played guessing games as to what time she would return from a trip. We arrived at Accord amid great celebrating (and without a single flat tire on the entire trip). and whom and what she would bring back with her. We had her gear fixed so it would stay in high. 93 . Kvutzie became a legend. Then we decided to take a number of haverim 1000 miles to the seminar at Accord. who had inherited the junk yard from her father and who was sitting among old rims and tires and spare parts writing a book. What a night that was! We packed eighteen haverim into the back of Kvutzie and started the trip! It thundered and rained. "What? With Kvutzie? Never!" Well. the rain. Miraculously. aided by a Jewish girl of about twenty.
"I have just the place for you. I spun around three times and placed my finger on the page." said a bass voice. A committee was elected to look for a site. And it's only 9. little did we expect that it would be our last summer there. I supply the blasting powder. 1942 KVUTZA. the wonderful spirit. It was decided that Wisconsin would be the lucky state containing the new Habonim Kvutza. With eyes closed. the overnight hikes. Real Estate." said the man on the other side of the line. None other like it in the whole state. and an official title was given the committee.762 1/2 miles from Milwaukee. the Meshugoyim (mad ones). We took out the trusty telephone book and began paging through it." I thanked the gentleman for his kind offer and consideration and hung up. I phoned that number. "Sure enough. the discussion. Only in the wonderful life that is ours at Kvutza could such a spirit come to be." I hung up. How should we go about it? Where should we start? Whom should we contact? The method we used was quite simple. Again I went through the same procedure. none of us were too sad. "Yes. R-Radiators-Radios-ah. Moshe Goldberg. 94 . KVUTZA. I remember Kvutzie for she was the creator of that spirit.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Others may remember the camp fires. When at the winter seminar it was decided to leave Tel Hai and look for a new site for the Midwest Kvutza. "I have just what you want. a spirit which could take a dead object and give it the soul that Kvutzie had. that first season of Kvutzat Tel Hai. see? Nothing to worry about. the comradeship. But it was. All you have to do is put a dozen steam shovels to work for two years and you've got it. WHO'S GOT A KVUTZA? When we left Tel Hai at the close of the Kvutza season last summer.
by the time you'll be reading this article. the hardy group turned to Farband Camp. and sank a shallow well. During the summer of 1939. among them Ben Kaminker. after calling for enough times to have lost count. a small group of Detroit Habonim. a few members of the group waded through a swamp to find a large tract of unused ground. That winter. Michigan. built a dining hall and kitchen. only thirty-five miles from Milwaukee. they enlisted the moral and financial assistance of active seniors who helped plan construction of the new Habonim camp to be known as Kinneret. erected platforms for the tents. It meets all the requirements and we are awaiting word as to the possibilities of our developing the lake into a swimming pool. Nevertheless. our haverim cleared a road through the swamp. high land. A large group of Cincinnati 95 . we will probably be building for the 1944 Kvutza season. pooled their resources to purchase a couple of tents which they pitched on the side of a hill overlooking Waterloo Road near Chelsea. under the leadership of Ben Kaminker. While exploring the area south of their encampment. a place with real possibilities turned up. and Danny Ginsburg. Armon Kamesar. and with the assistance of a professional carpenter. hilly. their neighbors across the road and owners of their camp site. Mordecai Salinger. heavy woods.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Well. A patch of grass surrounded by a D-shaped trench formed the open-air dining table. 1944 KINNERET In the summer of 1938. This they immediately staked out as the perfect spot for their future ventures. but for all other facilities. twenty acres of which belonged to the Farband. and level. Kinneret was a success and ready for further expansion when Mordecai Salinger took over as rosh Kvutza in 1940.
which was dedicated to Donny Lee of Cleveland. with Shirley Milgrom who came along for the honeymoon. with Ettie Skidell in charge of camp and the boys hard at work moving mountains of dirt to lay the sanitation distribution field. We added our 96 . and the arrival of four girls from Cleveland marked the beginning of Kinneret as a regional camp. We began work on the hospital. enlarged the dining room by moving the kitchen to a new addition. The rosh was Paul Milgrom (Pinhas Rimon). Artie Goldberg was rosh Kvutza. 1941 was a quiet year. The hospital was nominally finished and we began our eternal project. under the tutelage of Yosef Israeli. arrived late. 1942 was another year of big construction . the rosh. separate outhouses were under way. The washing facilities were enclosed and work began on a real outhouse. a migdal. work was again the watchword. raising the number of campers to an average of sixty during that summer. Leon Adler became rosh. the Ashkenazy building. 1944 also saw the end of the beloved tower-the termites and old age finally beat the creosote and supports. and all became sweetness and light at Kinneret-for once we were genteel. In 1945. and last but not least. the storage cellar. In 1943. and dug another distribution field for the modern improved shower house.at Kinneret. Electricity was installed.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT haverim joined the Detroiters. New tent platforms. Shalom Wurm set the pattern for cultural activities at camp. while Aharon Remez was the fair-haired boy whose experience and muscle were relied on to continue with the building program. but the campers carried on valiantly under the expert whistle blowing of Esty Carson. Harry Spoon. We built a cabin. In 1944. and the hills around Kinneret resounded with labor songs.
1947 was the year of Joey Criden." and also a year of strong emphasis on scoutcraft. The emphasis was on speaking Hebrew. In 1948. Doodle Horowitz led Kinneret in its first year as a Hebrewspeaking camp. Murray Weingarten. Camp doubled its enrollment on weekends-an ambitious weekend program. Haim Stopak was rosh. Abba (Cherniak) Tzuriel was rosh. modern dance. There was an ambitious work program mainly centered about maintenance-there were no new projects. including many younger children. art." and Blue-White Day was distinguished by its blood and gore. Dvora Frankel was rosh in 1949. Joey named his quarters. In 1951. the greatest stunt ever at Kinneret. Detroit's United Hebrew Schools provided a number of full scholarships and there was a large enrollment. was rosh in 1946. The season gushed with culture. 97 . Of the season. A madrichim camp was held after the regular season. the Detroit United Hebrew Schools said that more Hebrew was learned by their students that year than any other. 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. Several more cabins were built. with Dave Katz as his right-hand man. drama.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. and the discussion program centered about the False Messiahs. There were many midnight "Arab attacks. and Evvy Weingarten made her famous leap from rooftop to Ann Arbor hospital. In 1950. in honor of sixteen-month-old Donny. Pipeline HaNegev. That was the year of Doris Dombey's bouncing bed.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT 1952 opened with a low registration. but a marvelous business manager. Chicago and Detroit combined efforts in staff and campers. Dani Kerman returned in 1953. Abbie Haklay was rosh. 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. who was one of the most sincere and dedicated members of the Labor Zionist movement and represented the best that is found in Habonim. Detroit had had a very successful year and camp registration was up. Tel Natan. which we had dreamed of for many years and talked about for several months came into existence early in 1947 when we found that 98 . Dani Kerman was rosh and Kinneret was still a Hebrew-speaking camp. 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. There was no big construction projects because of the lack of people. managed to make money even on only twenty campers. and spent a day of labor at Kinneret. again including younger children. 1957 TEL NATAN Tel Natan was the Camp Kvutza for the St. Harriet Gelfond. Jerry Katz. 1955 was Kinneret's last year. Prior to opening. A new truck was purchased. Tel Natan was named for our dear haver. Nathan Kanter. In 1954. Seymour Salinger. baby carriages. but things picked up. Esther Goldberg. and the last year of Kinneret closed with a Bonim Seminar. Louis and Cincinnati mahanot in 1947 and 1948. a group of “old-timers” packed box-lunches. and assorted spouses and progeny. It was unique in having complete facilities. Geli Gelfond was rosh.
a walk-in icebox. Louis. The first season was a success. The camp. Perhaps St. and printed application blanks. we were convinced that we had made a wonderful beginning as the first year-round Camp Kvutza in history. bought a truck. We broke even. no one complained. examined and leased the camp site sixty miles west of St. and after one more season. and the two tons of dishes and pots did not arrive till fall. In a matter of days. two tons of dishes and pots. a large dining room. and since the swimming at Cheetham Pond was not too good anyway. We returned to Tel Natan for a winter conference. hospital. we contacted the movement in Cincinnati. Quiure River State Park. ten large cabins. All that we missed was the swimming. known to the Missouri State Park Commission as Camp C1.000 acre park.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING there would be no camp in the Chicago area to serve the St. and the activities and discussions excellent. formed the Habonim Camping Association of Missouri. and several buildings we never used. Missouri. office. four sinks. the camp discontinued operation. the food was good. was located on a high hill in the heart of a 6. This was even more successful than the summer session. plenty of hot and cold water. Perhaps it was too easy. who was our cook). We did not have to struggle and fight to establish our camp. Nate's mother. Forty haverim spent four satisfying weeks at Tel Natan. no one lost any weight (thanks to Havera Kanter. an electric refrigerator. a recreation hall. Louis mahaneh. I'm not sure why the camp failed or what lesson other camps can learn from Tel Natan. We were wrong. After we shut down the camp for the winter. guest house. The camp and the setting were beautiful and the facilities excellent (two stoves. Louis was just not ready to con- 99 . Troy. shower house. The cabins were warm.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT duct and sustain its own camp. It was a concept of a place where young Labor Zionists would build their own camp with their own hands from the ground up. I believe that Tel Natan failed because the leadership in the mahaneh. And yet this name holds for us twenty-five years of memories-memories of other camps with other names. where they would govern themselves in a truly democratic fashion and work out their plans for building a new Eretz Yisrael. of exciting days and romantic nights. These are names that really bring back memories of our youth. This was a new idea. created by a slowdown in activity during the war. Wil Schoomer. innocuous name. 1957 MIDWEST CAMP HABONIM Midwest Camp Habonim! A rather plain. or moved on to other personal activity. carefree period in our lives where we learned and lived the principles of Labor Zionism upon which we today base our lives and our work for Israel. and a feeling of deep regret that the monument we began to erect in memory of Nate Kanter in 1947 was never finished. This void. Nothing romantic or exciting or exotic or even emotional about this name. of bonfires and Shabbat celebrations. Yad Ari. Kinneret. went on aliya. of work and love and devotion. which was mainly older. thrilling one for our haverim of those early 100 . names such Tel Hai. and left a void. of singing and dancing. to other movement assignments. some photographs. memories of a glorious.the Labor Zionist Youth. 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 . All that is left of Tel Natan is fond memories. was probably the main cause of failure. a bold.
and they did! They built a big. which served the ChicagoMilwaukee-Minneapolis area. Tel. 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. occasionally someone would get wet at night when he forgot to close the tent flaps. were built. The first Habonim camp in the Midwest (and the second to be established in the United States) was Tel Hai. Its tenure came to an abrupt end. Illinois. 160 acres of land were purchased near Waupaca.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING years.but nothing. It was a good idea. and so it remained a tent camp. however. Then followed an interim period of three years. The tents. Hai. and will continue to go on for many. however. when it was destroyed by fire. Michigan. 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 . In 1948. Here the ideals of Camp Kvutza could really flourish. however. except for a dispensary. The name. No other buildings. beautiful dining room. containing all the necessary facilities. which doubled as a recreation room. not even the fin- 101 . Here was the opportunity for Habonim to truly build its own camp. They planted a pine forest. This was camp Yad Ari. Most important of all. so we had to travel ten miles to go swimming. who recall those days with love and tenderness. near New Buffalo. was the fact that the campers and the staff were satisfied and happy. today stirs beautiful memories among many of our senior haverim. many years. and a modern shower house. Many fine and beautiful traditions were built here. were spacious and comfortable. 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. in northcentral Wisconsin. which has since proven to be the most memorable part of the whole camp. two of which were spent at a rented camp near Savannah. and the camp itself was always clean and well kept.
turn tears into laughter. Why choose Kinneret over Yad Ari? Mainly because of the location. Can you remember. Yad Ari was abandoned. the combining of the two small camps into one large camp at Kinneret. modern Camp Habonim. and 1955 saw Camp Yad Ari and Camp Kinneret combined at Camp Kinneret near Chelsea. The combined areas would now extend as far east as Pittsburgh and as far south and west as St. of a closeness and oneness that could be achieved nowhere else-the indomitable spirit of Habonim. We had to have fewer but much larger and better (physically speaking) camps. wherever or whenever it might have been. the feeling of real group living. A new concept of camping had been born in the minds of the leadership of Habonim. This was the idea that the very small. central Michigan was much nearer the center of this region than northern Wisconsin-therefore. Kinneret was never meant to be the permanent new home of the large. Thus. that resiliency which can change disaster to triumph. It was to serve merely for the transition period until 102 . At the end of the 1954 season. and one that has proven itself. This was Yad Ari. Michigan. It was too small and lacked the proper facilities for a large number of campers. the dignity of the flag raising. a more modern one. could ever be a substitute for the most wonderful of intangibles. A good concept. with everyone in white. Louis and Minneapolis. But. haverim. 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. this also came to an end. the true Habonim spirit. Obviously. can never forget. more intimate type of camp was no longer feasible. as all good things do. this was Camp Habonim.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT est of facilities or the most beautiful buildings and grounds. with the singing and the dancing afterwards? Those of you who ever attended Camp Habonim. Kinneret was the choice. or the simple beauty of a Friday evening meal by candlelight.
All toilet facilities are indoors . we have improved upon many of the primitive physical facilities. a combination of the best of the old and of the new. The next season found us in the new camp. 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). Midwest Camp Habonim today is. the new cabins come equipped with these appurtenances. It did just that. and did it well. 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. The most important features remain . The cabins are all equipped with electric lights and even the grounds are illuminated at night. In short. self-government. We now come to the current chapter.self-labor. eighty acres of beautiful grounds near Three Rivers. we believe. Its many high windows overlook the lake and present a truly scenic picture for the diners. were purchased by Habonim. But to go along with more modern practices. Michigan. with which all Habonim campers are so familiar. The dining hall is probably one of the most ideally situated spots in camp. Negotiations were completed early in May and two additional cabins were begun. This camp had been a farm resort and was situated on beautiful Kaiser Lake. is now almost a thing of the past.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING a new site would be found. however. de- 103 . We have not lost sight of the unique Habonim camping program and we retain that spirit that typifies Habonim. In the spring of 1956.in fact. the new Midwest Camp Habonim. all the modern conveniences that one associates with the best in modern camps are present at our new Midwest Camp Habonim. that we are giving up the old idea of Camp Kvutza? Not at all. Does this mean. With the new buildings we can now house seventy-five campers comfortably and we have enough room to expand to a hundred and fifty. The good old flashlight.
the permanent camp in the Angeles National Forest. For the first time. the determination indomitable. and the results were a full camping season which was followed uninterruptedly for the next twenty-one years. camping experience in 1937 and Azusa in 1938.C. cooking in an abandoned shack. and a program superior to most. that the idea of Habonim camping ripened and the first camp was established. and Ben Cherner. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE WEST A goat farm. moshavim. becomes an attraction for newcomers to our movement.C. In looking back upon twenty-five years of Habonim camping. his chances of remaining in Habonim are excellent. these were the ingredients of the first Camp Kvutza in the West in the year 1936. and of course. Many graduates of Habonim camp have gone to live in Israel. twenty sprightly youngsters. Lenny Zurakov. but in all parts of the American Jewish community. as well as the program. and cities. we can honestly say that we have compiled a tradition of living Judaism which would be difficult for any group or organization to match. 104 . and water had to be brought by car from about a mile away. Sleeping was mostly outdoors.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT mocracy. and many others have remained here to become leaders not only in the Labor Zionist movement. But spirits were high. the concept of a common fund. This is a record that speaks for itself. It was during that summer. Swimming was in a public pool. In 1939. We feel that we now have a camp. that can compare favorably with any in the area. the physical plant of the camp. with Ben's arrival in Los Angeles. and once a child has had a positive camping experience at camp. in kibbutzim. that feeling of kinship and real comradely spirit. Old-timers remember the C.
Camp Program and Activities Our camp program consisted of a general camp theme. A swimming pool was built and many other facilities added as late as last year. as well as some that were specifically camp activities. on a hilly and wooded thirty-nine-acre estate." Through lectures. Situated. its original owner's home was remodeled into a dining room and kitchen. 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.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING fifty-five miles from Los Angeles. as the camp is. the children at camp became acquainted with the heroic moments in Jewish history. Campers could register for a minimum period of two weeks. 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. 173 campers availed themselves of our facilities and spent with us 498 camper-weeks. the several activities directly associated with it. discussions. fifteen percent of the campers stayed for the entire six weeks. and the arts. literary trials. was bought and the permanent home for Habonim camping established. 105 . games. Our general camp theme was: "Jewish Heroism Through the Ages. models. Arts and crafts were integrated into this program. The camp has served Los Angeles Jewish youth for twenty years now and several thousand young people have gone through it. During the entire period.
the following camp activities were open to all campers: swimming. Future Plans All this progress was made possible through a building expansion program undertaken last spring. Here. Camp Spirit We would be greatly remiss in our factual report of camp activities and program if we were not to stress the spirit of the camp. We felt it in the expressions of the children at camp. We anticipate doubling our registration this summer. dancing. including showers. Four large new cabins were built.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT In addition. arts and crafts. We are beginning to receive campers from other cities on the West Coast and are rapidly becoming an all-Western camp. Camp accomplished in a very few weeks what efforts by parents could not achieve for years. scouting. The Shabbat celebration. We also extended our camp season to eight weeks. we felt it in the one hundred percent attendance at the first camp reunion. the daily Hebrew classes. the discussion of Jewish problems and of Jewish achievements. we felt it even more in the conversations with the parents of the campers. singing. all this left an indelible impression upon the campers. 106 . and other camp diversions which took place regularly. photography. the Shabbat morning Tanach circle. sports. Much new equipment was purchased. toilets and wash basins. the Israel and Zionist spirit of all our activities. they were in a thoroughly children's atmosphere as well as in a thoroughly Jewish one. hiking. and for many campers for the first time. The sports facilities were improved.
many changes have occurred since that memorable year. but the setting is so perfect and the scenery so beautiful that we never want to forget it. to enlarge and improve our dining and kitchen facilities. July. and whose campers came from Baltimore only-to a large camp sponsored by Habonim following the amalgamation of Habonim with Gordonia. where there was no electricity whatsoever. an arts and crafts pavilion. Sigfrid Sonniborn of Baltimore gave 162 acres of land near Annapolis to two Zionist groups to be used for a camp site. to build several new concrete platforms. 1935. The capacity is now seventy-five to eighty campers from all over the Atlantic seaboard. 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. whose dining room had a canvas top. for not only do we spend some of the happiest weeks of the year there. Mosh has changed from a small camp sponsored by Gordoniawhose tents were pitched on the bare ground. And so Moshava began its first season! Needless to say. with seven tents pitch- 107 . while Gordonia would have the camp in August. David Yaroslovsky. The first month of the summer season. to improve the present shower building. And it is no wonder that we all love it. The two groups were the Hashomer Hatzair and the Gordonia organization of Baltimore." Such is the effect "Mosh" has on its campers. 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. In 1935 Mr.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Our plans for this summer are to build a staff building. Hashomer would use the camp.
volleyball and basketball courts. 108 . In all directions there is green foliage that beckons to you with its coolness in the heat of the day. this scene is dimly repeated. and listening to the waves lap on the beach. we come to the long uneven trail that leads back to the central field. This trail is the most popular of all. Here on this trail is the wellknown "Tree" on whose roots many a couple sit wrapped in the velvety darkness of night. The center of this circle is the center field. The picture Moshava presents is truly a beautiful one. and far on the distant side of the river. or go to sleep on the sandy beach while taking a sun bath. a modern hospital with up-to-date equipment. and track events take place during sports periods. a popular place for rehearsals or for a nocturnal group wishing to read Edgar Allen Poe in just the proper atmosphere. Following the path further. horseshoe. One can relax in the mildly cool river water. spreading below. one sees the side road leading from the water tower to the hospital opposite. gazing at the stars. From there. however. can one see it completely. These two cabins begin the camp proper. 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. get an invigorating swim in the deeper cold water further from shore. a piano. Past interesting coves and the beach. It is lined with clinging vines draped around the trees. basketball. one arrives at last at the old cliff that overlooks the Severn River. a well-filled library.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT ed on platforms. But this is not all. a large roomy kitchen. Only from the water tower. four large airy cabins. and electrical connections. Scrambling down the side of the cliff. and here and there. the tents and stage are arranged in an almost perfect circle. tantalizing monkey vines swing just above your reach. wide and level. an outdoor stage. one finds oneself on the bench near the river. where baseball. for flanking them. a newly reinforced dining room.
the first expedition set out armed to the hilt with mops. In May. It was a crime to travel hundreds of miles for the inspiration and learning we could achieve on our own grounds. and nagged the National Executive. the Sunday of the 23rd. and ten stall showers which. Camp Tax became the byword. worked with characteristic irregularity. The central field is not far ahead and soon one can be in the midst of activity again. So the determined Quakers set to work. Through mosquito-ridden New Jersey to mosquito-ridden Pennsylvania until they came upon Camp Germinal . 1939 GALIL'S FIRST YEAR It was after their return from the 1937 Accord season that the Philadelphia haverim realized the necessity for their own Camp Kvutza. three kitchens.former anarchist hangout and spiders' hideout. buckets. The scrubbed and rubbed. They transformed a chicken coop into a habitable shack. hot and cold water. contacted sympathizers. The manor house after being scrubbed from top to bottom revealed an immense dining room. They screened and painted.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING It is also on this trail that we find the path leading to the new cliff. influenced by their anarchist background. And now. brooms. "Mosh" Diary. They formed committees. and soap. printed stationary. They slept and ate and grew gray hair over pledges. Then came the eventful day when fourteen haverim. Far and wide they traveled. and a rosh Kvutza set foot on forty acres of poison ivy studded with two outhouses. a site for camp. But soon the cash thermometer rose and $250 became a realization. one of which leaked from the luxurious 109 .
the bull. The six master bedrooms did come in handy when the fourteen pioneers increased to sixty. could be persuaded only by Schmeer up to the hill again to camp. Cookie and the chocolate pudding. music room. and dance studio. Sossy from Chicago. Yak and his travels in Ferdy. and then after a sojourn with the flowers. Leslie and his hair washing. or on a line to the Delaware. and Shlomo and his hat. Tzip and her hatred of kitchen duty. And their famous idiosyncrasies. Aba Kibbile's drama group. and the other which had a natural waterfall coming from the center roof every time the dishes fell. Yona and her trying girls. Leo and his driving mania. The office served as a lounge. 1938 110 . Or can we forget our staff-rising and falling like the stock market? One week ten and the next week four. who often stopped to admire the flowers by the wayside? He carried our haverim down to the swimming hole in the Shamony. Edi and Brown Betty. Galil Diary.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT bath upstairs every time one of the girls decided to miss a discussion. Clara's operetta. Who of us can ever forget Sir Ferdinand. Ernst who drowned you trying to teach life saving. named for his predecessor.
Montreal. Corn for sale at Camp Habonim. Moshe Goldberg. 1956. Chana Reitman. . 1956. Etty Skidell. Gaby Stalzenberg at work. Shirley Goldberg.The "Ten Lost Tribes" prepare to return. All proceeds to the J. Montreal. Overnight hike at Montreal.N.F. 1941. Laizer Blitt. "The Women". 1957. Kinneret. Rose Breslau. Aviva Gootman. Kinneret. 1957. 1941.
N. 1957. 1957.Y. Solelim Dance at Red Hook. . N. 1957.Visiting Day. Dining Room at Tel Yochanan. "B'tayavon". Camp Habonim. Amenia. Montreal. The Lake at Tel Yochanan. The Dining Room at Camp Habonim.Y. Red Hook.
Red Hook. Galil Choir performs for Visitors Day. 1957. The Waterfront at Moshava. Ottsville.Flag Raising at Moshava. Pennsylvania. Maryland. 1957.Y. Annapolis. Camp Habonim. N. Bridging the Creek at Galil. 1948. .
Moshava. Harvesting Corn at Camp Habonim. Moshava. . 1957. "Comfort ye. "Chalil and Drum Corps. Tisha B’Av. Moshava. 1955. my people".A discussion under the trees. 1957. Taking a dip in the enlarged "L" shaped pool at Camp Habonim. 1957.
a magnificent barn. Pennsylvania. as many of our members as possible spent the summer at Moshava near Baltimore. a permanent site for a Philadelphia camp. It included a well-constructed farm house. A county highway divided the cabins from the rest of the site. which could be rented for the summer. During the summer of 1939. and the swimming facilities were reached by climbing a very steep hill at a considerable distance from the 115 . Our appetites were whetted. and immediately upon the close of the summer.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING GALIL In 1938. let alone talk in terms of developing a permanent camp. Upon returning from Moshava at the end of the 1939 summer season. and the first Camp Galil came into existence.500). the Philadelphia haverim rented the old anarchist Camp Germinal near Jamison. and a number of cabins which at one time had beeii4 chicken coops. however. for the summer. we were determined to have a camp of our own. had two unfortunate deficiencies. it was impossible to raise the necessary funds or to evoke sufficient interest on the part of the Philadelphia movement to even rent a camp site. After much searching. a very successful summer program was carried out. at the height of the depression and with much trepidation because of the lack of finances. a site was found near Pipersville. Fortunately. plans were made for finding. Pennsylvania (for the then large sum of $1. Yak Rycus was imported from the Midwest to act as rosh Kvutza. War clouds were gathering. 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. and staffed mainly by older haverim of Habonim. The site. One must recall the times in which this thinking took place. In 1939. The White Paper was soon to be issued and the horror of Hitler-Europe was soon to be upon us.
a principal of a Philadelphia Talmud Torah. Word was passed around and fortunately. One remembers nostalgically the first contact with shlihim. In retrospect. So much so that at the beginning of the summer. no further incidents took place. Guard duty became an important job. and daily Hebrew sessions were a part of the program. The most striking memory of this summer. I believe. Undaunted. notwithstanding the broken arm of one of our haverim who managed to fall off a roof while shingling it. Construction went well. At that particular period. began intensive construction projects to make the site as serviceable as possible for the summer. however. had to do with the last three weeks of camp which was devoted to what. at the younger haverim. Irv Sternberg and his wife. The summer itself was full of interesting and varied experiences. it became a nightly occurrence for a truckload of these hooligans to drive slowly through the camp hurling epithets. and frequently more. were the roshim. The group was small-I doubt if there were more than fifty at any one time-but the spirit was high.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT cabins. In addition. To counteract these activities. Edie. the German American Bund was active in the area. Meyer Cohen. The rampant anti-Semitism which existed and which was manifested so clearly made a deep impression upon our younger haverim. Irv approached the local sheriff and received a permit to carry guns. however. This unpleasantness. they managed to deface and almost destroy the dock we had built at the creek. the haverim of Habonim. Haverim came from all over the country and friendships were created which were to last to this very day. was a member of the staff. The effectiveness of this endeavor 116 . was the first national mahaneh madrichim. one recalls a most interesting and unusual Hebrew program. Dr. with the help of some adults. The purpose of this particular mahaneh madrichim was to train madrichei tzofim. did not detract from a very fine summer.
It can truthfully be said. whose membership came from ex-Habonim members. Abe Segal. Conditions brought about by the imminence of war 'unfortunately dictated against a camp of our own in 1941. this dedication to the importance of the summer Kvutza soon manifested itself. From 1941 through 1945. When the war ended and Habonim haverim. that the young Labor Zionist movement of Philadelphia grew and was strengthened because of a program which revolved around the camp. it became clear that the local mahaneh could not really grow. or returned to Moshava. returned from the service. whether as a culmination of a year's work.000 from the YWCA. was shared by one haver of the senior movement of Philadelphia. Almost singlehandedly. and the water supply was dependent upon an old gasoline engine which worked on occasion. The camp was quite primitive-there was no electricity. Happily for Habonim. 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. for without a camp. The camp was purchased for the sum of $30. supplied the necessary labor and technical knowledge to begin im- 117 . this pattern was repeated. The movement suffered accordingly. this dream of having a camp of our own.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING paved the way toward the utilization of the summer camp for serious and intensive discussions of mutual problems which were to transfer themselves to each city and each Camp Kvutza in the country. Most of our haverim spent that summer either at Killingworth. without whom there would have been no Camp Galil today. The impetus of the Camp Kvutza. The young branches. Connecticut. or as inspiration for a new year's activities cannot be minimized. the kitchen had an old wood-burning stove. All efforts were bent toward getting a camp for Philadelphia and vicinity. 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.
it was at first difficult to utilize the camp to its fullest extent. Killingworth could no longer be used and the Amenia site was not adequate. and installed electricity. but there are many local differences and loyalties which can be positive. Few children came to camp-the camp leadership was not from Philadelphia and. the New York mahaneh was having its camp difficulties. the civil engineers in the group directed the building of the necessary footbridge to cross the stream. To solve this dilemma an arrangement was made whereby the New York haverim registered at Galil for the summer. We are all part of one movement. however. serviced that number-this. they were somewhat overwhelmed by the influx of the New Yorkers. which would in turn provide children for the summer season. camp rarely. Interesting results followed. consequently. during the struggle for Statehood. The cycle was rather vicious. The electrical engineers in the group planned. The experience for Philadelphia. 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. 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. In 1953. The idea as finally formulated called for the establishment of two camps on the Galil site. While eighty children could be accommodated. Interest in the camp was further heightened by the events of 1947-48. In 1952. was somewhat unnerving. if ever. The next few years were filled with gradual growth and improvement. one would retain the name Galil and 118 . Because of the weakness of Habonim in the city. designed. there was no leadership for the winter mahaneh. The lessons learned that summer were to be utilized during the following year.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT proving the camp site. Aside from the fact that Philadelphia haverim acquired Brooklyn accents.
During our camping history. But this was not enough. Registration would be limited to forty campers. despite all the handicaps. quite clear at the end of the summer that such an arrangement could never be repeated. The idea of two separate camps with separate staffs and differing orientation was too difficult an undertaking to be of any real success. The best that can be said of that summer was that. in addition to the everyday terminology. and while the camps might never become completely Hebrew-speaking. It was agreed that every Habonim camp should have as much Hebrew as possible in its program. Camp Amal would register children ages thirteen through sixteen who met the Hebraic requirements. at the same time. The Camp Committee of Galil wholeheartedly endorsed this approach and determined upon a course which would make Galil a truly Hebrew-centered camp and. they should become Hebrew centered. Being on the approved list of the Council brought help 119 . however. Camp terminology was almost exclusively Hebrew. quite a bit was accomplished in both camps. It was. It was during this year that the movement crystallized its thinking with regard to a central Hebrew-speaking camp. 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. This meant that the facilities of Galil were to be used to their maximum. The idea now evolved to include. a great deal of Hebrew was always used. make use of its facilities by improving the physical plant so as to be able to attract more children. the Council on Jewish Education of Philadelphia approved Camp Galil as one of three Hebrew camps for which it provided scholarships.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING would accept campers from ages nine through twelve only. and could register up to sixty children. actual classes for study of the language.
Several of the largest congregations in the city also announced to its membership that it would grant scholarships to children desirous of attending Galil. Improvements to camp continue.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT from other quarters. at least sympathetic to our program and completely cooperative in carrying it out. In some cases. a number of staff members of Galil were employed from the student body of Gratz College. In most cases. The swimming pool was completely rebuilt. they have covered the equivalent of a full year's work in the city. if not directly connected with our movement. Not only will this be avoided in the future. camp was full. A second well was dug primarily to provide water for the pool and to act as a supplementary water supply for general use. Supplementing the Habonim staff were Gratz College students working to our mutual advantage. A Hebrew Educators Advisory Committee was organized and the Hebrew program of Galil approved. Galil depended on the creek for water for the swimming pool. In 1956. registration was closed by the end of March. In previous years. 120 . the Hebrew teachers' training institution of Philadelphia. and in 1957. Many of the youngsters bring with them specific requests from their teachers and principals as to material to be covered. especially in the case of boys. The Hebrew program at Galil is flexible enough to be able to provide for these individual needs. It should be noted that the national office was never able to supply the total staff needs of Galil. if necessary. the water level of the creek continued to fall so that there were times when the pool could not be properly filled. 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. for the first time. In addition. During the past few summers. the Gratz College students were.
We are raising a new generation of children and a new generation of parents. They are not interested in running a camp just for the sake of a summer business. Our parents. It has made its mark in the Philadelphia Jewish community and its prestige is at its highest point. In the "old days. is to no avail unless it leads to an invigorated and expanded youth movement in the city. We wanted to simulate the life of the Kvutza in Eretz Yisrael as closely as possible. All of this. deeply committed to Labor Zionism. like it or not. The Camp Committee has assumed all of the responsibility of a Chay Commission." primitive sites and difficult conditions were almost a matter of principle. however. 121 . But.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The future of Galil seems assured. "The road of the halutz is a long and difficult one and if it isn't. Habonim camping has traveled a long road in the past twenty-five years. were no less concerned about our welfare during the summer than parents today. Parents today seem more concerned for the material aspects of camp life and. those of us now responsible for our camps must take this into account.” This in a sense represented our thinking. But they were neither shocked nor disturbed by "primitive" conditions. the Kvutza in Israel has also undergone some metamorphoses and the American Kvutza must reflect these changes. All members of the Camp Committee are dedicated to this purpose. and every meeting has on its agenda a report from the rosh mahaneh of Philadelphia Habonim. make it. But problems have arisen. I well remember the heated discussions which took place among haverim in Philadelphia when Galil contemplated installing an automatic dishwashing machine. immigrants themselves. Haverim cried that this would violate the principle of self-labor. and the problems of the youth movement are an integral part of each camp meeting.
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. It was David Biderman who wrought the miracle of Habonim in Winnipeg and set the stage for the first camp. Winni- 122 . 1957 KVUTZA IN CANADA GIMLI. and no one would have suspected that it came about as a sort of by-product of work for the Royal Canadian Air Force. when he was through inspecting aircraft for the day. Only experienced campers would have balked at such a plan. He became a military aircraft inspector for the RCAF stationed in Winnipeg. In one of those strange wartime transmutations. In cannot be changed without destroying the very basis for which our camps were created. MANITOBA Camp Kvutza hit the plains of Manitoba in the summer of 1941 when Canada was already at war and the "United States was still waiting for Pearl Harbor. The only clue to his earth-bound past was slyly concealed in his home address: He lived on Burrows Street in Winnipeg. 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. Daniel Isaacman. David Biderman. Once Winnipeg Habonim reached mahaneh status they could settle for nothing less than a Camp Kvutza of their own. however. he went out to organize Habonim at night.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Educationally. who had received a mining engineer's degree from McGill University in Montreal. But miner or airman. The Winnipeg movement was young and vigorous then. by temperament David Biderman was no one-job man.
blue-eyed sons and daughters of Iceland dominated the village streets. There was a church of roughhewn stone authentic enough to have been transplanted from the old village back home. It was in no way distinguished from other cottages in the neighborhood. The curious campers welcomed the distinguished guests. was at the outskirts of Gimli. a black. The business manager who commuted on weekends was Sully Spector. Appropriate to the camp site. turned out to greet them. Blond. about two blocks from the lake and close by a public wooded area. When David and Sully arrived-no matter what the time of day-the whole camp. but special cheers were always reserved for the venerable Bar Mitzva. Shimin. but the town had not yet lost the Icelandic character of its original settlers. The cottage itself was a one-story wooden building partly enclosed by an L-shaped screened porch. Kasedy was cook-and a good oneand as a special dispensation she was permitted to bring along her son. neither in appearance nor in the quarter-acre plot it occupied. I was imported from New York to be rosh and factotum. high-topped Ford that made the weekly 123 . And the fishing boats that sailed Lake Winnipeg rather than the saltier North Atlantic nevertheless carried salty sailors and bore names taken from the old Norse sagas. forty strong. There is a large RCAF airbase nearby. Mrs. The camp site. a bright-eyed youngster who was under age for camp. Calof's cottage. special friend of the court.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING peg's first Kvutza would be held at Calof's cottage in Gimli on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. There were some summer cottages in 1941. Gimli has changed considerably in recent years. Geulah Green was the registered nurse and lifeguard. the staff was small and hybrid. He used to drive up with David Biderman. Aliyah Kare was dean of arts and crafts and second in command of the kitchen. and the town itself is honeycombed with the cottages of Winnipeg vacationers.
etc. camp fires at the beach.democratic Icelandic law. tired kids. The constable sent me to the mayor. in his shirtsleeves trimming a hedge. The tents could not go up without the mayor's approval. while tent-pegs were held in abeyance. And from the mayor I brought word to the constable-and only then did the pegs go in and the first tent go up. Even the cook in the kitchen could not escape them. Thors in a garage. The camp had the usual trials and triumphs: rains that came and tents that fell. quizzing each on his home ground Nielson in a tractor shed. A fact not generally known is that the Gimli camp almost died in embryo and had it not been for the great democratic tradition of Iceland. 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. It is unlikely that campers anywhere lived more closely than the campers at Gimli. it was pitched according to law . I dashed from one councilman to another. I ran around like Chicken Licken taking a census. With the tents up and the campers covered. the mayor. most assuredly that would have been its fate. the season got under way. The advantages in the setup were priceless: No one could be out of earshot of the discussions. So. The Ford often faltered but it never failed. That day I had a job on my hands. One day before the opening. parents who were torn between their loyalty to Labor Zionism and their concern for the welfare of their child- 124 . Olafson in the general store. and for Winnipeg Habonim it symbolized the indomitable halutz spirit.-until the roll call was completed and breathlessly I could report the affirmative vote to the mayor.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT pilgrimage. the advance crew of three set to work pitching tents on the Calof lawn. sent me to garner the opinions of the five councilmen. That tent was not simply pitched.
just at that point. . the Farband. In his talk. 1940 125 . . still others were disappointed to find the dam unfinished. Yisrael Kvutza. was blessed with the unfaltering benevolence of King Saul. Accord. 1957 AFIKIM The opening of Camp Kvutza at Markham. In fact. Some inspected the eighty percent-finished dining room and kitchen. haverim spoke for the Poale Zion. he offered to rent the spot for every Sunday in the summer. He hoped the Toronto haverim would choose a name for Kvutza in keeping with our ideals. Moreover. Pinhas Rimon." Moshe Rubinoff. Strangely enough. The opening was held around the flag poles. But the wisest of all went exploring in the forests. with the iron cots and brand new mattresses. After Tehezakna. There were earnest daydreams and the stubborn belief that somehow all of this was bringing everyone closer to Eretz Yisrael . the Pioneer Women. the name of an Eretz. one of the rivers (we are at the junction of two streams) brought fond memories of the beautiful showers of that historic site. he stressed the place of America in Labor Zionism in light of the plight of Jewry in Europe. others looked around the sleeping quarters. Ontario. There were frenched beds and a pillow fight that covered the grounds with feather-snow. over 125 haverim and friends packed three trucks and several cars and filled the grounds. and one found a most beautiful nook for discussions. 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. As a result. Our Kvutza is named "Afikim. and Habonim. At first everything was disorganized as everybody went out exploring.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ren. somehow it did.
however. At that time. it has a capacity of sixty people. itself had extended its own camp period. Although several places were located. and furthermore. Because of the primitive conditions. which was again rented from the C. heavilywooded camp site with water frontage on a beautiful little cove. as rosh. Camp Hatikvah. the idea was first brought forward that Habonim should own a camp site. At present. the camp of the Zionist Organization of British Columbia in 1950. In the fall of 1951. About twenty-five attended this first twoweek camp. thirty miles west of Vancouver. suffered from being too close to civilization.C. the site of Camp Miriam moved back again to its primitive Gabriola Island site.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP MIRIAM Camp Miriam was named after Miriam Biderman and is located on Gabriola Island. lack of adult supervision at that time made the work of the committee 126 . Amram Milner. it turned out that we would not be able to rent this camp in the future because the Zionist Organization of B. Vancouver Habonim was first organized by Bert and Marian Waldman in 1948. The mahaneh set up a Camp Site Investigation Committee.F. It was rented for two weeks.C. Camp Kvutza Miriam was held at Camp Hatikvah. It was soon realized that as an intensive supplement to the program of the mahaneh in the winter. the local C. And so in 1951. This was a two-week camp with the shaliah.F. for a period of two weeks. Moishe Loffman of Winnipeg was rosh Kvutza that year. a Camp Kvutza in the summer was necessary. Doodle Horowitz was rosh Kvutza. thus precluding our use of the site. This committee spent many pleasant weekends traveling around the scenic local fiords hunting camp sites. It is a nine-acre.C. We have been a long time in acquiring it. on Gabriola Island. The first Habonim Camp Kvutza of Vancouver Habonim was held in the summer of 1949 at Camp Wordsworth. camp.
In 1953 Camp Miriam was again held on Gabriola Island for two weeks with Al Linden as rosh. After much hunting. we would have to buy it. the C. In the summer of 1952. Some active parents were approached as well as some seniors of the Labor Zionist movement. it was felt that an alternative to Gabriola Island had to be found because of the difficulty in transportation to the Island and the primitive. The seniors then formed an incorporated society for the purpose of buying the camp property. By this time. unhygienic conditions existing there.F. Fortunately the C. a threeweek Camp Kvutza was made possible. conditions on the Island had improved from terrible to merely bad and it was with optimism that we looked forward to going back again to Gabriola Island in 1956. sold us the camp on very easy terms.F.. 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. on the site of a former girls' camp.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING abortive. decided that they would no longer be in the landlord business and that if we wanted to use the camp the following summer. being fellow Socialists. the problem of its development is up 127 . and they were told that if there was no camp that summer. This camp was particularly fortunate in having on the staff three Workshoppers.C. Camp Miriam in 1954 was located at Roberts Creek. The Roberts Creek camp site was even worse than Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island. at about this time. the existence of Vancouver Habonim would be seriously threatened. Although we were still unable to purchase a camp. and so in 1955. Now that the Gabriola Island camp site is the property of the Habonim Zionist Society. with the growth of the mahaneh.C. we again crossed the Straits of Georgia to the Gabriola Island camp site. The 1956 camp was a three-week season with Nahman Goldwasser as rosh. This camp ran for three weeks with Asher Wallfish as shaliah and Allen (Geli) Gelfond as rosh.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT to us and the local parents and seniors. 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. there was a stable (and it still stands today) which housed horses. those who suffered afterwards from lime burn. Who can forget whitewashing the kitchen (to cover last summer's soot) and dining room until it was sparkling in the sunlight. which are to have priority in the next few years. the little creek behind the kitchen that was our ice box. the haverim who went to Ste. those who got many blisters chopping firewood to keep the stove going red hot all summer. 1957 MONTREAL Once upon a time. There in Prefontaine. trudging through the swamp connecting the pipeline bringing water to camp. the many times the smoke stack shifted a bit and smoke was heavy and thick? Who can forget the overnight 128 . In 1957. and then off to another direction for another pit for another purpose. or the famous soups that we had in those days which couldn't be had in the Waldorf Astoria. Plans for the development of the site include especially development of kitchen facilities and playground. Agathe to get axes sharpened. Max Langer. digging a new garbage pit. chasing hornets. and sort of forgot to come back. 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. the great baseball games at the playing field near the tents. 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. many haverim spent wonderful summers at Kvutza and at seminars.
having the same wonderful time. and Yapha (Jennie) Zesmer. Zesmer. and financial means. Irving Brodsky. acting as a committee for the Southwest Habonim. Camp Kvutza has changed places. Isaac Goldstein. Habonim groups were functioning. TEXAS Ever since the founding of Gordonia in Texas in 1929. a group of friends of Habonim dedicated to the precept of Camp Kvutza. the day one haver climbed over a fence and stepped into a hornet's nest. A Camp Bonim Association. but many miles further in the mountains. Haverim who were at Kvutza in those days have traveled and settled in various parts of the world. the many cases of poison ivy? Years have come and gone. Among these devoted friends were Harry Sigel. selected a site on Lake Dallas for a Habonim Camp Kvutza. To everyone's chagrin a polio epidemic made it impossible to open camp in 1940 and necessitated postponement of the program. In the summer of 1939. Several of the Association's members who devoted much time. and Dr.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING hikes. New Orleans Louisiana. Maurice Levy. effort. Jacob Feldman. should be mentioned. in Houston and San Antonio. the haverim of the Dallas groups planned for a summer camping program. 129 . at a place called Lac Quenoilles. Texas. It was then that Moshe Smith. It was not until ten years later that such an opportunity presented itself. was organized in the course of the year. but new and sparkling and full of Habonim. not any more in Prefontaine. and Tulsa. Cocoa Cheifetz. a madrich of the Dallas movement. Times have changed and so has Kvutza-not like the old camp. 1957 KVUTZA IN THE SOUTHWEST CAMP BONIM. I. Oklahoma. with the writer of this report. in addition to the four groups in Dallas.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT all of Dallas. was always considered phenomenal. The camping program was extended to an ever-growing movement. Raphael Levin. A number of Dallas haverim. and in others throughout Texas. Shahna Kahn. David Zesmer. Camp Bonim observed kashrut (as do all Habonim camps). Zevi Borofsky. and I. Bernard Rubenstein. Meir Sigel. Ami Levin. committees of friends of Camp Bonim were formed for the purpose of making this decade-old dream a reality. Association by friends in the three states for the purchase and improvement of the site. and Nathan Karin of San Antonio. Gerber. then a member of the Dallas Hebrew School faculty. worked with the writer to make this success possible. Subsequent years were periods of real Habonim expansion in the region. as 130 . called Camp Bonim blessed. currently of Minneapolis. and Hannah Wiederman of Houston . and Yitzhak Groner. Oklahoma. Yapha Chesnick. and Abraham Sinkin. all of Dallas. Leah Waltman. Zalman Kahn. Nad. veterans in Habonim.all did a real halutzic job in planning for Camp Bonim and in implementing these plans. Zalman Schneider. The winter of 1945 saw the purchase of a site on Lake Dallas. Some $60. Yaakov Ely.000 was contributed through the Camp Bonim. Taubman (currently in Tulsa). and Louisiana. This was always considered by the founders and madrichim. The invaluable assistance of Kalman Shapiro. Weiner of Houston. In each of these communities. I. particularly in the smaller towns where no Jewish education was possible. Camp Bonim opened its first season on a leased site on Lake Dallas. Herman P. 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. Avraham Groner. M. Bruno Sigel. Moshe Smith. From the very outset. and the summer of that year brought two hundred campers to Camp Bonim. In the summer of 1941. and parents in the communities.
can be discussed at a Kvutza meeting and will undoubtedly be passed with very little opposition. programs. aided me in formulating and developing certain ideas with regard to the basic principles of Kvutza. morning exercise. I am sure that. kitchen duty. study. 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. Yaakov Levin. and contemplation. handicrafts. near Detroit. From time to time. which no Kvutza should be without.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING an integral must in any Jewish educational program. Problems such as bedtime. even such a measure as common fund. 1957 EXPERIMENTS AND TRENDS THE COMING SEASON My experience last summer with Kinneret. The campers may talk 131 . Experience. 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. given the opportunity. work. Those of us who drew up plans for Kinneret last summer were alike in one respect-we were all inexperienced. Shabbat at Camp Bonim was. an occasion for perfect rest. however. senior haverim would visit the camp for Shabbat and sing the praises of the type of education Camp Bonim offered. can certainly be handled in this manner. would have cramped our style last year. We had ideas. if anything. and for this reason. For example. the campers will decide to do the right thing at Kvutza meetings. The entire camp program was geared toward a full and enriching Jewish experience in the spirit of Labor Eretz Yisrael. from the very inception.
will receive much enthusiasm on the part of the campers. work and handicrafts are not being neglected in our Kvutzot. Our camps present a golden opportunity for us to put some of the concepts of halutziut into practice. On second thought. In the case of a permanent Kvutza. The dining room at Kinneret is by no means a professional job. no one will want to stay up past a reasonable hour.vegetable and floral culture. however. Arm in arm with work goes gardening. and the cost and effort expended on such a project will be repaid if plans are carefully laid out and executed. it is necessary to take a trip to Kvutza every week and put in several hours of work. should play a major role in Kvutza activities and. To my knowledge. and in order to carry out this project successfully. it might also be wise to plant trees for ornamental purposes as well as for fruit. they can be counteracted by artificial means. but if a discussion of the benefits of an earlier day and the harm done by late hours is carefully conducted. if planned properly. Work. such as poor soil conditions or extreme drought. Gardening can and should be of two kinds . even at the expense of a more professional job. of course. Both vegetable and flower gardening must be begun in April or May. even to the extent of killing the idea of a garden. but by giving them an opportunity to be instrumental in the actual building of the Kvutza. and such a principle as the "conquest of labor" should be exploited to its limit. On the surface this may seem a disadvantage. The best way to give the camp back to the campers is not by merely giving them a voice in their own government. and we should certainly be given an opportunity to build. Habonim are builders. This may be difficult to carry through in some Kvutzot because of unfavorable natural factors. this is a decided advantage since the Kvutza with a garden begins not in July but in April 132 . However poor these conditions may be.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT about staying up late. but it means a great deal to about ten boys who had a band in building it.
the garden should develop. but postponing work on the garden spells failure. Danny Ginsburg. Gardening also furnishes a permanent work project during the season. Flowers and landscaping are also of great significance. Flowers and shrubs can transform a barren piece of land into a beautiful scene. Other projects can be postponed from day to day. and labor is of little significance if it does not go hand in hand with a desire for beauty and freshness. A feeling for aesthetics should be inculcated in Habonim. In short. one or two vegetables could be grown in larger quantities to be sold to neighboring markets. It is unreasonable to expect a crop for consumption from the vegetable garden the first season. 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.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING or May. 1940 133 . Little by little. This should rather be spent in gaining experience and learning which crops grow most successfully. The garden might even be developed to such an extent that after a few years. and here is a grand opportunity. 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. gardening entails certain responsibilities which every camper should experience. however.
Fifteen boys and girls between the ages of fifteen and seventeen attended the camp. not to mention halutziut. The campers were given an opportunity to participate in the various branches-barn. To our surprise. it is possible to expose successfully young American Jews to collective agricultural life. CREAMRIDGE Camp Avoda at the Hehalutz farm in Creamridge. This was partly due to the assignment of routine jobs to the campers. where they received an education along Reconstructionist lines. gradually began to adopt the outlook and standards of intimate collective groups. prepared the daily work schedule. chickens. 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. in the course of the summer. 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 . and so on. The life of the camp was. while several had almost no knowledge of Eretz Yisrael and Zionism. rather than giving them an opportunity to do work which they would find more interesting and which would require a certain degree of skill. The campers elected their own person to assign the work who. built around work. a number were students of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. The campers participated in both cultural and agricultural discussions. the campers. Although we were rather skeptical at the beginning. cannery. of course. such as picking tomatoes or cleaning chicken coops. began as an experiment and ended as an established institution. we found that almost without any conscious guidance on our part. within reasonable limits.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT CAMP AVODA. by the end of last summer. High school-age boys and girls came to Creamridge to live and work with an established collective group. The group was a rather heterogeneous one. most of us were ready to admit that. together with us. garden. New Jersey.
there was a discussion about whether boys have to work in the kitchen and clean house as well as girls. the campers were given a good deal of freedom of choice and decision. During the first few 135 . the cultural work was too limited and lacking in intensity-for example. Camp Avoda in some ways fell short of what it might have been. the work program was not organized in a manner that would have been most beneficial to the campers. the campers met to discuss and to decide about the problems that arose in the maintenance and the functioning of the camp. was in reference to our own farm economy. These discussions aroused considerable h1terest and proved very worthwhile.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING economy. an argument ensued as to whether some campers may go to a movie on a day when the others are swimming or whether the whole group must have their recreation together. Despite the fact that the group was a small one and that camp life followed a rather simple pattern. As mentioned before. but the group as a whole was an alert one and there were many lively arguments and debates. of course. we did not have an adequate library of Zionist and other literature which campers could read at their leisure. there were innumerable small problems. A good part of the discussions. Five or six times during the summer. One evening a week was devoted to a cultural discussion concerning aspects of modern Jewish life throughout the world with particular emphasis on Zionism. some difficulties were encountered in presenting these discussions. and suggestions brought up at these meetings. We naturally tried to have Camp Avoda run as democratically as possible. Several campers wanted a room in the house to be set aside as a recreation and letter-writing room. questions. and so on. Because of the varying backgrounds of the campers. and except for a few elementary rules upon which we insisted. 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.
The campers went home with a very real appreciation of the farm and at least an acquaintance with halutziut. they were asked to analyze collective living. When at the beginning of the summer. as something that did not need further proof. they began to adopt more and more of our methods. and finally it was decided that the boxes were to be shared equally among the campers and members of the farm alike. to extol or criticize it. heard. They liked us and they liked the way we lived. Most of us thought it likely that they would ridicule. many of them came to visit us for weekends and holidays. At first the candy was the private property of the particular tent in which the recipient lived. A few weeks before the end of the season. we met with almost complete opposition. there were also a good many technical shortcomings which should have been avoided. better planned. and felt. There was a good deal of disagreement about whether this type of life was possible on a large scale at the present time. the idea of keeping clothes collectively. we proposed a common fund. the campers gradually began to realize the advantages of collective living. for instance. After a time. and better organized Camp Avoda. Yet. later the campers themselves again brought up the suggestion and it was accepted. parents sent boxes of candy and cookies. Purely on the basis of what they saw. that living collectively was better and preferable to any other way of life.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT weeks. Several are returning this summer to participate in a larger. As happens in every camp. we feel that we achieved the basic purposes of Camp Avoda. Al Weingrod. During the year. 1944 136 . but everyone who spoke assumed. then it was shared among the campers. on the basis of their own experience. but it was just the opposite.
The staff had little Hebrew camping experience and was poorly prepared. it has won national recognition as one of the outstanding Hebrew-speaking camps in America. We have been too concerned with the very survival of Amal to give adequate consideration to its role within the movement. Even a cursory evaluation would disclose that Amal has fostered the study of Hebrew in our movement. It was but three years ago that we hesitantly opened Amal on a rented site in Vermont. Few haverim expressed interest in attending Amal. Bialik. Habonim's Hebrew-speaking camp. After three uncertain years of experimentation. We were disturbed by the cloistered atmosphere of many existing camps. and gained for Habonim new prestige in the Jewish educational world.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING AMAL IN RETROSPECT Amal. Amal has realized the dreams of its founders. Therefore. But it might also be shown that Amal's successes have not been achieved without prejudicing the halutzic character of our camps. however. on one occasion. Institutions. Amal. In view of the small registration. Habonim has never had an opportunity to determine the future of this nascent institution. But we felt strongly that we had a mission to fulfill in Hebrew camping. the Merkaz. 137 . has established its own camping patterns and set into motion uncertain forces. do not await official decisions. in its three years of existence. despite the initial movement apathy. They were fostering a native Hebrew-speaking elite. we decided in favor of continuing our efforts on behalf of Amal. This was hardly an auspicious beginning. The movement greeted this venture with singular indifference. nearly decided to abandon the project. Their educational program bypassed halutziut. has attracted a considerable number of new haverim. and chose to ignore the pressing need of Eretz Yisrael: an American halutz aliya. We opened in the summer of 1948 with a handful of campers. They glibly spoke of the national poet. has completed its third season.
They felt that it had failed.HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT Haverim seriously questioned reopening Amal in 1949. As evidence of our coming of age. Strong arguments were advanced for giving up Amal-our personnel shortage was acute. This time. Many observers claimed that our campers spoke more Hebrew than the campers of any other Hebrew-speaking camp in America. The season began with forty-five campers who were determined to make it a success. We hoped to create a camp modeled along the lines of our other camps. In recognition of Amal's promise. to a large extent. Prominent Hebrew educators were solicited to add their names to our list of sponsors. an ambitious program was prepared for the public. there were but dim hopes of registering an adequate number of campers. It was no longer an experiment. It was therefore with great trepidation that the Merkaz finally decided in favor of reopening the camp. and twenty-two scholarships were awarded to Amal by various Hebrew school systems. the Merkaz assigned Tel Meir. Hebrew educators from many sections of America visited Amal during the season and were im- 138 . On August 9th. a performance of Yitzhak Lamdan's Masada was witnessed and applauded by sixty parents and guests. Several Jewish educational institutions were induced to award scholarships to Amal. and this we had seemingly accomplished without vitiating our halutzic Zionist program. During the winter of 1949-1950. and the national budget could not again sustain a financial loss such as it had in Amal's first season. Amal's partisans were soon active on all fronts. This was to be its last chance. in Connecticut. the number of sponsoring Jewish educational institutions increased from two to six. to its fledgling Hebrew camp as its permanent site. This past summer we confidently opened the season with sixty haverim. the camper response was more encouraging. We ended our second season with the realization that Amal had proved itself. we succeeded. Nor did our work go unnoticed in the Jewish community. And.
1950 139 . 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. Daily formal class work had been introduced.
Kvutza and the Individual .
A promise of The day ahead Of quiet Five o'clock A sun so bright Has replaced The dim of night In quiet Six o'clock The day is come But at Kvutza Till day is done No quiet! Rita Greenberg. o'er all Is quiet Three o'clock The whippoorwills Softly mock From yonder hills In the quiet Four o'clock The sky is red. 1937 142 . Soft winds rock The trees.NIGHT WATCH Two o'clock The raindrops fall.
we finally reach home.01 worth of candy-no more. and quiet. Here we are refreshed by popsicles and exactly $.discussion groups – activities – dip – lunch rest and correspondence – sports – swimming – supper . and singing for all. there is great rejoicing over the new outhouse. This evening we have a hike to Accord via the new route discovered by Benny and Yehiel. and everyone. tents and madrichim are assigned. and the exclamation. with dancing for those who are not too tired after the long train ride. to say nothing of Avram. Sleep now.clean-up . in comfortable camp clothes. July 3rd Campers arrive. 143 . no less. Tonight we have an amateur hour. to drop right off to dreamland. Washing is over. under the direction of Benny. to find talent for the Drama Circle-to-be. Among last year's haverim. Tuesday. Amid much excitement. Tiptoeing through the metropolis so as not to wake the immense population. And so to bed.and one of the many evening activities possible in Kvutza. July 4th Today the regular daily program begins: Rise and shine – exercise – washing – breakfast . First and last stop is the place of business of Mr. leans back (on his neighbor) after a muchneeded supper and listens to Dave's welcoming speech. is it swell to be back!" echoes and reechoes to the bewilderment of the newcomers. "Oh boy. Stan and Sol are prize kibitzers. Then a camp fire. July 5th The regular program again today. tired but happy. Block.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ACCORD DIARY Sunday. Monday.
1957. Michigan. 1957. 1953. Kinneret. 1957. Volleyball at Kinneret. Chelsea. Scout-craft Competition at Maccabia. Basketball at Maccabia.Midwest Camp Habonim. Three Rivers. 1957. 1957. Attacking the Weeds. . Galil. Michigan. Flag Raising at Midwest Camp Habonim. Campers at Midwest Camp Habonim. 1954.
Habonim Camp Kvutza Naame. Midwest Camp Habonim. 1957. Green Valley Station. 1957. Campfire at Midwest Camp Habonim. . 1956. Camp Kvutza Naame. California. Saugus.In the tradition at Kinneret: Building the Migdal. Friday afternoon lunch on the patio.
1957. . and Camp Habonim.Hora around the Campfire. 1957. arriving at Galil for Maccabia. 1957. Campers from Moshava. Camp Kvutza Naame. Midwest Camp Habonim. Dedicating the new Arts and Crafts Pavilion. Camp Habonim. 1957.
Canada. Joint Flag Raising of the three camps at Maccabia.The Swimming Pool at Camp Kvutza Naame. Yemenite Dance. Waiting for the Ferry to Camp Miriam. Galil. British Columbia. Gabriola Island. 1957. 1956. Visitors Day. . Camp Kvutza Naame.
Friday.is begun under the expert direction of Judy G. and the boys are working on an aquarium in which to keep material for Sammy's dissection mania. We have free time tonight.The Cookooricoo . Their motto is: O. they feel that the stars sparkling in the velvet heavens have come nearer to earth and are watching over Kvutza. At lunch the Celibates Club is organized at a special table which excludes haverot. and clean up. Struck by the magnificent beauty of the sky and surrounding mountains. July 7th Looking about this morning. July 8th All day today is given over to preparation for Shabbat. we hear The Cookooricoo read by Stan and then sing songs of Shabbat. to the great delight of our intelligentsia. one sees a veritable hive of industry. 148 . We have a leisurely breakfast. Two haverim volunteer to wash the dining room and kitchen floors.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL Wednesday. Saturday. it begins to rain. Sammy and Marvin (who declares that at least he is a confirmed bachelor) are the unworthy specimens of humanity who lead this ridiculous movement. As the haverim tear themselves away to bed. we sleep an extra half hour this morning. . Everyone is dressed in white shorts and blue Habonim shirts for Friday night. At the table the candles are lit and the prayer sung by Edna before we sit down to eat. July 6th It is agreed that "Harishona" is a suitable name for our Accord Kvutza since we were literally "the first. discussion. The camp paper . We do our laundry in the creek. Gathered on the hill. luxury. we gather together on the grass to sing. As the Bible circles in Hebrew and English begin this afternoon.F.Off Ferns Forever.F. July 9th Ah. The library is open." Thursday. and we march down the hill singing happily.
heigh ho. Tonight we have a camp fire with singing. Wednesday. July 10th This morning there is a talk and discussion conducted by Shlomo on the present situation in Eretz Yisrael. the group sets out. All the haverim are back for a delayed lunch. Parents begin to arrive. Each tent presents a skit or a like exhibition. It is decided that haverim of fifteen and over will take an overnight hike tonight after supper.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Sunday. stunt night. after which 149 . Monday. seem to regard this with disfavor for it starts to rain. we gather in the dining room for songs and games. July 11th Today we are settled again. however. it's off to Minewaska we go!" And amid the cheers of the remaining campers. as on previous days. The elements. July 13th Kvutza seems empty this morning with only half the haverim here. Finally the sun breaks through the clouds just in time to set. "Heigh ho. So the younger haverim go to bed. No morning exercises. The grass is very wet as we walk up the hill to bed. And then to bed. with one or two people doubling up because some trunks have not yet arrived. Later. begging Dave for an extra hour of sleep tomorrow. Yehiel's determination is of some avail because the shower suddenly stops. A new batch of haverim come from the city and there is much excitement during the meeting of old friends and new. This afternoon it rains and. Tuesday. July 12th We are awakened this morning by reveille blown by Harriet on her trumpet. praise be to Allah! The younger people go on a short hike immediately after breakfast while those that remained for various reasons help in the kitchen.
July 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. our tents and persons spotless. The stream goes by. besides clean-up. Now to our tents after singing and dancing. It seems a perfect antidote for insomnia. while at the top of the hill are horseshoe and deck tennis games. A "Candid Camera Fiend" or two stay behind to record on film our march down the hill. and Dave R. 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. Ready for supper. and preparation for a debate-" Resolved: That Socialism as such will solve the Jewish problem. we have free time. Down by the kitchen we have ping-pong. we listen to The Cookooricoo as read by Avram. and the waterfall competes with Dave's voice as he reads to us the past week's diary and news from the other camps. 150 . Reading circles are the only activities this afternoon. For Shabbat we snap pictures of our haverim in Habonim shirts and white shorts. Still gathered on the rocks. we have arts and crafts and scoutcraft. July 14th There are discussions this morning on the trials in Russia. Thursday. Friday. After lunch. and following supper. Back by the tents and joined by the kitchen committee. Now bed and sleep at last. are on guard duty so all hopes for a peaceful night are futile. but-Miriam L." Today the equipment for all sorts of sports is spread over the camp.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. we watch Mutzie present Barry with a diploma from Fibber's College.
there is dancing and singing. One expects them all to be a like . the campers beat the madrichim 17-7. Accord Diary. Swimming is naturally one of the main activi- 151 . of course. My first stop this year was at Kendall. the bottom floor used as a dining room and kitchen. schools. the same program and activities-yet each Kvutza represents a unique world of its own. written by Benny Lappin and produced by Ruth L. the same institutions. civilizations-so do the varying backgrounds of our haverim place an individual stamp upon each Camp Kvutza. one from the other. the top floor used as a handicrafts and cultural room -that is the entire camp. and the author. the Kvutza which serves our upstate New York movements. And so the second week of camp ends. Most of the farmers are Norwegians and the relations between the camp and the farmers are excellent. Farm land stretches out on all sides.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Saturday. Afterwards. Situated on a plain on the shore of Lake Ontario-no mountains or bills . homes. Just as all settlements in Eretz Yisrael differ. the same bylaws.for are they not organized and managed the same way. 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. 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. Five wigwam tents in a straight line and a large and spacious two-story barn. New York. July 16th Today is the final conflict: let each stand in his place-the campers play a baseball game of chills and thrills. Amid much excitement and conflicting emotions in the cheering section.a few trees mark the spot.
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ties as Lake Ontario with its clear blue waters is only fifty yards away. The haverim there built a long wooden jetty of water which gradually gets deeper and deeper as you go on. Only this year, millions of little fish had been dumped into the lake from the Canadian side, and they had floated over to the American shores. Thus, during the first weeks in camp, their bodies littered the beach, kept you company while you swam, and frequently went into your mouth if you were not careful. From Rochester, I climbed up and up to the Laurentian Mountains in Prefontaine, Quebec, where our Montreal camp is situated. Physically, the camp there is a very poor one, an old building with various compartments used as cabins, dining room and kitchen, an office, and two tents. In general, our haverim from Montreal come from very poor districts - most of them forced to begin working in factories at the ages of fourteen to fifteen. From many points of view, Montreal is like an East European city with the Jews living almost in a ghetto and the population, mostly French Catholics, very anti-Semitic. Most of our haverim there speak Yiddish very well as they attend Yiddish parochial schools. Singing and dramatics is the specialty of Montreal. Every year they give a concert attended by 1200 people which is a highlight of the Jewish artistic season there. No monotones in Montreal-almost all have choir voices and most of the songs are sung in three voices. Two dramatic' presentations were carried through successfully the week I was there-one describing the life of Bialik; the other portraying the history of the Jewish Hagana in Eretz Yisrael, from the founding of the Hashomer until the occupation of Hanita. From there, southward to Camp Galil. The singing there; the manner in which J.N.F. projects were carried out; the exciting baseball games between the Varsity and the Scrubs; the ingenious costumes invented for the masquerade; the adventures of Ferdinand, the truck; the hike in the park near
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
the spot where Washington crossed the Delaware; the spirit of the oldest bonot - the famous LeHagshama group of Philadelphia - who though they found in camp only boys under thirteen and over twenty, expended their energy in leading groups and building up a healthy camp spirit-these are all unforgettable parts of Galil. Ben Zion Ilan, 1938 UNTIL NEXT YEAR And so it was the last day of Kvutza. We packed, we ran around camp looking for wrapping paper and twine, and we envied those fortunates who were staying for the seminar. Busy as we were, however, we could feel something strange in the air; a small committee had been picked by Dave with much secrecy and we wondered about its mysterious I duties. We ate, saying to ourselves and to each other, "This is the last lunch at Kvutza this year." The gods shared our disappointment, perhaps, for they sent down a flood of heavenly tears that transformed the camp into a mudhole. Through the downpour, our trunks and bags were carried to the truck and transported to Accord. A small band of brave halutzot rushed down the hill with a burden of "civilized clothes" which had to be ironed before they could be worn home on the morrow. And now loud lamentations could be heard from Kvutza. The secret had escaped; the cat was out of the bag. A gay farewell party had been planned for this last evening, a campfire, then a march to the pine trees decorated with Japanese lanterns under which was to have been set a feast fit for a king and also for us. Sobbing, we planned a substitute affair and sadly went about making preparations. At last, gathered at the top of the hill and dressed mostly in borrowed clothes, we were ready for supper. Suddenly a bombshell landed in our midst: an evening paper from Ellenville. War, it seemed, was near-the Soviet-Reich
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pact a reality, not just a fantastic nightmare. Thinking of the three-and-a-half million Jews in Poland, many our own relations, wondering whether Britain would indeed stand firm by her pledges to Poland, we were in no mood to appreciate the meal that was set before us. After supper everyone was chased back to the tents while preparations went on in the kitchen. Soon the whistle blew and we tramped into the dining room again. What a transformation! The room was decorated with crepe paper and balloons strung from the ceiling, candles of blue and white giving off the light by which we saw the tables spread with cake, candy, and fruit. We sat down together and sang at the tables all the songs we had sung during the full summer. When the tea had been served and cleared away, Dave rose to speak to us. Because of the news from abroad we were not having the festive evening that had been planned, but still we could look back with satisfaction on a summer of working, playing, and living together. He hoped that the time we had spent in Kvutza would provide a stimulus for more and better work in our various cities during the coming winter. As we left to go to bed, the sky was not yet clear, but the moon shone among the clouds. We took a good look around; this might be our last night at Accord for Dave had said Kvutza might be moved next year. People went to bed quietly-there wasn't as much noise as is usual on the last night at camp. Soon the hushed giggling and singing died down and we fell asleep. Evy Schwartz, 1939
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VIEW FROM KVUTZA HILL, ACCORD Around the hill on which we stand are ringed the woods, Deep, deep into the valley far below, And stretch until in fringing green encroach Upon the fields which roll beyond The utmost margin of our view to where The ranks of toothed hills stand row on row, Green blueing into gray until the last Is but a cloud. David E. Goldberg, 1939 TO KVUTZA In 1933, as we were preparing for Kvutza, the Nazi power was sweeping through Germany. As we packed our trunks in 1939, our thoughts turned back to the fall of Czechoslovakia. Another nation had crumbled because it believed in truth and decency. As we returned home from Kvutza that season, civilization was being crushed. War had come to a world that had not known peace. Last year we came to Kvutza with heavy hearts. France, the symbol of man's hope, had been defeated by the Nazi military machine, and Italy was in the war. The Mediterranean was a war zone and the first bombs had fallen on Eretz Yisrael. Now a Nazi band of steel is stretching into the Near East and is tightening about Eretz Yisrael-a band of steel which reaches about our hearts. We are again preparing to go to Kvutza. To us, Kvutza never has been an ordinary camp. To us, Kvutza has been a place where the things we be-
KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL
lieved could be practiced. It is in Kvutza that there is democracy. It is in Kvutza that all are equal. Our Kvutza is a place where we might learn and plan for the day when we could return to Eretz; Yisrael. In our Kvutza, we could dream and hope together for a day when there would be no war, when men might live a happier life in peace and security. This is no ordinary season for a far-from-ordinary Kvutza. During this season, we must win new faith in our beliefs. We have not yet had to fight for these beliefs of ours. But others are fighting. The British and their allies are fighting for the same things. The Jews and all others of Europe who believed in freedom have long endured the oppression of the swastika because of their belief in the principles of decency. The halutzim of Eretz Yisrael are standing to their guns to defend what they have built and their dreams for the future. We in Kvutza must grow strong in our beliefs and let those who now stand in the front lines know that they can count on us for whatever lies within our power to give in this fight for the future. Artie Goldberg, 1941 NIGTH WATCH The night was cold and dark, the moon passed silently overhead, and still she slept. Suddenly a tap on the shoulder, a yank of the little pigtails, and she was awakened by an obliging, sleepy-eyed haver. Hand in hand they walked to their first destination-the dining room. And there they found more than just an empty place, mosquitoes about the lights, and dirty dishes on the table; there was a building of which they were a part-they recently had carried logs to repair it, and now it was theirs. Dirty dishes did not matter, the mosquito bites did not itch quite so much - the place was theirs. Faithfully through the night they guarded it, and
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when the early hours of the morn began to break, they woke two other haverim. Yes, the girl with the pigtails and the sleepy-eyed haver were on guard duty. The dining room was theirs-all theirs! Haboneh, 1941 THE TREE Limp and lonely and lifeless, it hangs down the side of its cliff. Its naked roots clutch at the earth like fingers' that have lost their power to grasp at life. Around it we stand and we look down on it. And it seems strange to look down on something to which we had always looked up. It is The Tree. If you have ever been in Moshava, you know The Tree. Just across the grounds and follow the path to the water. You pass the ravine and the road to the New Cliff. And then you find The Tree. Or maybe it is that The Tree finds you. You stop to look at The Tree. It sits on its own cliff and it looks over the Severn River. It guards the haverim. on the beach and in the water. It sees the sailboats glide past. It watches the sunsets and the night skies. But when you stop to look at it, it turns. And it looks at you. Then you notice its arms are held out to you and you understand it is your first haver at Moshava. So you climb out on its strong roots and you settle yourself in its lap. For a while, you sit in silence-you and The Tree. And when at last you decide to leave, you go knowing that you will return. Many times you visit it. Sometimes you come with your haverim. Then all of you sit on its arms and around it and you lose yourself in discus-
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sion. Momentarily you forget where you are. Yet, when you look upward, you see The Tree and you know it listens sympathetically. Sometimes you bring your new group to The Tree. You are a madrich and you want to impress your haverim. And hardly a week passes now but that one of them recalls, "Remember that time we sat at The Tree?" Sometimes you come with a Certain One. For The Tree, alone, may know your secrets. But most times you come alone to The Tree. Early in the morning you come to it. Late at night when you cannot sleep. After Moshava has closed and you are back in the city, suddenly you have such a longing to leave your routine. And you take the first lift you can get. And you come back to Moshava. Like a mad one, you run down the path to The Tree. And you sit upon its roots and rest against its trunk. For a long time we knew it had to come down. Let the truth be known: There is no time in our memory when The Tree did not "have to come down." Knowing full well we would not. Each year its roots protruded more and more above the ground. Each year it extended farther over the Cliff. If we stood on the beach below it and looked up, we could see its every vein straining at the earth around it. In March it snowed. A heavy, unkind, bitter storm that seemed to seek revenge on the coming spring with which it struggled. Limp and lonely and lifeless, it hangs down the side of its cliff. Its naked roots clutch at the earth like fingers that have lost their power to grasp at life. Around it we stand and we look down on it. And it seems strange to look down on something to which we had always looked up. It is The Tree. Miriam Biderman, 1942
ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING
SO YOU WANT TO BE A MADRICH Perhaps you are one who wants to do more than his share at Tel Hai this summer, that is, become a madrich. Well, if you are new at this game, let me give you some timely advice. First of all, you must take into consideration your age. If you want to work with solelim whose ages range from ten to twelve, we suggest that you yourself should be at least thirteen so that they can look up to you to some extent. The same goes for the tzofim who are usually thirteen and fourteen. That means that you should be about fifteen, or if you wish to give a sage-like appearance, sixteen. The bonim, as our beloved rosh Kvutza, Harry, once said, are anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five. But for them it does not matter how old you are because the bonim never pay any attention to madrichim anyway. They consider them a mere formality. So you think you are old enough for one of these age groups. We shall therefore proceed to tell you just what will be expected of you in each age group. We'll start out with the solelim. and get them off our minds (as though that's even vaguely possible. To work with these little rascals, you must have a strong constitution and a stronger left hook, the endurance of a cross-country track star, and the patience of a saint. You must have the fleetness of a greyhound each evening to join the merry chase that occurs when it is time to put them to bed. A liberal education is a handy thing to have, too, for you must know everything from the latest processes of making apple butter to the social status of the Jew in Zululand. These little intellectual fiends can ask more brain-teasers in a day than Dr. I. Q. does in a year. Also, you bad better stock up on vitamin pills, for these charming youngsters have their own ideas of how to spend a restful afternoon. Now for the tzofim. These animals are slightly less energetic, all their vitality having been exhausted in their solelim days, though they are still more
On the whole. And finally. Yes. that is. after everyone else is in bed. to attend a staff meeting. their non-appearance at work does not mean that they are lazy. you will be requested to solve all their little affaires de coeur. But the modern tzofeh brings new problems with which the madrich can expect to cope. while a guest speaker sits under a tree talking to the few staff members disguised as bonim to save the reputation of the camp. and if you don't think that kids of this age are concerned with such problems. And now. and go on night watch. sleep. Likewise. 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. These languid creatures have neither the solelim spirit nor the tzofim trust and confidence in a madrich. They are not antagonistic to culture and education-the only reason for their nonattendance at discussions is evidently that they know it all. however. if you reach the end of the day a fairly sane person. being a madrich of tzofim is a splendid occupation. These very exclusive affairs can do wonders for the worst 160 . For example. you will be required.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL active than their mild looks indicate. there are the bonim. 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. if you are interested in practicing some early teen-age psychology. They thrive best if left to themselves to eat. And so. gossip. You will be subject to nightly outpourings of their hearts and will be forced to promise them you will try to get the work committee to put them on guard or kitchen duty with their current crushes. you may be sure that the bonim are lounging comfortably in their tents and cabins holding discussion of their own-of a different sort. dear prospective madrich. you have underestimated the wide range of their capabilities.
got no more than half way up. someone found out that I had the only knapsack in Kvutza. We were to be guided by the forest ranger. After such a fatiguing meeting. I once tried it." Well. and when you're going to prepare the discussion you have to lead tomorrow morning. but being out of condition. but only on the condition that it be continued tomorrow when everyone will be fresh as a daisy. 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. You'll keep wondering if the cabin that's doing all the yelling is yours. you won't be able to keep your mind on the meeting anyway. Jeannie Reisapfel. Finally it does break up. Two persons are appointed. in two-hour shifts. and they do quite a bit of hurrying about in an effort to keep at least three people awake at all times. We hiked two miles in the nice summer sun and began to climb the mountain single file. who is pretty good looking so we had no trouble getting several girls to go. loudly shhh-ing each other although it's quite obvious that the whole camp is still awake. to rotate about the room pricking the madrichim with pins. and when the darn meeting is going to end. one needs little convincing that a post-midnight snack is in order. That was three years ago. so they let me carry all the lunches plus a first aid kit and camera. but having become a fine physical specimen at Kvutza. I decided to try it again. and all troop over to the dining room. If you do not fall prey to the sandman's charms. Jupiter-and here the story lies. in back of 161 . Jerry. Sandy. 1942 LOS ANGELES GLEANINGS Dear Mom: You know that right across the way from the camp there is a high mountain called Mt. As we started out.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING case of insomnia.
Just as we got near camp. How sorry I was. I played soldier all the way down and it was very realistic. designed to stop a forest or brush fire. After fighting our way through the brush (the ranger and I wore short pants and my legs are disfigured for life). we found a rattlesnake had been killed a few minutes before we got there. I stopped. After waiting until we all gathered-including the loose parts-we began to hike home. Also it is quite uncomfortable to find that you cannot stop at the edge of a cliff. It is not true that it is easier to come down than to go up. Love. There was of course no turning back. I felt just like killing a rattlesnake. sang songs which the ranger liked though he didn't know what they were all about (nor did we). bad been eating garlic all morning and whenever we stopped. If you don't know what a firebreak is. Oh yes. I almost became a casualty when I tripped. we arrived at the top. I am sure that this tractor found the steepest part of the whole range of mountains. and made me sick. and ate lunch (sandwiches and fruit from the knapsack I was carrying). goodbye now. I shall explain: A firebreak is a long. I want to stay longer. Mom. cleared strip through the mountain. We went down a firebreak. Well. he would put his head over my shoulder to see what was doing. Your dear son. too.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL me. and then began to go down. It is made by big tractors which try to find the steepest part of the mountain they can go up without turning over. We finally got to the bottom drawn out over a half mile or so of ground. Norman 1942 162 . took pictures (my film). Don't worry. send me $7 and a snake-bite kit. Dave Bleviss was at the rear and no one could squeeze by. Once you begin going down it is very difficult to stop. We sat around.
because by the time you go home.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING NEED HELP PACKING? Spring is well along. clothes. You see. 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. and you will have a great part of your Kvutza wardrobe. Have your wardrobe include work shirts (for we all work). play shirts. and dress shirts for Shabbat and Sundays. we are very active in Kvutza. Our parents 163 . let me-a veteran-give you a few hints as to what to pack and what not to pack. we know what kind of a laundry man you are. because we play. First. some of us don't feel so easy about this packing business. Therefore. we are in Kvutza! Yet. Nothing is too bad for Kvutza when it comes to clothes. and just between us. antiquated clothes that you have long ago forgotten about. very little will remain of them anyway.they must be able to endure rough treatment. But your clothes must have one important virtue . And once the Kvutza has been awakened from its winter's sleep. Drag out all your old clothes. School will follow soon after. You are going to wash them yourself. And then Kvutza! Imagine! It's just a matter of days before construction crews will appear at Kvutza sites all over the country and put into effect the planning they've been doing all winter. Also make sure that they are washable. clothes that are too dilapidated for city wear. and presto. too.
Besides. When it doesn't come to us (in the form of rain). and a bathrobe. You'll need a sweater. So don't forget these important items. Shorts or slacks or anything that goes under that general heading by a stretch of the imagination will do. I'm not going to lend you mine. we go to it (in the form of a swimming pool). in which case. One item that should be carefully chosen is shoes. don't forget your pants. you'll need a raincoat and boots. because I'm warning you. But we don't let that interfere with our activities. By all means. a cap.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. it can rain even in Kvutza. Oh. I'll have to use yours. That's just to remind you that you'll need a bathing suit. bless me. I'm sure to forget to bring some. Yet. Perhaps you'll feel like sleeping for some strange reason one night. 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?"). and warm pajamas. I almost forgot to mention the pants that go with the shirts. a warm jacket. Your pajamas must not be too nice though because your neighbor might mistake them for fancy slacks and borrow them for use on some important occasion. Brrr! Nights are sometimes cold in Kvutza. and FUN! But in order to get around in presentable shape. So you might as well take along some sheets and warm blankets. We have indoor games in the dining hall. reading and study groups. Have a pair of hard-soled shoes for hiking and a pair of soft-soled ones for play and work. 164 . yet you can never tell. And don't forget the shoe polish. haverim. Mind you. we don't always hide from water.
raising the watchtower that would guard Kinneret.. We bade farewell to Kvutzat Kinneret. We remembered lively. Then our hands remembered the semaphore code: K-i-n-n-e-r-e-t s-he-l-i. If she is unreasonable in the amount of underwear she makes you take. 1944 KINNERET SHELI We stood quietly meditating in the gathering twilight of the field of Kinneret. And the memories engulfed us. thought-provoking periods. we remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. The builders remember the watchtower-chopping the trees.. We remembered sleeping through them. you will have use for the extra pairs on masquerade nights. The scouts remembered how we had hiked through the swamps of Kinneret. Our feet remembered all-day hikes. Our toes could feel again the sand rippling as we walked through the Farband camp on the way to 165 .ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING That's the general idea. The haverim who had built Kinneret gathered on the last night of the last season. knotting the ropes. As we watched the torches for the last time. That last night. About filling in the details. Our eyes remembered watching for the answering flags flashing in the sun. We remembered the arduous trek to the lake. constructing the frame. We had slept under its benevolent shadow that summer of 1955. my advice is that you comply with your mother's demands. We remembered discussing leadership problems. The message was received! We had talked to each other from afar. We recalled nights of Hagana. The soles of our feet recollected our nature walks.. haverim remembered the discussions we had had. Birdie Dekelbaum. tactics.
We had built it-Kinneret. Avraham Bass. We swatted away at the infernal pests. We stood quietly in the gathering twilight. We danced again to the familiar tunes. We recalled how we had danced the hora hour upon hour. In our memories we sang. We remembered Kinneret and what it meant to us. The beauty of the Shabbat celebration haunted us. Once again we swayed and swerved to the sound of the shepherd's flute. The clammy feel of seaweed lingered in our minds. We relived the glorious. 1957 166 . This was our camp. We remembered the mosquitoes only too well. We swam. The cooling relief of the ointments soothed us. The raft seemed to beckon to us anew. We bade farewell to a friend. to the rhythms of Eretz Yisrael. We remembered Shabbat as dusk fell the last time at Kvutzat Kinneret. comfortable feeling of Shabbat. we floated in a dream of memories. Kvutzat Kinneret.KVUTZA AND THE INDIVIDUAL swim.
the sound of firing still is heard And the dazed survivors of your people flee before the same pursuing mob. 168 . But brothers resting in many lands. the bombracks off. Over the blood-soaked plains of Poland. The mighty of the earth decreed it so. On the coast and in the valleys of our promised land battle-girt intruders bar the way to wander-weary brothers seeking to come home.In Memoriam HAZKARA The cannons are still. resting in many lands. comrades. there is no peace and your battle is not done. the uniform of their captors only changed. Brothers. The last prisoners of Theresienstadt still stand behind barbed wire. this is called peace. The aeroplanes overhead wing their way with peaceful cargoes. the rifles are stacked.
Majdanek. we pause to consider a fitting monument and to tell our losses. even from the waters of the seas. yet calls afresh each loved one gone. The familiar faces missing from our ranks. From ghetto and from concentration camp. cry for memorial. the gaps that never can be filled. And what avail soon crumbling stone carved in our sacred script to puzzle future archaeologists. Auschwitz and Stryj. the hard-contested hills of Italy. the roster of our dead commands memorial. the roll call of the resting places from continent to continent. the battle. The hundreds upon thousands upon millions. From beachheads and from far Pacific Isles with strange exotic names like Iwo Jima. for the remnant of the exile does not stop. From the Rhineland plains and woods. the voices of the Nazi foe still echo and repeat the ancient vicious lies. 169 . From every forest haunt and cave where desperate guerilla bands struck at the foe. Lublin. Where in the same wide war fell our sons defending Kfar Giladi. From the bitter hedgerow battles of Normandy. Bialystok.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING Even in this western land of liberty. Only in a brief moment of council. The distant isles and seas engulf us with the magnitude of our loss. The record of the graves. Brothers resting in the distant lands. from Warsaw.
E. December. Ahead. behind. into the ship that bears illegal freight out of the graveyard of Europe. The mounds and graves of the ending of our seed We pause as on a mountain top and see. a line of valiant battles dearly won. these dried bones yet live? With loving hands and humbled spirits. Look and say. 1945 170 . still further struggle. strewn before our feet. Habonim Convention. D. oh brothers. shivering limbs of the wasted few who somehow did not die. for we dedicate to you a monument eternalWe are your memorial. Brothers. And the monument we dedicate is their own people.IN MEMORIAM Shall your memorial be the silence of forgotten history. in graves of honor and in lime pits of shame.G. Worn and weary but imbued with the flame which kindled them at the foot of Sinai's peak. Lying in fields throughout the earth. to the camp. will they live? Will this your people. let us dedicate the memorial to our dead scattered through many lands. the weary. shrunken. The records of an extinct folk. Rest. from your graves look out! Look out upon your people! Look into the ghetto. O Brothers. And in the valley.
Her primary concern was always the development of the individual. Immediately. as rosh of one of the mahanot. Nevertheless. She joined us when she was already in her twenties. their purpose and justification being to instill values and attitudes within the haverim. Thus she worked closely with the individual haver. when we were suffering from a critical shortage of leadership personnel. she had a great capacity for hard work. She strove for selffulfillment in our movement even before she went on aliya. unbelievable. Each time it seems impossible. Miriam was a school teacher by profession. but as one guiding the individual. she threw herself entirely into our work. The small group discussions. as rosh of several madrichim groups.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING MIRIAM BIDERMAN We are a movement of young people. She was among our most devoted. as rosh of our national funds work. She understood her educational function not as one of directing the group. She came to us because she had decided upon the path of selfrealization. even the old timers were able to learn a great deal from her. the mahaneh activities. upon him she centered all her efforts. And she exerted a tremendous amount of influence upon those with whom she worked. Camp Kvutza-these she considered as means to an end. Each time it seems that our best is taken. She was one of the few people who was ours completely. During one of the war years. She was a madricha in the true sense of the term. all of us. She brought a real understanding of the meaning of education into our movement. and as editor of Alot (the national publication specifically for our halutzim)-all these at the same time. Sometimes it seemed as if she carried the whole burden of our movement and our people on her slight shoulders. Miriam came to us late. The number of haverim that we have lost is mounting too quickly. she served as rosh of the New York region. 171 . We are at a loss as to what to say or do. how to react.
. in Baltimore. She continually championed traditional practices in our movement.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. The volume of her Shabbat and other program material. the lack of traditional observance caused her a great deal of discontent. Thus. Miriam wrote prolifically and she has left us a rich legacy of her written word. sensitive. she came to us with a deep appreciation for Jewish tradition. a Third Seder. in New York. and worked with them. Miriam was brought up in an Orthodox religious home. with ability. indicate to us the creative being whose "life song" was "suddenly cut off. of her articles in our various publications. 172 .. for the tasks of movement leadership and self-realization. Shabbat celebration. Her sense of complete identification with Jewishness and her acute sensitivity to the tragedies of the Jewish people are a reflection of her traditional background. passed away. understanding. She was able to put meaning into Jewish tradition. she left her heritage: a corps of responsible haverim. in Winnipeg." Her many letters to haverim gave us an insight into this devoted. Both in our movement here and later in the kibbutz in Eretz Yisrael. with. to synthesize the old and the new. Wherever she went. troubled havera who "before her time . she sought out young haverim with devotion. And wherever she worked.
173 . It was at that time that we decided to be heartless toward Ben. shortly after Habonim was established. but he knew how to train people to follow in his footsteps so that there was a second and third and fourth. and transform them into a mahaneh of Habonim. His task was to go into a community. 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. Ben Cherner had not only served his apprenticeship in the movement but had already acted as an organizer for the Young Poale Zion Alliance. that we felt that one way of its taking root in America was to send out emissaries. The outstanding "first" in relation to Ben was that lie was the first organizer of Habonim. The stories of organizers struggling and living on peanuts refer to Ben Cherner. There is always an aura about the figure of a man who carries the title of "first" but who we do not remember. I do not think that Ben went to college or had much formal training. By 1934. as we subsequently have been to every organizer and shaliah.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING BEN CHERNER Many of you know Ben Cherner. all told) decided that he must remain for another year to help in the transition from Young Poale Zion Alliance to Habonim. By 1934. he was a veteran. We didn't think of shlihim from Eretz Yisrael. though you may not know his name or you may not realize that you know him. We were very modest. By 1934. The adjective stuck to Ben because he had the faculty of attracting people to himself to carry on. It was in 1934. I am certain that he took no courses in leadership technique. contact parents and prospective madrichim. he had had his fill of peanuts and of traveling for the movement. But the National Executive (four people we were. who toured the New England region in 1933. . get together the remnants of the YPZA. He had done his duty. We wanted organizers to establish our new system of education.
The mail was inadequate. one must visualize the years in which these were made. Naturally. When Moshe was called to New York. There existed a loose connection between the New York center and the groups. To understand the significance of Ben's organizational tours. we obtained $75 from several Los Angeles haverim. After negotiations. He went to private homes and got 174 . There was not too much money for printing. soft-spoken boy. It was a dynasty: from Ben Cherner to Joey Criden. Ben was a simple. He spoke quietly and intimately. from Joey to Moshe Goldberg. the Buffalo movement waned. That trip in 1935 was the first link in the chain which ultimately led to the development of the Los Angeles mahaneh. The organizer for whom Ben paved the way made Chicago the center of our movement for many years. He set up several mahanot. He knew how to sing and he knew how to gather people around him.IN MEMORIAM Ben was not much of an orator. His first stop was Buffalo. There is a "first" in connection with Ben which relates to the Pacific Coast. Hence a good deal depended on whom was sent. We were getting news of a growing community in Los Angeles. the summer Kvutza. He went into a city without benefit of publicity notices or mass meetings. we called on Ben to make the trip. the stream of organizers. The movement was kept alive by personal contact. his home town. of a Far West in which Folk Shulen graduates knew Hebrew. He established a mahaneh in Buffalo so well that not only did Buffalo become the original stronghold of Habonim but gave us two organizers in succession. The visitor was the warm link representing the movement. 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. Then Ben went to Chicago.
which was paradise by contrast. adjusted. When he left. He tried to maintain the agricultural training center in Illinois. Even his leaving was. They were small. The senior leaders of the Labor Zionist movement set a disheartening example by not permitting their children to remain in Eretz Yisrael. his primary one was his humanity. and to introduce a new atmosphere. A large percentage of the "halutzim" were malcontents who could not earn a living. At that time. approachability. Perhaps this accounted for his ability to gather young people around him. unsanitary farms struggling under extremely difficult conditions. who returned from Eretz Yisrael and spread stories to justify themselves. He was young himself. his. we consolidated all of these farms into the one at Creamridge. It was more than a one-man job. in a sense. there was a nucleus which somehow carried on. There was one specific job Ben tried to do which ultimately resulted in failure. inadequate. He liked young people. He loved people. It was in 1936 that he finally left. There was no other candidate who could have done the organizational work. and one in Illinois. Of Ben's many qualities. American halutzim who could not adjust to the rigors of pioneering did not help the atmosphere by returning home. It was into such conditions that Ben plunged to try to clean up the place. he set an example. there were training farms in Baltimore.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING people around him to sing with him and talk with him. We had held him back two years beyond his time. a useful service. When Enzo Sereni came. in Minneapolis. to live in it. poor. For a/person who is normal. to go to Eretz Yisrael was a feat. That too was a service. We felt that we were committing a crime against Ben by holding him back but there was no alternative. The fact that Ben failed is not a reflection on him. The repercussions of the action of the Detroit group. and refined. were serious. No course in leadership or technical training or knowledge could have made 175 . Ben's was a permanent influence because he did not talk only of Eretz Yisrael.
Our attitude was changed by the realities of life. We did not want an American landsmanshaft in Eretz Yisrael. He knew that shlihut carried with it a connotation of leadership which he did not believe held for himself although he had always been in a position of leadership. Similarly. some camp fire traditions and some of the stories reprinted by us in Haboneh have their origin in Ben's fertile mind. or anyone to refer to. Ben had very solid convictions. Ben did not believe in the concentration of Americans in Eretz Yisrael. 176 . His singing possessed an enchanting. His singing had a good deal to do with his influence in the movement. He was by no means a professional singer. the rest of us did not believe in it either. we appreciated his enthusiasm.IN MEMORIAM up for that basic human element. but Ben was stubborn. Many of our songs are versions which he taught to the first groups of Habonim. quality. Only during the last two years did he begin to waver and to talk of transferring to Kfar Blum. it was realization. it was in the line of duty. When he went to do organizational work. He considered himself a soldier. when he went to Eretz Yisrael. Ben never thought of himself as a leader. That was one of the reasons why he did not return to America as a shaliah. They sat and sang without moving or talking. when he helped to organize the Union of Jewish World Combatants. He never permitted himself to think of. He had stuck to Naan no matter how strongly he was urged to join the American kibbutz. so solid that perhaps they account for one of the tragedies of his life. he held them for hours. He would not get excited or rush off to his work. Yet when he sat with a group of people around a camp fire. it was in the line of duty. himself as a leader. In our relationship to Ben. For good or for ill. He showed his enthusiasm by explaining his idea and then setting about carrying it out so well that the job seemed easily done. In that period.
and ever expanding . Saadia Gelb Furrows. and that those after us will not falter. "To understand Danny. He would talk of the needs for another Kvutza and another mahaneh and of dogged perseverance in organizational work.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING If Ben were here and could talk to us. and he would finish by saying that. 1947 DANNY GINSBURG Once again the battlefront has claimed the life of one of our haverim. "one must see his life in terms of a personality that was unfolding. That. 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. he would talk of simple and prosaic tasks. He had become widely known and loved-he was no longer Danny Ginsburg of Detroit. this kind of obstinacy would succeed. 177 . he was Danny Ginsburg of Habonim. is the fitting memorial to Ben Cherner. At first he saw one important objective ahead -that was the establishment of a real Jewish institution in the heart of the American scene.. that we carry forward that struggle today. His role in Habonim for more than eight years is invaluable." wrote one of his friends from the Midwest. where he made his most specific contributions to the life of Habonim. of the trials and tribulations of training and of self-realization in Eretz Yisrael. his future was inextricably bound up with the highest hopes of the movement. it is the realization that they represented a continuation of the Jewish struggle for survival which began before them. The knowledge of his irrevocable loss to us is difficult to comprehend.. developing. January. If there is meaning in the memory of our haverim and of their services. it seems to me. in the long run. impossible to console.
He was one of those exceptional individuals who throws himself into every activity with the completeness of a passionate spirit. that would be built by and for Habonim. near Detroit. After his initiation of the work for a summer Kvutza near Detroit. sincerity. All who came in contact with him were imbued with his spirit of idealism. he became rosh of the Detroit Habonim. "Those who saw Danny at work in Kinneret. through the mails. When he went into active service more than twenty months ago. of hard work. His personal influence over others was so strong that many who might not have taken the same road followed it upon his leadership. His influence was felt as well among the haverim in the neighboring cities. to take part in the solution of prob- 178 . well remember that it was not only physically that he worked hard. strong determination. He continued. nothing could stop him. Danny's was truly a constantly developing personality. to contribute to Kibbutz Aliya discussions. as a leader in discussions. When Danny danced. Sometime later. lie arrived at the personal decision to join Kibbutz Aliya and prepare himself for a true realization of his burning idealism. and above all. when he participated in a discussion. There was always a glow about him as he worked. find it difficult to separate the two.IN MEMORIAM This goal was the establishment of a summer Kvutza. Kinneret. through going to Eretz Yisrael. " The many members of Habonim throughout the country who remember him at conventions as chairman at sessions. Yes. the movement there flourished remarkably. it was with the determination born of his intense sincerity. and his place and importance within Habonim grew as he did. a determination that held out until he convinced or was convinced. who have known him at seminars and other movement gatherings. Danny continued to participate in Habonim life. and under his energetic leadership.
one of the leading members of Habonim. When Danny learned that he and his men were to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima. I only hope I'll get a chance to make it more so in the future. but we who are carrying on. 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. After all. to bring some good into the world. May. through embodying his spirit in our work in Habonim. 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. He continued to be. Furrows. "I guess I haven't done much in my short life so far. in the minds of all of us. he wrote to his Detroit haverim in these words: "Naturally." He has not been granted the chance he hoped for. then I think my life so far has been worthwhile. it's the machine that counts. 1945 179 . perhaps the leading member of the future. I haven't learned very much-just enough to realize that I still have a great deal to learn. 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. can prove the true worth of his short life. But in case I don't. not the little cogs.
He was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from a meeting of Habonim. He came to be one of the most active and respected haverim in the machaneh. On his days off. Furrows. unassuming. he left home and began training at the National Farm School. One of his first activities was a visit to the training farm at Creamridge. 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. because he personified the ideals of our movement. He was preparing for life in Eretz Yisrael at an age when most haverim are just beginning to consider halutziut. working ceaselessly. largely in the Pacific. he threw himself into movement work more vigorously than ever. Louis. 1947 180 . February. He has left a gap which cannot be filled. hard-working boy who became so close to them. to him it was the natural way of life. Those haverim now in Eretz Yisrael will remember the quiet. New Jersey. At the time of his death he was making plans to leave for Eretz Yisrael in the spring. he was a frequent visitor at the Hehalutz Training Farm at Creamridge. On his return to St. His loss is a tremendous blow for all of us. he entered the Navy and served two and a half years. When he reached eighteen. He was a complete halutz-devoted. Halutziut came easily for Nate.IN MEMORIAM NATE KANTER Every haver in Habonim knew Nate Kanter. both in his work in the movement and in his relations with his haverim. unselfish. even those who had never met him. At sixteen.
There was an escort of men with guns to protect us. various pictures of Ari flashed through my mind. a glass of wine-and how he had. Only the clump-clump of hundreds of boots walking through the mud could be heard. That picture of Ari. 1948 181 . the desire to come to Eretz Yisrael and take part in its upbuilding. I cannot really describe the great feeling of despair that took hold of us at his going and the manner of his going. and his work with the ships He spoke simply and beautifully. will always remain with me. art. People gathered and stood together in small groups for comfort. Rose Breslau Furrows. Kieve spoke about his years in the movement. It is still incredible. Kieve said a few words before the coffin was lowered into the ground. He was helping to set up electricity for some of the houses and so strapped himself to a pole in the fashion that such work is done. The people followed near and behind the coffin. April. carried and driven to the little cemetery near the garden. a trigger happy Arab from Salchia shot him in the back. And all the time. His body was taken to the Mazkirut building. . The quietness and stillness were uncanny. his years at sea. 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 . and from there. young and vital. While he was working. He spoke about the conflict in Ari's nature: How he loved beautiful things a good book.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING ARI LASHNER It happened yesterday between 10:30 and 11:30 in the morning. . music. The entire kibbutz was shocked and stricken by his death. No one said anything. on the other hand.
We feel more alone in a darker world. A cohesive group that grew up in the movement and had planted firm roots in Eretz Yisrael feels shattered. someone on whom we all leaned. there was his smiling. With him went a whole period in the youth of those who grew up with him. For Ari exemplified the best that the combination of Judaism. unchanged. There will never take place that meeting in Eretz Yisrael to which I looked forward so greatly. He went away many times before-to distant cities for the movement. and a springtime era of the movement. and the movement produced. For he was a central figure. the pleasurable interludes of gentle conversation. He went through life so unassumingly. You would never have guessed from Ari's quiet work-day. for just as he was a leader of the most complete modesty and honesty . 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. an inexhaustible source of reminiscence and humor. good-humored greeting again. From all parts of the world. a ship that ran the blockade and then returned to Europe for a second load. but left such deep impressions on all whom he met. diverse individuals have felt impelled to communicate with others who knew him. His wife and child had gone to Eretz Yisrael before him. to Europe and to Eretz Yisrael.he inspired in others a sincere and warm recognition of his own capabilities. bringing in thousands on his Hagana ship.IN MEMORIAM ARI LASHNER Ari Lashner has left us. of drives into the country. The ignorant Arab sniper's bullet that cut short his life at Kfar Blum on March 16th caused far more than a personal loss. He had 182 . to express their sense of loss. of 'music. to war as a marine. But always before. Everyone who knew him would agree to this. America.just because of these qualities . of strolling about the city.
Not that he was a "gentleman. attaching at least as much weight to his feelings as to his reason. Ghandi could not have abhorred violence more than Ari Lashner. tempering the feelings. He died in war. and under the pressure of very wide experience. If a keynote is to be sought in his pervasive influence. who hated even the raised voice. But in recent years. In this connection. anger. But he longed for the day of peace when he could realize himself in some way in the Jewish Land. What he could not tolerate in himself and others was covering up the problem. He did not enjoy the conscious role of "organizer" or even of halutz. or seeking a way out by processes of rationalization. excusing oneself." unless "gentleman" is redefined to be what he was. yet not your own. And there was frequent cause for anger and impatience in those years. it is his insistence that the individual search for his own truth and act in consequence. Thus he could not consider the fate of the Jewish people without including himself in the solution. He was never heard by anyone to shout in anger. tolerant and receptive 183 . he gave full credence to the role of the irrational in life. or to descend to the vulgar or unseemly in any way.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING not known when or how he would see them again and he wanted to be with them desperately. this realistic tendency intervened even in his enjoyment of abstract beauty in painting and poetry (never in music. there was a definite mellowing in him. Principles divorced from circumstances and action did not exist for him except as scholastic exercises with which he was -very impatient. and impatience. to gossip in malice. He had strong passions. for which he was too naturally gifted). by the development of universal theories which solved all problems. which all who experienced him felt. But he never drove others. He assumed you were wrestling honestly with your problems as he was with his. and respecting feeling in others. For a time.
concert balls. He muttered to himself: "What on earth is this endless hodgepodge?" It was announced as the Kreutzer Sonata. He knew it well to California. He once told of hearing a musical work on the radio while working on something. 184 . From the earliest days when. parks. until almost the last full day together. He saw the evils of America. after our Young Poale Zion Alliance meetings. walk in cities. The man with a "reputation" as a music lover doesn't tell such stories about himself with detached enjoyment. but he would take any capitalism over a Socialism that gave a whit less of individual liberty. He enjoyed greatly the scene of the “visit to the uncle” in War and Peace. visit galleries. when we drove into New England. we went driving out on Long Island until dawn. and of complex ways of life. his favorite was Levin. His greatest pleasure was to drive through its countryside. He loved to stop at roadside inns. While he understood and admired a Vronsky and an Anna Karenina. I associate him with trips into the green countryside and 1 recall his avid appreciation of it. but without the slightest trace of the envy that stems from vanity and leads to pretenses and false emulation. He loved honesty and simplicity. stores. whether in art or in farming. but he weighed things relatively and he knew the enormous importance of the measure of basic civil liberties enjoyed here. The very casting of whole societies. He felt humble and inferior to the point of discomfort before anyone with special talent. He was a Socialist. observe people. into formal molds with neat tags was foreign to his mind. of people. The piece went on interminably. the enjoyment of beautiful things in many forms became a welcome release for him. too. Any account of Ari would be incomplete without mentioning his love for America.IN MEMORIAM by nature.
Robinson era at City College. and counterdemonstrations. actually. Ari admired the courage and the intellectual acumen of the radical leaders and even admitted that their panaceas might be right. another essential characteristic is illustrated. He saw the Jewish people again singled out for persecution and he felt that concrete' special efforts by Jews themselves were demanded.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The 1930's were a difficult test for radical youth. just drifting. But they were a little above him. Ari Lashner's reference point was his emotional Jewishness and Labor Zionism to which he attached significant weight. These have been called his "doubts" and his "conflict. Impossible. Socialists and Communists drove the black and white stereotypes of doctrinaire radicalism to absolute extremes. It was the Frederick B. He was always ready to admit that the paths others were following were right. He dropped his teacher-training course when it gradually became apparent to him that his future lay with the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. What it was and what had gone into it was flowing irrevocably in a certain 185 . He was unaware of the courage it took to drift with the tide of one's being. There never were any dramatic announcements or obvious soul struggle. without some trustworthy reference point in reality. and thought uneasily himself that he was. The concept of doubt in the sense of debating one's path by purely mental processes cannot rightly be used for him. His life was the result of an evolutionary process. Their solutions for the whole world still left him uncomfortable as an individual. 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. We Labor Zionists participated in all radical activities but as a collateral thing. Here." But he spoke about the other things that were nice to do with a certain detachment. He felt like a victim of himself. expulsions. He spoke nostalgically about the interesting careers others were following. and every week saw demonstrations. He seemed to be.
sometimes looking wistfully back at the green fields of America. And so for every one of those who are dying in Eretz Yisrael. is true. the expanded hachshara farms. desires.IN MEMORIAM direction and be would have thought it absurd that some sudden idea should be able to change it. for my part. courage. April. working. no analogy with anyone else. and energy of the small group of which Ari was a central figure. Ari would not want to be singled out or separated from his comrades. I do not think of Ari as having died. It is futile to try to recreate by words the vital essence of a complicated personality like Ari. I am rendering a faint duty inadequately because I knew Ari. and acts known and beloved somewhere. Every one of those good Hebrew names we read is only a symbol of a face smiling to someone. faithfully. I merely consider that he has crossed another boundary before us as he did so often before. of thoughts. It is probably reserved only to those who knew him to feel the true loss. Every soul is precious. as every individual was in life. how he spoke at camps and conferences-vital and human. And he did it as usual-well. 1948 186 . all these have come about through the vision. Furrows. in the conventional sense. No hero picture. Camp Kvutza. So he followed the path of the halutz. There is a whole generation of young people who remember how Ari led them in song and dance. one of us. increased aliya. there are those to whom the loss is a terrible reality. emphasis on Hebrew. nobly. Harry Levtow. but the epitome of us. But the Yishuv has always commemorated its dead lovingly. 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. It is not possible to believe and. A great deal more will be written by those who worked with him of Ari's influence in the formation and development of Habonim and in the Labor Zionist movement generally.
The camp consisted of a hilltop cluttered with tents which had obviously seen better days in the army. We were most impressed with the big. salvaged from Unser Camp for whose guests they were not deemed worthy. He was an adventurer. On closer acquaintance. the walls of his home. Tired after a day of hard work. 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. even in early childhood. and the old Ford that we were barely able to purchase for $10. and dishes (slightly cracked). He was drawn to the broad. and the discipline of a school. We knew then that he was moody and ready to tell stories of his adventures throughout the United States. he gave up that kind of life and returned home. He had a leader's qualities and could influence people either for better or worse. We also found some boards for the future kitchen. We were met by the advance crew of a few boys. We saw a different world. 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. a few boxes of cups (without handles). old farmer's stove. And 187 . He used to spend many days and nights with hoboes and his stories were remarkable. For the stormy nature of this boy. They felt free as birds and so did Hayim. Once he admitted to me that only because of the deep love for his father. you learned that a few warm friendly words could easily quell the storm raging in him. Hayim could be found on one of the cots in the tent.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." One of the advance crew was Hayim Rambam. always seeking new thrills and experiences. people who were tired of civilization and routine.
so we decided for safety's sake to make our way to a nearby boarding house. Hayim and I. Here we are. Incidents of that summer keep coming to mind. Hayim showed himself to be the second sort of person. I am sure that it was solely to Hayim's credit that we came away that summer sound in limb. destroying many houses in the neighborhood and flooding all the valleys. on the other hand. 188 . How well I remember that procession in the thick blackness. a hurricane suddenly pounced upon us. Towards the end of the summer. He was also our "life saver. because of whose caprices we always had to bring along a couple of "footmen" to help push when the inevitable need arose. lashed by the wind! It was one of those moments when old and young display all their shortcomings and weaknesses and. riding in the Ford." squatting on the tables with only a roof overhead while the torrent of rain drenched us through the open sides." to whom many campers literally owed their lives. Our ancient army tents. We all gathered in our one "building. without a path to follow. We felt that the very foundation of our camp would not survive that night. Hayim was the driver of the Ford on which we depended for supplies from the nearby town and water from the well. willing servant in Hayim's skillful hands. knee-deep in water.IN MEMORIAM many a time I thought that perhaps Hayim may turn out to be another Jack London. when a person may forget about and sacrifice himself for the general welfare. that constantly refused to get back to camp on time. whose mission in life should long since have ended-in which we have to cover ourselves with raincoats even during a light downpour-bowed meekly before the wrath of the storm and finally surrendered completely. The Ford that had not the least desire to climb the smallest hill. was an obedient.
a second was lost in a mission over Germany. and he hoped to obtain a certificate to go to Eretz Yisrael. I did not see him for a long time after that but heard he was employed as a tractor driver in Mikveh Yisrael. He was much changed-more mature. Leak Brown Haboneh June. his devotion. Hayim showed up in Jerusalem during a holiday. . But a month later he was dead. I also went to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Jerusalem with my husband. When he did not receive a certificate. In the meantime. I was impressed with his youthfulness. his zeal.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The work in Camp Kvutza became a form of training for Hayim. he drank from a spring he did not know was contaminated. It did not occur to him that tiny microbes would conquer his powerful body and quiet his stormy nature for eternity. more serious in outlook. . and now Joseph Rosenberg is reported missing in action at sea. his enthusiasm. less restless. It was clear that Eretz Yisrael had had a marked effect upon him. The fourth of our haverim is gone. 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. One died flying in this country. he went on his own. Suddenly. He was about to become rosh mahaneh of Detroit and he spent hours 189 . 1942 JOSEPH ROSENBERG There will be many vacant places in our ranks when this war is over. a third while performing his duty in the Near East. under the hot sun. While working in the fields. I really learned to appreciate his character at the Leaders' Seminar in Pipersville in 1940. He dreamed of participating in the defense of the country .
he spent every spare moment making contacts and speaking to people. June. You may not know. Joey entered a trade school to prepare himself for the life of a halutz.that during the period that he was stationed at San Diego in training. Joey joined the local union and made himself heard there. his ideas. Those who belonged to our group at that time will perhaps not remember him as well as they do others who talked more at meetings and were generally more assertive. We remember that when Joey came out to camp weekends. D. He showed me his neat notebook. We remember that when a Kibbutz Aliya was formed in Detroit. he would do more work than others had done all week. We remember how as rosh mahaneh of Detroit Habonim. he was certain that he would be able to organize a Habonim group. I read his outlines. his plans. He lived his life in search of a better world and gave his life in the struggle for it. Joey was one of the first to join and carry out its program. he led us through one of the strongest years of our existence. * * * * * Joey joined Habonim in 1935 at the age of eleven. 1944 190 . D. We remember that while others were delving into deep discussion about the problems of labor. Furrows..IN MEMORIAM with me discussing his plans. G. But those who stayed with the group remember that while others were spouting high-sounding phrases about becoming halutzim. we talked about his doubts and his ambitions. B. when we grow older.. It is an irreparable loss for the movement here and for Kfar Blum in Eretz Yisrael.
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. when the best part of his contribution to Zionism surely lay ahead of him. Together with Ben Zion Ilan of Afikim who was then an Eretz Yisrael delegate to the youth movement. engaged in the search for prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates in Germany. Yet that is what has occurred to Habonim through the murder of Enzo Sereni in Dachau on November 17-18. 191 . after his capture by the Germans. about whom relatives in the Allied countries had made inquiries. as you may know. as Hehalutz delegate. Sereni. A letter from Kieve Skidell tells the following story which ends all hope that Enzo. we are finally beyond any question of doubt certain that Enzo is dead-dead at the age of thirty-nine. 1944. and now a sergeant in the Second Battalion of the Jewish Brigade. and together with American haverim. missing in action for over a year. one-time halutz from America. through a search conducted by Ben Zion (now a sergeant in the Jewish Brigade). but traces of him. His mission was to work with Italian partisans behind the German lines. 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. might still be alive: “On the streets of Paris I ran into Sgt. Eretz Yisrael delegate to the American Habonim. it was primarily Enzo Sereni. led to the concentration camp at Dachau. 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.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. Today. whose energy and imagination made Habonim possible. Together with another member of the team. Ben Zion Ilan.
he was bubbling with energy and intellectual curiosity. Died 18 November 1944. 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. “ ‘One can only surmise from this information that he was brought to his death by torture. who had been in the same block with him in Dachau. Born 22 June 1905 at Jerusalem. his own tormentors no doubt among them. 192 . He remembered that he was usually together with one French and two other British officers. and he couldn't forget how even in the environment of Dachau. “ ‘We then looked up the pastor. Sereni impressed him as a man of extremely high intellectual acumen. Of his end he knew nothing since he had been taken away from Dachau before it came. Barda. all of whom have disappeared without a trace. Taken to Special Punishment Cell for interrogation. we filled an urn with ashes from the crematorium. and there we found a card with the following information on it: “ ‘Prisoner No. Those were not his ashes alone but they were sacred. those ashes will be placed there together with those of our other martyrs. 17 November 1944. Block 23. Resident at Tel Aviv. When the projected memorial to the Gola is erected in Jerusalem. Shmuel. He remembered well the long discussions they used to have on philosophical as well as world political and Jewish topics. “ ‘When we came to Dachau. Entered 9 October 1944. we turned immediately to the card index of all those who had ever been in the place.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. His body was cremated at the local crematorium. " 'Before leaving Dachau. V3 (code for member of the British forces). It turned out that he had been the secretary of the block Sereni was in and he remembered him well. 113160.
it became a current story that Sereni spoke the best broken English anyone had ever heard. would appear at the office bright and early to greet the first-comers and shame the others. We all 193 . only a few months ago.M. Soon after his earliest appearance in America. between 7:30 and 8:00 A. Whatever the language. he would sail through texts like a swift Italian breeze. we went out there and got permission from the Russian commandant of nearby Linz to visit the place. he left an indelible impression.' " To those who knew Enzo there is no need to define our loss. There is no longer any doubt. In this way I hoped to find out when Enzo did come in. he. We were skeptical because some Brigade boys had been there around that time and had said nothing about it. Another blow to my own pride was the way he went through the Hebrew press-or any other reading matter. when a report reached us that Sereni had been seen alive in the concentration camp at Mauthausen. and there was no trace of him whatsoever. I remember.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING " 'For us the search seemed ended. One day. I came back from a trip out of town in the wee hours of the morning. going through the Eretz Yisrael press. I woke up. I never did find out when he arrived. to find Sereni sitting opposite me at his desk. as far as that goes. I had been rather vain of my speed in reading but Sereni was insufferably superior. as I recall. We who worked with him in the office of Hehalutz were consumed with envy and despair at his incredible energy and tirelessness. But there is no one there today but a number of Russian troops who are billeted there. Even those who lived with him at that famous Bet Hehalutz on Riverside Drive probably never knew when he awoke. Everywhere he went. but to make sure. I determined not to go home to clean up but to get the rest of my sleep on a bench in the office. Apparently he never slept except for forty winks occasionally on buses and on railroad coaches-and every morning when he was in New York. Austria.
In fact. Sereni would be able to deposit it all on my desk. according to repute. efficiently marked to indicate the essential items for digesting or writing up. perhaps. Sereni enjoyed many elements of ultimate security which enabled him to be not only daring. Sereni was so clever that slower minds distrusted him. He had a firm viewpoint. He never counted costs-one of the things. prominent Roman Jewish family. 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. They were inclined to worry about his most innocent proposal for fear of some ingenious trap. with roots in Italy as far back as 70 A. a fighter in a certain sense. It was not only the Germans with their gruendlichkeit who were uneasy at his mental athletics. but after a halfhour with a huge batch of literature. I noted in the comments on Sereni's death. in conversation. Then afterwards. He threw himself with unlimited devotion-perhaps the proper word is abandoninto the cause he wished to serve. his paradoxes and rapid-fire patter. the flashing play of his wit and thought. which set him apart from many comrades was that in certain things. even made them rather suspicious. but one might even say a daredevil. in all his dangerous missions for the Histadrut.IN MEMORIAM harbored dark suspicions about how thoroughly he had read. 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. and with assured status in the academic and professional society of contemporary Rome.D. 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. which have recently appeared in the Eretz Yisrael press. of course. I was a witness to the same phenomenon here. 194 . A scion of a rather wealthy. Sereni was. he had less need than they to count costs.
because in the most opposing statements he could appreciate the grains of truth. gave him another formidable advantage in debate which only increased the confusion and unfounded suspicions of many opponents. Sereni's fundamental open-mindedness. the product of a scientifically-trained mind. Prinz's wife learned of the affair and tore the town apart trying to locate the two and obtain their release. which it seems to me must represent an unsurpassed peak in Sereniana: Prinz and Sereni one day were both pulled in by the Gestapo in the course of a routine raid on Hehalutz quarters. Opponents often mistook his vehemence for vindictiveness. indeed. This. 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. covering the theory and practice of both German Nazism and Italian fascism. I can well believe that he sustained an intense mental activity in his last days at Dachau. Rabbi Joachim Prinz tells this story of Sereni. In the most furious argument. He was capable of the most astounding self-contradictions and mental flexibility. 195 . In spite of a frantic search they could not find Sereni until midnight. In the utmost heat of contention. They found him in the midst of a lively discussion with his guards. After a while she found Prinz and he was released.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING The same lusty combativeness marked his fights for his ideas within the Histadrut. He boiled rapidly but only on the surface. Sereni was basically cool. never were they more wrong. Sereni remained detached and capable of appreciating an opposing view. was almost fantastically reflected in his volatile whims and witticisms. He was indeed a man whom an opponent had to know to love. It is true that he used his opponents' lower resistance to fire deliberately. He was also capable of using an argument largely for its effect.
All these. 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. 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. who at once asked whether it were true that there was a current vogue for Marxism in America. Enzo was always a strong adherent of the idea of a Jewish-Arab collaboration. Reluctantly. Practically rubbing his hands with glee. Enzo shot back: "What do you think I am. in Sereni's mind. Sereni said: "Excellent! You know. raise the standard of living by cooperative methods of consumption and mutual aid. He therefore argued that the Jewish worker must have the idealism to come down to the Arab level in order to meet him and. 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. just off the boat. so to speak. and we never knew how seriously to take them. or simple selfdelusion if one took the Hashomer Hatzair view. of course. meant either deferring such solidarity to an indefinite future if one took the Mapai view. then?" Outraged. But he was an extreme realist as well. What particularly upset the assurance of some of us was that 196 . I'm a first-rate expert at arguing Zionism from a Marxist basis." Said Grodzensky: "Do you believe in Marxism. a simpleton. of course. experimental hypotheses. Shlomo admitted that this was the case. 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.IN MEMORIAM Shlomo Grodzensky tells this of his first encounter with Enzo: He met a sturdy little Italian. on the theory that the Arab's must be raised to the Jewish level. and often went to practically fantastic lengths of logic in this matter. were in reality tentative statements. I remember when he was in this country.
and what he thought. where peace and mutual forbearance had ensued between groups after a decisive measuring of strength. he acted. However. even to a notion of provisional. the first few times he had gone out without a rifle. it could not stop him from breaking the rule against walking through certain officially designated dangerous areas between Rehovot and Givat Brenner. one might even say heuristic. Even the most fleeting adherence to an idea. 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. When I came to Givat Brenner. But this was no final stand for Sereni. Sereni knew very well what the costs were of Arab terrorism to the Jews. entailed serious consequences in action for Sereni. if only in order to make them think on their own. suffered its casualties like any other rural settlement. It was brought up in discussion that bloodshed between groups had historically tended to implant mutual hatred that long outlasted the fighting. during the period of my own stay in Eretz Yisrael (1939). As a member of a kibbutz which.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. notably the British-Boer case. value in his life-course. though the kibbutz would not assign him to stand watch. He would never wait for a bus to take him home and he scoffed at the danger from Arab 197 . as I learned. Sereni had obviously considered that factor already for he promptly replied that there were also instances. Sereni argued that the disturbances of 1936-38 were a good thing in the history of Arab-Jewish relations. I was astonished to hear that Enzo was not allowed to stand his turn at guard duty because. I remember an instance by which I was particularly impressed: In America.
He always had a childlike look. But what was it which put those omens of fear into Sereni's eyes in his latest pictures? We can only guess. childlike. But he took his bearings by love. taking delight in the explosive effects of his intellectual gunfire. I remember Sereni loved to propound this question: "Tell me. Later. he had swung towards pacifism. outstanding and phenomenally smooth. ~ he looks like a lost child. In a late picture taken in Eretz Yisrael and published in the memorial issue of Hapoel Hatzair. He was completely aware of it. There was high seriousness in the devotion with which he cared for the small group of Italian halutzim whom he had assembled there in 1939. moving mountains of apathy and mental torpor with a logical witticism. This was the man who. he would acclaim you a Zionist. In the recent picture. Solemnity was a look I often saw in him at Givat Brenner. deracinated Jews-yet under Sereni's ministrations their success as kibbutz members was. romantic strain of love in Sereni. We saw him as the "happy warrior" child. full of fire and sparkle. for this reason he would often mock us by declaring himself nearer a Christian than a Jew in religious sensibility. and another claimed her-her husband. volunteered for sabotage and underground work behind the lines in Italy. and I can attest to it. 198 . bravely but with solemnity. Products of fascism. He told me that having had long conversations in America with Hayim Greenberg. when I spoke to him. if you loved a woman.IN MEMORIAM neighbors whom he had known. if I may abuse a phrase. Sereni presents an altogether different aspect from what was familiar to us. let us say-would you give her up? " If you answered. I learned the basic intellectual reasons for these new meshugassen of Sereni's. No. approaching forty. Far deeper than his intellectual constructions was a deep. confronting unforeseen and portentous immensities.
He had invested far more than a lifetime of labor. his friends. and never had he failed to realize what he risked. He used to say that everywhere he went-to Eretz Yisrael. December. and the Italian people. From his latest picture.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING These things he loved: Italy-Italian art. it must begin to accept the responsibilities of maturity. he contributed inestimably to the formulation of the program and policies of Habonim. his own home and family. his metaphysical moorings. who died early in June. Ben Halpern Furrows. 1945 IRV STERNBERG The early days in the life of a movement. to learn to mourn the death of a comrade. to America-he invested his money in the Histadrut. the Yiddish language. to learn to meet the inevitable situations of adult life. though only thirty-one when he died. we see that it was able to put a reflection of fear even into those eyes. the Young Poale Zion Alliance. and later the Merkaz. as in the life of an individual. but to take new strength from the spirit he displayed. Jews-Eastern European Jews. he had invested his love. Lithuanians and Germans alike. Givat Brenner. One of the first organizers. German Jews. was a veteran in Habonim and its predecessor. Mapai. We know from writings that reach us from Eretz Yisrael how deeply the split in the Mapai affected Sereni. Irv Sternberg. which he barely knew. even Italian historiography. the Kibbutz Hameuhad. was one of those who contributed to the conception and development of Habonim. his own kibbutz. to Germany. As a movement grows up. the Histadrut. a member of the National Executive. 199 . are shaped and influenced by those few who conceive and develop the ideas which give it birth. Irv. Italian philosophy.
and all of these he applied in his work for Habonim. His knowledge of the essence of the movement led him to create programs. Irv nevertheless translated his Socialist Zionism into his personal life. the type of material he assembled when he served as editor of Haboneh last year. long regret his untimely loss to us. His love of literature and art.IN MEMORIAM A halutz who knew that because of his serious illness he could never realize life in Eretz Yisrael. and long be grateful for the share he contributed to Habonim. his passion for the unique. Irv was a haver with diverse and intense interests. July. 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. conceive new ideas. 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. seek new methods of educating others in it. At the founding convention of Habonim in Buffalo. the background that molded all his discussions of our problems. when he was elected on the Poale Zion list as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress. His exceptional ability in artistic handwork led him to organize Habonim crafts groups. were reflected in those things he wrote. Furrows. 1944 200 . Habonim will remember Irv. In 1939 Irv received some measure of reward for the work he had done so devotedly for so long.
of the work we did when he was my rosh mahaneh." He was my friend. 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. lest the Jewish people never find their future. 1944.ADVENTURE IN PIONEERING JOHANAN TARTAKOWER "Johanan Tartakower was killed in action in the European Theater of Operations on September 29th. and I call to all those others who believe as Johanan did to rouse themselves. That is the best tribute I can give him. so that the vision of which Johanan was symbolic shall find new strength and fervor. to accept the task of the halutz. I cannot transform and reduce this intangible thing into pitifully inadequate sentences. I shall endeavor to do what my friend Johanan wanted to do-I will try to realize his dreams. We must fill the gap. November. We must believe in the things Johanan died for and fight for them. And I can say with a determination which I have never felt before that we must not let the chain of halutzim be broken. Harry Brumberger Furrows. of the dreams we had together of Eretz Yisrael and "our" kibbutz. He was one of our best haverim. 1944 201 . too-that is why these words are meaningless to me. Freedom and peace are meaningless if we are not conscious of their worth and do not accept their responsibilities-and freedom and peace must prevail lest future Johanans shall die.