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[Page 68]
'Hashomer Hatsair' cell, 1931

“Hashomer Hatsair” cell, 1931

 

Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Watchman)

by Ch. Ben-Yaakov

Translated by Boaz Nadler

I now remember those ancient and unforgettable days more than 50 years ago, when the pioneer youth groups were founded in Orheyev. The Zionist idea conquered the hearts of the youth. But some of these “golden boys” were not attracted to the other changes that were occurring around us, and they continued to see everything from a very personal viewpoint. The most happy and ignorant, so to speak, were those young people who were able to obtain an academic degree, even under the cost of assimilation, and yet for whom the Zionist recognition struck a cord and grew strong. We were extremely impressed by the first group of pioneers from Orheyev, the group of “Bnei Israel” (Sons of Israel) that immigrated to Israel and settled near the Sharona group, where they worked on paving the road from Haifa to Nazareth.

Letters full of enthusiasm then came to Orheyev, calling us to come as well.

Shneur Genikhovitz, one of the founders of the pioneer group, rebuffed the youth for their pursuit of “life's convenience and pleasures,” and called upon the Jewish youth to prepare themselves for their new lives in the future. He was the founder of the “Gordonia” branch in Orheyev. There were furious debates within the movement about the best way to fulfill the pioneering ideology. The arguments moved from the branch into the street, and entered into father's and mother's house and into the family. Due to these differences in opinion, some of us left “Gordonia” and founded the first branch of “Hashomer Hatzair” in Orheyev. Within a short period of time, we were able to draw to our group a few dozen boys and girls, high school students of various ages, and our cell grew larger day by day. We received instructional pamphlets and other material, and held vigilant discussions. These were done in the following manner: first the instructor opened the discussion with a specific subject and then a debate started. In this way, many issues and questions were clarified, and eventually summarized by the instructor.

We committed ourselves to a lifestyle of learning and education, and along this process combined with self reading, our opinions were formed. Apart from long discussions we would organize Israeli folklore nights, with dances and songs, and we made field trips to far away places as an integral part of our educational program. These trips were astounding. Besides a close encounter with the surrounding nature, this prepared us for communal life in the future. This is how we were drawn into the training in “Halutz” and later to immigrate to Israel to a life in a Kibbutz.

Our lives were filled with joy. The joy of living and of creation blended together. We were ready to face the future, and trained ourselves towards a life of manual labor in the Kibbutz.

A few remarks are appropriate about the involvement of our parents in the changes that occurred in the life of the Zionist youth of our town. Despite the differences in opinion between “fathers and sons,” one can say that most of the parents eventually agreed, without much of a choice, with the new reality. They realized this out of understanding, combined with a fear that their world was falling down before their eyes. Our way led us to the land of Israel. We did not believe that the “old people” were capable of starting a new life in a new country, and indeed they stayed there to face their destiny, which led to their doom.


[Pages 68 - 69]

Hashomer Hatzair

by Emuna Munder

Translated by Marsha Kayser

This is how we founded the group “Hashomer Hatzair” (The Young Watchman) in Orheyev.

It was in about 1929. During the time when the “czarists” came to power it was a little easier to breathe. One was even allowed to open various cultural institutions.

Previously, when not even a small gathering was permitted, we met secretly. What great joy there was when “on a new day,” as the saying goes, there were initial announcements from two sides: 1) whoever wants could come to register in the Zionist hall, which was in the yeshiva; 2) an announcement from the Culture-League which had also opened by then. Brur was the more leftist workers' youth, and included a group who had just left “Ort,” the Workers-Shul, and turned leftist. I myself, still objective, went to the Zionist hall where, although suspicious, they took me in, believing that I was sent by my friends, in order to investigate how they got such an important member as A.R. Thus were created kibbutzim (agricultural collectives in Palestine/Israel); we learned Hebrew and the older ones organized into groups. The younger, the majority educated, separated themselves from the others and established the “Gordonia” group. In the hall there remained a small group of worker friends who were also searching for something but lacked know-how. First came the friend Kh.D., an expert from the “Hashomer Hatzair” program, who suggested that we be the first organizers and lay the first stone from the organization “Hashomer Hatzair” Orheyev. Initially I was close to saying “We shall hear and we shall do” (ed. note: Biblical quote meaning to obey the commandments) because I knew that we knew too little in order to establish the right educational youth-organization (on our own.) But it so happened that those who were “leftist” were on their guard and were prepared to brainwash the entire youth, since we had taken to the work with little knowledge under difficult conditions. We sought help from friends from “Shomer Hatzair,” who are today the main leaders of their kibbutzim and are activists and leaders of the country (ed. note: Israel). They would often come to help us with various conversations, lectures, and in all areas, Zionism, socialism, Jewish education. One time even friends on a mission from Eretz-Yisroel came and brought us a few observant Jews. At the beginning it was very difficult, often fights with other organizations would take place. But this only strengthened the will to make progress and advance on all fronts. It was successful - in Orheyev a cell was started that brought many settlers whose help was devoted to the construction of Eretz-Yisroel, - many of them in the kibbutzim.

And to close, I want to remember, with deep pain and pride, our friend Shaul Averbukh, may his memory be blessed, from Shomer Hatzair in Orheyev, who fell during the heroic fight to free the “Negba” Kibbutz. Those close to him and his friends will always remember, his name is sacred…

'Hashomer Hatsair', group members

“Hashomer Hatsair”, group members

Below from right to left: 1. [alef]. Beznos 2. Y. Svavolsky 3. 4. V. Dyukman
Above: 1. S. Bogoslavsky 2. Z. Katzap 3. S. Shaposhnik (Rozenfeld) 4. Shustik 5. [alef]. Mishkis (Munder)

 

'Hashomer Hatsair', preparation branch, 1935

 

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