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[Page 62]

Jewish Youth Organizations

[Pages 63-65]

Gordonia

by A. Yagolnitzer-Shemovny

Translated by Jerrold Landau

In 1927, the Gordonia group was founded by Shneur Geynichovitz and Shlomo Bronshteyn. The first to join Gordonia were the 5th and 6th grade students of the gymnasiums. Following them, the working youth joined, including those who worked in workshops and stores. The number of members reached 50-60.

Since general meetings were forbidden by law, we were forced to meet in private homes for the purpose of “conversation”. The content of the conversation was general topics, history, Zionism, and the doctrine of A. D. Gordon. In addition to the discussions, there were also Hebrew lessons given by those who knew Hebrew, especially by the teacher Shneur Geynichovitz.

The first celebration that was organized to mark the founding of the chapter is still etched in my mind. It took place in Suslensky's workshop on the eve of Simchat Torah. This celebration served as a form of farewell party for Shlomo Bronshteyn on the occasion of his aliya to the Land. With the passage of time, this first Simchat Torah celebration turned into a tradition in the life of the movement. The Romanian authorities accepted the character of the Zionist movement. They recognized it and did not interfere with our work. We decided to search for a suitable headquarters for the chapter. Through the intercession of activists for whom the matter of the movement was close to their hearts, we received a room in the Yeshiva building, which served as our meeting hall.

With the opening of the hall, the members were divided into various groups: older youths of age 16-18, up-and-coming youths of the age 14-16, and scouts of the age of 12-14. Counselors were trained and arose from the chapter. Members of the older group (who knew Hebrew for the most part) directed members of the younger groups. The chapter was directed by forces from the youth (independent direction), a council of advisors, secretaries and treasurers. It sustained itself by its membership dues.

Gordonia branch, 1921

Gordonia branch, 1921

 

Each group met twice a week. On the Sabbath there was a general gathering of all of the groups in order to deal with a common topic. This gathering concluded with dancing.

The movement carried out its activities in a modest manner. The movement refrained from smoking, salon dances, cracking seeds, etc. There was also a set uniform (gray shirts).

The members kept their obligations honestly. When we received a plot of land in the yard of the ORT School, we decided to actualize the idea of the distinguished teacher A. D. Gordon. We called this plot of land “Gan Yarok” (Verdant Garden). It became the central point for the activities of our chapter. Every group tended to it and guarded it day and night according to a rotation. One could see groups of children with their counselors each evening as they were assembling in the hall of the chapter waiting for their turn. On Sabbaths, excursions were arranged to the Seleshty Forest outside the city for the purpose of drawing the youth close to nature and communal life. These excursions were an experience for both the members and the counselors. The first inter-chapter meeting, which took place in Kishinev on the occasion of the visit of Nachum Sokolov, left a great impression. At this meeting, the high organizational level of the members of Gordonia of Orheyev stood out. Our movement flourished and continued on until the day finally came when most of the Jewish students belonged to Gordonia. Members older than age 18 were required to go on hachshara for actualization, or to leave the movement. The “Keren Aliya” (aliya fund) was founded in our first year of existence.

Gordonia group, 1936

Gordonia group, 1936

 

Gordonia

Gordonia
In the center Aliza Yagolnitzer-Shemovny -- on her left Avraham Rechulsky

 

The first hachshara group was in “Massada” (Bessarabia). With the increase of the stream of aliya to the land, several hachshara points were established in the region of Orheyev, such as the chapter of Onitskany. In Teleneshti, where Jews who owned vineyards lived, a hachshara chapter was founded in the fields of Dr. Kleiderman and Petrushka. Our members stood up to the test of the work, and were encouraged also by gentiles such as General Yanoshovich. Two hachshara chapters existed in Orheyev itself in the Talmud Torah building. The members obtained work in the brick kiln of Dizengof (from the family of Meir Dizengof). They were employed in the cutting of trees, baking of matzos for Passover, etc.

Gordonia, drama band

Gordonia, drama band

Standing: 1. R. Daskal 2. [alef]. Vyshkautzan 3. Y. Yadovsky -- Zeevi (coordinator of the group) 4. L. Cheriyan 5. M. Gendler 6. [feh]. Belfer
Seated 2nd Row: 1. M. Lipshin 2. Y. Gondelman -- Rozenberg
Seated 3rd Row: 1. [feh]. Baudfein 2. R. Liniveker

 

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