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[Page 121]

The Youth and Hashomer Hatzair in Podhajce (cont.)

cheder or the Beis Midrash. In those days, a lively group of youth got together with initiative and founded Hechalutz. Mr. Menachem Itinger, Mr. Buchwald and others were among its first members. These two groups, the group of studying youths and the Hechalutz group, worked together throughout the years in the midst of the local Jewish youth. They were not satisfied with preaching and explanations alone, but they transferred over to practicality, and made aliya to the Land in 1921. The entire town accompanied them, some with esteem, some with reverence, some with lack of faith, and some with opposition to their deeds. This aliya had a strong echo that extended and strengthened. Other Shomrim or other pioneers made aliya.

pod121a.jpg
Veteran girls of the Hashomer Hatzair chapter

Standing from right to left: Messing, Malka Weitzis, Freida Lerer,
Sheindele Lerer. Sitting: Rozia Rozmarin, Haber, Mrs. Marbuch

 

pod121b.jpg
A group of Hashomer Hatzair members

 

From that time, the Hashomer chapter continued it activities uninterruptedly, weathering the crises that broke out from time to time. For the most part, these crises were created by the lack of leadership and direction due to the aliya to the Land of the veterans of the chapter. The Zionist activity in the city increased yearly, along with the activities of the Hashomer Hatzair chapter. All strata of the youth organized themselves and joined up with the chapter, despite the opposition of the majority of the parents. The opposition to the movement arose from a variety of reasons. Some were opposed to our Zionism, some to our Socialism, and some to both. Some were opposed to the mingling of boys and girls, and some to the distancing of their children from the ways of tradition. In this atmosphere of lack of support and even opposition, Hashomer Hatzair forged its way into the ranks of the younger generation and became the central force of the youth of the city. With time, the Zionist circles provided moral, material and communal support to the Hashomer Hatzair chapter. They presented us as “patrons” to the authorities, and we always found a warm and open heart from them at times of difficulty. Thanks to their advice or assistance, we were not infrequently saved from difficult situations. The Hashomer chapter turned into a warm corner for the boys and girls of age 13 and above. Its activities digressed significantly from education work, and encompassed various communal areas.

In the chapter, the youth enjoyed an atmosphere of friendship, camaraderie, national pride and social justice. The youth who had witnessed the exile with their own person, the life of poverty, unemployment and lack of hope, found here the vision for a creative and free life in the Land of their dreams: with the sweat of their brow they will revive desolate areas, with their own hands they will establish settlements and protect with weapons life, honor and the future of the Jewish homeland. All of this came to expression in many discussions on many Sabbath eves – discussions that were accompanied by songs filled with longing for the Land and its landscape. There, they learned to value and honor the status of workers, and to desire to turn into a creative people. They

[Page 122]

pod122a.jpg
A Hashomer Hatzair chapter (1938)

 

pod122b.jpg
The Aryeh group of Hashomer Hatzair

 

pod122c.jpg
Some Podhajce natives in Hashomer Hatzair Kibbutzim
at a festive convention in Merchavia,
on the occasion of the jubilee of the movement in 1963

 

pod122d.jpg
A group of friends in Hashomer Hatzair (1934)

 

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