While the Romanian HeHalutz believed that the organization should accept only members from the training kibbutz and the ones who finished the training, the World HeHalutz Organization counted as members all people who believed in the movement but were not members yet!
The Romanian leadership believed that accepting all people will lower the standards of HeHalutz.
These differences were topics at all conventions and councils and were also visible at the distribution of the funding from the Zionist management. The Romanians demanded that the organization avoid artificial growth. They requested that future Congresses be held in Eretz Israel in order to create a strong connection between the Labour Union and the HeHalutz movement. They also suggested that the HeHalutz headquarters be moved to Eretz Israel. All these suggestions were strongly rejected.
The fight between the Romanian HeHalutz leadership and the leadership in other countries (Poland) became very clear at the Danzig Congress (March 21, 1926). Sh. Shechter, the leader of HeHalutz from 1925 until 1931, when he immigrated to Eretz Israel, said:
The most important point is for the halutz education to be concentrated in the Kibbutz setting, because a member who joins the movement has to prove that he is dedicated to the application of the HeHalutz principles. Other leaders, among them Bogdanovsky, said that enlarging the movement will further strengthen the organization, but the Romanian leadership rejected that. Yitzchak Nusbaum (BenAharon) agreed that the most important element of the success in Eretz Israel is to belong to a working kibbutz and that all the people who are not training in the HeHalutz can only be considered candidates and not full members.
At the Fifth Congress in Danzig (September 1927), A. Dobkin presented the following statistics: Of the 18,520 members of HeHalutz, only 4,140 were in training: in Poland from 9,029 members only 1,217 people (13.5%) were in training and in Romania from 496 members 397 (80%) did the training.
These discussions continued for a long time! In his letter to the newspaper HaAtid (The Future), issue 68 of Nissan 5689 (1929), Sh. Shechter recommended to:
In their response, the editors of the newspaper ignored Shechter's recommendations and mentioned only the availability of 300 new certificates. It became clear that the leadership in Poland maintained their position that all youth interested in HeHalutz and its activities are considered members.
The economic crisis and the immigration blockade of 19261928 left their imprint on the HeHalutz movement and caused a decline in the number of halutzim. Some were conscripted to the army and some were attracted by the communist propaganda which took advantage of the decline in the HeHalutz movement. The only people still coming to training were members of the HaShomer HaTzair and Gordonia. In 1927, the training numbers dropped to 496 instead of 678 in 1925; and in 1928 only 351 people were in training.
Despite the low numbers, the situation in Romania was better than in other countries as shown in this table published in HaAtid (The Future), issue 60, from 15 December 1928:
|Permanent Training groups
|Seasonal Training groups
This table indicates that in Romania 83% of training took place on independent farms and in permanent training groups and 17% in seasonal short term groups, while in Poland 50% of training took place
in independent farms and in permanent groups and 50% in seasonal groups. Despite the difficult situation, the movement was experiencing, the Romania HeHalutz was performing well and the proceeds from the HeHalutz Week grew in 1927 compared with 1926.
|Akkerman||19,450||Capreshti||3,360||Valea lui Vlad||980|
|Totals: 285,314 Lei|
The Billicheni farm succumbed to terrible disasters. First, the drought caused the harvest to practically die and not produce even seed for the next spring; then, because of the location of the farm near marshes, cholera spread among the halutzim. The horses were transferred to the Jassy farm and the rest was abandoned.
Fortunately the cholera did not last long and the land in Bilicheni was exchanged in February 1928 for a similar size land (112 hectares) on a nearby location named Odaia Rosie (The Red Room), situated on a hill.
A new farm named Massada was set up entirely with funds of HeHalutz a first such farm in the Diaspora.
The beginnings were very difficult due to the lack of funds. When Sh. Shechter moved from Chernovitz to Kishinev to replace Joseph Barpal, he helped raise money for installing the necessary irrigation equipment to bring the water from the fountains to the fields. With the help of the Chernovitz community, 115 thousand Lei were allocated to establish a dairy farm with ten cows and a poultry coop. They also planted a vegetable garden and an orchard. All these expenditures caused deep financial pressure and debt on the farm.
The farm received great help from Iehiel Krasiuk, a successful businessman from Beltz, who came to manage the farm. He decended from a well known Zionist family and he coordinated the seasonal training groups who gathered in Beltz.
Until 1940, when Bessarabia was annexed by the Soviet Union, Massada served as a permanent training farm for the halutzim as well as a social and cultural centre and a testing ground for communal living and work.
Massada became an exemplary Degania, a centre for the trainees of Gordonia, just as the farm in Jassy was a centre for HaShomer HaTzair.
The Seventh Council took place in Jassy on 24 Tevet 5689 (1517 December 1928) and coincided with the resumption of the immigration, known as the Fifth Aliyah. The following people presented, reported and lectured: David Barsky, Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen), Israel Gilad, and Shimshon Shechter.
Due to the difficult situation, the training slowed down but did not stop and the groups continued to work and only stopped because of the blockade. The Council undertook to raise the cultural level of the members and provide equal training in all the four Romanian provinces in order to overcome the cultural and religious difference of the members. The Council approve immigration for David Barsky, Israel Gilad and Israel Zetzer (Zohar).
The following people were elected to replace them: Alexander (Shura) Fishman and Dov Mushinsky (Mishali).
The news about the resumption of immigration was received with great enthusiasm by all candidates waiting to immigrate. Group 33 and members of HaShomer HaTzair represented the majority of the 150 people who came to the assembly. They were greeted and lectured about the role of the halutz immigration by Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen), about the Kibbutz movement in Eretz Israel by I. Perenson and about the group organization. The Central Committee presented this group with the blue and white flag to celebrate the resumption of Aliyah.
A few days before the Council, Chaim Barlas, director of
the Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency came for a visit to the Jassy and Massada training farms. He also participated at the meeting of the Friends of HeHalutz in Jassy and visited the HeHalutz Headquarters in Kishinev. He expressed his appreciation for the training progress in spite of the two year immigration blockade.
At the time, the number of members of the halutz youth was more than 5,000 people: Shomer HaTzair had more than 3,000, Gordonia 2, 000 and HeHalutz HaTzair more than 200. Due to these facts the Central Committee decided to approve an urgent operational program and organize a seminar in Jassy and Massada in order to prepare for immigration and settlement. On 26 December a meeting of experts such as the agronomists Tenenhoizer and Yitzchak Bronfman, Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen) and agronomist Chaim Feigin from the ORT School took place in Jassy. Also present were leaders from Friends of HeHalutz from Jassy and Beltz.
The following table illustrates the fiscal situation of the farms in 1928:
|Size of the
farm in hectares
capital in Lei
88 ha cereal fields;
24 ha fallow land
|Jassy||40||43 ha agricultural
30 ha sand pits
|Totals||100||3, 170,427||Loss: 216, 019|
Massada: It was decided that due to the poor market condition:
On January 17, 1929 the ship Sinaia with 152 immigrants (108 halutzim and 44 immigrants) left Constantza and arrived in Jaffa on January 20. This was the first ship to break the long immigration blockade.
57 halutzim were from Romania, 51 were from Poland and Galicia and 2 were from HaPoel HaMizrachi. The Romanian group was lead by David Barsky, Israel Zetzer (Zohar) and Israel Geler. Israel Geler, who led a group of 16 from the Shomer HaTzair, was the coordinator of Shomer HaTzair in the North of Bessarabia and Bucovina and coordinator of the HeHalutz branch in Bucovina.
10 people who arrived late for the Sinaia embarked on the Dorostor on January 24. In total the group numbered 75 people.
Among the professional immigrants were Gad Podvisotzky (Brahiyahu), one of the leaders of the Palestinian Section of Maccabi in Kishinev and his wife Sima.
The ship sailed in very stormy weather that lasted more than 24 hours and finally arrived in Jaffa where they were met by Chaim Halperin, secretary of the Immigration branch of Jewish Agency and by Chaim Barlas and BeitEli from the Zionist Federation of Eretz Israel. The immigrants were received with great enthusiasm and the same evening they were invited to attend a show at Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv.
David Ben Gurion and Levi (Shcolnik) Eshkol greeted the immigrants at a very large reception with more than 1200 guests. The ceremonies finished with a special show presented by the Ohel Theatre and by an invitation to a reception at the Tel Aviv city hall organized by Mayor M. Dizengoff.
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