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[Page 233]

Councils and Congresses

 

The Eighth Council

The Eighth Council took place at Massada on 15–16 Av 5689 (August 21–22, 1929). It was at the time of renewed immigration, of the growth in the Brit Ha–Noar (Youth Alliance) propaganda work among the youth and the increased number of youth registered for training. The main discussion at this Council was to allow the cultural development of all youth without discriminating on their affiliation.

It also became clear that the current method of training, emphasising the individual, is not sufficient and that from the very start It is necessary to direct the training towards developing the society. It became imperative to develop a humanitarian society simultaneously with building the Jewish nation in Eretz Israel.

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The search for a new direction and solutions to this problem, that preoccupied the entire movement since its inception, was led by the Shomer Ha–Tzair graduates guided by Aharon Cohen and Gordonia graduates guided by Abraham Bronshtein.

 

A Pioneer Seminar

In order to avoid the mistakes that occurred with the Fourth Aliyah and due to the growth in the immigration permits number in the second half of 1929, it became necessary to find new, more reasonable methods to develop the economy in Eretz Israel.

He–Halutz management was compelled to immediately organize a seminar to train instructors for the new season. The seminar took place in Kishinev on 27 Adar I (March 9, 1929) and lasted three weeks. 26 people from all He–Halutz branches, Shomer Ha–Tzair, Gordonia, A.T.S (Association of Zionist Youth in Romania), He–Halutz Ha–Tzair, Maccabi and Beitar participated at the seminar. They were joined by many guests from the various youth organizations.

The following people from the leadership of He–Halutz lectured at the seminar: Yitzchak Berger, Dr. Asher Goldshtein, Israel Swirsky, Chaim Feigin, Yakov Kutsher, Isar Rabinovich, Shimshon Shechter and the teachers Yehudah Hariton and Benyamin Tutshinsky.

Israel David Bar–Rav–Chai, M. A. Beigel (Avigal) and Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen) represented Eretz Israel.

The lectures were followed by lively discussion on history, culture, society and about the labour movement in Eretz Israel and by debates between the lecturers and the students.

 

The establishment of the Sochnut (The Jewish Agency) and the August 1929 riots

The decision to establish the Jewish Agency was taken at the 15th Zionist Congress in Zurich, but the joy was short lived because of the events of Av 5689 (1929) in Eretz Israel .

The events shook up the Jewish community all over the world which

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immediately organized many protests. A large protest took place in Kishinev, where Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen), Zeev Meshi and Israel Swirsky called for the increase in immigration. He–Halutz centre in Bessarabia appealed to the youth to join the He–Halutz and to boost the immigration to Eretz Israel. Unfortunately, because of the lack of funding to support the immigration, the number of permits diminished. At the last moment, enough money was raised to send the halutzim to Constantza and from there to Eretz Israel on September 12, 1929. They were joined by many halutzim from Poland.

 

Tarbut comes to the aid of He–Halutz

Two day before the group was supposed to leave Constantza and when the lack of money became evident, Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen) appealed to Tarbut for help. The leaders of Tarbut, Shlomo Berliand and Israel Berman, approved a short–term loan (charity fund) of 200,000 Lei.

These two people, who dedicated their entire life to the Jewish education and Tarbut, had to take a very difficult decision to support the halutzim and use the money from the school budget for immigration.

He–Halutz paid back part of the loan from the He–Halutz Week proceedings and part was shown as a loss in the He–Halutz books.

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Tarbut had to come up with money to ensure that the schools do not suffer due to this act of charity.

The news about “Group 34” of 66 people leaving for Eretz Israel became a great event in Kishinev. Many people came to bid farewell to the immigrants, among them many students from the Yeshivah, who considered the immigration a response to the riots in Hebron.

Immediately after, the He–Halutz Centre published a pamphlet entitled “In die blutige teg” (In these Bloody Days) which explained the riots in Eretz Israel to the community and the reactions in the world. Gordonia organized “Preparation Groups” and intensified its propaganda among the youth. This idea was carried out by Zeev Meshi from Eretz Israel who visited Soroca and Khotin areas and enlisted 600 new members and by Tarbut and the local Zionist organization which organized special training courses.

The riots in Eretz Israel shook the young people and increased awareness of the He–Halutz and its training program. The Beitar members also started their own training program – one of them was in a sugar factory in Zarujeni (Khotin district). The Palestinian Section of Maccabi decided at its meeting of 26–27 October, 1929 to direct its members to the pioneer training and organized the immigration of eight members of Tzeirei Mizrachi from Chernovitz who worked on a privately owned farm.

The A.T. S (Association of Zionist Youth) in Romania and Transylvania decided to direct their members to training and to actively participate

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in the summer camps and hoped to attract 1,000 members for the coming season.

The delay in the immigration permits of the summer of 1929 “Schedule,” the loss of 41 travel certificates caused by passport problems and the riots in Eretz Israel were big blows to He–Halutz in Romania.[1]

 

The Ninth Council

The Ninth Council took place on 17–18 Shvat 5690 (February 15–16, 1930) in Jassy. Among the participants were 30 delegates from the newly formed Preparation Groups, 24 delegates from the farms and training groups (delegates from Maccabi, Beitar, A.T.S. (Association of Zionist Youth) and a branch of A.T.S. which left the Shomer Ha–Tzair for the International Socialist movement and later joined the He–Halutz as a separate group. Also present were Zeev Bloch, Moshe Shoshani and Dov Shafrir from the Workers Union in Eretz Israel. Sh. Shechter, the director of He–Halutz, addressed the 200 youth form all the groups and factions attending the opening session. He stressed that it is imperative to strengthen the Zionist movement and to increase the training program. All, except the Beitar delegates, agreed to widen the scope of the Preparation Groups and subsequently enlarge the base of He–Halutz.

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Ariyeh Lichtinger (Nahir) from the Keren Kayemet office reported about the activities of the Fund and about the duties of the youth toward Keren Kayemet. In conclusion, they agreed to work to establish the “League for Working Eretz Israel,” except for the delegates from Beitar who voted against this decision.[2]

The following people were elected to the Council's executive: Daniel Guberman, Chana Lerner (Lamdan), D. Shafrir. Akiva Bron (Zarujeni) and Weibuch (Bacau) were elected secretaries.

Sh. Shechter presented the report on the budget and the dire financial situation and described the growth of the 20 Preparation Groups, whose 800 members were waiting to start training.

At the conclusion of the meeting all agreed that the organization's scope is in the training (Hachshara) that prepares the participants for a new life in Eretz Israel[3]

The statutes of the Preparation Groups were approved as follows:

The Scope of the organization is to mobilize the youth under the umbrella of He–Halutz in order to prepare for the training; each location will reinforce the He–Halutz philosophy; to make every effort to understand each participant's ability in order to better assign the work in the group.

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Membership in the group is granted to all men and women over the age 16 who desire to join the He–Halutz and the training and stay there for one year only.[4]

The Council agreed to intensify the propaganda among the youth and to make arrangements for 1000 members to join training the following season. In the spring, 650 people were placed in training in two privately owned farms and in 16 seasonal groups. 540 people belonged to various Zionist Unions, 190 came from the Shomer Ha–Tzair, 188 from Gordonia, 60 from A.T.S, 35 from Maccabi, 45 from Beitar, 22 from Tzeiri Mizrachi, 110 from the Preparation Groups. During the summer another 150 people from the Preparation Groups came to work.[5]

On September 15, 1930 (just before the Fouth He–Halutz Congress in Berlin, 10–13 Tishrei 5691–5 October 1930) the organization presented the following statistics: Romania had 3,075 graduates of the Preparation Groups and other Zionist organizations and 857 trainees to a total of 3,932 people, 1,100 halutzim[6], 1,400 Shomer Ha–Tzair, and Gordonia 1,432. (At the time Poland had 11,616 and Galicia 4,897).

 

The Labor Congress in Berlin

This first and important Congress of the Jewish Workers in Eretz Israel and in the Diaspora took place in Berlin at the end of September 1930. This Congress drew great attention from the International Labour movement and many socialist parties because it embodied the Zionist ideals and the labour socialist vision.

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A delegation of thirteen[7] people represented Romania at this important Congress. Eight[8] people from this delegation also attended the Fourth International He–Halutz Congress in Berlin on May 2, 1930.

Shimshon Shechter addressed the congress on two important issues – training and cultural/educational work. In his address he pointed out the importance of educating the youth for the ultimate task of rebuilding Eretz Israel and for preparing them for the hard work and the many responsibilities in the future. The Hachshara is a sum of all training aspects – professional, cultural and social and ultimately it forges the halutz character.[9] He suggested setting up Preparation Groups that will admit more people and provide transition to training. Shechter declared his support for Berl Katznelson's program to enhance the education process with culture, literature and history.

[Page 240a]

Bes240a.jpg
Photograph no. 77: Members of the Pacurari Training Farm (Jassy), Spring 1929
From bottom to top, from right to left. 1–6 Unknown, 7. Turkansky, 8. A. Lerner (Orein), 9. Unknown, 10. Aharon Cohen, 11. Unknown, 12. Mordechai Ruff, 13. Unknown, 14. Israel Wasserman, 15. Sonia Bronfman, 16. Yitzchak Bronfman, 17. Unknown, 18. Batya Porat, 19 Joseph Porat, 20–25 Unknown, 26. Chaim Rozen, 27 Rachel Iehiel, 28. Naftali Zinger, 29–33. Unknown

 

Bes240b.jpg
Photograph no. 78: Members of the Pacurari Training Farm (Jassy), autumn 1929
From bottom to top, from right to left. 1. Unknown, 2. I. Schneider, 3. Unknown, 4.–6. Unknown, 7 Akiva Goldshtein (Goshen), 8. Tzipora Bat–Ami, 9. Batya Porat, 10. Ieshayahu Scheinfeld, 11. Anna Carmlin, 12. Unknown, 13–15 Unknown, 16. Naftali Zinger, 17. Unknown, 18. Israel Geler, 19. Israel Wasserman, 20. Israel Zohar (Zetzer), 21–24. Unknown, 25. Aharon Cohen, 26. Unknown, 27–31. Unknown, 32. A. Hochman (Tchik) 33. Bitcutchar, 34. Unknown

[Page 240b]

Bes240c.jpg
Photograph no. 79: Threshing at the training farm near Jassy

 

Bes240d.jpg
Photograph no. 80: Milking cows at the training farm near Jassy

 

Bes240e.jpg
Photograph no. 81: Members of the Pacurari Training Farm near Jassy, beginning of 1930

[Page 240c]

Bes240f.jpg
Photograph no. 82: He–Halutz Seminar in Romania, Kishinev, Adar B, 5689 (1929)
From top to bottom: 3rd row from right to left sitting: Teachers: Yacov Kutsher, Israel Skwirsky, David Bar–Rav– Chai, (Eretz Israel), Shimshon Shechter, Akiva Goshen, (Eretz Israel), Moshe A. Avigal (Eretz Israel), Yehuda Hariton
2nd row from the top: Between Bar–Rav–Chai and Shechter, Deborah Weinshtein (Guberman), Between Shechter and Goshen, Isar Rabinovich

 

Bes240g.jpg
Photograph no. 83: Preparation Group, Ogheiev, 5690 (1930)
From bottom to top, from right to left: Sitting: Sh. Nisenblat, Unknown, M. Broitman, M. Machlis, B. Shuchman, Unknown
Middle: Sitting: H. Mutchnik, M. Frank, Schaposchnik, Unknown
Top row: Standing: M. Ratchulsky, Schreiberman, M. Ziserman, R. Chaimovitch, Unknown, Sislavsky, T. Mutchnik , Grobokopatel, Tartakovsky

 

Bes240h.jpg
Photograph no. 84: A training group with members from Gordonia and Beitar, Zarujeni, spring 5690 (1930)

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Bes240i.jpg
Photograph no. 85: A training group with members from Gordonia and Beitar, Zarujeni, spring 5690 (1930)
1.Shimshon Shechter, 2. Alexander (Shura) Fishman, 3. Zeev Bloch, 4. Joseph Finkelshein, 5. Michael Oved, 6. Dov Shafrir

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The Sixth Congress

The Sixth Congress took place in on 7–11 Shvat 5691 (25–29 January 1931). In order to decide the number of delegates an election took place before the Congress with the following results: Shomer Ha–Tzair received 271 votes and 17 delegates, Gordonia 249 votes and 15 delegates, Maccabi 41 votes and 3 delegates, A.T.S. 69 votes and 4 delegates, Beitar 36 votes and 2 delegates. In total there were 666 votes and 41 delegates.

The “He–Halutz Week” of Pessah 5691 (1931) published this survey that took place on November 30, 1930.

Members of the movement by organization

Organization Male
members
Female
members
Total Percentage
Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair 158 102 260 37.7
Gordonia 145 73 218 31.5
A.T.S. Association of Zionist Youth 49 20 69 10
Maccabi 24 17 41 5.9
Unaffiliated halutzim 32 21 53 7.7
Trumpeldor Group 31 5 36 5.2
Other local or small groups 6 5 11 2
Total 445 243 688 100
  64.68% 35.32%    

The actual number of members in He–Halutz was probably 857, twice as much as in 1928. 169 members who took the training earlier were not included because they did not return the questionnaires, probably because they were in the army or moved.

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Geographical Make–up of He–Halutz

Bessarabia 450 62.50%
Romania (Regat) 177 25.72%
Bucovina 71 10.30%
Transylvania 10 1.68%
Total 688 100.00%

Sh. Shechter presented the report for the years 5688 – 5690 (1928–1930) and pointed out that the movement has grown since the last Congress and that, although the majority of halutzim still come from Bessarabia, Romanian membership is more than 25%. This situation is compelling the movement to take in consideration the diversity of the Romanian Jewry especially after the Annexation and to provide specifically for this diversity.

In these two years 1,500 members did the training in 38 training groups. Groups 33 to 45 made up of 405[10] members who immigrated (278 men and 127 women), and 521 members (338 men and 138 women) who were impatiently waiting for their turn to immigrate.

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The immigrants from Group 33 settled in Kfar Saba and Kibbutz Gimel and Dalet of the Shomer Ha–Tzair in Haifa and Magdiel, the Gordonia group in Hedera, Bnei–Israel group in Nahalal, and some in Rehovot, Hedera and Petah Tikva.

Z. Bloch and D. Shafrir reviewed the issues regarding education and the role of the youth. The financial situation of 5689–5690 (1929–1930) presented a very bleak picture. There was the need to cover the 1,3 million Lei for the operation. Only half of this sum was raised and the 600,000 Lei promised by the Zionist Federation in Bucharest was not delivered.

The new leadership of 20 people[11] had 2 members from Shomer Ha–Tzair, 2 from Gordonia, 1 from Maccabi, 1 from A.T.S. and the rest from Eretz Israel.

 

The Tenth Council

The Tenth Council took place in Jassy on 12–13 Elul 5691 (29–30 August 1931). The report from Dov Shafrir indicated that the financial situation has slightly improved, that the 250,000 Lei debt had been repaid and that the quality of the training has improved because new knowledgeable instructors were hired.

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The Council decided to replace the Preparation Groups with urban branches which proved to be very efficient and to empower then with shaping the future of the organization. The creation of a new group from the Poalei Zion membership was approved.

The Council approved the retirement of Joseph Finkelshtein and Ben Zion (Bentchik) Charach from the Executive due to their immigration to Eretz Israel. Their place was taken by Nyusa Friedel (Natan Peled) and Chaim Fuks (Motzkin).

Dov Shafrir[12], well praised for the great job he performed for the last two years with He–Halutz of Romania, returned to Eretz Israel and was replaced by

[Page 245]

Dov Bibik (Frenkel).[13]

Compared to year 1930, 1931 saw a decline in the Eretz Israel economy as well as a decline in the immigration. The training graduates had to return to their parents' homes and this caused a sharp decrease in the numbers of halutzim for the winter of 1932. Only 220 new trainees remained in the private farms. Among them were 10 trainees from Orgheiev who worked in a vineyard since the summer.  

In the spring of 1932 only 365 people attended training. The small number of trainees made it possible to increase the quality of cultural educational training and to give the organization time to recuperate from the loan burden.

In the summer of 1932, 79 new immigration permits were received by He–Halutz in Romania and they were distributed as follows: 67 for General He–Halutz, 7 for He–Halutz Mizrachi and 5 permits for the A.T.S. Beitar demanded 25 permits but received only 7 which they refused to accept!

Footnotes:

  1. Ha–Atid (The Future) issue no. 81, 28 Tishrei 5690 (1930) – Only 140 permits were used. 152 members immigrated (80 men and 72 women): Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair– 50, Gordonia – 27, A.T.S. – 6, Maccabi – 4, Tzeirei Zion –4, other organization – 61. The Shomer Ha–Tzair group was led by Aharon Cohen one of the first founders of the first Aliyah Kibbutz of the Shomer Ha–Tzair from Romania. The new immigrants were absorbed by the following Kibbutzim: Kibbutz Gimel (Shomer Ha–Tzair) in Haifa – 14, Kibbutz Dalet (Shomer Ha–Tzair) in Ness Ziona – 40, Kibbutz Bnei–Israel in Nahalal – 13, Group 23 in Kfar Saba – 21, Kibbutz HaPoel in Jerusalem – 1, Sharona Group – 1. 62 people went to various farms in Hedera, Rehovot, and Kfar Saba Return
  2. Undzer Tzeit, Kishinev, n.d. (Davidson Archive) Return
  3. Ha–Atid (The Future), Warsaw, issue 92–93, Nisan 5690 (1930) Return
  4. Alim (Leaves) 30, Published by the He–Halutz Centre in Romania. March 1930 Return
  5. Z. Bloch, Ha–Atid (The Future) issue 101, Av 5690 (1930) Return
  6. Ha–Atid, issue 103, Tishrei 5691 (1921) – in this general category are included members of all other organizations Return
  7. Bessarabia – 7 delegates, Romania – 6 delegates. Affiliation of delegates: 6 delegates from Tzeirei Zion and Gordonia: Michael Oved, David Pistrov, Tamara Shochtovich, Moshe Shoshani, Deborah and Shimshon Shechter. 3 delegates from Shomer Ha–Tzair: Zeev Bloch, Joseph Finkelshtein, Alexander (Shura) Fishman. 2 delegates from Poalei Tzion: Shimshon Bronshtein, Chaim Feigin, 1 delegate from He–Halutz: David Shpirer. 1 from Maccabi: Iehiel Levanon (Weisman) Return
  8. Z. Bloch, Michael Oved, Joseph Finkelstein, Alexander Fishman, Reizel, Moshe Shoshani, Shimshon Shechter and David Shafrir Return
  9. Ha–Atid (The Future) Warsaw, issue 104–104, Heshvan 5691 (1931) Return
  10. Shavuah he–Halutz (He–Halutz Week), Pessah 5691 (1931) issue
    Summary of He–Halutz organized immigration from 5681 to 5691 (1921–1931)
    Until Pessah 5686 (1926) – Groups 1–28 (see also page 215): 1,716
    Until Shvat 5689 (1929) – Groups 29–32: 300
    Secret immigration – (according to a brochure published in Kishinev on Nissan 5690 (1930): 600
    Until Pessah 5691 (1931) – Groups 33 – 43: 405
    Total 3,021 Return
  11. Ha–Atid (The Future), Warsaw, issue 4(112) – 6 (114, Shvat–Nissan 5691 (1931) Return
  12. Dov Shafrir (Gissar) was known in He–Halutz Bessarabia since 1921, when he left the Ukraine to go to Eretz Israel. He was very familiar with the situation in Bessarabia and became attached to the Jewish community there. Return
  13. Ha–Atid (The Future), Warsaw, issue 17 (125), Tishrei 5692 (1932), article by N. Friedel (Natan Peled) Return

 

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