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[Page 268]

The Twelfth Council[1]


The Council took place in Bucharest on 11–13 Tevet 5696 (6–8 January 1936). Menachem Rolel, Joseph Finkelshtein and Gedaliya Geler presented reports on the activities and praised the good state of affairs such as: the agreement between the factions for the distribution of certificates, the organized training schedule with no long wait times and improvements in the quality of education and cultural training.

The new members who joined the training reached 782 as shown in the following two tables:

1. New members' affiliation:
Gordonia 244
Maccabi 96
Tzeirei Zion and Bussliyah 160
Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair 89
Poalei Zion and Dror 115
Bnei Avodah 78
Total 782
2. Training locations:
Massada and Jassy (old locations) 2
Hatzeg, Kishinev and Galatz (new locations) 3
Agricultural training group 22
Urban training centre (i.e. Falticeni) 17
A fishing centre at Basargheievka, near Akkerman
(It did not last long, because it was difficult to set up this new branch)
Total 45

[Page 269]

In total, there were 2,397 trainees in the locations, but the actual number of all youth organizations and in the urban centre reached more than ten thousand people.

The agricultural training, which took 8–9 months, had 1,657 members– about 70% of the trainees, thus putting Romania at the top of all Eastern Europe countries. The pay was very low– 20–25 Lei per day, but in many locations the trainees were helped by the Friends of He–Halutz.

The winter training also increased from 18 groups the year before to 27 training groups. In total the training budget in Romania was a quarter million Lei, a big sum considering the impoverished Jewish community.

In the report of the Central Committee for Romania meeting of 23 Shvat 5696 (16 February 1936) the following data were transferred to the Immigration department in Jerusalem:

  Groups Members Percentage Average number of members per group
General He–Halutz 44 2,397 66.0 54
Pan Zionist He–Halutz 14 408 11.0 29
Beitar 9 258 7.0 29
Mizrachi 11 247 7.0 23
Agudah 8 177 5.0 22
Medinati 4 144 4.0 38
Total 90 3,631[2] 100.0  

[Page 270]

The report on the professional groups which was tabled at the same congress:

Branches Members
Branches Members
Ha–Oved (The Worker) 34 710 ? 3,029
Ha–Poel Ha–Dati (Religious Worker) 24 458
Mizrachi[3] 150; ? 1,008
General Zionists 4 336 ? 413
Renasterea (Resurgence) 2 18 ? 18
Medinati 1 35 ? 101
Total: 65 1,557 ? 4,569

The establishment of He–Halutz urban branches provided steady work from the beginning of 5696 (1936), therefore the leadership decided to establish a special department responsible for the 63 branches. The branches were located as such: Bessarabia – 35, Regat –13, Transylvania –1 and Bucovina – 4.

Until the Congress, 27 new branches were opened: Bessarabia – 20, Regat – 1, Transylvania – 6 with 1,837 members. The biggest number of members were in Orgheiev – 362, Edinitz – 251, Kishinev – 237, the smallest were in Dundusheni – 16 and Oradea –13. This large workforce demonstrated the cooperation between the various youth Zionist organization and the growing strength of the Halutz movement.

Ha–Oved (The Worker) organization also showed a big development especially in Bessarabia. It established a special office and hired a permanent instructor. Their function was to recruit the membership of Ha–Oved to the Labour Party.

The Aliyah also showed signs of success in 1935, when 282 people were settled in villages and kibbutzim even though the cities provided more opportunities.

[Page 271]

The financial situation improved due to the contributions from the Women Zionist Organization (Associatia Femeilor Zioniste) and Yedidei He–Halutz (Friends of He–Halutz) which covered a lot of the expenses. The fiscal year finished with a gain of 130,799 Lei which allowed the organization to pay off some of the 300,000 Lei loans (taken for purchasing Massada and its equipment and the equipment for the Jassy farm.

The following decisions presented by David Spector (Doron) were approved:

  1. To increase the efforts to continue the naval training
  2. To ensure that training group enjoys the cultural activities and that the He–Halutz branches cooperate culturally with the Ha–Oved branches
  3. To recall for training the people who received immigration permits, but still await departure and to provide a three day seminar for them
A survey of all the members of the Halutz movement took place on 20 February 1936 and the results are summarized in the table below:[4]

Training locations Less than one year Up to two years More than two years Total
On Farms 333 343 21 697
Groups with land owners 3,600 1,609 302 5,511
Urban Groups 168 83 21 272
Total 4,101 2,035 344 64,80

This situation did not last long – the economic crisis in Eretz Israel and the increase in terrorism caused a decline in the training activities in all countries, but especially in Bessarabia and the rest of Romania.

The report to the 20th Zionist Congress points out that “in known organizations such as Beitar and Agudat Israel the training stopped completely.”

[Page 272]

The following tables from October 1936 show the Romanian training group numbers and the training workplaces

General He–Halutz 1,769 members {73.8% from previous year)
Pan Zionist He–Halutz 450 members  
Mizrachi 85 members {32.2% from previous year)[5]
Ha–Medinati 15 members  
Totals 2,319 members 56.5% from previous year


  General He–Halutz Pan Zionist He–Halutz Mizrachi Medinati Total
Agriculture 854 331 32 15 1,232
Road building, digging and forestry 10 54 64
Factories 135 135
Construction and other professions 25 10 35
Hired Labours 235 53 288
Inside workers 290 55 345
Sick leave 220 220
Total 1,769 450 85 15 2,319


The Eighth Congress

This Congress took place in Kishinev on 9–12 Adar 5697 (20–24 February 1937). A long series of negotiations took place between the various factions of He–Halutz in Romania – Shomer Ha–Tzair, Gordonia and Poalei Zion in order to form a coalition and to cooperate. The main reason was to stop the fighting at elections and to ensure that the next two years run smoothly.

[Page 272a]

Photograph no. 112: Management of the Shomer Ha–Tzair at the Eight He–Halutz Congress (last), Kishinev 9–12 Adar 5697 (20–23 February 1937)

From right to left sitting: D. Marcovich, P. Yagulitzer, I. Finkelshtein, I. Furman, B. Legger
Standing: Frish, Z. Rabinovich, L. Roitman, D. Spector (Doron), L. Greenblat, Sh. Goldshtein, M. Skai


Photograph no. 113: Delegates from Dror and Union of Poalei Zion Halutzim at the Eight He–Halutz Congress, Kishinev, February 1937

From top to bottom, right to left, row 1: in the middle by himself A. Lerner
Row 2: Schwartzman, P. Feldman (H. Shahori), Magalnik, Unknown
Row 3: Sali Wasserman (Sarah Lifshitz), B.I. Duhovny (B.I. Michali), A. Hirsh (Shneir), I. Klavir, Al. Shemi, I. Retach, A. Weissman
Row 4: Karl (Yacov) Weiner, Tz. Kabozatzky (Kovetz), Sh. Shteinberg, M. Kubernik (Galili), I. Chakhmovitz, Unknown
Row 5: G. Orlovsky, Z. Rabinovich, A. Kiperchensky, A. Nemirovsky, B. Schwartzman, A. Eidelman


Photograph no. 114: Leaders of the Union of Halutzei Poalei Zion, Romania, 1938

From bottom to top, from right to left: Liyuba Gukobsky, Ruth Gukobsky
Top, standing: Yacov Chakhmovitz, YItzchak (Izu) Bernfeld, Ariyeh (Leibu) Fichman, Arka Eidelshtein, Israel Trachtenbroit

[Page 272b]

Photograph no. 115: Managers Day for Gordonia and members of Massada 13 August, 1938


Photograph no. 116: Meeting of Group Bet, Gimel and Dalet of Gordonia, Massada 17–19 October 1938


Photograph no. 117: Gordonia activists with Representative Meier Ziv, September 1939

From right to left sitting: I. Borer, Meier Ziv, standing: Zarubavel Skliar (Seker), Issacar Haimovich

[Page 272c]

Photograph no. 118: Leader of Gordonia with Ferbin, Abramovich and Bronshtein (before their Aliyah), Beltz, 5700 (December 1939)

From bottom to top, from right to left, row 1: CH. Averbuch, Z. Pripas, Sh. Shtrumwaser, Unknown, Ch. Mondrian
Row 2: M. Zak, R. Gold, Ef. Abramovich, A. Dlogetz, M. Bronshtein, Z. Kaminker, R. Gutman, D. Shlezinger
Row 3 top: Z. Ferbin, a. Weissman, Sh. Averbuch, Ab. Marcus, Ch. Boyangiu, M. Zaltzman, P. Zeltzer, Zalman., Is. Haimovich


Photograph no. 119: A.T. S. (Association of Zionist Youth) activists with representatives from Eretz Israel, Bucharest, 5699 (1939)

From right to left, sitting: Baruch Hershoni, Rafael Weisman, Moshe Radai (Raduliansky)
Standing: Bobi Weissadler, (Yacov Yesaur), Grisha Levant (Tz. Lavie), Daniel Guberman, Unknown, Boma Holirgant (Abraham Stari)


Photograph no. 120: From right to left sitting: Moshe Zaltzman, Shoshana Cohen, Issacar Haimovich
Standing: Amnon Skliar, Aharon Lipkibeker (Rodnik) Zarubavel Skliar (Seker)

[Page 272d]

Photograph no. 121: The Last Executive of Gordonia, Kishinev, Pesach 5700 (28–30 April 1940)

1. Motel Zak, 2. Zimel Chiokler, 3. Zarubavel Skliar (Seker), 4. Zeev Kaminker, 5. Moshe Zaltzman, 6. Dina Shlezinger, 7. Meier Zait, 8. Shlomo Shternlieb, 9. Moni Zisman, 10. Rachel Gutman, 11. Unknown, 12. Willy Leib, 13. Issacar Haimovich, 14. Baruch Hasharoni, 15. David Gurfinkel


Photograph no. 122: Leadership of Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair in Romania, Bucharest, 10 Sivan 5700 (16 June 1940)

From right to left sitting: Dodi Hershcovich, David Hadeni, Nathan Illan, Aharon Cohen, Leon Negru, Dora Goldshtein
Standing: Abrasha Gimpelman, Toni …, Milu Shpechter, Yosi Pikman, Hashek Krel, Shuliya Rantovich (Shalom Ronen), Gitel Polikman, Zioma Finkelstein

[Page 273]

The agreement specified the number of delegates for the Congress: Gordonia, Bussliyah and Tzeirei Zion – 38 delegates, Brith Ha–Kibbutzim (Shomer Ha–Tzair and Bnei Avodah) –31 delegates, Brith Halutzit Poalei Zion (Dror, Aviva and Brissiyah) – 22 delegates, Maccabi – 10 delegates to a total of 101 delegates. The structure of the 10 member executive was also decided: 4 members from the groups, 3 from the Kibbutz Union, 2 from Halutzei Poalei Zion and 1 from Maccabi, 2 secretaries from Gordonia, 2 from Shomer Ha–Tzair and one from Poalei Zion.

The distribution of immigration certificates was decided as follows[6] and it shows the new trends in the movement:

  1. An increase of 15% in the numbers of the main youth groups Gordonia 7%, Shomer Ha–Tzair 4 and Dror 4%
  2. A decline of 3% in the Maccabi numbers as a result to the rapprochement to Shomer Ha–Tzair
  3. The disappearance of the Unaffiliated Halutzim
Gordonia, Bussliyah and Zeirei Zion 38.0% (31.0%)[7]
Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair, Bnei Avodah and New Dror 31.0% (27.0%)
Poalei Zion and Dror 20.0% (16.0%)
Brissiyah 3.0% (3.0%)
Maccabi 8.0% (11.0%)
Unaffiliated Halutzim (7.0%)
Special cases (5%)
Total 100% (100%)

[Page 274]

The Congress opened on 10 Adar 5697 (1937) with the participation of delegates from all factions of the Zionist movement, official guests from the community and representatives from Eretz Israel (L. Greenbaum, A. R. Meier, I. Margalit, I. Furman, I. Finkelshtein, I. Klavir, M. Rolel and A. Shemi)


Illustration no. 14: Program and Agenda of the 8th He–Halutz Congress

Menachem Rolel: He–Halutz Romania 1934–1937
Joseph Burd: Training
David Spector: Aliyah
Yacov Margalit: Importance of the He–Halutz movement for the nation and Zionism
Levi Greenblat: Question and Answers
Yehudah Ben–Dov: Training division of He–Halutz
Al. Shemi: Education and culture
Organization, Decisions, Election


In his opening remarks Joseph Finkelstein[8] remembered all the heroes who gave their lives in the latest battles. Two of the heroes Muchnik and Spivak were from He–Halutz Romania and the third was the editor of newspaper Davar, M. Beilinson. He also remembered one of the founders of the He–Halutz movement, Shimshon Shechter and the senior Zionist activist Nachum M. Roitman (from the Keren Kayemet.)

M. Rolel spoke about the difficult situation in Eretz Israel and the fight for existence and rights in the homeland.

[Page 275]

He sent thanks to the 100 thousand members who are fighting against the Arab terrorism and for the survival of the homeland. He congratulated the halutzim from Kibbutz Beit Shaan and the Romanian halutzim from Massada. The Congress sent greetings to Kibbutz Emek Izrael for their 15th anniversary, to Merchavia and Degania for the 25th anniversary and to Ramat Davida Shomer Ha–Tzair kibbutz for the 10th anniversary. He also mentioned other groups, settlements and kibbutzim – Gavish, Kibbutz Shamir and others that have large numbers of halutzim from Romania and Bessarabia.

The Congress protested against the Arab terrorism and the actions of the Mandate Government against the national institutions in Jerusalem.

The Congress decided to strengthen the cooperation among the factions to ensure the success of the movement.[9]

While the Congress discussed ways to strengthen the organization and expand the work among the youth, the political and economical situation considerably worsened in Eastern Europe and in Eretz Israel and starting with 1936 the immigration considerably decreased.[10] The training movement of He–Halutz in Romania suffered since the middle 1930s because of the fascist anti–Semitic policies and because of the economic crisis and as a result the numbers of halutzim plunged from 2,319 to 1,367, a 41.0% decrease.[11]

Despite that difficult situation Ha–Oved (The Worker) organization continued to offer courses in Hebrew and history of Israel and worked with the National funds. At the end of 1937, a conference took place in Jassy where 44 people from all over Romania participated. The conference was opened by A.R. Meier and closed by Dr. B. Katvan. Its chairmen were Dr. Beider from Bucharest and M. Kreizel from Kishinev.

Elkhanan Shemi lectured on the connection between He–Halutz and Ha–Oved organizations and Dr. M. Kotik and B. Margalit lectured on the future plans of Ha–Oved.[12]


  1. This Council is known in the minutes as a “Plenary” meeting. Details of the meeting appeared in: Ha–Atid (The Future), issue 24, 24 Av 5695 (1935) and issue 25, Kislev, 5696 (1936) Return
  2. The data in this table differs from the August 1935 data presented in the He–Halutz Book edited by Moshe Basuk, published by the Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency, 5700 (1940), p. 417: “ In Romania the number of group is 108 with 2,713 male members (71.5%) and women 1,391 (28.5%) to a total of 4,104 members.” The author doubts the origin of this data and thinks that the report of Congress data is correct. Return
  3. Apparently identified as Ha–Poel Ha–Dati in 1934 Return
  4. From the memo of the Immigration department of the Jewish Agency to the Immigration Department of Eretz Israel, 5 March 1936 Return
  5. As a result of the cessation of the Beitar and Agudat Israel training activities Return
  6. According to Bei Undz (Insider), issue 4, February 1937 Return
  7. The figures in parenthesis are from the distribution of March 1935 Return
  8. I. F was killed in the battle of Shaar ha–Amakim on 12 Av 5698 (19 August 1938) when he was called to help a car that was attacked in the area. The kibbutz planted in his honour a forest of 1,000 trees (the money was collected by his friends in Romania) Return
  9. Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair Bulletin, no. 2, November 1936, Report of the 11th Congress of Shomer ha–Tzair, January 1938. Return
  10. Immigration from Romania (including Bessarabia and Bucovina) to Eretz Israel: 1935 – 3,596 people, 1936 – 1,148, 1937 – 278, 1938 – 466, 1939 – 379, 1940 – 955 Return
  11. Report of the 21st Zionist Congress in 5699 (1939) Return
  12. Tribuna (in Romanian), Bucharest, issue 14, 1 December 1937 Return


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