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[Pages 165-166]

The Truth about the Hachshara[1]

By Rivka Melamed[2]

Translated by Judy Grossman

Article in the wall newspaper – April 12, 1934

(Translated from Yiddish)

In the small shtetl, in an atmosphere of “owners” and “people with pedigrees”, in which working with one's hands was considered a shame and a disgrace, and a person with a trade was a “defect” in the family and was considered a stepson, in such an environment, several years ago dreams began to be woven about hachshara, kibbutz life, images and plans of how to raise themselves and embark on a new way of life. All these found no echo in my home. Hachshara remained something abstract. There they couldn't imagine what a “chalutz” [pioneer], a member of the hachshara, looked like in reality.

The few pioneers that actually left the shtetl for hachshara, with friends and family shaking their heads at them, returned home after a year of work and moving from one place of work to another and did not show the face of a worker, of people with a strong will to create and to build a new life, but more that of people lacking everything, who came to rest for a bit at the home of their parents, and to again find refuge in petit bourgeois life. It seems that the hachshara did not leave a mark on them, except the physical one of their bodies diminishing and weakening.

And so it happened that many related to hachshara as a cursed place. People shook their heads if their sons were taken with the “unacceptable” idea of going to hachshara. More than once the shouts of fathers and the weeping of mothers could be heard in the local ken [cell] (which were reinforced by a small group of idealists): “Give me back my child!”

But the passing of time changed things. Perhaps the financial condition forced people to look around them, and see that the ground under their feet was not solid. Like in all the shtetls and cities, so in that shtetl they also began to understand the meaning of hachshara and kibbutz life.

The young people held romantic and ideal images of kibbutz life. The young people no longer left home “through the window” when their parents were asleep, but with their parents' blessing for the journey. Even if the words “You'll come to regret this step” could be heard, these words were nevertheless no longer said with the same anger and fury…

The young people returned from hachshara encouraged, happy and healthy in body and soul. They constantly spoke about the beautiful moments of kibbutz life. They frequently placed everything in too positive a light. For example, this is what they said: “After a long and hot summer day, the sun has finally sunk to the west and turned the horizon red with flames. If you take another step you will reach the place you have yearned for all day. Listen, you can hear the voices of your friends and you are filled with joy. You hasten your steps so that you can get there as fast as possible…”

Is there not a certain falsehood in such descriptions? When you return after a hard day's work, even if nature around you is beautiful and enchanting, what do you frequently find? Angry faces, a strained atmosphere and tension between people… That is why I am convinced that it is not fair on the part of the members who return from hachshara to camouflage these moments in hachshara life. In this way they lead the young people astray and create distorted concepts in the minds of the young. It will be hard for the young people to adapt to a life that requires compromise and foregoing all kinds of sentiments brought from home and from their surroundings… The members need to be prepared for what awaits them, so that when the time comes they will not be disappointed and will not desert from our ranks…


Kibbutz Ironi “Chaim[3] ”, in Ponevez. Passover 1934
Zelda Charit
(seated second from right)
Rivka Shub (standing near the table, seventh from left)


“Migration” of the Scouts from Zarasai to Dusiat June 24, 1932
From right to left, top: Yehudit Levin (Antaliepte)
Second row: Zelda Charit, Rivka Levitt, Lanka Visakolsky
Third row: Motale Slep, Itale Charit, Reinke Levin (Antaliepte), Rachel Slovo, Chava Shub and her sister Rivka, (-), Tzila Shub, Hanna Glezer
Seated: Moshe Roznikowitz (Zarasai), (-), Batya Roznikowitz (Zarasai), (-), (-),
Sheinke Chaitowitz, Lolke Slovo,.Behind him: Yitzchak Shteinman (Zarasai), (-), (-),
Tzipora Per (Zarasai) and Rachel Shub


A joint trip of members of Hashomer Hatzair and Hechalutz from Dusiat and Zarasai to Aniksht [Anyksciai], near a gigantic stone in the forest [Puntukas]…
According to legend, this stone fell from another planet, and this place serves as a site for hikes.

“A memento to Goldale Shub from Yitzchak Shteinman, Anyksciai. July 18, 1937”


List of Identified People from Zarasai [only one from Dusiat]

1   18 Yitzchak-Itzke Leibowitz 35 Weiss (the teacher's daughter)
2   19 Rochel-Bailke Kruss 36 Batya-Bathka Treger (see #28)
3   20   37  
4   21   38 Zalmen/Alter? Katz
5   22   39  
6   23   40 Goldke-Rivka Shub [Dusiat]
7   24   41  
8   25   42 Bailke Per (sister # 49)
9 Moshe Musel 26 Shlomo-Mulke Zilber 43  
10 Shlomo Schneider 27 Abrasha Traub 44  
11 Chaikel Kruss 28 Badana Treger, sister of Batya (#36) and Rosa Gordon (Masha Brutzkas' s mother) 45  
12 Kalmen/David? Saltuper 29 Tzivya Yosman 46 Yosman Gershon
13 Shlomo-Michael Druker 30 Yerachmiel Zass 47 Resnik (the Rabbi's daughter)
14 Benjamin Lonstein 31 Katriel Koblentz 48  
15 Sarah Melnik 32 Shlomo-Shlomke Weinberg 49 Rachel Per (see #42)
16 Boris Landau (one of the older members) 33 Yente Korland 50  
17 Yitzchak-Itzke Shteinman 34 Chaya Roznikowitz 51  



  1. The Zionist movements had centers where young people trained for working and living together communally in kibbutz in Eretz-Yisrael (Palestine). These training centers were called “kibbutz hachshara” (or “hachshara”) and each one had its own name. The training frequently held on a farm, but sometimes also in cities: “kibbutz ironi” (“urban kibbutz”) Return

  2. [57] Rivka Melamed's private collection Return

  3. Kibbutz ironi – urban kibbutz. Each kibbutz hachshara had its own name. Kibbutz Chaim in Ponevez [Panevezys] was named after Chaim Arlozorov Return

[Page 166]

The “Ken” Is Being Liquidated (A Letter)

By Sonia Slovo

Translated by Judy Grossman

Dear Hene Bailke, my faithful friend, “Hazak”!!! 13.4.1937 …

My sister Rachel (Slovo) is at the hachshara and will shortly make aliya. Our brother Lolke is still at home and I will go to learn a trade in the summer. You wrote us “az ir vet oleh zein” - that you'll make aliya – and it makes us very happy to know that we will see each other.

I will tell you a little bit about our “ken”. It is slowly coming to an end, including our group. We are nine members, and the “kibbutzim” (activities) take place twice a week, because we have no leaders and no house. The older members left for hachshara and those that have remained here are not capable of running the “kibbutzim” …

My regards to all the Dusiaters, Shunka (Sonia Slovo) [1]



  1. [58] Henia Sneh's private collection

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