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[Page 264]

The Hashomer Hatzair Movement

Written by D. Ben–Yosef (Tel Aviv)

The first group of young Jewish scouts in our city was established during the First World War. This was at a time before the movement identified with the Galician Hashomer. Various groups were set up in Poland and based themselves on the ideology of the Baden–Powell English labour movement, characterised by international scouting.

Likewise, our branch of Hashomer Hatzair, “Bar–Kochbah”, emphasised scouting activities as its main program but, with the passing of time, also took up the ideas of Socialist Zionism. The founders were the group of the Secondary Technical College students who came to study in Pabianice from Lodz. D. Hermetz was the leader and was the head of the “Reuben” group for many years. Many future leaders began with this group.

Some of the members were: David Merazinski, Heniek Sztaal, and the Frankberg brother.

The girls' membership consisted of:

Rachel Djalonzinska,

Hela Frankenberg,

Sarah Birenbaum,

Sara Fogel,

Regina Glass, and others.

Between 1922 and 1924, when many of them went to Israel, or went on to university, the leadership was passed on to the younger members who split the movement into two groups: the Shomrim [guards] who were the seniors and the young group called Kfirim [young lions]. From the Shomrim group came the leaders who organised and led the junior group, as is the custom in “Hashomer”.

 

pab264.jpg

Hashomer Hatzair Group in the Summer of 1923

[Page 265]

Hashomer Hatzair was regarded as one of the most important Jewish national organizations in Pabianice. With the establishment of the Hebrew School it gained momentum, and none of the competing movements could compare with the strength of its numbers.

It is important to note that the leaders were educated in the Polish High School, while the juniors attended the Hebrew High School once it was established. The group would meet at the high school premises and the secondary teachers lent a strong hand in co–operating with all of Hashomer's educational programs.

Most of the leaders were drawn late into the Jewish tradition, having missed it in the non–Jewish high school and having experienced anti–Semitism there.

 

pab265.jpg

First Hashomer Committee 1924
R to L: Nathan Glass, Izchak Marzinski, David Davidowitz, Eliahu Marzinski

 

The educational curriculum included scouting activities such as field work, excursions, holidays to summer resorts, meetings, and Jewish national actions – which were studying Ivrit [Hebrew], knowledge of Israel, and Jewish and Hebrew literature, and the development of love for Jewish values, festivals and Jewish folklore.

One of the most popular events was the junior summer camp which was held annually at Dumbrovna, a country town. The organisers were:

Nathan Glass [father of Roman Glass of Melbourne],

David Davidowitz,

The Marzinski brothers, Izchak and Eliahu.

And helping them were the young ladies:

Ester Birenbaum,

Fela Abramson, and

Regina Szpiro [mother of Roman Glass–Melbourne and grandmother of Lena Glass].

A major aim of the camp was to take the juniors out of the bustling city and into the quiet countryside and forest.

[Page 266]

pab266a.jpg

1918 Opening of the Jewish High School in front of the old Synagogue, including the Principal and the first teachers

 

For three weeks, the junior Kfirim would scout, do agricultural work, put on plays, participate in communal singing and tour the nearby villages and towns of Z'lob, Belechtov and Lask.

 

pab266b.jpg

The first Hashomer Hatzair summer camp in the village of Dumbrova–Pavkovic
[for names see page 143]

 

The Kfirim published their own newsletter called Hakfir [the Young Lion], which included their non– fiction, songs, illustrations, puzzles and riddles. The high points of their activities were their many excursions, particularly in Lag Ba'omer, when the high school staff and other students would join the campfire and festivities in the forest. The JNF committee were also there annually. Merrymaking would go on till the early hours of the morning and left a strong impression on the participants.

[Page 267]

pab267a.jpg

Girls group at Hashomer with their leader Hela Frankenberg
R to L: R. Szynicka, M. Rothberg, Z. Korn, H. Frankenberg, J. Szynicka, E Reichmann

 

pab267b.jpg

Boys Hashomer group with leader David Davidowitz
R to L: Front Row: M. Sharadski, G. Pakyn, D. Davidowitz, Y. Djalonzinski, A. Zylberberg
Back Row: S. Warsawski, N. Shapiro, Y. Szynicki, Freidman

 

Many Zionist activities were initiated by Hashomer outside of its own agenda. The opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925 was marked by a great event at the “'Luna” photography centre which turned into a strong pro–Israel demonstration.

Hashomer also influenced the ideology of other chaluzic [pioneering] groups such as Gordonia and the religious Hashomer, and sports groups such as Nesher.

Even “grey area” events like cinema evenings and community elections were aided by Hashomer. In 1925 many of the members left for Israel and studies abroad; there was a change of ideology and thinking and the movement came to an end in Pabianice.

Despite the changing times and changing of political leanings, there remained a camaraderie amongst its former members who went on to carry out many benevolent activities in our city for many years.

[Page 268]

For example the “Lectures Group” [Referenten Kreis] was established in 1930 by former Hashomer members who by then were university graduates; this was active on behalf of “The Jewish Tradesmen's Association”. This group organised lectures every Saturday. The talks were about Zionism, science, art, economic issues, religion and the like. These lectures drew many interested young people from all the youth movements.

The lecturers were:

Y. Alter (the magistrate),

Nathan Glass [great uncle of Sara Brott],

Engineer David Davidowitz,

H. Teich,

Engineer Yelinowitz,

Zvi Rotkowitz,

and Dr. Shenker.

At the time the “Zamir” [choir], “Maccabi” and other groups also participated.

In 1930 the lecture group founded the first Jewish newspaper in our city which was called “Pabianicer Zeitung”. Many members of Hashomer who made Aliyah to Israel in the pre–war period continued with their productive, cultural, chaluzic public activities in our homeland.

 

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