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With the end of the war, the town's youth started moving away in waves towards the big cities - Lodz, Kalisz, and so on and some left the country heading for Germany, Belgium, France, and even to the USA. However, with the reorganisation of the political parties, it was the turn of the youth movements to come to life – the parties of the left-Poalei Zion Small (Workers of Zion Left), the Bund (Communists), started their own, leading to consternation amongst the Zionist movement as they felt left behind the other parties in their activities amongst the youth. So, it was decided to start a new Zionist youth movement. The task was given to me and I willingly accepted. A choice to start a movement such as Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Guard) could not be bad, as it was a National Jewish Scout movement, which, while being Zionist, had no political involvement. As a teacher, with a close interest in education and as an ardent Zionist, I saw this movement as a challenge, which I felt I was well suited for. On the 5th of Av (August), at the end of the summer of 1921, during the school holidays, when not having to study released a lot of enthusiasm and youthful vigour, a large group of Jewish boys and girls, all local school pupils, gathered in a Zionist organisation house. Directed by Yehiel Freedman (now Shlomi) and the author, they were there for the first meeting of the first group - Nemerim (Tigers), which was incorporated as part of the scouting movement Hashomer Hatzair. We sat them all on two benches, facing each other, knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder and after a bit of explanation as to what we were trying to do, we proceeded to have a singsong and so, the torch was lit and our hearts warmed from the heat as we now formed a spiritual bond amongst the people who were present, as it was written in our constitution - The Shomer is a brother of the Shomerim (The Guard is the brother of the Guards).
|The Hashomer Hatzair Group
Following on from the first group Nemerim, we soon organised other groups- Lillit a female group headed by Kuta Freedman (Rip), Shualin (Foxes), for boys, Shoshanin (Irises), for girls and Nesharim (Eagles) for boys Giborim (Braves) for boys and Htikva (Hope), for girls. The Ken (Nest), became like a magnet for all the youths in the town and we grew at such a rate that no other youth movement had known anything like it.
Educating for morality, friendship, brotherhood and love of other men, nature and flora and fauna and above all, love of country, which meant Eretz Israel, our one and only homeland. This became the essence of our being as a youth movement. Life at the nest was a hive of activity, singing together not just for the pleasure of hearing it, but as a modern substitute for religiosity. A mutual bond was created forming, as if by magic, a solid block out of a group of individuals. The movement conquered with its truth and moved and brought together different hearts. It was therefore, the essence of the Shomer idea of education. Love for beauty and for higher things found its expression in singing, and singing in public returned the power of expression for many who lacked it.
One evening, with the nest full of youths, the local police chief, Kliniavski, appeared with a group of policemen and ordered everybody to leave the hall. To his great surprise, nobody moved from his place. This police chief, a known ant-Semite riddled with prejudices against the Jews, had many conflicts with me over the years. Furious that Jewish youth had the temerity to disobey his orders, he repeated his command by shouting, but again, nobody moved and I had to tell him very simply -here, I am the commander. For a while he stood still, frozen like a statue, but then he turned to me and said, tell these people to get out as I want to carry out a search and the order was given to leave the room but not to disperse. It was worthwhile noting here that Hashomer Hatzair did not have a licence in our town and our activities was carried out under the guise of a cultural organisation. Nothing illegal or criminal was found and the search was done, just like all the other searches coming after it, as a form of harassment.
Because of the special nature of the movement, accepting new members was restricted, but in spite of that we became the biggest youth movement in the town and the best and most attractive one. The space in the nest became too confined to accommodate all those who wanted to take part. The name of the Zloczew Hashomer spread far and wide. The main leadership in Warsaw quite often had a good word to say about our town, saying Take them as an example and take note of what they do, when advising people from other towns.
The Shomer constitution was followed to the letter, even the slightest deviation could result in dismissal from the nest but, in spite of that, during the four years of my leadership, I can only remember just one case of membership being denied although there were cases of members being tested, but always coming out very well.
|Lag Ba'Omer fire in the forest
|The local council of Hashomer Hatzair in Zloczew
Seated from right to left-Yehuda Davidovitch, Mania Kempinski,
Benek Freedman, Manush Davidovitch, Yaakov Freund,
Zenia Davidovitch, Markovitch. Back row-Medzia Davidovich,
Gita Freedman, Gia Davidovitch (in black), Levi Laupert
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