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[Page 112]

Young Pioneer and Pioneer (1923–1934)

Arye Shochet, Tsvi Zeira, and Sore Bat (Yagur)

English Translation by Steven Wien and Sari Havis

In 1923, Young Pioneer was established in our town to attract youngsters to the ranks of Pioneer and prevent the depletion of the movement after the emigration of the adults. This came about at the initiative of the adult members of Pioneer.

Figure 30. Young Pioneer, Kremenets, 1925

For years, the driving force in organizing the movement's activities was comrade Manye Gurevits (now living in Haifa). At that time, the Youth Guard movement was also being established in our town, but while its members were mainly high school students, mostly children of wealthy families or the intelligentsia, most members of Young Pioneer were young workers.

[Page 123]

Figure 31. Young Pioneer, Kremenets, 1926

At its formation, the branch already numbered about 60 boys and girls, and as time went by, its numbers reached 100 and more. Activities focused hikes, marches, exercises, discussions, and lectures. Study groups to learn Hebrew were formed. For a while, they had their own clubhouse, where the members would congregate every evening. Cultural activities included learning the geography of the Land of Israel, Zionism, Jewish history, and most of all about the movement and its goals, the Labor movement in Israel, and the kibbutz movement. Many adult members of the local Pioneer branch (Eliezer Gluzman, Yisrael Otiker, and others) were a great help in these activities. Many emissaries visited us from Israel and the Pioneer center. They expressed their admiration of the pioneering spirit and liveliness of the young people in our town, and each visit brought a wave of renewed excitement. Training activities generally took place in Pioneer, but a few experiments in teaching professional crafts took place within the frame of Young Pioneer: dozens of boys were put into Frishberg's and Grinberg's factories to learn the crafts of stitching and sewing. But, generally, Young Pioneer dealt with the ideas and spiritual aspects of training.

As the young ones matured, most of them would move on to Pioneer in groups of 40–50. Parents did not object to their children joining Young Pioneer. On the contrary: they were glad to have them play, hike, sing, spend time in the fresh air, read, and develop. But when they matured and their turn came to join Pioneer and go to a training kibbutz, they encountered fierce objections from their parents. In particular, the parents objected to daughters going to training. Indeed, many sons and daughters could not withstand the parental pressure; their “pioneering” ended in Young Pioneer, and they never arrived at Pioneer. And then, with a “diploma” from the youth group, our group graduated to Pioneer. Pioneer's main concern at that time was where and how to get enough places for training.

[Page 124]

Many were sent to Kibbutz Klosova (about 20 members from Kremenets went there, and when the kibbutz in Verba was established, about 10 members from Kremenets went there). The members of those kibbutzim endured great hardship. They experienced deprivation and hunger, but ended by stronger and ready for immigration.

In 1932–1933, there was a training kibbutz in Kremenets itself, with about 30–40 people. Few members were local; most were from out of town. The kibbutz in Kremenets enriched the pioneering look of the town. To begin with, the members lived in the Dubna suburb, but later they moved close to Ovadis's flour mill, where most of them worked. The others worked at woodcutting and any job they could get. The women also worked in housekeeping. Local members had left their parents' homes and refused to live there even during the Sabbath. They severed their ties completely from that way of life and immersed themselves in kibbutz life. More than once, a townswoman would be seen standing by a young man, crying and lamenting for the one from a good family who had gone to work at hard jobs befitting “the gentiles.”

In those years, the Zionist movements in our town functioned under a mutual understanding. This was not the case with the Brit Trumpeldor movement, which was established in our town in 1925. Quarrels and clashes broke out from time to time between them and the Land of Israel's workers' movements. Some Pioneer members belonged to the Union Party, and others belonged to the Liberty party. The Pioneer branch in Kremenets was one of the most active in Poland. Outstanding among the activists in the local pioneer movement in the final years were A. Ditun in Young Pioneer (now living in Argentina), and Shayke Kapuzer and Hershil Bernshteyn in Pioneer (now living in Argentina).

Figure 32. Members of Pioneer of Kremenets


[Page 125]

Verba – A Spark of Klosova

M. Blizhovski (Givat HaShlosha)

From Book of the Pioneers

English Translation by Steven Wien and Sari Havis

In Verba, there was a spark of the former Klosova. Verba built on Klosova's “pedigree,” keeping the benefits of the old tradition. It was not in vain that she was crowned with the nickname “Verba the Educator.” It had a sometimes indefinable quality. True, the kibbutz in Verba was naive when it came to economics, but in contrast it possessed something like extra inspiration, a sort of modesty, and a nice manner of hospitality – valuable pioneering characteristics. Singing was also essential: “Verba is a branch of the Song of Songs,” as one member put it. In her singing, she was spiritually uplifting. In the winter, through the wet walls of the short, small house, and in the summer, from the yard under the blossoming cherry trees, songs were heard in the surrounding fields, and from them came consolation, hope, and elation.

Verba's members were known for being learned in Hebrew. And the members were proud of that, for they had acquired their knowledge of Hebrew after hard days of labor in the kibbutz. Anyone who did not attend classes or come to the reading room – the “mini-temple of Verba” – was looked on with shame and disgrace.

Verba struggled with the angel in charge of making a living for five years and did not give up. A few times it was abandoned but then would return to the way it had been. Members used to mark the years by the number of times the kibbutz had been abandoned. In good days, veteran members would sit and leisurely recall the first abandonment.

Ownership of the factory also changed hands, and various farmers from nearby villages challenged the members' right to work. Nevertheless, the kibbutz continued to fight bravely and honorably for its right to work, and eventually it was given responsibility for executing even the most important jobs. An economic crisis arose in the country and did not spare the kibbutz in Verba. There were times without work and days of unemployment. Some types of work were completely eliminated. The kibbutz membership grew smaller. It was a difficult time, but the members withstood it bravely and devoted themselves to working in the garden and with the cows and chickens, and became attached to each green stalk. Alas, in the end they were forced to see things as they really were: on the one hand, they could disperse again, with the danger of losing the land because of the imminent factory closure, and on the other hand were new possibilities, new jobs … and plain logic said: find more secure places and better living conditions. The result was a decision to merge Verba with Bendin.

Verba overcame its sadness and, fortified, set off on its long way.


The Kibbutz in Verba

Sh. Zaromov

From Book of the Pioneers

English Translation by Steven Wien and Sari Havis

A short road crossing the railroad tracks led to the kibbutz, which was housed in a Vohlin-style farm building. It was whitewashed and had a wooden tiled roof and small single windows overlooking the garden. The members planted two rows of acacia trees to make the kibbutz stand out from the rest of the farmers' houses on the roadside. On summer days when the trees were in bloom, it was a pleasure to feast your eyes on the sight of the green garden, the willows greening both sides of the road, and the wide fields stretching in wavelike fashion in all directions, silent and serene but for the train from Lvov, which crossed them with a harsh whistle.

[Page 126]

But during the fall, when the rains were bothersome, you had no choice but to tramp in the deep mud, and the women became weary of scrubbing the floors every day.

The walls were simply whitewashed. There were two long tables made of unplaned lumber with two long benches, as in the old study hall in the shtetl, and there was a small, dark compartment for washing and shaving. The kitchen was long, dim, and uncomfortable. The member working in the kitchen had to go frequently to the well in the yard for pails of water, and in the summer she would stumble into a fellow washing his face or his hands by the well, or drinking or reading a book. This was a real well with a bucket tied to the end of a long chain. The chain would jingle when it was used, which brought a bit of a back-home feeling to life on the kibbutz.

Large pumpkins grew in the well-tended garden, peeping out from between the large leaves. The cows in the barn gave a sufficient amount of milk. The horses, their coats shining and their heads held high, were neither skinny from hunger nor exhausted from hard labor. At nine in the evening, the members departed from the kibbutz: the 12 groups called out a joyful “Shalom!” to each other and left for their apartments, which were spread throughout the village.

The city of Verba sits between two large cities: Dubna and Kremenets. But Verba does not attach itself to Dubna or to the kibbutz in Kremenets, in spite of its elegant house with many rooms, veranda, and large balcony overlooking the mountains – this glorious kibbutz in Kremenets was nothing but a group whose administration squad and life came from Verba. Verba itself had a true and beautiful pioneering culture.

Figure 33. Training Kibbutz in Verba, 1933

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