Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How I almost didn’t join Betar

by Risa (Rich) Tzohar

It was sometime in 1965. I guess you could say that I was a Zionist before I ever heard the word. I would have been happy to join a group that advocated settling in Israel but in I never came across any. It wasn't until high school that I actually met some kids who went to meetings of Habonim. Those meetings were on Friday nights so I never went. One day these friends gave me a mimeographed (remember those?) sheet inviting me to a meeting in a shul in Kew Garden Hills for a discussion among 4 Zionist youth groups – Habonim, Hashomer Hatzair, Bnei Akiva and Betar.

Benny and Miriam Rosen were there along with some others if I'm not mistaken David Sprung spoke. They met on Sundays (remember those?) and seemed committed to aliya. I gave them my name and address and they promised to send me more information.

They actually did put me on the mailing list and around two months later I got a flyer about a demonstration outside the German consulate protesting the German scientists working in Egypt. When my friend and I arrived the demonstration had already begun and we were given yellow stars to pin on our jackets. Betar did not stand out and I couldn't identify anyone. I went home, pleased that I had participated but disappointed not to have made contact with the Betarim.

Summer came and went. Eventually I did get a letter with details of some meetings to be held in Brooklyn. Of course the address that was on the page had a digit missing and when I got there it was not the right place. I was about to go home (a very long subway ride) when I saw someone with a blue shirt and got up the nerve to ask if he knew where Betar was. I wish I remembered who that was, but I don't. I ended up in Aaron Kinsberg's basement finally able to meet the Betarim and later joined the Maoz in Manhattan on 96th Street.


YMedad said...

A note on mailings: one of the first jobs I undertook at the Lishka down at Nassau Street was helping get out the weekly (mostly) newsletter which meant running off the mimeograph machine (and sometimes typing the sheet), folding, addressing envelopes, stuffing same and then carrying the lot on down to the Post Office for pre-paid mass (?) mailing privileges. Over a decade later, I am shaliach in London and what do I do? Type, print, fold, stuff and off to the post office. A Betari's job is never through.

risa said...

This leads me to ask what they do nowadays in Betar for entertainment. Certainly sending out email is not as pleasant a social event as hanging around the office collating and stuffing envelopes!

Shachna Waxman said...

Ah the mimeo machine. I remember spendign many an afternoon at the Misrad at 116 Nassau Street wrapped in a blanklet while I ran stuff off on the mimeo machine. Lets say that the machine was not the best quality and I did not want to ruin my clothes.

Risa said...

I remember Shachna was the 'go to' man when the mimeo was not working the way it should!

Shachna Waxman said...

Which was most of the time, Risa. A dirty job, but someone had to do it. Another dirty job was cleaning the Army surplus MI rifles in the misrad.
Not sure which was dirtier, the mimeo machine or the rifles!

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