Thursday, January 24, 2008

How I Heard of Betar


I was introduced to Betar by Dennis Lipkin. It's mentioned here. He brought a bunch of us "Great Neckers" to the Manhattan Moadon and then brought Betar to Great Neck.


I hadn't heard of Betar before, even though I was already involved with SSSJ and NCSY.


The 1960's was a magic time, full of idealism, The Man of La Mancha and the Six Days War. I'm not going to say, "to be young, again," since I don't "feel" old. My idealism hasn't tarnished a bit.

11 comments:

YMedad said...

Do you recall when that first introduction was? Who were the others?

big3ben said...

A Cuban named Izzy Lew introduced me to Betar. He then introduced me to to Benny Rosen and Zisel. I always wanted to find out if those two slept with their boots on.
Ben

moshe brodetzky said...

walking early spring evening in 1940 - East Bronx I heard "SMOlL!YEMIN!SMOL!" - a line of kids being drilled on the sidewalk by Misha Arens - in front of BETAR Moadon - Morris Levinson was the MEFAKED then.

moshe brodetzky said...

itz heimowitz jogged my memory - yom hashoa at CCNY 1952 - the black students on campus eagerly putting on the yellow" star of david "badge with us

YMedad said...

On behalf of Moshe Brodetzky:

Yitzhak Heimowitz jogged my memory . Our BETAR group at CITY COLLEGE gathered a petition with several hundred signatures in 1942/3 to introduce HEBREW language there and got a " why bother " from the dean (Dr Gotschalk ? ) --- In 1953/4 I was treasurer of IZFA and got called MILITARIST for suggesting celebrating Israel Independence Day with a parade down 5th avenue like the Irish do ! ---- In 1959 or 1960 I formed a MOVIL society for jewish employees at Brooklyn Army Terminal and with Chaplain Rabbi Barish & we organized a HANNUKA party. R'Shlomo Carlibach got generals & admirals , among the people , clapping hands and stamping feet

YMedad said...

On behalf of Benny Rosen:

Risa's posting "How I almost didn't join Betar" brings back fond memories. David Sprung's talk at that meeting, inspired several kids to approach the Betar chevreh to ask questions about joining; Risa among them.
Since this is the appropriate forum for reminiscences of those years in Betar, I would like to invite anyone interested enough to contribute their own memories, anecdotes, stories, etc. of the events during the 6-Day War: The meetings, the fund-raising, the groups of Betar volunteers, the Betar office at 154 Nassau St., Camp Betar during those fateful weeks, in short, anything and everything that you remember. The who, what, when, where, etc. It belongs on this list.
I'll start it off by recalling the first meeting that we had at Reuven Genn's apartment. It was sometime in late April or May '67 (don't remember exactly), to discuss what we already believed was the coming war. It was there that we decided to send the first group of volunteers. Does anyone remember who was there
and what were the points of discussion?
Hope to hear from you,
Benny.

Barak Koffler said...

I was a member of Betar Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 1960's and I well remember our Moadon on Bathurst Street. I still drive by the building on a regular basis. I set up a .22 caliber rifle range there so that Betarim could learn the basics and get some practice.

I joined Betar through my association with Tuvia (Teddy) Schwartz (Shachori). He was my Scout leader and Hebrew teacher at my synagogue. Tuvia introduced me to Danny Rosing, the new shaliach in Toronto at that time, who was setting things up here.

I went to Camp Betar in Neversink, NY that summer (1965 or 66?)to run the riflery program, using M1 rifles and .22 rimfire rifles on loan from the U.S. Army Office of Civilian Marksmanship.

It took a couple of summers, but eventually I convinced either U.S. shaliach Shlomo Ariav or Yitzchak Kirsten? to rent a bulldozer and operator from the nearby town of Ellenville, and flatten out the overgrown rifle range.

I have a number of photos of me with madrichim, chanichim and waiters shooting on the range. We dragged an old tent platform down to the range and set it there as a "shooting platform". There was a backstop of old tires, logs and earth.

We also used the range to test some Molotov cocktails and I have some photos of a few people doing that testing.

Later, I worked with Tuvia Schwartz on the Tzofiut program, and we along with Fred Nervo, a local with a chainsaw, built a great obstacle course in the woods.

After more than 40 years, I still have a short piece of the trunk one of the many huge (mountain laurel?) vines that snaked their way around a lot of the tree trunks in the woods. It is here in my office (no bark on it) a beautiful butternut color.


I have a few not very good photos of the obstacle course.

I have many photos of camp, the people there, the "FINKHOIST" in color war, Bet Sefer seminars, the raid on a rival camp followed by their raid on us and their taking Ben Rosen hostage and holding him "at gunpoint"! Also, a search party from our camp (along with the New york State Police)-- looking for a lost boy who strayed from a Chassidic camp in the wilds of the Catskill Mountains -- we found him.

My first encounter with a member of NYC Betar was my meeting with Reuven Genn. I met him on a blistering hot night in New York, on some street near the railway station after a 13 hour trip from Toronto and he took me back to his residence for the night.

The next day, we drove through the Catskill mountains in the open back of a truck driven by somebody named "Gil". It was a wild ride. Gil was a part-time boxer, and his head and brain had been a little battered. He was a great but crazy driver.

At camp, I met Joe Mezrich and ben Rappaport and they showed me the all the rifles I was supposed to be in charge of.

I was also appointed "Rosh Shmira" the night watch that went around to make sure all the chanichim were in bed and sleeping soundly.

One of the summers in the 5 that I was at camp, I drove with Tuvia and Bella Bryks to the site of the old Camp Betar which had been in Hunter, NY or another nearby town in the Catskill mountains in the 1940s. The old "main house" was in ruins, but we did find some old Betar literature and documentation lying around. I found a letter from Eri Jabotinsky and signed by him, from the 1940s --to Betarim in New York City. It invited them to attend the Jabotinsky Flying School and I think it was at far Rockaway. I donated that letter to the Jabotinsky Institute many years later, and have a letter of acknowedgement from them, thanking me for the document to be placed in their archives.

I have many photos, some of which I have shared in person with Toronto Betar, others online with David Kandel and David Sprung over the past year. I will eventaully post all of the photos in my possession, a few at a time.

Barak said...

I mentioned in my February 1/08 post that I had visited the old ruined "main house" of Camp Betar in the 1940s & 50s-- possibly in Hunter, NY

When I read the post by Moshe Brodetsky of the 'Smol-Yemin-Smol' he heard on the street, it reminded me of a small, slightly faded photo I found in the ruins-- and which I still have here in Toronto. It shows a number of Betarim (maybe 10)marching down a street with 3 flags. At the front of the line is a Betaria wearing a very short skirt and what looks like a brown shirt (the photo is black and white, but the shirt is definitely darker than those worn by most of the males marching behind her). A car in the photo looks like it might be a late 1940s or early 1950's "hump-backed" Volvo. Everybody in the photo is wearing a necktie.

A second, but smaller, photo that I still have from that location, shows a group of teenaged Betarim standing in line in front of the main house (or maybe the only building at that camp). They are wearing dark short pants, with a white stripe down the side. They have what look like air force type wedge caps on their heads. They have light colored shirts, and are wearing neckerchiefs, not ties. They are standing behind a stretched out rope that runs almost the length of the lineup. It looks like they are being inspected by one person facing them and somebody else about to walk down the line, some distance away.

I will scan and try posting these photos soon, or I will e-mail them to Risa. Somebody may recognize themselves, the locations and the time periods involved.

Bruce "Barak" Koffler, Toronto,Canada, Feb. 7/08

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