I was the leader of Milwaukee Betar, in the 70's which was a group nurtured and mentored by Bobby Brown. I have lost touch with Bobby and Linda, but they were wonderful to us.
We started as a JDL group in 1967, breaking with Kahane in 1969 to join ZOA's Massada. Bobby convinced me that we should be a Betar group and the most of us left Masada in mass.
Before we left Masada, I wrote to Menachem Begin and asked him for a personal meeting. He invited us to a Chicago black tie Israel Bonds dinner, and when he saw our small group of teenagers, in blue jeans, he left the podium main table, walked to the back of the ballroom where we were standing, and said, I am here to greet the future generation. I remember an Israel Bond official reminding him that he had to meet certain big givers, and remember Begin turning to the gentleman from Israel Bonds, saying, the youth come first.
Your name used to come up, but do not think we have ever met. When we were active in Betar, the leaders of the New York group were Barry Liben, Bobby Brown, Steve Liebowitz (I think), Gilead Freund etc.
At one point, we had a 100 members and Menachem Begin accepted an invitation to came to visit us. He told us he was coming to see us before visiting his own son Benny who was studying in Denver. He expected a small Betar group and was very surprised to see a large uniformed honor guard, and a group of over 700 people waiting to hear him speak. This is especially true, since Milwaukee has a small Jewish population. I have pictures and audio of the event if you would like them for your blog or the Begin Center.
We were a poor Betar group and had a hard time raising the money to bring in Begin and his security. We put him up at a so so Milwaukee motel, which we could not afford. The Begin Rally was held at the JCC, and the ADL tried to cancel the event by pulling the hall reservation away from us saying that Menachem Begin was not a main stream Israeli leader. Lucky for us the head of the JCC and Federation did not agree, and threatened to resign if Begin was not allowed to speak. This was only months before Prime Minister Begin's election.
Both Menachem Begin and his aid Yehiel Kadishai told me in Israel, December 1975, that the Milwaukee trip lifted his spirits at a time when his chances to become Prime Minister were slight, and at a time when the party was falling apart because of lack of finances and infighting. Begin also said that Hart Hasten and his brother had single handed saved the party from financial disaster.
The night of our rally, Menachem Begin also told me that he would not win his current race for Prime Minister, it was is last attempt, that he was tired and looked forward to retiring, spending time with his Grandchildren and writing a book.
Please send me your email address and telephone number, because I would like to get some of this material to you and have a story about something that Begin told me, that I have never heard anywhere else, which may shed light as to why he left office.
Many of the members of Milwaukee Betar are active Jewish leaders in the Milwaukee community and some live in Israel. Perhaps you knew some of them including Laurence Cramer, Dan Ruderman, Moshe Katz, Danny Katz, Laurie Frenkel Herman, Alan Kwass, Geela Polansky, Bennay Brown. I live in Milwaukee and Scottsdale Arizona with my wife Kellie.