Wednesday, November 8, 2017

On Betar Brooklyn in the Early 1960s

From Ben Rappaport:

When I was first introduced to Betar at some party in Brooklyn by a fellow named Izzy Lew. He was Cuban and just got engaged. He was the only Betari in Brooklyn at the time.

I was at that that time looking to join a Zionist organization and checked out Habonim. Even though they had a few pretty girls there Habonim just rubbed me the wrong way. Izzy invited me to meet Butch in NYC. The office was then on 72nd street. 

To make the story short I liked what I heard and started learning about Betar. I took it on myself to start building Brooklyn Betar (Izzy had dropped out of the movement). I had a theory that if there will be enough girls the guys will come. Of course we had as yet no Moadon. I started recruiting at the beach on Brighten Bay 3. 

Carol Rogers was new to Betar and offered me to use her basement in  Bensonhurst. It was dark and dusty. We all cleaned it up and the Moadon was known as Carol’s basement. 

Brooklyn Betar grew and I was then made Mefaked Brooklyn. We had almost a dozen members and then Benny Rosen z”l and Zisel finished their service, Ben in the Navy and Zisel in the coast guard. Benny was from Mexican Betar and Zisel from Cuban Betar. When the Jews escaped Cuba, a number of Cuban Betarim landed in Brooklyn and that helped further fill up Carol’s basement with a number of more Betarim.  

Carol Roger’s basement  gave us a home base.



Anonymous said...

Luis Wajser
My name is Luis I was one of those Cuban Betary in the 60's I'm sure Big Ben remembers me. These were good all days. Tel Hay

Anonymous said...

Joshua J Adlerwrote:
I did not know Luis and I was in Betar from 1946 till 1956. After my rabbinical ordination I was a US army chaplain and after leaving active duty in the summer of 1960 I spent a few weeks at Camp Betar. I was a member of Ken Washington Hts.-Inwood.

Marci/Miryiam Rosen said...

I remember Izzy Lew well. There was also Zisel, Luis & Jacobo Esses.

I went to Chaya's basement to do homework and saw several people going down to the basement and asked her what it was about. She told me that it was a Betar group and told me what it was about. I said that I was interested, the ideology was more or less what I believed in - and I would like to come - if it was o.k. She said yes, but not to come if I was looking to meet guys - as far as she was concerned, everyone was like a brother to her and no-one to date. I replied that I was in a sorority if I was looking for guys and went down to the meeting. The rest is history.

I met Benny, we had an argument about which was more important -- to belong to a group like Betar or Hillel (where I belonged). I replied that you had to make someone aware that they were Jews, before you could make them a Zionist. As I said, the rest is history

We enjoyed arguing and kept at it for 53 years. You weren't at that meeting, but Mordechai Vachman was. He offered to take me home and all the "nice guys' in Betar, were making bets as to how far he would get with me - not even first base!!!!

I remember Benny also telling all the guys to go to other movements to pick up girls and then get them to come to Betar. There were very few girls. Debbie worked in the office with Levi and Butch, of course, was there, and Leah Cohen, Judy Leibowitz, & Jenny Greenblatt was in Betar. Michele Asher had gone. Then Frieda came down, but she wasn't really in Betar - she hooked up with Levi

You brought back a lot of memories.

Josh Adler said...

Some Betar history: As I mentioned I became member of Betar via Morty Dolinsky z'l in 1946. He took me to an armory in the Bronx where he taught me to shoot a 22 rifle-that was my first weapons lesson. Our Washington Hts Ken met at the Young Israel of Washington Hts. When at times we had special speakers we met in Inwood at the home of Muriel Eisenberg (now Mrs. Moshe Arens).

At a demonstration in front of City Hall in NYC in 1950 Mottel Kreiner, Pinchas Stolper and I were arrested. Our Betar demonstration and pictures made front page of the local Daily Mirror newspaper . The pix and article were sent out to the list a few years ago by my brother Steve whom I supplied with the pix. I still have them so they can be sent out again if necessary. Do we have a Betar archives where we all can contribute our memories and memorabilia as well as pictures?

Luis Wajser said...

Luis Wajser adds:

I came to NY from Cuba in 1961. I was the last Mefaked in Havana and I knew Izzi Lew from Cuba. He took to me to 72nd st in Manhattan where I met Butch Brody also took me to the Brooklyn basement where I met Ben Rapaport and later Ben Rosen and Zisel with whom I'm still in touch. Ben is correct I live now in Florida with my wife

Shachna Waxman said...

Great History.
When I joined thew T'nua in the fall of 1963 we met in Aaron Kinsberg's basement (yep - another basement). We were there till we moved to a 3rd floor walk up on Flatbush Avenue near Prospect Park. I once held practice for the Mishmar HaKavod on the roof - boy was I nuts!!


Anonymous said...

Ben Rappaport adds:

1962…. Could be also the end of 61 and the beginning of 63.

Spent 5 months trying to start Betar in Boston somewhere during that time frame.

Made Aliyah Sept 25 1963