Monday, December 27, 2021

Avukah versus Revisionism

Is today's progressivism a reincarnation, but worse, of what happened to student Zionists in the 1930s?

From a study of Avukah by Tal Elmaliach, Avukah: American Zionist Students Between Culture and Politics, 1925–1936 in The American Jewish Archives Journal volume lxxii . 2020 . numbers 1&2:

Under [Zelig] Harris,* Avukah also inaugurated a fierce campaign against the Zionist Revisionist right, led by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, which was gaining support from young Jews in both Europe and the United States. Jabotinsky’s followers were on a collision course with the labor movement in the Diaspora and in Palestine. As early as 1932, progressive Zionists, Avukah included, perceived the Revisionists as a real threat, especially in light of what they saw as Revisionist sympathy for fascism. Itzkowitz argued, for example, that Avukah needed to choose sides in the bitter battles among Zionist factions. Supporting the Revisionists was unthinkable, Itzkowitz wrote, and the bourgeois General Zionists were “opportunists.” As such, he maintained, Avukah had to lend open political support to socialist Zionism.66 Under Harris, the organization began pushing Revisionist sympathizers out.67 In an open battle at Avukah’s ninth convention, in December 1934, the movement decided that Revisionists would not be permitted to act under the aegis of Avukah.68 An exchange of letters in 1935 between Harris and Albert Einstein, published in the Avukah Bulletin, testifies to just how vicious the struggle was. Einstein encouraged Avukah’s fight against the Revisionists, whom he claimed were “as much of a danger to our youth as Hitlerism is to German youth.”69


66 Benjamin Itzkowitz, “Avukah, American Student Labor-Zionist Federation,” Avukah Bulletin, April 1932. 

67 Isadore Solkoff, “Letters to the Bulletin,” Avukah Bulletin, December 1934.

68 Lawrence Cohen, “History of National Avukah Reveals 15 Years of Growth,” Avukah Student Action, 28 July 1939.

69 “A Letter from Einstein,” Avukah Bulletin, March 1935.


* A signee on the infamous anti-Menachem Begin letter in the NYTimes of December 2, 1948, along with Albert Einstein:


Friday, December 3, 2021

Item on the Betar-sponsored Jabotinsky Aviation School


the blurb for the film "The Jabotinsky Aviation School" reads:

Alex LOEB (b. 1902, d. August 1939) lost at sea in late August 1939 along with Richard DECKER, 23, in the Ryan C2 Brougham monoplane "Shalom". They were making a transatlantic flight with Palestine the ultimate destination. They were involved with Jabotinsky's Aviation Schools and Jewish Army. The plane had been owned by the Horrocks Malted Milk Company and had a British Roundel on the fuselage side as did some of the the Jabotinsky aircraft at their Rockaway school on Long Island. They blew a tire at Roosevelt Field on takeoff, got caught, and US authorities denied the Shalom permission to take off and so they transported the Shalom to St Peters, Nova Scotia, where they took off from the beach at low tide, without permission of authorities (two pilots had already been lost attempting these Atlantic flights in little planes that year) and were never heard from again. At the time of the flight Jewish refugees and the ship St Louis were gripping the Jewish community along with the war clouds in Europe. Loeb and Decker were dramatizing Palestine and the Jewish Brigade there. The war news doomed them to oblivion, however.

Posted previously here.


Friday, July 9, 2021

Jabotinsky's Yahrztzeit 2021

 Back after a Corona break, it seems only two US Betarim veterans made it to the ceremony, Steve/Shmuel Adler and Chaim Fischgrund:

The complete video clip is here.


Monday, July 5, 2021

Yitz Aptowitzer

We have received word that Yitz Apowitzer of Betar Canada has passed away.

Yitz was a leader of Betar Montreal, a stalwart of regular Betar activities in Canada and attended Camp.

Barak Koffler sent this picture of him.

Barak adds:

He came to Camp Betar from Betar Montreal in the mid-1960s.


He worked with the Yarden group for at least one summer, maybe more.


Yitz moved to western Canada a little later in life and took over a western-style (“cowboy”) hat manufacturing plant which he ran for many years. 


Some of those hats were made for and worn by several U.S. Presidents. His hats were sold all over the world, and to foreign tourists who visited western Canada.


He eventually sold that business and moved to Toronto, Ontario, with his wife and two children. They lived in Thornhill, at the north end of the city.


Some years ago, he became a teacher at a Jewish religious school and as far as I know was still teaching there.  


Yitz was always very jovial and the life of the party.  He could be counted on to tell an endless stream of jokes and funny stories, many from personal experience, including family stories and travel stories.


We attended dinners at his place and he attended a get-together at our home, with several of the old chevrei from Toronto Betar and other friends.   Lots of jokes from Yitz – he was the life of the party!


We will all miss him and his outgoing personality very much.

Here in Montreal in the summer of 1970, showing Yitz Aptowitzer with Harriet and Chaim Fishgrund.



Sunday, July 4, 2021

Camp Betar at the End

The camp grounds at Neversink, after more than 20 years, were sold.

Evan Bachner's pictures just before buildings torn down in prepartion for homes' development either 1985 or 1986 to his recollection:


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Memory from Betar Toronto

At the time of the war in '67, there was a call for people from North America and elsewhere to prepare and come to Israel and assist.

Arrangements were made with a Toronto army surplus store to loan Toronto Betar a dozen war surplus .303 British Lee-Enfield rifles and about 500 rounds of .303 ammunition in clips and bandoleers--at no charge.

There was a nearby pond and swamp, and the location was mosquito-infested. We had to wear mosquito head-nets and insect repellent during the exercise.

The Betarim had already been given basic rifle training and practice with air rifles and .22 calibre rifles, at the Toronto Moadon, on a routine basis. The practice with these heavy-caliber rifles was the next stage in their preparedness for the task at hand.

The range was organized at Lindsay, Ontario, north-east of Toronto:

on the property of a Betar sympathizer.  Lindsay is about 90 miles Northeast of Toronto.

Tuviah Schwartz is shown at the far right, holding his trademark wooden staff. 

Sorry that the photos are not better, but they were taken with a cheap Kodak Brownie camera.


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Another Newspaper Clipping from A 1948 Demonstration

 Via Steve Adler:

From the JTA, June 27, 1948

Fifty uniformed youths, members of Brith Trumpeldor, which is sympathetic to the Irgun Zvai Leumi, today “invaded” the offices of the Jewish Agency here, at 16 East 66th Street. They forcibly entered the office of Arthur Lourie, Israeli Consul General, and told him they were going to hold memorial services for Irgunists killed during the Hanganah-Irgun battle on the Tel Aviv waterfront.

When Police arrived, Laurie asked them not to eject the youths. He left the room and the youths conducted a memorial service–which included speeches and songs–for an hour and a half. They withdraw from the building said some name-calling and scuffling. There was scattered jostling and punching between the youths and Agency clerks when the “invasion” first began.

And mentioned here:

Confidential British Foreign Office political correspondence [mikroform] : Palestine, 1947-1948 / project coordinator Paul Kesaris.Public Record Office (Kew, London) FO 371/68668

E 8726/6090/31/48 series of meetings between Israeli representative to U.K. and Foreign Office Minister of State on oil supplies for Haifa refinery, five British citizens arrested for espionage in Israel, conscription of British citizens living in Israel, and Egyptian use of Gaza airfield; and possible British diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv. Also covers Altalena (ship) and Kfar Vitkin incidents involving armed clashes between Irgun Zvai Leumi and Haganah. Includes Brith Trumpeldor (Betar) demonstration on Altalena incident in New York offices of Israeli government, effect of Altalena incident on U.S. Zionists and on international recognition of Israel, speech by David Ben-Gurion on issue, and inability of Haganah to control operations of Stern Group and Irgun in Jerusalem.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Chuck Hornstein A"H Pics

 Attached are some pictures.....

Bunk Picture 1963... 

Back Row -Alan Berg, Chuck, Wally Chayes,  Howie Weidre, Uriel Messa, Steve Shiffman, Michael Chayes, Benny Rosen. Front Row - Danny Fields, Joey Grunberg, Me, Barak Koffler

Beit Sefer 1963....

Back Row - Levi Silverman, Benny R., Alan B., Chaim Frydman, Yona Ferman, Nissan Teman, Baruch Kraus, David Sprung, Chuck. Middle Row - Tzvi Neuwirth Joey G., Michael C., Eli Solomon, Danny F.   Front Row -  Elinoar Sprung, Marci Rosen, ?  

1964 The Yarden.....

Back Row - Tom Kovary, Wally C., ?, Michael C., Benny R., Chuck, Chuck Marsden,  Joey G., Jeff Pickel.  Middle Row - Center: Malka Meizahav, 2nd from right Linda Fuld. Front Row - Rafi Gleich, Ehud Sperling, ? Uriel M., Mel Laytner, Me.

1964 Bunk Rak Kach - The Waiters...

See above.

Jabo Memorial....

Second from left Danny Epstein, 4th from left Me, Chuck, Uriel, Last on right David Blobstein 

Digging trenches for hot water pipes for boys campus...

?, Chuck, Uriel, Me

 Counselor Pic... Visiting Day?

Yishy Lerman, Jerry Gissinger, Yitz Aptowitzer, Naomi Franklin?, Eddie Rosen.

Mella Polacheck, Chuck, Ellen Leventhal






Friday, August 7, 2020

Reuven Genn on the Reburial of Rosh Betar

Shalom Betarim

I am writing this to provide another angle to the return of Rosh Betar's remains to Eretz Yisrael.

In 1963-64 Efraim Dimant and I (Reuven Genn) were sent by Betar to the Machon L'madrichei Chutz Laaretz in Yerushalayim. The year was filled with dramatic events both in and out of Israel. We arrived in Early September 1963 and in November 1963 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In January of 1964 before official Vatican recognition of the State of Israel Pope Paul Vl a reigning Pope visited Eretz Yisrael. In June 1963 Levi Eshkol was elected Prime Minister replacing Ben Gurion. During that same month Israel won the AFC Asian Cup, and most dramatically for us, the incredible information gathered by Eli Cohen Israel put an end to the Arab (Syria and Jordan) plan to starve Israel by diverting the headwaters of the Hatzbani and Banyas tributaries of the Jordan River.

In March 1964 the cabinet of the government of Israel approved the reinternment of the remains of Zeev and Yohanna Jabotinsky. And finally, at the behest of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of the government of the State of Israel on July 9th Zeev and Yohanna Jabotinsky's remains were flown to Israel to be reinterred on Har Herzl.

At the time of the announcement by Levi Eshkol I was working at The Metzudah ( Metzudat Zeev in Tel Aviv) dividing my time between BETAR, Machon Jabotinsky and The Herut Newspaper. (A personal note: The movement housed Betarim at the Malon Yosef, a tiny, unadorned building on the edge of the Tel Aviv beach whose most remarkable feature was fresh eggs, fresh bread and fresh vegetables served every morning by Yosef himself!) 

Menachem Begin and the leaders of all of the Jabotinsky "family" institutions including: BETAR, The Herut Party, Brit Cahayalei Etzel, Machon Jabotinsky, The "Herut" newspaper, The Nordau Circle, The National Sick Fund, Brit Neshei Herut, BETAR Youth Villages, Misdar Jabotinsky, Student Corporations, veterans of the Jewish Legion, veterans of Lechi, Plugot Hakotel v'Hagiyusus, The Revisionist Party and many others began planning ceremonies and festivities.

Begin appointed Naftali Faltin a Katzin of the Mifkedet ETZEL to organize the honor guards which would accompany the caskets of Rosh Betar and his wife on Army command cars from the time of their landing at Lod until the burial at Har Herzl and at every stop along the way. As you can well imagine, this was a huge and extremely sensitive task and I have no idea why it was entrusted to Naftali Faltin. I was asked to assist him. In the pre-computer days of 1964 the problems were technical, very human and almost over whelming. Which groups or individuals should be participants? Who should be in the honor guards? Where? For how long? What place on the command car or when carrying the casket. Who should be at the airport and who at Har Herzl?

In 1964, the Movement's institutions were poor and not highly organized. Most of the information was gathered by phone and in person, from individuals and organizations and was recorded on 3x5 cards divided which were grouped into places and times. People were notified – each participant in the hundreds of honor guards receiving a printed slip titled "Zeev Jabotinsky returns to the Land of Israel"  (in Hebrew) with their name, place and time at the honor guard.

Most of the thousands of members of the Movement's many institutions took part in the parades through the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with each group carrying a banner and participants wearing some identifying item (i.e., a beret, uniform, pin, etc.). I was lucky to be among them and carried the banner of world BETAR through those streets which were deeply lined by onlookers straining to get a glance of Jabotinsky.

In Tel Aviv the caskets were placed at what was then Lord Samuel square. A torch was lit by Carni Jabotinsky (Jabotinsky's granddaughter) while honor guards changed every ten minutes and thousands of the public silently waited on line to pay their respect throughout the night.

In Jerusalem the parade made its way through the streets where at the old Knesset the Knesset honor guard saluted and Kaddish Luz, the speaker of the Knessset eulogized Zeev Jabotinsky. At the final internment the President of Israel Zalman Shazar and his wife, Jabotinsky's family and leaders of the Jabotinsky movement participated in the traditional ritual of covering the graves with earth, soldiers of Tzahal presented arms and Hatikvah was sung.

These events occurred 1964 and it was only the recent posting on Facebook by Chaim Fischgrund of an article in Haumah describing Nissan Teman's accompaniment of Rosh Betar's remains on the flight to Israel from New York that aroused many of these memories. Nissan, who had a most remarkable memory, remembered things far better than I.

So… any distortions, deletions, omissions or other mistakes are my own.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Camp Betar Mid-1940s

Thanks to Twitter, one @SapirAnalytics has been sending us material on the possible location of the 1940 Hunter, NY Camp Betar location where Rosh Betar died.

In the process, he has found relevant information regarding the Camp in the 1940s and here is what he has sent:

It seems that in 1945- 1946, the Camp was at Spring Glen near Middletown.

And in 1948...

And in 1949:


Friday, July 10, 2020

Betar at Yeshiva University, 1940-1941

From the 1941 Yearbook:


Camp Grounds at Grahamsville Purchased

As published in the Middletown Times Herald Newspaper Archives, May 23, 1949, Page 9

Seidman of New York City have leased from Carl Meltzer of Middletown the one-hundred-acre children's camp at Grahamsville formerly known as Camp Betar, the Morris Rattner Agency announced today.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Moshe Brodetsky - 96

We received this response to the birthday greetings we sent out to Moshe Brodetsky, here in a 2017 photo with a grandson:

Dear Moshe:    

Happy 96 Birthday!  Wow?! I remember when our paths crossed over and over again.  We first met at Hillel CCNY in 1952. You had come there to study engineering, having returned from fighting in WW II and Israel's War of Independenc. At Jasper Oval.  We were both Betarim, religious and new freshmen, so we hit it off right away.

At Hillel they were considering how to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut and thought to rent a small room, since they were afraid not many would attend.  You did something else.  You got Shoshana Damari and Hillel & Aviva, who were the most  famous Israeli acts in the U.S. to perform for free and filled the Great Hall with 1,000 students.  For Yom HaShoah you printed Yellow Magein Davids with JUDE and distributed them all over campus.  Many students wore them, and in many classes the discussion  topic was the Shoah, not the course matter.

When I was on shlichut in U.S, I passed thru NY.  You worked for HUD and organzed a luncheon meeting at the Wall Street Synagogue for Mel Stein, Esq. their N.E. Regoinal Counsel and several veteran Betarim.  As a result, The Center for Russian Jews was formed and used by the Israeli shelichim to encourage the major Jewish organizations to get active for Russian Jewry, or the Center would do it.

When I came through Washington DC in 1970 on a shlichut, you made me an appointment to meet the man who writes the Washington Post editorials about the Middle East.  This man told me he was convinced that the U.S. government had informed the Israeli government that it had to banish the Likud ministers from the government before it could get Phantoms and other aid. I reported this to Menachem Begin, who did not seem to be surprsed.  He said if Likud was forced to leave the government for a serious reason,  then it would continue to serve Israel in the opposition. 

In 1973, I was sent  by Menachem Begin, along with Yehezkel Polerevich, to deliver a Petition signed by 17,000 Russian olim to Congress to pass the Jackson Amendment.  You took me to a meeting of the Washington Executive of the National Conference which was planning the mass meeting on the following Sunday on the steps of Congress.  I was amazed to hear that there was no plan to invite Sen. Jackson, only a couple of congressmen who were not known for their support of Russian Jews.  I took the floor and said that no one would understand why he was not there.  They should get on the phone with their National Office immediately and make this point clear.  On the next Sunday, Yehezkel gave the Petitions to Jackson and they both the crowd of 10,000....

Lots of good health!  We can talk about other meetings when we are together.  Ad Meah Vesrim.  

Yitzhak Heimowitz