Thursday, September 7, 2023

Raid on Camp Shomriya, 1964

The report by Yeshayahu Lerman:

Michael Chayes, Eli Solomon, Naomi Atzmoni, Benny Rosen, Chuck Hornstein, Yishy Lehrman, Danny Epstein, Joey Grunberg, Tom Kovary, Mel Laytner, Uriel Messa, Yitz Aptowitzer, Rafi Gleich, Wally Chayes, Steve Shiffman. 

Len Fuld recalls of those summer camp raids:

I remember having to sneak out of my bunk to meet the chosen group of raiders at a specific time of night, hiking and jumping into the ditches on the side of a road when cars came by (getting a huge thorn in my thumb) and then being assigned to stand guard outside of the entrance to their camp.  It was thrilling for a kid my age as was the initial initiation meeting, again late at night, sworn to secrecy, standing by a barrel of burning wood.       


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Yitzhak Heimowitz z"l

From Dani Heimowitz

Dear Betarim,
It is with great sadness that I need to inform you of the passing of my father Yitzhak Heimowitz this morning, Aug. 7, in Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital at age 88.

Yitzhak (formerly Netziv Betar in the US in the 1950s), his wife Phyllis and I (a 5 month old infant) made Aliyah from New York in Oct. 1968.

Yitzhak and Phyllis met in Camp Betar in 1954 and were married for 64 happy years.


Yitz's autobiography:

Aaron Bashani wrote:

It is with great sadness that I learn of Yitzchak Heimowitz’s passing. I met him for the first time at an outreach gathering outside the old Madison Sq Garden in 1953, joined Betar, attended the historic Beit Sefer of 1954 and rose to be his Sgan Natziv and Betar Office Manager, 1957/58 on 44th Street, before my Aliyah Alef.  He was an inspiration to all of us with his calm and dedicated leadership --  and especially his championing of a national response to Jewry’s plight that was able to unite both secular and orthodox (and everything in between) with true Hadar Betari, so needed today.


During the years thereafter, we had many occasions to meet and to talk on the phone. Most notable of our meetings were (1) his arrival on a visit to Israel in the early 60s when he brought me my US Army Draft Notice (I was to be exempt due to a benign hernia), (2) at Orly Airport outside Paris in 1962 (1964) when he accompanied Rosh Betar z’l on a stop-over on the way to reburial in Israel, (3) at a 1965 meeting in New York for Soviet Jewry, etc, etc


Among other means, he will be memorialized through the proposed International Freedom Museum on the two-front Soviet Jewry Struggle.

Let his memory be a blessing for all Yisrael


Chuck Waxman sent this photo of Yitz with Shlomo Ariav, Sol Taubenfeld, Reuven Genn and I think a young Jonathan Friedman

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

29 Tammuz 2023


L-R: David Dwek, UK Betar; Chaim Fischgrund, Baruch Kraus, Yisrael Medad, 
Steve Adler, US Betar at Mt. Herzl


Monday, May 29, 2023

JTS, Betar and the Irgun

From Matt Futterman

I was given permission by a friend to share anonymously this story that was part of a discussion on Zionism and various American religious streams. This story is about the Jewish Theological Seminary from a time before the Conservative Moment was known for being more pro-Zionism than other movements.

“In the 1940s, a group of Betarim requested the use of a classroom at JTS, purportedly to hold Hebrew classes. In fact, the classroom was being used by the IZ"L  ("Irgun") to teach how to break down weapons so that they could be shipped to Palestine. At the time, my mother was working in the Beitar office in NY as personal assistant to Moshe Arens -- then Netziv Betar in NY, but secretly running IZ"L activities in the U.S. -- and she was directly involved in the gun smuggling operation. Many years later, my mother told Dr. Max Arzt (in my presence) that she had a confession to make, and told him how the classroom was actually being used. He replied that no apology was needed.  JTS wasn't fooled and was well aware of what was really going on.

“As an aside, many years later, when I was undergoing a security background check in the IDF, I was asked for the names of people who knew me and my family both in Israel and abroad. When I sat with the investigator, he looked at the list and asked: "Who is Moshe 'Mischa' Arens"?  I replied. "He's our boss". The soldier asked: "What do you mean?" I replied: "He's the Minister of Defense". The investigator seemed surprised and went on to the next name: "Mordechai 'Mordi' Dolinsky"(another of my mom's Betar friends). "Does he live on Rechov Chabad in the Old City?" I said that he did. "Oh, I was in basic training with one of his sons". Interview over. Later, when Mordi was on his death bed at Hadassah Hospital, Mischa came to visit. Mordi took great delight in telling him that while IDF field security seemed to have no idea who Mischa was, they knew who he was.”

Sayeret Golani Memorial - Chaim/Chuck Hornstein (Haran)

Members of Betar New York and former campers at the unveiling of the memorial for the soldiers of Sayeret Golani killed in the Yom Kippur War and who fell at the battles for Mount Hermon.

Chaim/Chuck Hornstein (Haran), a Betari from New York and camper was killed here. I have underlined his name.

לָנוּ, לָנוּ, יִהְיֶה לָנוּ
כֶּתֶר הַחֶרְמוֹן,


Thursday, March 16, 2023

The 1942 Pledge of Allegiance

In April 1942, the leadership of Betar, USA, led by Aaron Tzvi Propes, pledged an oath of allegiance to the ideas and ideals of Rosh Betar, Ze'ev Jabotinsky:

Among them, Zippora Levy, Yeshaya Warshaw, Aaron Hanin, David Goodman, Saul Bard, Alexander Gurevitz, Simcha Rosenberg and Chaviva Sudarsky.


Dear Rosh Betar,

We, your pupils, hereby inform you we remain faithful to your Torah. If, all together and each individually, we have not this past year acted on our Betar task, we ask your forgiveness. We will do our best this coming year to "sanctify the name of Betar" that we carry with your permission and according to our allegiance. 

Found here.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

A Meet-Up in Jerusalem and Karkur

On the occasion of Chuck Waxman's visit, there was a meet-up at the Jerusalem Piccolino restaurant on May 31, 2022:

with Yisrael Medad (Winkie), Chaim Fischgrund and wife Harriett, JJ Gross, Jonathan Friedman and wife Chaya, Batya Medad, Risa Tzohar

and then in Karkur:

with Mitch Chupak, Rena Genn, Eileen Chupak, Reuven David Sprung, Danny Rosing, Baruch Krauss, Galia Sprung

and with Moshe Kiczales in Jerusalem


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rabbi Pinchas Stolper z"l - UPDATED

Rabbi Pinchas Stolper Z"L, husband of Elaine, brother of Dr. Daniel Stolper and brother-in-law to Naomi Stolper died on May 25, 2022. He is to be buried at Har Hamenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Stolper was the first full-time national director of NCSY and subsequently assumed a broader role in communal leadership, serving as Executive Vice President of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America for eighteen years.

Rabbi Stolper was a widely respected teacher, educator, and thinker. A devoted disciple of Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, he was a musmach of the Mesivta Rabbi Chaim Berlin / Gur Aryeh Kollel and held degrees from Brooklyn College and the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. A prolific writer and editor, he was responsible for over 20 volumes and hundreds of articles on Jewish life and thought.

In his youth, he was a leader of Betar.

One of the more public events of that period was the protest in 1950 against the German soccer team's visit to New York.

The JTA reported on May 8:
Three youths arrested after they identified themselves with the Betar youth organization after they and a dozen other young men and women threw eggs, tomatoes and apples at a visiting German soccer team on the steps of City Hall on Friday will be given a hearing on Thursday, it was reported during the week-end. The demonstration took place as the German athletes, affiliated with the Hamburg Sports Verein, were about to be photographed with Acting Mayor Vincent Impelliteri.

Statements issued by the Union Zionists-Revisionsts of America and the Betar executive committee condoned the action of the youths and protested a charge that the demonstrators were Communists. The Betar statement said it was “regrettable that news of the reception (for the Germans) did not leak out earlier, in time to permit a much greater manifestation of dissatisfaction” by the Jews of New York. A spokesman for the visiting Germans, commenting on the incident, said: “We could see that they (the Betar youths) were not Americans.”

From the B'nai B'rith Messenger, May 16, 1950:

According to Winkie Medad who spoke with him concerning that period of time, he ordered religious Betarim to insert their tzitziyot inside their pants pockets.

Batya Medad also recalls him relating instances of his Betar period and shares this photograph with him, receiving a NCSY award from him:


From Yitz Heimowitz:

I knew Pinchas Stolper from 1949 in his various roles in Betar, which I joined in the spring of 1949.  We first met at a demonstration of Betar in front of City Hall, which was visited by the first German soccer team to visit the US after WWII. The Betarim bought rotten tomatoes and vegetables from the nearby fruit & vegetable market and pelted the soccer players. All the photographers just turned around and kept shooting. Pinchas Stolper, Dov Troy and Motel Kreiner were arrested. [Steve Adler: 'It was not Troy but my brother Joe who got arrested. Mayor O'Dwyer's brother Paul was the the lawyer who got them out] When their case came to a hearing, the police were not able to identify them, so the case was dismissed. This demonstration received front page coverage in all New York and US newspapers.

Pinchas became Natziv Betar in the US and helped to supervise Camp Betar. I remember that early in the morning he put on his Talit and Tfillin and wore them all day while helping activities of the campers.

Pinchas married Elaine and they both made Aliyah. They both made the mistake of residing in Bnei Brak. They would have been fine anywhere else, but the Bnei Brak wives considered Elaine to be a Shiksa because she wore her sleeves half an inch above her hands. She and Pinchas were so disturbed by this, that they returned to America rather than move to another city.

Pinchas as well as Troy and Morty all graced the front pages of ALL the New York newspapers and many national papers. They were actually throwing rotten fruits and vegetables at the soccer players. The mayor did not even come, but sent an assistant.


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: