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Sefer Vladimirets

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Prior Rights

From: Sefer Vladimirets, 1963

Author: Chaya Feinhoiz 

** Webmaster Note: The following is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov as sponsored by George Zilbergeld. Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).


The HaShomer HaTzair organization had prior rights in Vladimiretz.  It was the first of the pioneering organizations and youth movements in the town.  One fine morning, boys and girls aged 13-14 stood wondering and searching for an outlet for their exuberant energy. 

Without discussion, the girls and boys gathered separately.  Their motto was:  Come and we will get organized.  Come, we will create something of value.  Without a clear knowledge of precisely what they wanted, this was a spontaneous awakening from either direction.  They were teen-aged boys and girls, at the age of searching and struggles, with a wish in their hearts for something that was not completely defined. 

The HaShomer HaTzair Group

We absorbed something about a scout movement called HaShomer HaTzair, and one Sabbath a meeting was called for its establishment.  The task of explaining about the character of the movement was given to one of the older students, who learned in Vilna.  We believed that the matter certainly was clear to him.

The student who was given this task was Moshe Rosenberg.  I remember that there was a proverb in our world:  "A healthy soul in a healthy body." This was all he knew about the movement.  From then onward, formal connections with the leadership of the movement, the first circulars and initial organization, began.  The movement's newspaper was received, and we were far from understanding it.  We gathered in groups to decipher together what was written there, and to learn at a slow pace about the movement.  And so, line by line, we built for ourselves, by ourselves, our world outlook – little by little, our horizons became clear.

And here is a curiosity I remember to this day:  the actual founder of the HaShomer HaTzair group in Vladimirets, Meir Baril, actually intended it to be HaShomer HaShachar – the Beitar organization, but it switched over to HaShomer HaTzair.  When one day he realized his mistake, he wanted to correct it.  But the way to HaShomer HaTzair was already clear to many of us, and he was not given the possibility of changing it.  Over time, the adults of the group helped establish the HaChalutz organization, which had a group for younger youths called HaChalutz HaTzair. 

Thus, HaShomer HaTzair had prior rights.  The best of the youth began to be absorbed among us, and life in the group was exciting – scouting and cultural activities, trips outside the town, life out in Nature, night trips and various sites, hora [the Israeli folk dance] circles and songs bursting through the walls of our meeting place.  Parties.  And the holidays of Israel received a new meaning.  Chanukah and Lag B'Omer – these two holidays swept with them not only the members of the group, not only the little children – parents and older brothers were also swept away with us, and the celebrations of Lag B'Omer, which were held in the forest on the hill, were a power drawing people of every age.  Everyone was drawn, and streamed, toward the forest. 

On winter evenings, we organized Hebrew classes.  There were young people among us who had not sufficed to experience a Hebrew school, and the language of their instruction was Polish.  For these, we drafted Rudia Muchnik, and for an almost token payment, she taught them Hebrew.  It should be pointed out that the activity of the group was conducted in Hebrew.  The counselors among us spoke only Hebrew, in the group and in the street.  We had a constant struggle for our existence from the standpoint of legalization in the Polish regime of that time.

We were covered by the shadow of "TAZ," in whose name our activities took place [TAZ was a Jewish health-care organization in Poland at the time].  Monthly and annual reports were sent regarding summer and winter operations, and the organizer of these reports, Yosef Smolar, was an expert in doing so.  All kinds of informers subverted us and the police made trouble for us.  More than once, our members encountered a short imprisonment.  But all this did not prevent us from developing an active life in the movement.  Most of our activities were conducted outside the town.  We knew so little, and we had to guide those younger than ourselves, and therefore our efforts were doubled.  We learned and learned, and we slowly created a world outlook, something that we did not achieve easily.

The ridiculous side of our activities, which brings a smile to our lips today, was not lacking – how much youthful fervor there was in the very deed!  For example, doesn't a gathering of a group of girls arouse the curiosity of the other party?  What subjects do girls deal with, and how?  And so, someone from among our (male) members would sneak under the bench to eavesdrop.  And at the end of the discussion, when he was revealed to us, our first question was:

"Hey you!  How did you behave when the anthem was sung?  You weren't able to stand at attention!"

Each age has its problems and the reading material characterizing it, arguments and clarifications, the question of women, and the biological tragedy of women.  The question of society and its activities, all kinds of problems, these must be clarified, we must struggle with them, because they are too numerous to count.  And there are many experiences.

It is a dark night.  At the corner of the street, a group gathers – the anthem is sung with trembling, almost without voices.  How much faith and youthful enthusiasm!

Winter, a Sabbath morning:  a layer of white covers the town.  Everything is asleep, and only the echo of the steps of the guards can be heard– we are on the way to the Christian cemetery, light exercise, order drills, singing, and again, the uproar of the group's conversation.

Summer, Sabbath night: our gathering place is the attic of the Pinchuk house.  A light sleep, and at dawn, we start toward the woods, to spend a hot day in Nature.  Games, instructive talks, and toward evening, when we return home, the skies darken and a heavy rain pours down.  We come back wet to the skin, but we are creating many experiences.

And above all, "the revolt of the sons."  A revolt against every routine and life in the Diaspora.  And a great part of the fact that today, there are gathered here, in our Land, a significant number of people from Vladimirets, has to do with this dream of our youth.

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