The History of Habonim Hagshama Seminar (AKA HHH), is a five day seminar that follows the history of actualization (hagshama) in Habonim.
Sunday December 1:
Our programming started at 11:00AM with a peula about how we found our respective Habonim Dror machanot (camps), when we realized our camps were different that others, and what we had heard from previous Workshops about this seminar. We then loaded onto the bus and stopped in by the Sea of Galilee to visit Hatzar Kinneret. Hatzar Kinneret was the original hachshara (preparation) farm where mostly European and some Mizrahi Jews would make Aliyah to and learn to work the fields. Some of Habonim's favorite Labour Zionist icons originated from Hatzer Kinneret including AD Gordon and Berl Katznelson. The early members of the hachshara farm later formed Kibbutz Degania out of their strong love for labour and communal living (idyllic, right? keep reading).
We continued onto the Kinneret Cemetery where Berl Katznelson, Nachman Syrkin, Rachel the Poet, and Ber Borochov were buried. This cemetery was really beautiful and overlooked the Kinneret. As Zionist legend goes, one of the only trees in the area was at the cemetery and many early struggling kibbutzniks would go to the tree to ponder suicide (not so idyllic anymore…). It is safe to say that is was tough to be a chalutz. At the cemetery, we ran into
We drove back to kibbutz, cooked some dinner (chili, baked potatoe, and rice), and reconvened for a peula. We discussed how our day didn't really revolve around Habonim history but how the history of chalutzim set the stage for the ideology of Habonim.
Monday December 2:
Today was a long day of speakers from Habonim kibbutzim. We started the day at Kibbutz Kfar Hannasi speaking with a former member of HDUK, Arie, who made Aliyah in 1948. He spoke about the kibbutz's small beginnings, peak, and eventual privatization. Something that stuck out to everyone was his statement that "socialism only works when you're rich." It is safe to say that it burst some bubbles.
Our next stop was to Kibbutz Amiad where a man named Barry, also from HDUK, spoke to us about his kibbutz experience over the past 50 years and how Amiad has been privatizing and how that is affecting the social togetherness of the kibbutz. He also made a similar statement about how socialism only works when a kibbutz is wealthy. More dreams were shattered.
Our final kibbutz that day was to Kibbutz Yizre'el where we spoke with someone from HDSA, HDOZ, and HDUK ranging between 40 and 60 years on the kibbutz. They all disputed the idea that you need to be wealthy to have a functioning socialist structured kibbutz (but it should also be mentioned that they are the wealthiest of all the kibbutzim we visited). Our peula that evening was about what being in a socialist movement means when everyone says it is unrealistic. We mostly got into a debate between capitalism and socialism.
Tuesday December 3:
We started the day by talking to Ein Dor native, Arie who spoke about the privatization transition for Ein Dor. He told us how "the first generation makes the revolution, and the second generation gets comfortable." This really resonated with our understanding of the crumbling ideology that infected kibbutzim as new generations took on roles of leadership. He closed by saying he would not consider Ein Dor a kibbutz because it lacks basic ideas of a shared lifestyle that were originally envisioned during the initial creation of kibbutzim. We headed to Jerusalem for the World Zionist Organization Hanukkah Lighting on Har Herzl. It is always pretty clear who is from Habonim Dror because we are often weirder and asked to be quiet more. We went on a tour and saw the graves of Herzl, Jabotinsky, Rabin, and many others. The WZO then ran a small activity for us centered around Hanukkah about how the early Zionist leaders (Herzl) aimed to establish Israel as a secular-Jewish state. Then they gave us cookies, coffee, soda, and key-chain flashlights.
We left the event early and missed out on the sufganiot to hear former Habonim Dror members talk about making Aliyah in the late 90's to an urban kibbutz structure. Anton, the main speaker, spoke about the HDUK leadership crisis and how that forced him and the other movement leaders to reassess the center-point of the movement. All this thinking landed him on the idea to make aliyah and save the Jewish people. We were a little crunched for time and bubbling to the brim with questions, so I'm sure this discussion will continue later.
For pictures from Har Herzl click HERE! (pictures to come later).
Keep reading for the final two days of HHH Seminar!