• First time visitor?

    Click here for details on the new blog and other features that make it easy for you to share your memories and thoughts. If you can email you can contribute.

Upcoming Events


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David Chester

The author of this article is the late Avraham Greenspan who continued to edit later issues of this booklet as a bianual journal. Subsequently, the 65th. aniversary booklet with this article, by default became the number 1 issue of the Kol Vatikei Habonim semi-annual journal. Unfortunately Avraham (and several others too) has claimed that Wellesley Aron first discovered the lack of Jewish education at the East-End London Jewish clubs in 1929. Actually it was in 1928. By 1929 Habonim had already been founded, a hand-book written and the first Gedudim established. These facts have been checked by my reviewing some of Welessley's writings of which (some at least) are in the Archive at Yad Tebenkin, Ramat Rfal near Tel-Aviv.

frank farbenbloom

You are correct regarding when Aron was exposed to the situration in Stepney. It was in 1928.

According to his account he first publicly presented his outline about founding Habonim at a meeting in November 1928. At that meeting he first met Norman Lourie. In his account Aron says "For the next few weeks I was completley occupied working out this proposal".

I appears that the first Gedud actually started in 1929 though the date of 1928 appears in the diagram for the brick (Levana) that appears in the handbook.

My account is taken from his book "Rebel With a Cause", pg. 49.

Thanks for the update. I am preparing a much more detailed account to expand on the original article written by Ginger (Avraham) Greenspan.

David Chester

Thanks for your support, Frank. Having spent a few fantastic hours reviewing the early Habo history in the Yad Tabenkin archives, I too am writing about it. What I have discovered is that before Wellesley got involved in November 1928, Chaim Lipshitz already had formed a group of youngsters in his father's Cheder and was informally teaching them Modern Hebrew, songs and dances. Students from other nearby Talmud Torahs joined.

Chaim claims it was well established by Chanukah 1928 but it was not called "Gedud Trumpeldor" until the following year, possibly as late as October (according to Jack Rose, who apparently was "the first boneh of the Gedud").

linda marom shomer

wellesley aron gave an interview to the Hebrew University also. this is preserved in the Habonim archive. as i recall, he describes the attitude of his family to his activities involving the less fortunate younger jewish population of london. the Arons were wealthy to a point where it seemed to them inappropriate to be mixing with the lower strata of society, and went so far as to cut him off! they were embarassed by his open admission of his jewish origins. wellesley aron's story is excellent educational material, in itself.

David Chester

Wellesley, the fifth child of his Jewish father and first child of his Jewish mother, left his mother's home in London in 1926. This was some time after the almost fully-assimilated family had previously lived in Devon as aristocrats. His father was of German nationallity and had to live in Switzerland during the first world war, where he died. The four previous children were English-born of a Christian first wife, one of them was killed in the fighting.

In reviewing and writing up the personal history it is very easy to assume facts which have no backing and the interviews do not support the view that Wellesley's mother's attitude of working for the poor was "beneath" them. In fact his earlier 1920 Scouting leadership in poverty-struck Stepney (London) occured before he left home and this choice did not cause him to separate from his family.

David Chester

This post began with the title that claims Wellesley as our founder. I wish to point out that there were 3 founders not one (as I have described in more detail in 3 articles and a letter in our KBH magazine).

The second founder was Chaim Lipshitz, who began to teach Jewish songs, dances and history (and camp-craft too) to a group of young Jewish boys at his father's Cheder in Whitechapel, East London, in late 1928. This group later became Gedud Trumpledor, our first gedud. They actually preceded Wellesley's two January 1929 meetings (not November 1928 as Wellesley later mistakenly claimed), calling for the movement to be formed.

The first meeting was with only 5 persons, but due to the third founder, see below, the next meeting a week later was much more significant.

The third founder was Norman Laurie (with his girl friend/wife, Nadia), who helped Wellesley to print the first Habonim Handbook (unofficially in the Zionist Federation offices). He invited the Jewish Students from Oxford and Cambridge to participate in the second (50 +) week-end meeting and joined in the subsequent committee formation that was vital for the organized progress of our Movement.

Nachum (Norman) was not only involved in the Handbook's production, (used in the training of the first madrichim), but was living with Wellesley for a few weeks and arranging at committee meetings the development of the structure of the variously organized stages of teaching and training. The young couple returned to South Africa in 1930 to found the Habonim Movement that was there too.

Any chaverim who would like an e-copy of the whole story, please contact me at [email protected]

The comments to this entry are closed.

Upcoming Events