Secular Jewish youth movement celebrates 100th anniversary

“What origins in Galicia, usually finds its way”, Giora Seeliger, Israeli-born actor and co-founder of Rote Nasen Clowdoctors, had the audience at his side. The traditional chasak we’ emaz shouts – the traditional call of Hashomer Hatzair, the leftist scouting group, resonated through the lavishly decorated Festsaal of the Rathaus in Vienna on 30 June.

Photo: Shomer Hatzair

Photo: Shomer Hatzair

Seeliger, along with actress Tania Golden co-moderated the lively yet charming evening – an exquisite dinner with dance and music with more than 600 guests, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Haschomer Hatzair’s foundation in Galicia in 1913. Many Madrichim (team leader) and their Chanichim (protégés) – its current and former participants – found their way to this truly special gathering.

For many guests, this was a historic moment, with some of the oldest living activists honouring the event with their presence. Traditionally, the children join at the age of eight to 17, spending the Saturday afternoons with their ken (“nest” or group) in various educational or outdoor activities. Today, Haschomer Hatzair is a truly international organisation with membership of 14,000 worldwide in 17 countries – somewhat half of them outside Israel – with at least 400 members in Austria.

Oskar Deutsch, president of Vienna’s Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, was among the honorary guests – despite having once been a member of Benei Akiva, Haschomer Hatzair’s more religious and politically conservative equivalent. He delightedly noted that “so many young faces are present here today”. Deutsch also paid tribute to the work of the organisation, as its members “can proudly look back on a long history, with a bright future still ahead.”

The Jewish Museum in Vienna has currently a moving exhibition about Haschomer Hatzair’ history on display.

 

Exhibition Chawerim Chasak!
Jüdisches Museum Wien
1., Dorotheergasse 11
Sun. – Fri. 10:00 – 18:00
through 29 Sept.
www.jmw.at

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