The creation of Kibbutz Hachshara
Excerpts from the chapter “La creación del Kachbutz Hachshará (The creation of the Kachbutz Hachshará)” part of the book “Bror chail - historia del movimiento brasileño y del kibutz (Bror chail - history of the Brazilian movement and the kibbutz)”. Written by Evyatar Friesel.
Link to full chapter and book: http://makash.org.il/dev/brorchail
The creation of the Kibbutz Hachshara
Creating a Kibbutz Hachshara (preparation kibbutz) was decided in August 1948. It took more than half a year before everything was ready, organizing the first group (garin), choosing the place, collecting the economic means took time. At the beginning of 1949, the official inauguration of the Kibbutz Hachshara "Ein Dorot" (The Fountain of Generations), located 80 km. from Sao Paulo in Brazil took place. The second National Congress of the movement decided, despite everything, to create our hachshara.
EIN DOROT, HACHSHARA: THE INCIDENTS
- The hachshara of the first group is always somewhat more picturesque than that of the groups that came after, isn't it?
- Mmmm, if you want to call it picturesque ... Well, it really is a different thing. We arrived at "Ein Dorot" with nothing, no experience - and remember, we were the first hachshara founded in Brazil - with no plans and with very few ideas of where to start. Oh yeah, it's true: in our mind, a theoretical idea of what a kibbutz should look like. Do you think it is not that much? It is a lot.
- I heard that there were many doubts before buying the land where the hachshara was installed. Weren't the conditions good?
- The geographical location of the hachshara, for example, was excellent. But when it came to land, there were differences between the agronomists. In the end we decided to buy it, but for years we had headaches. - The lands were divided into two types: lowlands, very good, but subject to flooding in the rainy season. And higher lands, which did not flood, but were too poor for agriculture. Also, the rooms were very precarious huts, made of wood and mud, covered with straw. Later, we would discover that the water was contaminated with amoebas. There were periodic ant attacks. We never managed to eliminate the Sauva completely; however, it didn't hurt us that much. But the black ants in the floodplain could wipe out an entire plantation in one night, if they managed to establish themselves properly.
- How was work in the early days? Who guided you?
- The neighbors, locals who had farms, helped us a lot. At the beginning, a Jewish agronomist from São Paulo also collaborated. Later, Senda, our Japanese colleague (first he came as a visitor, then as an agricultural instructor, and once he joined the group, he decided to continue in it and then became a chaver, and today he is already in Bror Chail). Apart from this, not all our companions came from the city, there were also native farmers, from the southern Jewish colonies. And today, the Bror Chail shlichim (sent to) Brazil help a lot to guide the hachshara.
- You, at the beginning, talked about the neighbors, you said they collaborated a lot. What was your reaction when you saw them settle in Ein Dorot?
- Oh, it was amazing! Nobody understood those city "students", who suddenly became farmers, among whom there were inexplicable relationships of equality, where no one received money. - "Imagine, working for free!" - It was the end of the world! But they were good and simple people, some Brazilians, some Portuguese, some Japanese.
The new group, which lit bonfires at night, danced and sang, where a cheerful atmosphere reigned, and if not always cheerful, always lively, attracted them, because overall they led a very isolated and monotonous life. We received them with kindness, we seated their children among us, we managed to establish good relations with all, and true friendship with some. In the end, it was common, at the bonfires on summer nights, to find a Japanese or mulatto among the chaverim.
- And how did you explain your purposes?
- We didn't explain. That we were preparing to emigrate was a strict secret. We made up many stories.
- And they never suspected anything?
- Well, how can I say ... I'll tell you a fact that happened: we were already in the hachshara for a few months when a visitor from São Paulo came to see our kibbutz. In São Paulo, they had warned him not to ask anybody questions during the trip. In Jundiai he got on the rural bus that passes through the hachshara, and discreetly asked the driver to tell him when they reached the "site of kilometer 16". The good man's face lit up: "- Ah, the group of people preparing to emigrate to Palestine?" Our visitor had been taken aback by the surprise, when he heard, from the back of the bus, a bunch of white, brown, yellow boys, singing: "Hey nivnei hagalil, hey nivnei hagalil ..." ("Hey, we will build the Galilee”) - They were our neighbors’ children.
- Well, but there were never any complications, right?
- There weren't? There were not few! Just imagine that one Saturday (we work on Sunday and rest on Saturday) we go, me and another chaver, to take a shower, at around nine in the morning. The shower was near the front door, and there I heard military orders outside! We prudently went to spy: What we saw! Soldiers of the Public Force getting out of a military truck, armed to the teeth! The kibbutz was being surrounded militarily! Then, a captain of the Public Force, in the company of the Chief of Police of Jundiai and a strong group of soldiers discreetly armed with machine gun rifles, entered through the door. We rushed to call José Etrog, who, in addition to being a former civil servant and reserve officer, had a tremendous lip. After all, he was likely to not get shot that fast. . . Since it was Saturday morning, Etrog slept the sleep of the righteous. They pulled him out of bed, took him out, and in his pajamas, they pushed him to face the men ... - What had happened? A São Paulo newspaper had published two anti-Semitic articles, alerting authorities to a "training camp for Jewish terrorists that had been set up near Jundiai." It even said that we would have heavy weapons, plus rifles, machine guns, cannons and even! . . submarines, yes, submarines! The authorities had decided to investigate. Etrog spoke, gestured, spoke, spoke so much that, despite the military apparatus brought in, the worthy representatives of public order ended up withdrawing without even searching the kibbutz, looking for submarines.
THE NEW LIFE
- And we learned a lot. How to work, study and live, in the field and in collective life. All our beautiful principles were not enough on their own: in everyday experience. We had to learn how human nature adapted to the new conditions. For the first group, still green in experience, the hachshara was a revolution from the first to the last day. The revolution of work, social life, culture. Adapting our student and merchant bodies to the peasant working day regime, our minds accustomed to study problems and ideological thoughts, to the practical demands of rural life, demands certainly broader than those previously experienced.
- Didn't they have a sheliach from Israel, in the hachshara, to guide them?
- Yes, for a few months Abrão Neguev, from the Revivim kibbutz, was with us. During his stay, we foresaw for the first time what our future "clash with the reality of Israel" would be.
- Well, of course, each group that arrives in Israel goes through an adaptation process to the country that is not always easy. But what did this mean in Brazil?
- Understand, we were the first group of the movement to do hachshara. For the first time, the experience of collective life took place among us. We were not children and we decided to take it seriously. Our small community had implemented rigor and severity in mutual relations. We had gone through a period of complete abolition of "individuality." We did not hear about the "individual", the needs of the "individual", in our hachshara. Individual interests must be sacrificed for the sake of collective interests. And trust me, we didn't do it out of dogmatism. It was something natural, a profound demand from each one of us, and we all rigorously submitted to the new conditions of life.
Together we celebrate our national holidays, together we study ivrit, together we work, together we discuss, together we live the small and great things in each other's life and everyone's life, in absolute communism. The chaver required nothing for himself but for the collective. Make concessions. We recreate the austere conditions of the early collective colonies, including the Jesuit practice of intimate exposure of the individual to the collective, in an attempt to improve and strengthen our mutual relationships. And no one, not even the most sensitive, felt oppressed in such an environment. On the contrary, from the depths of each one arose the most complete consent and conviction regarding such guidance.
And when Negev, the sheliach, showed us that in the kibbutzim of Israel these things had already been overcome a decade ago, we indignantly refused to adapt. So we believed, so it should be. This was our first stage in collective life.
In summary, to consider ourselves ready for aliyah, we had three objectives, and we reached them reasonably: First, to form a good work group, accustomed to the labors of agricultural life. Second, a group that achieves a solid and cohesive social amalgam. Third, a group with a defined political personality, that is, with an awareness of what it was, what it represented and what it wanted.