American Pioneers Train for Palestine on Minnesota Farm
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American Pioneers Train for Palestine on Minnesota Farm

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White-haired, smiling Joe Ball shaded his eyes from the glaring Minnesota sun and pointed out across a rolling piece of farmland just northwest of Champlain, some thirty miles outside of Minneapolis.

His tanned finger indicated a yellow straw hat that bobbed up and down just on the other side of a field of rustling corn.

“She works live a beaver,” Joe Ball said, “and every day she learns something that she never dreamed of before.”

The straw hat disappeared behind the corn stalks and then appeared again farther down the field. Closer observation revealed that it covered black tresses and shaded a grimy, sunbeaten, but feminine face—a face that had known, until three months ago, the flickering shadows of the Chicago “L” and the confines of a stenographer’s desk.

A typical Minnesota whirlwind swirled across the field and surrounded the small figure with a miniature cyclone of dust. The hat kept bobbing up and down. The hoe, clutched by strong but feminine hands, kept chopping at the persistent weeds.


It was a part of the new deal for {SPAN}###{/SPAN} Chicago stenographer who labored under the hot Minnesota sun was doing it voluntarily. She was doing it with the melody “Kadimah” on her lips, with the roll of the River Jordan and the swish of the Sea of Galilee in her ears. She left the noisy streets of Chicago in May; and probably will never see them again.

Miriam German is going to Palestine to take part in the rebuilding of the Jewish faith and the Jewish race. She pledged herself to the ideals of the Chalutz (pioneers) and no amount of milking at dawn or hoeing in the hot sun will shake her faith in them.

Miss German was not working alone in the fields. Near the ridge behind the small farmhouse and rambling red barn, the sun shone on the bronze backs of three youths working in the melon patch. A stream of dust at the west end of the eighty-acre Hachshara (training) farm almost hid another youth plodding behind a harrow. The ring of an axe brought attention to two more working on the woodpile and the clatter of dishes indicated there were still more doing “K.P.”


The Hachshara farm is the realization of a dream and the beginning of dreams. It is the realization of the dream of Harry and Nathan Guttmen, University of Minnesota students, that some day in this part of the country there would be just such a training center for young Jewish people who had pledged themselves to the principles of the Chalutzim and who wanted to go to Palestine to take up the new life there. It is the beginning of dreams for ambitious Jewish youths whose sole interest is the future of their race.

The idea is not new. It swept Europe just after the war and almost every country there has Hachshara farms where Jewish boys and girls train for the life in Palestine. The Champlin farm is one of a number of such farms in this country. Miss German and nine boys have labored on its acres all summer under the direction of Mr. Ball, 66-year-old former Crookston, Minn., farmer.

The two Guttmen boys worked with Samuel Labowitz, also of Minneapolis, to complete the initial plans for the farm here. Through officials of the University of Minnesota Farm, they obtained an eighty-acre farm. With funds furnished by the Zionist organizations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, they took over the old buildings and established the first Hachshara farm west of New York. Mr. Ball volunteered his services to help them get under way.

Only youths who were pledged to the ideals of the Chalutz and who had already posted their transportation fees to Palestine were permitted to join them in the training work. Nine boys responded—and one girl. From New York came Murray Otner; from Cincinnati, Gilbert Scheinbaum; from Chicago, Louis Pollock, Herman Wolf, David Weis and Miss German, and from Toronto, Sam Stern and Saul Borkofsky.


The work is hard. It is intended to be hard. The work will be hard in the communes of Palestine and no one will be permitted to go there until they know what hard work is. First there was much to be done on the buildings. New roofing was put on. New glass was put in the windows. The yard was weeded. Then there was planting and cultivating to be done and the other multitude of other things necessary on a farm. They were all done with a will and crops will be harvested and the clean rebuilt farm will be deserted until another season.

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