Aside from Ukrainian and Polish scouting — Plast and Harcerstwo — the Jewish Scouting movement “Hashomer Gatzair” also originated in Lviv, in 1913. Translated, the name means “young guard”, and they were called “Shomrams”, meaning guards.
Ukrainian and Jewish scouts have faced similar difficulties in their history. The World Scouting Bureau did not accept the organizations into their membership because they represented stateless peoples. It was only possible to participate in world scouting events as members of a national scouting organization of a given country.
Also, “Hashomer Gatsair”, like Plast, was forced to operate underground and was subject to repression. For example, in 1923, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine arrested 72 organizers of a center in Kremenchuk. And at the end of the 1920s, Jewish scouting temporarily ceased its existence due to increased repressions.
“Be strong and worthy!”
In order to take the vow and receive the badge of membership, each guard had to pass at least a year’s probation. As a rule, the vow was made during the holiday of Lag BaOmer.
If the Plast insignia was a three-leafed daylily intertwined with a trident, then the “shomrivs” had a wreath woven with laurel and oak leaves, and below the ribbon was the slogan: חזק ואמץ or “Be strong and worthy!” The colors of the uniforms were different, the Plast one was khaki and the Jewish scouts wore a gray shirt with blue shorts.
“We went as guests to their camp bonfires”
Plast scouts and “young guards” often crossed paths with each other at various meetings and had very friendly relations.
For example, in May of 1922, in Sokal, Ukrainian and Jewish scouts competed in a football match. It ended in a tie (2:2).
In Zakarpattia, each year, Plast scouts and “Shomrivs” camped together or close to each other. The first joint camp was held in 1924 close to Uzhhorod, with each group having their own commandant or leader.
A participant in the Plast camps in Luhy, which took place in 1934–1938, recalls:
“Below our Ukrainian camp was the camp of the Hungarians — “Cherkiys”, and even lower — the Jewish camp — “Khadima” (maybe “Kadima”). The neighboring camps came to visit our bonfires and we went to theirs. All three camps competed in a showcase program”.
Also, some Jewish youth became members of Ukrainian Plast.
As of October 1925, in Zakarpathian Plast, there were 538 members, including 27 (5%) who were Jewish.
Recently, we honored the memory of the victims who died during one of the most terrible tragedies of mankind — the Holocaust. We must remember history in order to not give tyranny a right to exist, to not give a place for hatred in society.
We continue to fight with evil, so that it can not be reborn in the future!
Based on the materials of historian Yury Yuzych, head of the Plast Supervisory Council.
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