Hashomer Hatzair is more than just a summer camp, it’s a movement.
Hashomer Hatzair has impacted the world in many ways, from producing extraordinary philosophers and community leaders, to organizing the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and other resistance efforts, establishing Kibbutzim and schools for refugees. Hashomer Hatzair members founded 75 kibbutzim in the years surrounding the creation of Israel, including 14 kibbutzim founded by North American immigrants who were trained at summer camps run by Hashomer Hatzair USA. Our education and philosophy have inspired notable figures, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, David Broza, and Representative Bella Abzug, and we continue to empower youth today.
Hashomer Hatzair was founded in Galicia, Austria-Hungary as a socialist-Zionist youth movement. It is the oldest Zionist movement still in existence. The movement was, and still is, largely guided by the ideas of Ber Borochov and Martin Buber; anyone who grows up here has read and debated their philosophies.
The movement first arrived in North America with European immigrants, who established chapters (known as ‘Kenim’) in major cities around the US and Canada, including NYC, LA, Toronto, and Montreal. The first summer camp in North America was established in 1928 on a farm in New Jersey for the purpose of preparing groups of young adults for communal farming and life on kibbutzim in Israel-Palestine.
1943 - 1947
Hashomer Hatzair took on new urgency during WWII and in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Mordechai Anilewicz, head of the Warsaw Ken, led the largest Jewish insurrection against the Nazis, known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Haviva Reik parachuted into Nazi-occupied Slovakia where she rescued members of the Jewish community, liberated captured allied airmen, established a soup kitchen and helped the local resistance to the Nazis before being captured and killed. American members of Hashomer Hatzair served as crew aboard the Exodus, helping Holocaust refugees reach Israel.
Hashomer Hatzair members founded 75 kibbutzim, including 14 that were created by the North American movement. Hashomer operated a farm in Hightstown, NJ that trained young people to make aliyah to a kibbutz. Several members of Hashomer Hatzair signed the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. Members of the movement were leaders in the Haganah which led the Independence War.
Shomrimot in the US were active in the Civil Rights Movement, along with the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era. The infamous Woodstock celebration took place just a few minutes drive away from Camp Shomria. Our campers and counselors, at the time, went over and handed out sandwiches to concert-goers!
Hashomer Hatzair and Camp Shomria continue to evolve over time. Today we have Kenim in the tri-state area, with summer camp and periodic weekend camp-outs at Camp Shomria and elsewhere. There are also many leadership opportunities for our Mamshichim (older counselors), in the form of local and international seminars. Our Bogrim (graduates) have established projects including the School of Peace for refugees in Greece, and Achvat Amim- a program delving into establishing solidarity with Palestinians. Our camp has hosted visiting Israeli and Jewish Arabs for years and in 2022 will start hosting representatives of Hashomer’s Arab sister organization, Ajial. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our young leaders raised tens of thousands of dollars to help Ukrainian refugees and establish a kindergarten for refugee children. Members of Hashomer Hatzair from around the world went to the borders of Ukraine to help members of the Ukrainian Hashomer Hatzair and others who were fleeing the war.