David Nemetz: Habonim and Zionist Activities in Vancouver
Date:Wednesday, July 24, 1974
ID:Digital audio recording #: 19.74-05
Interviewer: Ann Krieger & A. Myer Freedman
AK: Okay, tell us about Habonim please.
DN: Habonim is spelled H-A-B-O-N-I-M, Habonim Lodge is a fraternal, cultural group of Jewish culture and Zionism. That was one of the most effective groups that give us for many years already the leaders of Vancouver. It existed for several years ‘til the war.
AK: What war?
DN: The Second World War. Rabbi Zlotnick left for South Africa as the head of the youth educational department and then the Habonim Lodge kind of more or less broke up. Now, as to other Zionist and Jewish activities I want to…
AK: Just a minute, before you stop that, you said it had a cultural, you were a cultural group.
AK: Did you also study the culture of Palestine?
DN: Palestine, and Jewish history, and Jewish education in general. See, this is all that was…
AK: And Rabbi Zlotnick was the leader?
DN: Rabbit Zlotnick he was our leader and a spiritual advisor.
AK: Your spiritual leader and your cultural leader.
DN: And really he was…We wish we could have afforded a time to keep him but the, we couldn’t.
AK: He went on to bigger things.
DN: That position…For that matter I’ve seen Rabbi Zlotnick in Israel. I have a letter, the last letter he wrote with his own handwriting and I value it very, very dearly. In 1939 I built myself a house in Vancouver.
AK: Where is it, was it located…
AK: Where was it located?
DN: At 585 West 28th. But my way of planning the house was this: a nice living quarters for ourselves but a place for Young Judaea or the Zionist group to meet so therefore I have a complete basement with a recreation room large enough to hold 150 to 200 people, complete kitchen facilities, and that’s where most activities of the Jewish youth, particularly Young Judaea and the Zionist groups.
AK: Did you say ‘I’? Or do you mean your wife and you? She must have been quite a woman to have allowed this to happen.
DN: So this is where I wanted to say…
AK: This must be quite a woman.
DN: I’ll come to that.
DN: My wife, of course, was very much Zionist but when we first got married, I mean, [I won’t say that], we had quite a bit of disagreement. She was a Jabotinsky-ist.
AK: What does that mean?
DN: Jabotinsky he was a member…
AK: Would you spell that please?
DN: I can’t spell that.
DN: Ja-bo-tinsky. You’ll find that…Jabotinsky was a revisionist, a militant man. And his ideas were that, don’t wait ‘til they’ll give you Palestine…
AK: Take it by force.
DN: Take it by force and he was the one, and she was with him. I of course was a pro-Weitzmann-ist, to obtain Israel, a state, a Jewish state…
AK: You’re speaking of Chaim Weitzmann.
DN: Chaim Weitzmann. A Jewish state by peaceful and political way of doing it. And [we] had quite a big arguments ‘til one day we came to the conclusion that it doesn’t lead us anywhere and we had to, that politics had to be left aside if we wanted to succeed. And then we did, and then it was fine. My wife gave us a tremendous help and doing all this work, all my Zionist work and all the entertaining, [all that]...