Posted by jyuhasz

Telephone interview conducted by Michael Schwartz in Vancouver with Michael Livni in Israel. 

MS:      What do you remember? What are the most memorable parts of that experience?
ML:      Well for me the social part, like my first girlfriend that I ever had I had, you know, at Camp Miriam, and what’s her name? I only know her pre-married name, Marianovich in Vancouver too. And I was 16, she was 14, it was all very…and you know we’d walk to the Point in our white shirts and when a couple, a new couple sort of got together like, then everybody would sing ‘Zug Hadash bi Mahanin,’ a new couple in our hameh, I didn’t even know what it meant at that time, but actually in terms of memories I have the hefartid the two main memories would be, you know, the personal relationships, that was my first girlfriend, and the fact that…Two other things, the fact that really the names of the trees and things like that…I knew and the others didn’t, they didn’t know that kind of stuff. The third thing was that we were not terribly disciplined and with one of the madrichot [camp counselors] who is now in Kibbutz Maayan Zvi, Eva Hirsch, is her name now, one day we decided to not be very nice to the director, this guy Moshe Laufman, and we came in on Shabbat in the morning to wake him up and poured some water on him, a pail of water on him and really I was almost sent home for that so I certainly remember that. It was only two weeks because I think the CCF were still using the camp for part of the summer so they were only renting it out for a short period of time.
MS:      How many years were you there?                                                                                        
ML:      Well, I wasn’t there many years, I wasn’t really at Camp Miriam again until 1957 but my involvement was at a different level entirely, it was at the…what shall we say…the administrative level, I wasn’t there because frankly I had to work in the summers, I couldn’t just be a camper and I was going through university during those years and I had to work every summer. But for example when the whole question came that we could no longer rent that camp and we had to buy it then I and another guy my age, Alan Gelfond, he’s in Detroit now, we went looking for new campsites and we travelled around Howe Sound and we tried to find new campsites and then we realized, I realized actually, that there was no possibility of getting this whole thing together if we didn’t organize the parents, because the Labour Zionist movement really was pretty theoretical…I mean there were people who were sort of together as Labour Zionists but what we needed was a chartered society incorporated under the laws of British Columbia that could actually buy a camp. So in other words my sort of role at that time…I was 21, 22 in 1954, ‘55 and I was already starting in medical school…my role was to organize the adults and to organize the Habonim Zionist  society so that there was a society where it was a legal body where people could buy a camp. And actually that was the, I suppose that was my central contribution to Camp Miriam, to probably be the central person in creating a situation where it could be bought and where I was the administrator, and I was the secretary and I had to take the minutes, and I had to do the dealings with the chartered accountants to get the…you know a chartered society has to hand in an annual statement to the government and I had to do all that, that was really my function in terms of the camp—I wasn’t at the camp proper during those years, I couldn’t be, I had to work in the summer.

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Posted by jyuhasz
                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.
DN:        Yes.
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…
DN:        Huh?
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.
AK:         Okay.
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.
AK:         Sho-bot…
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]...

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Posted by jhsadmin
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Black and white image of children on the back of float decorated to celebrate the establishment of Israel. On float, L-R: Nessi Raels, Pearl Raels, Lila Israel, Stephen Bricker, Lorilee Mallek, Cyril Boas, Alan Carr. "The Jewish community of Victoria entered a float in the city's annual Victoria Day parade and won second prize. The theme was birth of the State of Israel, with children costumed to depict pioneers and newcomers to Israel" (Jewish Western Bulletin, September 7, 1950, pg. 6).

Raels, Mort
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Many of the Jewish community's leaders of the time are seen in this photograph. L-R: Second row: Sam Rothstein, Reva Katznelson, Ben Shapiro, Dr. Jack Moscovitch, Wm. Nemetz, Nathan Fox, Harold Freeman, Sam Tannenbaum, Dr. M. Fox, Harry Toban, Dave Nemetz. Front row: Myer Freedman, Rabbi J. L. Zlotnik, Dr. J.T. Gorosh, Rabbi S. P. Wohlgelertner.