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Oral history interview with Benzion Epstein

Oral History | Accession Number: 2009.29.8 | RG Number: RG-50.590.0008

Benzion Epstein describes the arrival of Jewish immigrants affiliated with the Bund and other leftist organizations in Argentina after 1929; the Zionists campaign against Birobidjan; the founding of a synagogue for the progressive left-wingers in the San Miguel colony in 1933-1934; leaving the colony in 1929 after disagreeing with his father about how to run the farm; life in the colony, including the farm and his education; the town of Rivera; supporting the Jewish National Fund; his activities in Buenos Aires, including his affiliations with the Gordonia Zionist Youth Movement, the Bialik Center, and the group “Tzeire Tzion” (possibly Buenos Aires Hejalutz Dror); how the participants came from many places, including Poland, Galicia, White Russia, and Lithuania; the antisemitic president José Félix Uriburu, who was in power at that time; the difficulties finding employment in times of economic crisis; how the groups wanted to make money to immigrate, as a group, to Israel and found a kibbutz; the Zionist elders, who were against youngsters living in commune-like homes; some of the elders included Guesang, Regalsky, Susheim, Feferman, Malinovka, and Rosenbum (the engineer); his book, “The Beginnings of the Zionist-pioneer movement in Argentina,” which described the conflicts in the Zionist community; immigrating with his wife to Israel in 1949 after representing the Gordonia movement in several countries, including Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador; the Halacha views of Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig; the origins of the Gordonia movement in Argentina (Mrs. Epstein participates in the conversation as well); the arrival of David Spiguel, who was the founder of the movement in Galicia, Poland, in Argentina; the Gordonian principles (working the land) and the “Iuguent Veig” journal; the activities of Gordonia and its members; how during Uriburu’s presidency there was always a Jewish police officer to monitor proceedings; the background of his wife, Jana (née Glasserman), who was born in the colony Esperanza to a father who was a ritual slaughterer; passing through Paris, France during their immigration to Israel and beginning to understand what had happened to the Jews in Europe; their passage to Israel with the refugees from France on the ship Negba; the lack of news in Argentina during the Holocaust; living in the kibbutz Ginegar for a year and a half; reviving the abandoned kibbutz Givat-Zait; the Jewish colonies in Argentina; and the ideals of A.D. Gordon.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Benzion Epstein
interview:  1984
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina-Communidad de Buenos Aires
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:23:36
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