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Kovno  "Kinder Hois" (orphanage)
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Kovno  "Kinder Hois" (orphanage)

From the internet;
Dr. Siegfried Lehman (headmaster
of an orphanage in Kovno), together with orphans and other Jewish youth
made aliyah and settled in Ben Shemen during the 1920'swww.jewishgen.org/yizkor/kelme/kel023.html
CHATZKELS, HELEN acted as adviser to the educational institutions he directed at
Kovno and Ben Shemen (Erez Israel), visiting the latter institution in 1929.

Boris Bernstein's love affair with the "Kinder Hois" started already in the early years of its establishment, in the early twenties. At that time, after World War I, children, refugees and starving orphans were adopted by a public council set up to look after these unfortunate beings. Boris Bernstein joined the founding committee of this humanitarian institution for children called "Yiddish Kinder Hois". At the time the institution was housed at an old building in the old city of Kovna, close to the Jewish hospital. Dr. Siegfried Lehman, a well-known pedagogue from Germany, was appointed Director of the institution. Here the children were fed and clothed and received an education.When the children grew up and the question of their future came up, the public council was divided in its opinion. Some were in favor of "Daikeit", i.e. absorbing the youngsters in the existing community, including learning the spoken Yiddish language and professional training in industry, services and office work. However, the Zionists on the public council, headed by Boris Bernstein, were of a different opinion; they said the youngsters should be trained to go to Eretz Yisrael, be taught Hebrew so as to make it easier for them to be accepted there at an educational institution. When the Zionists' stand was accepted, the public council contacted the Zionist leadership in Jerusalem, and a positive answer was soon received.At the time there was a deserted educational institution for children near Lod; there were a number of dilapidated buildings there and vacant areas of land of the Jewish National Fund, on part of which the "Herzel Forest" was planted.The Zionist leadership's proposal was accepted by the public council, and in 1927 most of the "Kinder Hois" graduates emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, headed by Dr. S. Lehman, and set up a new educational institution at the deserted spot, namely the Ben Shemen youth village, which still exists today. Boris Bernstein was very pleased with the fact that the youngsters of the "Kinder Hois" went to Eretz Yisrael and with the establishment of the youth village for agricultural education, and he was happy to be among the founders of the Ben Shemen youth village.Since the Ben Shemen period and until the thirties, the "Kinder Hois" underwent many changes. In the thirties the "Kinder Hois" blossomed once again. At Boris Bernstein's initiative and with his efforts important changes occurred at the institution. The luxurious building was erected on the green mountain, living conditions were improved and the children received better care at the two sections of the home - one for toddlers and the other for kindergarten and school children. The undersigned was invited at the time to serve as the institution's pedagogic director. Boris Bernstein, Chairman of the public council, wanted a Zionist Israeli educator to take care of education. Nearly the entire staff of educators at the kindergarten and school was replaced, educators who had been trained at the "Tarbut" seminar were accepted for the educational task. Children of school age were sent to study at the "Tarbut" school on the green mountain. The "Kinder Hois" children learned Hebrew and Hebrew songs. The atmosphere at the institution changed, and it took on a Zionist outlook. When guest envoys arrived from Eretz Yisrael they taught Hebrew songs and told the children about life in Eretz Yisrael , about the towns, villages and kibbutzim.On the eve of each Sabbath and on religious holidays, Boris Bernstein would visit the institution, together with his wife Ella and his children, and they loved seeing the children shining clean and happy. It was the custom then at the "Kinder Hois" to hold a "Kabbalat Sabbath" party before dinner, with merry Hebrew songs and literature readings. Boris Bernstein drew great satisfaction from seeing the children so happy.Much is to be said about the poetic pedagogic experience which took place among the children at the "Kinder Hois". Although Boris Bernstein was not involved in the daily educational events, his friendly fatherly attitude towards the children encouraged the educators in their task. Only a great and sensitive soul, such as Boris Bernstein's, is preoccupied with the fate of underprivileged children.At the end of 1938 the pedagogic director of the "Kinder Hois" emigrated to Eretz Yisrael. Upon his arrival he immediately went to the Ben Shemen youth village, spent a few days there and talked to the old director of the village, Dr. Z. Lehman, and to the senior educators, Yeremiahu Shapira and Rachel Katrovsky, about bringing groups of children from the "Kinder Hois" to Ben Shemen. They were enchanted with the idea. However, unfortunately, it did not come about. The sky of Europe darkened in those days and the political situation of Eretz Yisrael became uncertain. The World War already appeared on the horizon . . . . Boris Bernstein was very sorry.In the terrible Holocaust that befell the Jews of Europe, the Jewish children in Kovna were cruelly murdered, and among them the children from the "Kinder Hois" and their educators. Their place of burial is not known and nothing is left of them . . . but Boris Bernstein's wonderful deeds will not be forgotten and will never be erased from the Book of Life of the Jews of Lithuania.Boris Bernstein himself and his family were already exiled to Siberia before the Holocaust, when the regime changed in Lithuania. In 1940 Lithuania was attached to the Soviet Union. The new rulers, Stalin's protegees, considered Zionism a reactionist anti-Soviet movement. Therefore most Zionist activists in Lithuania, among them Boris Bernstein, who was a member of the Zionist Center, were accused of undermining the Soviet regime. Boris Bernstein was exiled and imprisoned for 8 years in one of the most terrible camps in the Soviet Union. This camp was described in detail by the well-known Russian author Solzenytsin in his book "Archipelag Gulag".Boris Bernstein spent 25 terrible years in distant, freezing Siberia, until he and his family were fortunate enough to immigrate to Israel. When he arrived, he was officially recognized as a "Prisoner of Zion" by the Zionist leadership and government institutions.Boris Bernstein, the young boy....

“Working the earth purifies the soul� was one of the many mottos at Ben Shemen, the boarding school I attended as a teenager living in what was then British Palestine. The educational experience at Ben Shemen was grounded in the soil; students had to spend two hours each day working on the collective farm. Ben Shemen’s ingenious design called for each child to have close relations with four adults: a homeroom teacher who served as the main educator; a “house mother� who oversaw the dormitories; a youth leader with whom students hung out after school hours; and the farm foreman under whom the children worked each day.

The four adults met regularly to coordinate their guidance of the youngsters toward what Ben Shemen considered the needed direction. Thus, if a child disobeyed one of the foremen, his house mother would learn of it and would draw on the affection the child had for her in helping him to accept the foreman's authority.The school's unique structure meant that children were members of four different peer groups: their classmates of the same age; their dormmates of various ages (which in my case included an older boy by the name of Shimon Peres); the coeducational members of their youth group; and their fellow workers on the farm. The elder boys were expected to foster communal mores among their juniors.The whole idea of Zionism was summarized for us as an inverted pyramid: in Europe, Jews were mostly middle-class intellectuals, merchants, and financiers, resting on a narrow base of relatively few Jewish blue-collar workers and even fewer farmers. We Israelis were to set the pyramid upright, by forming a strong base of farmers and workers. They relied on others to defend them; we would take our fate into our own armed hands.At Ben Shemen one ritual came on the heels of another. One day we were raising the blue-and-white flag of a nation yet to be born. The next day we were moved by a speech by the local commander of the Hagana, the Jewish underground fighting the British occupation, who led us in taking an oath: Never again will we go like lambs to the slaughter! Staff and students frequently staged plays extolling the virtues of working the land and fighting for our homeland. For me, Ben Shemen provided a powerful conversion experience. I entered as a youngster rebelling against my disciplinary mother, the loving weakness of my father, and the religious indoctrination of my school. Two years later, in 1944, I returned to my parentshome, now comfortable with learning, authority figures, and the expectations of my peers. Above all, I departed from Ben Shemen as a young Israeli, with a sense of purpose that was as strong as it was focused: to join those lining up to fight a war of national liberation against the British occupation and to form a just Jewish society, a new Zion.On my last day, the principal called me to his office. He smiled broadly, first showing me a rather unflattering letter I had brought with me from my previous school. The principal then pointed at my final report card from Ben Shemen. It was dotted with marks of very good. He added, You will do us proud.� Then he warned me affectionately: Just so you do not get too cocky, let me tell you that we figure that you will never become a soccer player or star in any other sport. Education never stopped at Ben Shemen. Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor at George Washington University. This essay is excerpted from his memoir, My Brother's Keeper: A Memoir and a Message (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). 1940 January 26, BEN SHEMEN YOUTH VILLAGE (Eretz Israel) Was raided by British police. Weapons were found that were stored there by the Haganah. The principal, Dr. Seigfried Lehman (former headmaster of an orphanage in Kovno), and others were arrested and sentenced to terms from 3-7 years.