Ellen Stepak


Hashomer Hatsair (in translation “The Young Guard”) was established in 1913. This year the organization is celebrating 110 years since its founding. From its roots in Galicia in Eastern Europe, Hashomer Hatsair developed, and branches were opened in Jewish communities throughout the world.

We at IGRA are happy to share our best wishes with Hashomer Hatsair on this occasion.

Various documents from the Shomer Hatsair archives can be found in the IGRA All Israel Database (AID). Following are two samples of available records from the AID:


HaKibbutz HaArzi Census 1940 from the Yad Yaari Archive



List of Immigrants absorbed in various kibbutzim, March 1951 from the Yad Yaari Archive


From its beginning, the movement embraced both socialism and Zionism. As part of its philosophy, its members learned Hebrew, and trained themselves to be able to work and support themselves in agriculture and manual labor as pioneers (chalutzim) in the Land of Israel (Eretz-Israel or pre-State Israel). One of the movement’s main aspirations was Aliyah/immigration to the Land of Israel. The first graduates of the movement arrived in Palestine in 1919. Altogether Hashomer Hatsair founded about 85 kibbutzim.

During World War II members of Hashomer Hatsair operated in Nazi-occupied territories, and members of the movement played a key part in organizing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In 1946 Hashomer Hatsair established a political party in pre-State Israel, and became co-founder of Mapam (The United Workers’ Party), a left-wing political party. After 1948 members of the movement played significant roles in Israeli politics, society and the military. The impact of Hashomer Hatsair was considerable. By promoting the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Israel, the movement helped shape the trajectory of Jewish history in the 20th century.

The movement remains active and continues to inspire Jewish youth today.

On a personal note:

An uncle and an aunt of the writer, Norman/Nachum and Eve/Chavie (Abelson) Goldenberg, met for the first time in a Shomer Hatsair meeting in Boston ca. 1946, and were married in 1947. In 1948 or 1949 they made Aliya among the founders of Kibbutz Sasa on the Lebanese border in northern Israel. Enroute to Israel, Chavie performed a mission for what was known as “the Mossad for Aliyah Bet.”  In 1950, when Chavie experienced a difficult pregnancy, and was not able to rest on the kibbutz, they left Sasa and returned to Massachusetts. Norman and Chavie later made Aliya for a second time after the 1973 war.  But that is a whole other story.


Ellen Stepak nee Goldenberg was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and grew up in Huntington, Indiana, USA. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin/Madison, she made aliyah to Israel in 1969. Since 1995 Ellen has been engaged in research of her ancestors from many modern countries: Belarus (Pinsk); Germany (Rotenburg an der Fulda); western Ukraine in the vicinity of Kremenets; Lithuania (Kupiskis, Vabalninkas and more); and Poland (Lodz). Among the surnames she is researching are: Brenn, Posenitzky, Werthan, Gotthelf/Godhelp, Goldenberg, Krukstein, Klots (Kalish) and Kling. Ellen has written four family history books (one for the family of each of her grandparents): We Were All Klutzes, The Werthans of Rotenburg an der Fulda, The Brenn Family of Pinsk and Our Goldenbergs. Ellen has helped document old Jewish cemeteries in Europe, has translated material for JewishGen.org, and has written articles on genealogical topics. She is an active member of the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) and serves on the Board of the Association of Pinsk-Karlin, Yanov and the Vicinity.