Members of the Bin (Bee) Jewish youth movement with founder and leader Max Weinreich (in white shirt and white tie), physician Tsemaḥ Szabad (center, with cane), and other adults, Vilna, before 1935. (YIVO)

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Jewish youth movement that functioned between 1927 and 1937, mainly in the Vilna district and the city of Vilna. Bin (Bee), whose name derives from the original intention of shaping the movement as a structured hierarchical system similar to that of a beehive, was a movement for children and young people (ages 8 to 17). The movement also included a level of senior members, who served primarily as leaders. Its founders were Yiddishist culture activists whose political tendencies were Folkist-socialist; Max Weinreich, who headed the movement, had the most profound impact on its character. Throughout its existence, the movement had a total membership of several thousand.

Bin was an ideological but not explicitly political youth movement with a scouting character. It stressed sport activities and the strengthening of the individual’s bond with the environment through walking and camping, occupational activity (implementation of education through sensual perception and hands-on experience), and artistic activities (music, drama). Its members participated in socialist activities, yet celebrated the Jewish holidays according to their secular interpretation. Moreover, the educational program included encouragement of self-criticism and “self-education” according to scout tradition.

The members of Bin were mainly students of the Yiddish schools in and around Vilna, who were active on behalf of the Yiddishist educational and cultural system. Among other things, they became known as devoted “collectors” (zamlers in Yiddish) of folklore and linguistic materials for YIVO.

Ideologically, the movement went through several changes that were fairly typical of the social circles to which its members belonged. From 1927 to 1930, Bin was a scouting-type movement leaning toward Yiddishist autonomism, with an overall emphasis on socialism and sympathy for the working classes. From 1930 to 1933, Bin attempted to establish camps intended primarily to train and prepare Jewish youngsters for work and cooperative organization in Poland, although they did not entirely reject the Zionist pioneering option. From 1934 to 1937, the movement adopted the Communist Birobidzhan option. Members engaged in propaganda in favor of the Jewish autonomous region founded in the USSR and established summer camps named Birobidzhan on the Wilja.

Toward the end of the period, the Polish police declared the movement illegal. Some members then joined the territorialist youth movement Shparber (Hawk), while others affiliated with various trade associations and organizations.

Suggested Reading

Me’ir Ela‘zari, “Ha-Irgunim u-tenu‘ot ha-no‘ar ha-yehudiot ha-lo tsioniyot be-Polin uvi-teḥum ha-moshav me-re’shitan ve-‘ad perots milḥemet ha-‘olam ha-sheniyah” (M.A. thesis, Hebrew University, 1993); Leyzer Ran, “Bin (‘devorah’): Irgun tsofim sotsi’alisti shel no‘ar lomed ve-‘oved be-Vilnah uvi-sevivatah,” Gal-Ed 3 (1976): 191–212.



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann