Hakamat Hamedina - Ma'apilim

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 6-13
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes

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Resource Goal

Explain that before the State of Israel, Jews had to be smuggled into Israel, emphasize the desire of the Jews for a homeland, and the effort it took to achieve.

Required Props & Materials

Materials: Beachball, marble, newspaper bats and balls

Note: The Maapilim discussed in this weeks snif were part of Aliya Bet, a period of illegal immigration to Eretz Yisrael, then known as Palestine. The peula outline contains some background information about the Maapilim and should help you tie the other games to this weeks noseh.

Resource Contents

Theme: HaKamat HaMedina

Topic: The Maapilim

Written By: Josh Skarf, excerpts by Michael & Esther Goldberg

Goals: Explain that before the State of Israel, Jews had to be smuggled into Israel, emphasize the desire of the Jews for a homeland, and the effort it took to achieve.

Materials: Beachball, marble, newspaper bats and balls

Note: The Maapilim discussed in this weeks snif were part of Aliya Bet, a period of illegal immigration to Eretz Yisrael, then known as Palestine. The peula outline contains some background information about the Maapilim and should help you tie the other games to this weeks noseh.


During the 1930s and 40s the British ruled Palestine. The borders of Israel were closed to the Jews, including the Jews of Europe who were trying to flee from nazi persecution. The Jews of Palestine organized themselves to help their fellow Jews sneak into the county. The Maapilim, or illegal immigrants, attempted to enter Pale stein at night and by ship.

The British set up patrol boats off the coast of Palestine to block these crowded and illegal ships. If the British caught the Maapilim they would send them back to Europe. If a Maapilim ship managed to get close enough to the shore of Palestine without being detected, the Jews would jump into the water and swim for shore. There, other Jews waited with dry clothing and would quickly disguise the new arrivals and drive them to various settlements and kibbutzim. In fact, the city of Renaana was designed for this specific purpose: its main road goes right to the sea, and people could get right off boats and walk straight into town to blend into Israeli society and avoid recapture by the British.

Game 1: Red Handed

The Kvutza forms a circle, with one person the British Guard in the center. The Guard leaves the room for a moment (or closes his eyes) and the madrich gives one of the chanichim in the circle a small item (a marble is good.) The person then returns, and the chanichim begin passing the item around. While some people are really passing the item, others pretend to pass it. The British Guard must detect where the item is. He has three chances to catch it. If he succeeds he wins, and otherwise the group wins.

Discussion: Explain to the chanichim about the need for illegal immigration before the State of Israel was declared. The person in the middle represents the British, trying to catch the Maapilim. It might be a good idea to wait until the end of snif to summarize this idea, as most of the games today will have the same message. Perhaps during mifkad you can ask what all the games had in common, and then explain the ideas and history.

Game 2: Paper Shoot

Divide into two or three teams (each team should have 4-8 players). Set an approximately 3 foot high garbage can in the middle of the room. Prepare ahead of time several rolled up newspaper bats and a lot of wadded-up paper balls (before Shabbat!) One team lies down on their backs around the trashcan with their heads towards the can. Each of these players has a paper bat. The opposing team stands about ten feet away in a circle around the trashcan. The standing team tries to throw their wadded-up paper balls into the can, and the defending team tries to knock the balls away with their bats while lying on their backs. The opposing team gets two minutes to shoot as much paper into the can as possible. When the time is up, count the number of wads in the trash can, and then let the teams trade places and play again. The team that landed the most balls into the can is declared the winner. To make the game a bit more difficult for the throwers, you can have them sit in chairs while they toss the paper.

Discussion: Once again, we have the British trying to block the Maapilim.

Story: The Story of Exodus

The President Warfield was a good ship in her time, but she was old and rusting when she was bought by the Hagana. She had been a riverboat, a World War II troop carrier, and finally a tourist transport. Now she lay rotting in a Baltimore scrap yard, but the Hagana agent that bought her recognized her merits. She underwent a complete overhauling, her engines cleaned up, passenger berths built, kitchens and latrines installed, an infirmary and crews quarters set up. She was the largest ship ever acquired by the Hagana for illegal immigration, and they were determined to make the best use of her as possible.

In February 1947 she sailed from the United States to Portugal with a crew of sixty-nine aboard. Most of these were dedicated young American Jews who wanted to help Eretz Yisrael any way they could. The captain was Bernie Marks, a 24 year-old seaman from Cincinnati. In Portugal, the vessel was finally completed. All its supplies were loaded, its interior converted, the crew assigned their positions. Finally, the critical night had arrived.

On July 9, the Exodus (as the ship had been renamed) pulled into France, where tens of thousands of Jewish refugees were waiting. The refugees were brought to the port by convoys of trucks on a precisely timed schedule. The Hagana boys worked frantically all through the night and in a span of only six hours managed to get all of the 4,500 people aboard. The last person had just climbed the ladders when a shot ran out Halt! This ship will not sail! Had they come all this way for nothing? The Hagana boys were upset. All that planning, preparation, and now this.

The Hagana and the crew agreed. They would try to force their way out of the harbor despite the efforts of the British spies to stop them. But only one more problem confronted them their captain had not yet arrived. Without him they could never navigate the reefs at the mouth of the harbor and here he was already four hours late.

They decided to try without him. All the mooring ropes had already been cut, except for one. At , the order was given to sail the Exodus built up steam, began to turn its propellers, when suddenly she was shaken by a shuddering c-r-u-n-c-h. The one remaining chain had become entangled in the main propeller, almost entirely crippling the ship. Again the entire effort seemed to have been for nothing. The engineer decided to risk it all. He rammed the ship back and forth, over and over, until, with a lurch, the ship tore free of the iron chains. The strong steamers engines did not disappoint her crew.

As the ship finally turned around and headed out to sea, joy was unbounded. But the Hagana knew that the trouble had just begun. On the horizon, steaming towards them at full speed, were three British destroyers. They easily overtook the Exodus, surrounded her, and stayed in as an honor guard the entire voyage.

On July 18, the Exodus had come within twenty-two miles of the coast of Israel when the British destroyers announced that they were now in British territorial water, and must surrender immediately. A telegram was sent back to the destroyers:

On the decks of this ship, the Exodus 1947, are over 4,500 men, women and children whose only crime, it seems, is that they are Jews. We are going up to our land on our own merit without the help of anyone else. We have nothing against your sailors, but we will never recognize the law which forbids Jews to enter their land. We are the last ones who desire bloodshed, but you must realize that we will not go of our own will to the concentration camps, even if they are British camps. We feel obligated to warn you that you will be held responsible. It has happened before that you have opened fire into a crowd of women and children on several of our other ships. We are confident that you will conduct yourselves according to the most elementary human principles.

The humanistic British attacked promptly, and took the Exodus by surprise. Two heavy destroyers rammed the sides of the wooden ship; the others opened fire across the bow. Gas bombs exploded everywhere on her decks and in the midst of the confusion the British soldiers boarded the Hagana vessel, swinging clubs and rubber sticks at every Jew in sight. In the ensuing melee, a sixteen year-old boy was killed and the American first mate was critically wounded and later died.

The Exodus, to save her passengers, allowed herself to be towed into Chaifa harbor. The wounded were permitted to be hospitalized; the others, however, had to spend a day crammed into wire cages set up on the deck. The people of Chaifa turned out in the thousands to hurl curses at the British from the other side of the heavily guarded barricades, more important, foreign journalists gathered excitedly all over the port the story of the Exodus sped around the world. In every country, people sat by their radios, waiting to see the next move the British would make.

The news, when it came, shocked even the most cynical of listeners. The Maapilim were not to be transported to Cyprus, the usual place of internment for illegals, but were being sent back to France, their port of departure, and from there herded of to Germany! The Jews were forced onto three British prison ships and dragged back across the Mediterranean to France. There the order came for them to disembark.

The passengers of the Exodus screamed We will not get off! We will travel to our land! Return us to the shores of Chaifa! Everyone began singing HaTikva, proudly and defiantly. The blue and white flag was unfurled. The British sat impassively, waiting. The Jews let them wait. They organized a hunger strike and even though almost everyone in the three ships was drained of strength they all participated. The strike lasted twelve hours before the British made an announcement:

We gave you the chance to leave. From now on, no one may leave the ship. In one hour we will be sailing for Hamburg, Germany.

On the tenth day of September 1947, the people of the Exodus were dragged off forcibly onto the soil of Germany. The Hagana vowed that these Jews would be the first ones to be returned to their land. The Jews of Israel would not rest until they were redeemed and brought to the shores of their own country. One year later, the ships of their newly formed state liberated them the promise of the Hagana was fulfilled at last. The Exodus had come home.

Game 3: Garbage-Bag Ball

This games name is a little inaccurate. According to the book I found it in, it should be played with a garbage bag filled with inflated balloons. However, I think the game will be better with beach balls.

Split the chanichim into two groups. (For very large groups choose about 10 chanichim to go in the middle). One group forms a large circle on their knees. The other group forms a pinwheel in the center of the circle, lying on their backs, heads toward the center. Everyone should have their shoes off for best results. The ball is then tossed into the circle. The object is for the kids on their backs to kick or hit the ball out of the circle, over the heads of the kids in the outer circle. The outer circle tries to keep it in play. Either give the teams a time limit and see how many points they score, or have any player in the outer circle who allows a ball out of play switch places with the person in the inner circle who hit it.

[Two other games that fit in well with this topic are Red Rover and Cat and Mouse, though these games are more common, and should perhaps be reserved for times when you run out of games and still have a lot of time.]

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