Avraham Eugen Michaelis (1907 - 1974).
Frederique Feldman, Youth Aliyah Review, London, Autumn
Avraham Eugen Michaelis
Founder and First Director of
Kfar Hanoar Hadati
Born: 9th June 1909, Hamburg Germany
24th February 1974,
Kfar Hanoar Hadati, Israel.
successful educational system the students mould
themselves on the pattern of the educators. If the
pupils of Kfar haNoar Hadati follow the teachings of
Avraham Eugen Michaelis, they will become citizens whose
public spirit and integrity will enrich Israel.
Avraham Eugen Michaelis was born in Hamburg in 1907 into
an orthodox Zionist family. His father was a banker; his
mother was a teacher and came from the famous rabbinical family Wohlgemuth.
Eugen started schooling at the Hamburg Talmud Torah. In
addition, his father engaged a Jewish Lithuanian student
to teach his son Hebrew as a living language. This
undergraduate used to take the young Michaelis out for
walks and speak to him in Hebrew only. In those days -
when Zionism was a mere dream -
it was indeed a very enlightened step on the part of the
Later Eugen went to a German grammar school, and, after
his matriculation, studied history, German literature,
Hebrew and Arabic at the university of Hamburg. Already
then he contemplated going to Palestine and, with this
in mind, took a teaching degree.
As far back as 1924 Michaelis took an active part in the
creation of a Zionist Youth Movement in Germany and
helped to found the "Zeire Mizrachi" and "Brith Hanoar
Hadati" which is the B'nai Akiva Movement of today. He
became the director of "Keren Tora VeAvoda" the funding
agency of Zionist religious youth movements in Germany
and western Europe.
Michaelis started his teaching career at a non-Jewish
school in Hamburg and then changed to the "Talmud Torah
School", which later became a grammar school.
He belonged to one of the first who realized the
importance of preparing Jewish youth for pioneering
tasks in Israel and, together with some friends,
organized the first Hachsharah centre in Germany.
In 1935 he participated in the 19th Zionist
Congress in Luzern and in 1937, was elected as a
delegate for the 20th Zionist Congress in
At the same time he and his friends discussed among
themselves the possibility of founding an orthodox
Children's Village in Eretz Israel (Palestine). They
envisaged a village which would combine communal life,
religious instruction and agricultural training. The
plans for this village were worked out in detail by
Eugen Michaelis. In 1936 this dream became reality when
Kfar Hanoar Hadati was established by Youth Aliyah, American
branch of Hadassah and with the help of religious circles
from Germany, and in 1938 Michaelis became director of
From small beginnings Kfar Hanoar Hadati, under the
guidance and leadership of Eugen Michaelis, has grown to
become the largest religious training institution. The
village, which started with 60 children, now
accommodates 370 and is a recognized agricultural High
School. A Government recognized teachers' seminar (for
country schools) is also attached to the village under
the direction of Eugen Michaelis.
Mr. Michaelis is married and has three daughters and one
son. His wife, Eva (nee Durlacher) is a trained nurse, who helps her husband
by supervising the female staff of the Youth Village.
The two eldest daughters have followed in their father's
footsteps by becoming teachers.
He is first and foremost interested in religious
education, followed by history and politics. He
considers the development of the child's personality as
one of the most important tasks and tries, by his
favorite method of friendly debates, to make the pupil
into a critically thinking, independent person; in a
country, where a large part of the population lack
fundamental education, this is, according to Mr.
Michaelis, a vital factor in child and youth education.
Eugen Michaelis has a wonderful library and is a
voracious reader. He has a warm-hearted, lively
personality, and is interested in all facets of life.
Religious faith to him is the certainty of divine
guidance "to walk in the ways of the Lord", and it is
this absolute faith that makes him an outstanding person
Agricultural and Religious Education
in Kfar Hanoar Hadati - Israel.