Israel Szabo – A Portrait

Israel Szabo – A Portrait

Israel Szabo was born in Slovakia in the 1920s, and died in 2002.

The late Israel Szabo was one of the many donors who joined the Haifa Arts Foundation, and whose donation is forwarded to designated activities. Szabo saw the Haifa Arts Foundation as a channel through which it would be possible to grant scholarships or grants to encourage activity and creativity of youth workers in the field of informal education in the theoretical and practical areas. The Szabo Foundation's funds were put in the care of HAF.

Most of the funds from the Szabo Foundation were awarded to advanced degree students specializing in informal education, from the Education, Society and Cultural Program, the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa, and to institutions dealing with informal education, for the benefit of the community.

In World War II
Szabo fought in the Jewish underground against Nazi Germany and smuggled Jews at the borders of Slovakia-Romania-Hungary. Arrested and tortured by the Germans, Szabo was later saved by the Hungarian underground (due to his non-Jewish appearance).

After the War
Szabo organized youth training programs for immigration to Israel. Immigrated to Israel with members of the Maccabi HaTzair youth training program, serving as their instructor and teacher. They nicknamed him Rabba, the by which members of Kibbutz Kfar Maccabee and the youth training groups that he instructed in the farmstead called him.

Israel taught them Hebrew, literature, Torah, oral Torah, history, the history of Zionism and chapters in the philosophy of education. He managed to connect the youths, Holocaust survivors like him, from Europe, with the country and the lifestyle of the sons of the Sabra pioneers.

He was a man of letters, educated, partly self-taught, punctual and consistent.

After the Establishment of Israel
Israel Szabo began running the Institute for Youth Education - Beit Rutenberg, on the Carmel. He founded training frameworks for youth counselors for the new settlement, the development towns and the new moshavim. Once again, he connected the youths, immigrants from the Arab countries, with the country and its culture.

I remember the time I came to work at the institute as a seminar coordinator, in the 1960s, and entered Szabo's lesson "how to love children", based on Yanush Korczak's book. I was fascinated by his teaching style and felt his direct connection—a  man from Central Europe and a product of its culture—with people of the Eastern countries, immigrants at the time, with all the culture and family-communal tradition they brought with them.

Israel was an authority in the fields of education and training of youth counselors, in the construction of curricula for educators in informal supplementary education frameworks.

He was deep and precise in his knowledge. No assumptions and no roundabout stuttering... always modest, living in a small apartment at the institute's boarding school.

The German Chapter
Despite fighting with the Resistance against the Germans in World War II, he saw the connection with the young Germans, the new generations, and the construction of bridges with them, as an important national educational mission.

It all began when a young German woman happened to come to Beit Rutenberg Institute and asked, "Would you agree to talk to me?" The conversation lasted a few hours and the rest is history ... Szabo received dozens of delegations of educators, social workers and youths from Germany, and headed delegations from Israel to Germany.

Szabo acquired many friends and admirers among the Germans, members of the new generation.

He has served as an advisor and guide at the Israel Youth Exchange Council, both a pedagogic and organizational authority. His reputation was based on the special way he explained Israel and its people.

From a lecture by Yoav Carmeli at the Israel Szabo Scholarship Ceremony, Haifa University, May 2009

More about Israel Szabo from the booklets produced by the Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, designed by Gil Glick Shimoni, in the PDF documents attached. (All rights reserved.)

Speech by Dr. Hannelore Chiut, At the Israel Szabo Scholarships, 2011.

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Speech by Mrs. Edna Zaretsky Toledano, member of the Szabo Foundation Committee, at the Israel Sabo Scholarship Ceremony, 2013.

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 Life Pictures - Photo presentation courtesy of Dr. Hannelore Chiut, submitted to the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa by Mrs. Edna Zaretsky Toledano

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