About a certificate for land in Pre-State Israel

When my father in-law and his sisters recently cleared their mother ´s home in Amsterdam after she has passed away, they came across a paper which seemed to look like a certificate with text in Dutch for land in, what was then, Palestine.

The front of the certificate has mostly  typed text whilst the back has handwritten notes and a drawing.

The front of the certificate:

And the back:

Now follows  the transcription, first in (the original) Dutch, and then translated into English:

Recto (Cursive font is hand-written text):


vertegenwoordigende een stuk gronds groot 83000 dunam op de kaart van Palestina, dewelke zich bevindt in het Beth-Am van `Hatsair`.

Datum van aankoop:[hard to read character] 19 April Staande t.a.v.Sellav. Straten Ligging van het gekochte gebied:[hard to read, but maybe correctly deciphered as  â†’]   Greta

Verso (completely handwritten):


Met beste wenschenvan heelen Sjoek
שלום   [drawing of frontage of a house with a big flag and drawn exclamation]

(written with a pencil) 17


The translation
Recto (Cursive font is hand-written text):


representing a large piece of land 83,000 dunam on the map of Palestine, which is located in the Beth-Am of `Hatsair`.

Date of acquisition:[hard to read character] 19 April Standing AttnSellav. Straten Location of the purchased area:[hard to read, but maybe correctly deciphered as  â†’]   Greta

Verso (completely handwritten):


With best wishes from the whole Sjoek
שלום   [drawing of frontage of a house with a big flag and drawn exclamation]

(written with a pencil) 17

After analyzing the certificate, I came to the conclusion that:

  • The certificate was issued on  18 April 1936 (these date appears on the certificate). Sella was then   19 Years old and 3 Days (born on 15 April 1917).
  • The meaning of “Beth-Am van `Hatsair`” is, according to my findings, an organisation which was known as “Hatsair” and which made use of the “Beth Am”-house (see the next two points).
  • Beth Am” was a folks-house which could be used by organizations with an interest in its use. These organisations where in general Zionist minded groups.
  • Hatsair was one of these Zionist organisations, possibly a youth organisation, and they issued the certificate to Sella.
  • Sjoek, or Shuk as it would be spelled in English, is the transliterated Hebrew word for market (shuk is originally an Arabic word) . Shuk, in our context, was actually a fancy fair in support of the establishment and support of the Zionist endeavor in, which was then still, Palestine.
  • If my conclusions up until now are correct, and we take another look at the certificate,   we read now differently with another understanding of the text and read that Sella received land on the map which hung on the wall of the organisation Hatsair in the Beth Am. If that is indeed the case, it would mean that my father in law and his sisters, unfortunately, haven’t got these 83,000 dunams (1  dunam is 1,000 square metres (10,764 sq ft)) in their pocket.

I’ll now present the reader with my proofs upon which I based my arguments:

The date:
The date the certificate was issued is  18 April 1936:
2015-05-16 23_57_49-certificaat-DATUM V AANKOOP.png  2015-05-16 23_58_21-certificaat-1936.png

Beth Am:
There existed a few “Beth Am” houses. There was for example one in Amsterdam, one in Rotterdam, etc. There was one from before the war, from after the war, etc. What I’m not sure of is who  it  was that was in charge of these Beth Am houses, was it one organisation such as what today would fall under the responsibility of the Jewish agency, was it an independent initiative,   etc?

Next are a few newspaper clippings which relate somehow to Beth Am houses and show that there were indeed several Beth Am houses in the past.
The first one is an announcement in the  Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad (NIW in the rest of this post)  from  21 March 1924 (Year 59, No. 44, pg. 1) in the section with town news about the Beth-Am in Amsterdam. (Source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872473:mpeg21:a0016):

From the NIW of 25 January 1924 (Source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872465:mpeg21:a0013):

From the NIW of 9  November 1923
(Source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872455:mpeg21:a0076):

From the NIW of 8 May 1925:

An announcement from the NIW of 27 February 1948 (Source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872030:mpeg21:a0041):

Here is one about an initiative to set up a Beth Am in Rotterdam under Zionist and Mizrachi leadership. This announcement appeared in the NIW of  1  August  1924 (Source:  http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872492:mpeg21:a0081):

It apparently came indeed into fruition as seems from the following announcement in the NIW of 21 November  1924 about the festive opening of the Beth Am in Rotterdam (Source:  http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872515:mpeg21:a0078):

The following text  is translated and copied from the  online version of the Jewish Canon of Amsterdam:

At number 24 was a “Beth Am,” a “Folk House” intended to offer all Amsterdam Jews a home. All associations and organizations were able to organize their activities there. The Dutch Zionist Student Organization held there courses in Jewish history and meetings, while the socialist Poale Zionbeweging there organized a May 1 celebration. The Israeli national anthem Hatikvah and the Socialist International were sung equally loudly.
Source: http://joodsecanon.nl/f4z/1945-Johannes-Vermeerstraat-(1945-circa-1995)

There is still one more newspaper clipping I have to show you about an organisation in the Beth Am house in Amsterdam. This announcement comes from the NIW of 19 April 1940 (Source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010874620:mpeg21:a0156):image005.jpg

I suspect a typo in this announcement and that hatstair should read Hatsair (as far as I know, Hatstair has no meaning whatsoever, while Hatzair has, read on).

(Another note, this announcement comes from 1940, only four years after Sella received her ‘certificate’, was her Beth Am on the same address? I.e. on the Pieter Aertzstraat?)

I first considered the fact that Hatzair on the certificate stands for a shortened version of what is the Hashomer Hatzair. Hashomer Hatzair was, and still is in  2015, a Socialist–Zionist, secular Jewish youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia  (Austria-Hungary) long before Sella received her certificate. But I’m not sure whether the organisation Sella received her certificate from, is the same as Hashomer Hatzair since the Dutch chapter of Hashomer Hatzair got only established in 1958. I do, however,  still consider the possibility, that they could still have been allied to Hashomer Hatzair somehow.

As we can see NIW  of 12 June 1959,  Hashomer Hatzair got only established in 1958 in the Netherlands (Source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010873722:mpeg21:a0009):


Hasjomer Hatzair  was managed, among others, by Bennie Rosen and his successor  Eli Netcer (Source:NIW from  1  November  1963 (Source:  http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010874472:mpeg21:a0053):

Sjoek is the Dutch transliterated version of the Hebrew word  ×©××•Ö¼×§ (market). A Sjoek was, in our context, often a market which supported the Zionist endeavor in Palestine, often organized around Purim time. The following newspaper clippings proof this.

This one is an announcement, which appeared in the  NIW of 5 February  1965,   about a Sjoek which would be organized by the Haboniem youth group  on 14 February 1965 in The Hague. (Source:  http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872240:mpeg21:a0063):

This one which appeared in the NIW of 3 March 1961, is about the cancellation of that week ´s meeting and a call to collect  ´many presents ´ for the sjoek  (  Source:  http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010873033:mpeg21:a0111):

The following two news paper clippings (appeared in the NIW of 24-03-1933) report about a shuk which was held in Amsterdam by an organization called  ´De Vereeniging Practisch Palestinawerk ´ (Source:  http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010874822:mpeg21:a0106):


Now that we have analyzed everything with the help of mainly of the online archive of the NIW, we can conclude that we have a good understanding of what the Beth Am, the Hatzair, the Shuk, etc were.

When I asked Dr. B. W. of the VU University Amsterdam (he  specializes in the History of Dutch Jewry) about it, he told me that he believed that I am right about the value of the certificate, and he also told me that there were many youth movements of which each one had its own name. Hatzair could have been one of these groups.

Our next steps, in my opinion, are the following:

  • We need to find out whether there exists somewhere an archive of the Beth-Am where Sella used to go to. There was surely some paperwork to be done  by the    organizations which made use of the Beth Am, of which the following article reinforces that believe  (appeared in the  NIW of 12 April 1946, source: http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=ddd:010872192:mpeg21:a0029):image011.jpg
    In that  article the Beth-Am board  announced that thanks to gifts a building was bought on the Johan Vermeerstraat 26. They also mention who would be in the management an that organizations with an interest of using the  new  hall would be welcome to   send in names,  addresses and further details about their  activities, etc.
  • We also need to find out whether Hatzair was somehow affiliated with the international Hashomer Hatzair or whether the Hatzair Sella used to join, was a different group altogether.

If you happen to have any extra information which could advance my research such as information about the certificate, the youth group Hatzair, the Shuk, the Beth Am, etc, please share it by commenting on this article below, or by contacting me via this link. I will be very grateful for any interesting piece of information.

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