Lecture series: An Orthodox Jewish Kibbutz in Northern Ireland: A Tale of the Kindertransport

Sunday, October 24, 2010 1:00pm

In the spring of 1939, the Jewish community of Belfast, Northern Ireland leased an abandoned farm for twenty years that was to serve as both a training farm and refuge for Zionist pioneers (halutzim) from Germany and Austria. That May, thirty young men and women of the orthodox Bachad movement arrived to begin their training as pioneers headed for Palestine. The next group to arrive that summer was thirty children of the Kindertransport. By the beginning of the war, with the arrival of twenty older refugees, the farm was a full-fledge community of eighty. It was renamed the Refugee Settlement Farm, Millisle, in Northern Ireland. Located on seventy acres, the farm became a success.

Among the children on the Kindertransport was eight-year-old Robert Sugar from Vienna. Initially placed in the Belfast Jewish Refugee Hostel, he was shortly transferred to the Millisle Refugee Farm on the seacoast of County Down. He attended school in Millisle and in his spare time worked in the fields. Robert would go on to win a scholarship at a prestigious Grammar School. This experience in this self-sustaining Jewish farming village, the separation from his family, and his nine years as a member of the Millisle Farm formed his future and presents a unique and compelling story.

Robert Sugar has served as a graphic artist and book designer in leading New York publishing houses. He leads his own design studio, Book Works. He has written extensively in designing educational media for programs in Jewish history.

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