WHAT IS SKIF?
Who We Are
SKIF was founded in Eastern Europe as the youth organisation of the Jewish Labour Bund and provided Jewish children of the time with hours of enjoyment and with an enriched sense of their place in the world. SKIF established itself in Melbourne in 1950 and has continued this proud tradition for over 65 years.
SKIF, which stands for Sotsyalistisher KInder Farband, translated to Socialist Children's Union, is a Jewish youth movement where kids, aged 8-18 can come and have fun with others their age while also learning about important current events and different aspects of their Jewish identity including exploring Yiddish as a language and culture. All of the activities run by the Helfer (leaders) are in line with SKIF’s ideologies.
SKIF has weekly meetings on Sundays between 3 and 5 pm at Waks House, 281 Hawthorn Rd in Caulfield and runs THREE camps every year. SKIF also organizes other events throughout the year both Jewish (e.g. Purim party) and other events such as ice skating.
Winter camp (held during the winter school holidays) is for everyone, it is 3 nights long for juniors and 6 nights for seniors.
SKIF also runs a spring or autumn camp (it varies each year) for 3 nights just for seniors.
The biggest camp is summer camp which is held over the summer holidays for 14 nights for juniors and 17 nights for seniors.
THE HELFER די העלפער
The leaders at SKIF, or as we call them, Helfer, are a group of young adults (18-21) who volunteer their time to make SKIF possible. All the helfer have completed a two-year training course, have up-to-date Level 2 first aid and CPR qualification and volunteering Working with Children Checks. Our organisation has a Safeguarding Children Policy accredited by the Australian Childhood Foundation.
THE HELFER די העלפער
SKIF has three core ideological principles:
Equality and Empathy (Democratic Socialism & Social Awareness)
SKIF’s democratic socialism is embodied in the ideological principle of ‘Chavershaft’, literally translated to friendship.
At SKIF today, we uphold this ideal through stressing the value of co-operation, developing an awareness of the struggles faced by all the peoples of the world and expressing solidarity with oppressed people, whomever they be and wherever they may live. While ‘Chavershaft’ forms part of SKIF's worldview, it works at a personal level as well to promote the qualities of empathy and respect for others, important character traits in any child growing up and into the wider world.
‘Doikayt’, translating to 'Here and Now' embodies our beliefs that Jews everywhere must work to link their struggles with others right here, right now. ‘Doikayt’ upholds the ability and rights of Jewish people to build strong communities wherever in the world they live. ‘Doikayt’ values each Jewish community equally and encourages all Jews, everywhere, to open their minds to the world around them, to view their Jewish identity within the context of their membership of humanity.
The Jewish identity of SKIF clearly influences all of our ideological principles. However, ‘Yiddishkayt’ isn’t merely a background to our activities; it is a principle in itself. SKIF recognizes the shared heritage of the Jewish people and aims to increase awareness of Jewish history and secular involvement in traditional Jewish celebrations and activities. Our events such as our Purim party, Third Seyder and Shabbes' are one way in which we work to foster Jewish culture in Melbourne. The Jewish holocaust of World War II also provides a strong focus for examining our shared Jewish identity. In addition to an event during the year to commemorate the heroic Warsaw ghetto uprising, we give time on camp to engage in somber reflection of some of these darker moments of Jewish history. In line with the roots of our movement, Yiddish culture and language figure prominently. The richness of Yiddish culture provides an important link to our history and through song and stories we immerse ourselves in ‘Yiddishkayt’. That said, a grasp of the Yiddish language is no prerequisite for attending SKIF.
The falcon is known to be used by many socialist youth organisations including the International Falcon Movement, of which SKIF used to be a member organisation. Other youth organisations around the world such as the Rote Falken (Austria), SYB The Falcons Belarus, Faucons Rouges (Belgium), Rode Valken (Belgium), Georgian Falcons, Die Falken (Germany) and Rote Falken Zurich all use the falcon as their name/logo. There have been many reasons given for using the falcon as the symbol of socialist youth. Michael Gawenda, a former SKIFist and The Age editor, wrote about his recollection saying that he was told that the falcon was used because it flies into the wind which we as individuals and an organisation, too wanted to do, that is fly into the headwind of history. The falcon design has changed over the years but only with minor alterations each time.
It has also been said that the falcon is used as it is a symbol of freedom
The classic SKIF t-shirt has been used since SKIF abandoned the use of the scouts style shirt with a red bandana tied around the neck. The shirt is blue and features a large falcon on the front.
Each year at Summer Camp SKIFistn recieve a t-shirt with a parodied design to reflect SKIF within anouther famous design.
See the time line of SKIF camp tees below.