“HaShomer” 2018-02-19T22:12:00+00:00

Shouldering the responsibility of guarding

Hebrew defense force

All over Israel there are settlements: kibbutzes, moshavs and villages. Who will protect us from Arab raiders? Who will protect our fields and the crops that we have harvested from thieves? In 1907, several young people who are active in Poalei Zion, (Workers of Zion) meet secretly. Their aim is clear: to assume responsibility for guarding the Lower Galilee. They will replace the Arab and Circassian guards and the Lower Galilee will finally enjoy security.
They called their organization “Bar Giora” after one of the leaders of the Great Revolt against the Romans and set out on their mission. Their first mission was to defend the collective settlement in Segera (Ilaniya). Following their success, they took on the defense of Mesha (Kfar Tavor), which had been attacked by neighboring Bedouins.

Among the leaders of the organization were Yitzhak Ben Zvi, Alexander Zaid, Israel Shochat, Israel Giladi and Yehezkel Hankin. The organization grew and in 1909 “HaShomer” (the “Watchman”) was founded under the leadership of Israel Shochat, Manya Shochat and Yitzhak Ben Zvi. Their aim was to strengthen the security of the Jews in all the settlements and to replace the Arabs that worked in the settlements. In order to be accepted to the “Watchman”, applicants had to pass strenuous tests.
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A statue of Alexander Zaid near Be’it She’arim

Israel Shochat

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“After twenty-five years of guarding from Metulla to Ruchama, the old guard, Harmoni, was tired. His spirit was wearied and his limbs were heavy. He saw his children – and they grew, without Torah and without learning, and he was overwhelmed with despair. His friends were landowners and their farms were fruitful, and he had nothing, just like the day he arrived in the Land of Israel.”

(The opening of the book, People of Genesis, a novel for young people which describes the period of the “Watchman” and the Second Aliyah)

Alexander Zaid – The story of a Jewish Watchman

“Zaid came from Siberia. His appearance will testify to his origin, fair hair, slow movements, but the total appearance of this young pioneer leaves no room for doubt: I am here and I am not moving …”
(Yitzhak Ben Zvi, the 25th anniversary of the founding of the “Watchman”, Davar, October 21, 1932)

Alexander Zaid (1886-1938) was one of the founders of the Jewish defense organizations, “Bar Giora” , “Hashomer” (The Watchman), “The Kibbutz” and the “Organization of Guards”. He was one of the outstanding figures of the Second Aliyah.
Zaid and the people of the “Watchman” lived on the agricultural settlement in the Galil, Ilaniya (Segera) and worked in farming and guarding. Zaid was sent to every place where problems arose. He guarded in Yavniel and Mesha, he guarded the plowing of disputed lands, and he helped the people of Hadera cope with malaria and the repeated harassment of their Bedouin and Circassian neighbors.
Zaid described what happened while he was guarding the workers plowing the fields in Hadera: “The Circassians and their neighbors attacked the farmers and the horsemen stormed the enemy. I saw Shturman’s horse turning in circles with him astride – the horse had been clubbed on the head – and for a moment I felt my head fall on my chest and I couldn’t lift it. The shock caused me to pass out for a second. But I remained on the saddle and chased the Circassians and that’s how we repulsed the enemy and returned victorious.”

During this period, Zaid married Zipporah Becker of Vilna, who had come to Israel with her older sister, Kayla. Kayla married Israel Giladi, one of the leaders of “The Shomer”. Zaid and others in the organization did not want the organization to establish the moshav, Tel Adashim, adjacent to Afula because they believed that their settlements should be in outlying areas. Therefore, in 1916 they decided to establish the kibbutz, Bar Giora (which would later become Kfar Giladi), in the Upper Galilee. However, Zaid left the kibbutz because he didn’t see eye to eye with the other members, who believed in raising the children in children’s homes, far from their parents. He did not accept their belief that the kibbutz children were “property” of the kibbutz.

In 1938, Alexander Zaid was murdered by Arabs while he was on guard duty.

A statue of the image of Zaid on a horse gazing at the Jezreel Valley. It is located near Givat Zaid.


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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

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