This Kfar Giladi itinerary transmits the contribution of Zionist pioneers to the security of the Jewish settlements which dictated the borders of future state. The panorama of the Upper Galilee itself is a good reason to visit here. And most important for parents, all these museums are “child friendly”. Enjoy!
The Founding of Tel Hai
The Courtyard of Talha was built in 1907 as an agricultural courtyard for six workers from a northern colony Metulla. The land for the outpost was purchased at the initiative of the agronomist Chaim Margaliot Kalvarisky, clerk of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA). During the Great War, the name of the outpost was changed to Tel Hai (“Hill of Life”). Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, there were four Jewish settlements in the Upper Galilee Panhandle : the village of Metulla, Tel Hai Courtyard, Kibbutz Kfar Giladi and Hamara. These few isolated Jewish settlements in this territory assumed a strategic value from the Zionist point of view. The area of the Galilee Panhandle was in religious dispute between Sunni and Shi’ite Moslems also a political dispute between Britain and France especially over the sources of the Jordan River. The British had made promises to Sunni Arabs much like they did to the Zionists in the Balfour Declaration. Trumpeldor wanted British control of the area. Some Zionist immigrants, as new comers were suspected as pro-French. The area was subsequently subject to intermittent border adjustments among the British and French colonial powers. In 1919, the British relinquished the northern section of Upper Galilee to French jurisdiction.
Hatzer Tel Hai – Tel Hai Courtyard Museum
In late 1919, the Galilee Defense Committee dispatched Joseph Trumpeldor, the highest ranking Jewish soldier in the Russian army and founder of the Zion Mule Corps and the Hechalutz movement, to become a one-armed commander of the Zionist militias in Tel Hai. Trumpeldor had won medals of honor in the Russo-Japanese War and even lost an arm in the fighting.
On the 11th of Adar 5680 (March 1, 1920) a group of armed, Shiite Arabs from Jabal Amil in southern Lebanon rode into the courtyard to search for weapons at Tel Hai. During a long verbal depute the Zionist force called for reinforcements from Kibbutz Kfar Giladi.
For a reason unknown to this day, shots were suddenly heard from upstairs. An armed confrontation broke out. Joseph Trumpeldor and ten men attempted to drive the Shi’ites militias away. In this battle 8 Jews and 5 Muslims were killed. The remaining Jews retreated, whereupon the place was burned. Trumpeldor was critically wounded. The doctor who treated him reported that just before his death, Trumpeldor said:
“It doesn’t matter. It is good to die for your country.”
The British and the French, at the demand of the Zionists, ultimately agreed this area of Upper Galilee was to be included in Mandatory Palestine. Tel Hai was resettled in 1921, only to be absorbed into the kibbutz of Kfar Giladi in 1926.
The Tel Hai restored courtyard hosts a memorial museum and an exhibition devoted to the battle of Tel Hai. The museum is operated by the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) and supported by JNF. Children may take part in farming tasks using traditional agricultural tools, and dress up in period costume. A multi-media exhibit reenacts the scene of Tel Hai’s final battle. The museum holds a collection of artifacts of Tel Hai’s brave and resourceful men and women. The gate to the Courtyard offers a spectacular view of the Upper Galilee, the city of Kiryat Shemona (named for the eight heroes who fell at Tel Hai) and the lush green Hula Valley, along with the fresh air of the countryside.
- Pre-arranged tours only
- Tours on Fri. at 11:00, noon, and 13:00
“Darkened the Sky” – קדרו פני השמיים
This Hebrew song, taken from a popular Russian ballad, was composed by Yehoshua Proshansky as a memorial to Trumpeldor. The song describes Trumpeldor’s comrades carry his body after the battle. Some music critics claim that the song refers to other areas in Israel and so cannot be a memorial to Trumpeldor. However, the composer himself admitted that the words “Gilboa” and “Efraim” were used for rhyming purposes. You can see Trumpeldor plowing with one arm at 0:21 seconds.
Kfar Giladi – Tel Hai Cemetery
The HaShomer (“The Watchmen”) cemetery in Kfar Giladi is a unique military memorial. Here are buried or commemorated all the members of the Hashomer movement. HaShomer was a Jewish defense organization in Palestine founded by members of the earlier Bar-Giora defense organisation in April 1909. HaShomer ceased activities after the founding of the Haganah in 1920. This cemetery also houses the communal grave of those who died at Tel Hai and the Roaring Lion.
At the front of the cemetery is a stone banner that reads: “With blood and fire Judaea fell and with blood and fire will it arise.”
Trumpeldor’s Grave – The Roaring Lion
Today Trumpeldor lies at rest underneath an impressive statue called the Roaring Lion in the Kfar Giladi cemetery – worth a visit in itself.
Yosef Trumepdor – Jewish Zionist Hero of Tel Chai
Beit Hashomer Museum
Kibbutz Kfar Giladi was founded in 1916 by members of Hashomer on land owned by the Jewish Colonization Association. It was named after Israel Giladi, one of the founders of the Hashomer movement. The mission of Hashomer was to guard and protect, and eventually become settlers of the land.
This museum gives the visitor an overall comprehensive look at the mythos and ethos of the Bar Giora underground security organization and its continuation in the “HaShomer” organization. The structure was planned as a kind of watchtower overlooking the Galilee panhandle and the Tel-Hai Courtyard. The Beit HaShomer museum is run by the IDF.
At the opening of the original Beit Hashomer Museum just outside Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister said:
“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has many fathers, but it has only one grandfather.”
He was referring to the the Hashomer (The Guardians).
- Sunday-Thursday from 8:00-15:30.
- At other times, the museum can be visited by advance appointment only.
Duration of visit: 1 -1½ Hours.
Tip: There is an entrance fee to the museum.
Pioneers’ Courtyard (Hatzar Rishonim) Kfar Giladi
The oldest building in the kibbutz, known as Beit Harishonim, originally served as the kibbutz dining room and community center. It is now part of the Pioneers’ Courtyard (Hatzar Rishonim). Hatzar Rishonim is a unique site of buildings and weapon hiding places (“slicks”) dating from the early collective settlement in the Upper Galilee, during the Second Aliyah. The leaders of the HaShomer organization were Israel Giladi, Alexander Zaid and Manya Schochat.
“Chicken Coop Street”
Chicken Coop Street in Kibbutz Kfar Giladi serves as a road of galleries and shops and a venue creative artists.
Kfar Giladi Weapons Cache
In the spirit of the Hashomer organization that advocated Jewish self-defense, settlement, labor and agriculture, the Kfar Giladi kibbutz members worked to smuggle illegal Jewish immigrants overland from Lebanon and Syria, and gathered weapons in secret caches. For decades, the existence of underground arms caches (slicks) remained a secret on Kfar Giladi. Now when you visit the Beit Hashomer Museum you can explore the authentic slicks and learn about the pre-state period.
Tel Hai Industrial Park
Tel Hai Industrial Park, established in 1992, is the venue of the Open Museum of Photography, sculptures in the courtyard, and an antique car museum. The Museum of Photography is the only museum in Israel dedicated solely to photography, featuring exhibitions by top photographers from Israel and the world.