During the winter of 2007, my wife and I, along with 8 other residents of the Greater Boston area,
spent some 6 weeks in the Haifa area of Israel doing volunteer work, in a program organized under the auspices of the
Boston-Haifa Connection of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP).
One Sunday near the end of February, one of our Israeli hosts took my wife, myself and another
volunteer to the kibbutz of Kfar Giladi, which is located in the northern Galilee region of Israel. As we started
out, the weather wasn’t promising – heavy overcast, some thunder and lightning, and rain showers. As we drove east and then
north from Haifa to bypass Akko, the rains held off. Some miles east of Akko, we turned east again, bypassing the town of
Safed, and we drove until we came to the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, (Kinneret). There, at the Ami’ad Junction, we
stopped for coffee at a small restaurant with a beautiful view of the Kinneret. After coffee, we again headed north through
the Hula Valley, passing through the Hula Nature Reserve, through the town of Rosh Pina, on to the kibbutz at Kfar Giladi.
The Hula Valley is a beautiful region in Israel. To the east are the mountains and hills of the Golan Heights, beyond which
lies Syria. Snow-covered Mount Hermon looms above the Golan Heights. To the west are the hills of Naftali, beyond which lies
Lebanon. The valley itself is lush and filled with farms and fish ponds. Toward noon, the weather began to
Some time before noon, we arrived at the Kfar Giladi kibbutz and the Beit Hashomer
Museum (Guardian’s House Museum). Today, Kfar Giladi is one of the largest and most successful kibbutzim in
Israel. Out Israeli host had arranged a special tour of the museum for us, along with the opportunity to hear about its
history from an 80+ year old resident of the kibbutz. In the winter of 2007, the museum was in the process of reconstruction.
The year 2007 marked the centennial of an organization called “Bar Giora” that was the first Jewish organization
in what was then called Palestine. The Bar Giora was organized to provide security and defense for the kibbutzim. From the
Bar Giora organization came the Shomerim (guardians) organization that eventually evolved into the Haganah
and the Palmach which were the forerunners of today’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF). David Ben Gurion,
Israel’s first prime minister (who, himself was not allowed membership in the Shomerim because he didn’t meet their strict
entry requirements) said, “The Jewish Defense Forces have many fathers but is has only one grandfather – Hashomer.”
In 2007, a stamp was issued in Israel to mark the 100th anniversary of
The Beit Hashomer Museum was founded in 1968 in kibbutz Kfar-Giladi in order to present the history
of Hashomer and Bar-Giora groups and their role in the settlement, weapon collection and defending the Yishuv (name of the
Jewish population of the Land of Israel, until the establishment of the State of Israel).
The building was planned as a kind of watchtower overlooking the Galilee panhandle and the Tel-Chai
Courtyard. A rich collection of items depict Hashomer life and the period and includes: photos, an audio-visual diorama, a
slide kit, a collection of weapons, flags, full attire and Hashomer member certificates.
A vista point on site overlooks the Galilee panhandle, Mt. Chermon, Ramat-Hagolan and the Tel-Chai
courtyard. A 15-minute audio-visual presentation is screened as well as a diorama about the battle of Tel-Chai. There is a
gallery of changing exhibitions on topics related to the museum program.
Information relative to the museum is as follows: Address: ‘Beit Hashomer’ Museum, Kibbutz Kfar-Giladi
12210; Telephone: 04-6941565; Fax: 04-6951505; Visiting Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8:00 am-4:00 pm; Friday - 08:00 am -
During the 1st aliyah period from about 1870 to 1900, Russian immigrants arrived in Palestine in
order to escape the pogroms of Czarist Russia. The 2nd wave arrived from about 1900 till 1920, again, primarily as the result
of Russian pogroms. These early Zionists settled the land and mainly turned to farming. Bands of Arabs harassed and attacked
them from time to time, necessitating the formation of the Shomerim. Times have not changed much – here in the year,
2022, in Eretz Yisrael, bands of Arabs still are attacking Jews in the ancient Land of Israel.
Listening to our hosts at the museum, I felt a profound respect for the trials and tribulations
that these early Jews in Modern Israel faced. Our hosts pointed to photos of their fathers, mothers and grandparents who
were the original settlers and defenders of the modern State of Israel.
We walked a short distance from the museum to the nearby cemetery of the Shomerim. This cemetery
is reserved for those who were members of the Shomerim. In looking at the grave markers, I noticed that many of these
gravestones showed that those buried there died in their teens and early twenties during the first two decades of the 20th
I realized that our hosts were only a few generations removed from the first settlers here in the
Upper Galilee. These early Zionist pioneers settled the land, defended it with their lives and then founded the modern State
of Israel. It’s as if I could have met with and listened to the grandchildren of the original pilgrims who first settled
America and of the minutemen who fought in the American Revolution to gain independence for the United States.
Later, Just south of Kfar Giladi, we stopped in Tel Chai at the Tel Chai Courtyard
Museum and watched a short video on the history of Tel Chai and Kfar Giladi.
Nearly a hundred years ago, In 1920, at Tel Chai, Josef Trumpeldor and seven other Shomerim
were killed by Arab marauders. Trumpeldor’s last words were reputedly, “It is good to die for our country.” These
words are famous throughout Israel and appear on the Lion Monument at the Shomerim cemetery in Kfar Giladi, along
with the names of the eight who died at Tel Chai and are buried there. IDF swearing-in ceremonies are often held at the
Among the many treasures at the Beit Hashomer Museum are the original Hashomer flag and the weapon
that belonged to the intrepid Yishuv hero Joseph Trumpeldor, who gave his life at nearby Tel
The Beit Hashomer Museum was established by the members of the Kibbutz Kfar Giladi and the
Association of Hashomer Heritage with the objective of preserving the extraordinary legacy of one of the first organized
Jewish Defense Forces in the Land of Israel.
The new Beit Hashomer Museum serves as an educational center and reminder of the deeds of the first
Jewish settlers and defenders of modern Israel, a center for studies on this significant period and the personalities who
shaped it, and an interactive museum displaying all the significant features of the creative period of the Zionist
settlement of the Land of Israel.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense, via the Museums Department, along with the Association of Hashomer
Heritage, were largely responsible for the renovation and expansion of the Beit Hashomer Museum. On display here is a
profusion of authentic artefacts, ranging from articles of clothing, through agricultural tools, to weapons. The museum
also includes bronze sculptures by Batya Lishansky, a sculptress of the Second Aliyah period and winner of the Israel Prize
for Art, and photos taken by photographers of the period, Leo Kahan and Avraham Soskin. A tour of the museum concludes with
a film featuring descendants of Hashomer members, who describe the organization’s activity. Tours can be arranged of an
original arms cache, the Old Courtyard Museum in Tel Chai, and the Founders Cemetery with the Roaring Lion monument.
The museum was founded by the last Hashomer members, led by Meir Spector, Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi and Nachum
- Heritage Sites of Israel - Watchman's House (Beit Hashomer) Museum in Kfar Giladi,
5 September 2021.
- Beit Hashomer Museum, 101israel.com, Accessed 20 July 2022.
- Beit Hashomer Museum, Enjoying Israel, Accessed 20 July 2022.