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About Hashomer Hatzair

Hasomer Hatzair was the first Zionist youth movement of the Jewish people. It was founded in Europe in 1913. From its very foundation the movement considered its goal to be the construction of a new life in the land of Israel. And indeed, throughout the years it wrote magnificent chapters in the history of Zionism and of the Jewish people: Founding tens of Kibbutzim across the country as a new way of life and bringing new immigrants to these communities; taking part in the founding the Palmach and the IDF; developing a new Hebrew culture in Israel and the Diaspora; leading the uprisings in ghettos  and partisan units during the Shoah; taking a leadership role in the struggle for peace and justice in Israel, with its neighbors and throughout the world; and educating hundreds of thousands of children and youth in Israel and throughout the Diaspora through the building of a strong sense of secular Jewish community identities and taking part in the movement for a better world based on the values of human equity and self-determination.

The movement operates in 21 countries and tens of communities worldwide, and provides an educational and ideological home for its members, many of whom come from diverse Jewish backgrounds.

The essence of the movement’s point of view in its 100 years of existence can be expressed in the phrase "Tikkun Adam-Tikkun Olam" which draws its meaning from Jewish history and thought, and means "Repairing  the Self- -Repairing the world".

 

 
History

In 1911 a young man called Henric (Tzvi) Shterner, founded the first Jewish scouting movement in the city of Levov in Galitzia. The organization was based on the model of the  youth group organization "Tzeirey Tzion" (Young Zion).

In 1913 the Jewish scouts of Galicia adopted the name "Hashomer" (the guardian), inspired by the Israeli organization of the same name. Later on, in the same year the foundation of Hashomer Hatzair was announced. "Hashomer" was aimed mainly towards children and youth and revolved around scouting and Zionism.

In Vienna in 1916, during the First World War, the "Hashomer" organization united with the movement "Tzeirey Tzion", a movement that was founded in 1903 for high school and university students. Its main interest was Hebrew and Yiddish studies, Jewish history and Israeli geography, as well as celebrating national holidays, practicing sports, singing, and more. The united body was called at first "Shomrim Tzeirei Tzion" and was changed to "Hashomer Hatzair" (the young guard) in 1919 with a focus on an amalgamated Socialist and Zionist ideology.


The first immigration wave of Hashomer Hatzair came to Israel in 1920. In the beginning the groups were scattered with no united structure. Most Shomrim (members of Hashomer Hatzair) were concentrated around paving roads in difficult conditions and deserted areas. In 1921 the first kibbutz was founded in a tent camp along the road connecting Haifa and Afula, in 1922 it was named "Beit Alfa".

Several years later, on April 1st 1927, The central Hashomer Hatzairs Kibbutzim, including Ein-Shemer, Ma'abarot, Mishmar-Ha'emek and Merchavia came together to construct the kibbutz movement of Hashomer Hatzair "HaKibbutz Ha'artzi" (the Kibbutz federation), which became an independent political stream among workers of the pre state Jewish Yishuv (community).  During the same period, The Israeli members of the movement decided to establish an independent youth movement for "Hashomer Hatzair", and in the year 1929 three new branches were founded in Haifa, Rehovot and the Mikve Israel agricultural boarding school.

At the same time, the movement continued to expand around the world. At first the movement operated in Poland, Austria, the Soviet Union, Romania, Lithuania and Latvia, and later expanded to Western and Southern Europe, North America and Latin America. In 1924 the first world conference (Veida Olamit) took place, in the city of Dancig (today named Gedansk) in Poland. The second world conference occured in 1927, the same year in which "HaKibbutz Ha'artzi" was founded in Israel.

Before the Second World War Hashomer Hatzair counted 70,000 members. During the war many of these young people took lead roles in ghetto uprisings, partisan fighting and various rescue operations across Europe.




In July 1945, after the war, the first "Shomria" event took place at the Carmel Mountain near Haifa. It was a camping event that consisted of thousands of movement members, the main theme was scouting and cultural activities, now this traditional event happens every ten years. 

In post-war Soviet Europe, the movement’s activities were gradually forbidden by the communist regime, and eventually it ceased operations in east Europe.  In the 50's and 60's, due to the tension between Israel and the Arab nations, branches in North African countries closed down, including Algiers, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. In 1953 the movement opened a branch in Australia, the only continent in which it hadn’t operated until then. In 1958 a world conference assembled in Israel, it was the first one after the war and indicated the restoration of the movement from the ruins of the war. In the early 90's, as the Iron Wall collapsed, Hashomer Hatzair returned once again to Eastern Europe and branches sprung up in Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Belarus.

In the year 2008, after many years during which the main ideological aim of Aliyah to Kibbutz, was in question and had not been deeply observed, and due to the crises of the Kibbutz Movement, a world conference took place in kibbutz Holit, to reformulate the movement’s ideology. The ten Dibrot of the movement were renewed, and humanistic Judaism was added as one of the movement’s pillars. In addition, the conference expanded the meaning of Hagshama (actualization) for the movements graduates in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world.

Since this conference the movement continues to grow in membership and branches which are added every year, including in countries where the movement had been closed for decades. 

Nowadays, Hashomer Hatzair operates in 21 countries.  32 branches outside of Israel provide an educational and ideological home to thousands of members and activists.


 
From its very beginning and until the present, Hashomer Hatzair has guided a unique and original education system. To be a Shomer or Shomeret is not just a title but a deep and demanding identity. In the heart of the educational system of the movement stands education towards values to be actualized in the world. In today’s reality these values take the shape of Socialism and social justice, Zionism,  humanistic Judaism, peace, equality and democracy.