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Gedud Ha-Avodah


GEDUD HA-AVODAH (Heb. "The [Yosef Trumpeldor] Labor Legion"), first countrywide commune of Jewish workers in Palestine. The Gedud was founded in the autumn of 1920 by 80 pioneers of the Third Aliyah, disciples of Yosef *Trumpeldor. In the winter of 1920 the Gedud contracted to build part of the Tiberias–Tabgha road in Galilee. The members decided to establish a permanent form of communal life at their camp near Migdal, with a common treasury. In the spring of 1921 some of the members were sent to Rosh ha-Ayin to lay the branch railroad to Petaḥ Tikvah and at the same time to serve as the nucleus of a second Gedud, which soon grew to 300 members. In early summer representatives of the groups met at Migdal and defined the Gedud's aim as "the building of the land by the creation of a general commune of the workers of the Land of Israel." The members were to be organized in disciplined groups, which would be at the disposition of the *Histadrut for labor and defense. In the course of time it was intended that the Gedud would encompass all workers and merge with the Histadrut. Among its leaders were M. Elkind and Y. Kopeliovitz (*Almog); Yiẓḥak *Sadeh was an active member. As road work diminished, "companies" of the Gedud went to the Jezreel Valley, where they founded *Ein Ḥarod (1921) and *Tel Yosef (1923), forming a single farming unit. A large group went to Jerusalem to work in building and quarrying and to strengthen the armed defenses of the yishuv there. Others worked in agriculture and building and provided services at British army camps. At its zenith the Gedud had some 700 members. In July 1923 the Tel Yosef-Ein Ḥarod group split over a minority demand for economic autonomy, about one-third of the members settling in Ein Ḥarod and the majority in Tel Yosef. A minority attempt to turn the Gedud into a political party, with syndicalist and pro-Communist tendencies, resulted in another split, in 1926, into right-wing and left-wing factions. The left wing soon disintegrated, as some of its members, including Elkind, went to the Soviet Union. They set up a communal farm in the Crimea, Via Nova, which was disbanded in 1931–32. The Gedud was seriously weakened, and in December 1929 the three surviving groups – Tel Yosef, Kefar Giladi, and Ramat Raḥel – joined *Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad.

At its peak the Gedud played an important pioneering role in settlement, defense, and labor. Over 2,000 pioneers passed through its ranks, and its influence was out of proportion to its membership. It published a periodical, Me-Ḥayyenu and maintained a dramatic studio, Massad ("Foundation").


Al Inyenei Ein Ḥarod (1923); Koveẓ Ḥavrei Gedud ha-Avodah ba-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad (1932); Koveẓ ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad (1932); I. Bar-Ḥayyim, Mi-Naftulei Gedud ha-Avodah ba-Kur (1941); Sh. Lavi, Megillati be-Ein Ḥarod (1947); D. Horowitz, Ha-Etmol Shelli (1970), 160–98.

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