Tel Ḥai

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TEL ḤAI (Heb. תֵּל־חַי), settlement in N. Israel, on the N.W. rim of the Ḥuleh Valley, S. of Kefar Giladi. Tel Ḥai, founded in 1918, was originally one of three outposts established in this area to guard outlying Jewish land. The "Shepherd's Group" of *Ha-Shomer Association constituted the first settlers; one year later this group dispersed and another took its place. After the Ḥuleh Valley was marked for inclusion in the French Mandate territory of Syria, Arabs revolting against the French attacked the cluster of small Jewish settlements there. Joseph *Trumpeldor and seven comrades fell in the defense of Tel Ḥai on 11 Adar 5680 (1920). His last words, "It is good to die for our country," are engraved on the pediment of the statue of a roaring lion marking their grave. The defense of Tel Ḥai has become a part of Israel's national lore, and each year Tel Ḥai day is celebrated by youth gatherings and visits to Tel Ḥai and similar sites. In 1926 the settlement compound was merged with *Kefar Giladi. The original quadrangular compound was preserved, and a youth hostel and a *Haganah museum were set up there. The name Tel Ḥai means roughly "hill of life," a hebraicized version of the former Arabic name Talḥa.

[Efraim Orni]