Zeid, Alexander

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ZEID, ALEXANDER (1886–1938), pioneer of the Second Aliyah and one of the founders of the *Ha-Shomer defense organization. Born in Balagansk, Siberia, at the age of 13 Zeid settled in Vilna, where he joined the Zionist labor movement. In 1904 he was one of the first pioneers of the Second Aliyah to reach Ereẓ Israel, where he worked as an agricultural laborer and wagoner in Rishon le-Zion and Petaḥ Tikvah. In Zikhron Ya'akov he was wounded by Arab marauders, and he then worked for some 18 months as a stonemason in Jerusalem. In 1907 he was one of the seven founders of the secret defense organization *Bar Giora, which served as the nucleus of the Ha-Shomer organization, established at Mesḥa (Kefar Tavor) in 1909. Zeid devoted himself to the organization until his death. In 1916 he joined a group of Ha-Shomer veterans who settled in Upper Galilee on the Ḥamara lands near Metullah (now Kefar Giladi). Ten years later he left Kefar Giladi and moved to Tel Ḥai and thence to Sheikh Abrek in the Jezreel Valley to take charge of the guard duty of all the neighboring settlements on behalf of the *Jewish National Fund. Time and again, Zeid was involved in dangerous situations but never abandoned his post, even when wounded by Arab rioters in 1932. He was one of the first to discover the caves near Sheikh Abrek and one of the organizers of the archaeological excavations that revealed the *Bet She'arim necropolis of the mishnaic period. He was killed by Arabs while on guard in 1938. At the site of his death a statue of Zeid on horseback was erected, and the nearby settlement of Givat Zeid, founded in 1943, was named after him. His diaries were edited by E. Smoli under the title Ḥayyei Rishonim (1942).


B. Habas, Alexander Zeid (Heb., 1938); M. Smilansky, Mishpaḥat ha-Adamah, 4 (1953), 239–49.

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]