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Tel Hai Museum

Tel Hai Museum

The museum is devoted to the dramatic events of 1920, when Tel-Hai and some other Jewish settlements in the Upper Galilee were cut off from the central part of the country and attacked by Arabs. Yosef Trumpeldor was at the head of the battle and was killed with other seven soldiers. Every year people gather here to honor the heroes. 

Tel Hai remains just as it was. The buildings are made of basalt stone, with red tiled roofs, preserving the community that thrived here in the early years of Jewish settlement in this region. The courtyard houses a museum that reconstructs the life of Tel Hai’s founders and an audiovisual program in seven languages portrays the heroic battle. Children can solve historic riddles and try on period costumes.  Sculptures and antique farming equipmentand can be found all around the courtyard.

 Historic Background

When World War I broke out in 1914, there was only one Jewish community in the ‘northern corner’ (Pinat Hazafon) of Eretz-Israel Metula - founded in 1896. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 16, 1916 was a secret understanding between the governments of Britain and France defining their respective spheres of post-World War I influence and control in the Middle-East. According to this Agreement, it was resolved that the Upper Galilee region would remain controlled by the French. Therefore, Metula and its surrounding communities were part of the French region.  

When the northern region of Eretz-Israel was conquered by the Turkish Empire in 1918 there were only two additional spots south to Metula: The Mountain, on which the Giladi Group established its barracks who later became Kfar Giladi, and Telcha, the Courtyard that was built between the years 1907 and 1908 for the benefit of farmers of Metula, and delivered in 1918, on the eve of the Turkish retreat, to the Tel-Hai Group. In 1918, the connection between northern to southern regions of Israel was renewed.

The atmosphere among the settlers was hard. They raised the issue of security to Israel Shochat, the founder of the Shomer (in Hebrew- “the Guard” - the first Jewish security organization), who sent a new representative who had just arrived from Russia - Yoseph Trumpeldor. He visited for a few days in order to study the community claims and prepare a defense program.

Trumpeldor’s motive in coming to Eretz Israel was to unite the two labor factions in the Yishuv, assuming this was the way to prepare for a massive immigration from Russia, as the Jewish community was at risk from  pogroms. He arrived in Tel-Hai on December 29, 1919, and met a community suffering from a lack in food, clothing, equipment, arms and ammunition. Above all, they feared for their safety due to Arab attacks.  

Large numbers of French and Arabs troops surrounded the area, from Metula to the Hula region. While Trumpeldor believed the minimum number of troops to defend the area was 200, only 100 untrained defenders were available. Local battles were followed by major combat on March 1, 1920. This battle lasted until night and became the most heroic battle in the annals of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel. Trumpeldor and the five other defenders fell in the battle of Tel-Hai. 

These events were the first test of the security of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel. The saga of Tel-Hai rapidly became a myth, and the story is taught to  Jews in Israel and abroad. But Tel-Hai was not only a myth. Trumpeldor, the five defenders and the Jewish Yishuv in Tel-Hai and the Upper Galilee actually marked the northern border of Eretz-Israel under the British Mandate. 

Get involved and Donate to Tel Hai Museum. For naming opportunities call your local office at 888-JNF-0099.


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