Shaar Hagolan – Kibbutz on Two Borders
למאמר בעברית - לחצו כאן
(A border with Jordan on the South & with Syria- before the Six Days War- on the East)
Kibbutz "Ein Hakore": 1933 -1937
Two groups of pioneers, veterans of Hashomer Hatzair youth movement from Czechoslovakia and Poland decided to unite in 1933. They founded kibbutz
Ein Hakore' on a small plot of land west of Rishon Letzion, given to them
by the Jewish National Fund. They built tents and barracks and a small farm of chickens and dairy, and cultivated the few acres they got on lease from the JNF. For their livelihood they organized a construction group that took on whatever job they were offered.
Couples were formed in Ein Hakore' and first families established. First children were born and life patterns
for the future were molded.
Settling the Land – 1937
Members of kibbutz 'Ein Hakore' appealed to settling authorities and asked to settle in the area purchased by the JNF in the Jordan Valley, to take part in the Zionist movement resistance to the British White Book. On |March 21 1937 a convoy of loaded trucks left kibbutz Afikim, traveled two kilometers to the east and there on a small hill, in an operation called Tower and Stockade, founded a new kibbutz – Shaar Hagolan.
Within the wall there was room for a few barracks and some tents where the pioneer group lived. They plowed the land to ensure ownership, safeguarded the premises and started construction of the permanent settlement. Six months later all members and children moved to Shaar Hagolan. The kibbutz numbered 112 members and 20 children on
its first year.
The First Decade: 1937 – 1947
They argued and quarreled over everything: farm plans, direction of the houses, whether to prioritize a building of dairy over living quarters for members, the appropriate education system for children. In between, they built a motorized water pump installation on the Yarmuk in cooperation with kibbutz Masada, laid water and electricity lines and built irrigation channels. They planted bananas plantations, a vineyard, citrus grove, vegetable garden, erected farm buildings and workshops, dairy and chicken coops. When they excavated the fish ponds in the area between the kibbutz and the Yarmuk River they exposed the remnants of an ancient culture from the Neolithic Age. The kibbutz absorbed a reinforcement group of Hashomer Hatzair - Amal.
In September 1939, on the onset of World War II, the members were severed from their families forever. The kibbutz received the first youth group "Lashichrur", youths rescued from Central Europe. The first decade was over. The kibbutz numbered 170 members and 140 children. The planted trees grew tall, a water tower, dining hall, culture club, children houses and modest accommodations for
members were built.
The War of Independence: 1947- 1948
29th of November 1947, The UN decided to divide the land of Israel between Jews and Arabs, security tension reached its climax, members were recruited and shortly afterwards first casualties occurred. The kibbutz was crisscrossed with trenches and shelters and outposts were built. When the birth of the state was declared on the 14.5.1948 members danced and rejoiced with deep forebodings in their hearts of Syrian invasion. On the 15 of May 1948, the kibbutz was attacked by Syrian forces that invaded the Jordan Valley from El Hamah road. After two days of fighting a fierce battle the Syrians occupied Zemach and the police station. Children and women were evacuated at night to Yavnial and then to Haifa. Shaar Hagolan and Masada felt abandoned; defense forces that reinforced them were pulled out and placed in Degania to confront the Syrian attack there. The members retreated from the kibbutzim and watched from a distance how their life labor of ten years was looted, destroyed and burnt to the ground. The next day they pulled themselves together and returned to the kibbutzim. They faced total devastation; they had to begin again from scratch. Ironically the trees and lawns were left intact.
The Second Decade 1948 -1957
All efforts concentrated on reconstruction, the controversy whether they had done the right thing in retreating was left to historians. The kibbutz was in a momentum of construction and development, destroyed houses were replaced by better lodgings and a swimming pool was built. The kibbutz was also allotted more land that had been cultivated before the war by Arabs from Zemach who fled to Jordan. More fields were plowed and irrigated. The kibbutz grew, reinforced by another group- LaHairut who came from detention camps in Cyprus, first sons returning from military service and graduates of youth groups who decided to stay. A high school, Bikaat Kinnrot, was built jointly with Kibbutz Beit Zera. Yet security tension continued due to proximity to the border and fire exchange incidents with the Syrians in the demilitarized zone which accompanied their life.
Third decade: 1957 – 1967
The kibbutz decided to found an industry, after heated arguments as always, they decided in 1964 to build a plant for plastic profiles called Golan. The security tension strengthened social life – an amazing group of artists evolved: Chaim Barkani, Yosef Netzer and Chaim Bargal brought cultural achievements to a peak with the musical play My Home by the Golan presented on the kibbutz's 25th anniversary in 1962.
A Syrian plan to divert the sources of the Jordan induced a Water War and increased tension that reached its climax in the Six Days War. The Syrian border was moved eastward and that created a sense of security which evaporated with the onset of the War of Attrition (1967 -1970).
Fourth Decade: 1967 -1977
The kibbutz was under shell fire for three years, which necessitated building of defense trenches, shelters and safe rooms. Children slept in shelters and the gardeners had to replant the dug- out areas. Success of the agricultural farm and the eventual evolvement of the industrial plant improved economic status. The War of Attrition ended as randomly as it had begun. The valley was quiet. Yom Kippur war broke suddenly, bringing about frenzied recruitment of members. Within a day, the kibbutz faced once again, the danger of Syrian occupation. Defense battles on the Golan Height and the counter attack removed the threat.
The Fifth And Sixth Decades
Security existential problems were replaced by economic ones. The kibbutz was swept by forces of change. In 1991 it decided that children would sleep at their parents' houses and made changes in the collective education. Within two years members' lodgings were extended and the responsibility for the children was transferred to the parents.
The buildings that were vacated were used for the fledgling Country Lodging enterprise in 1993, which together with the new museum of Yarmukian Civilization were the basis for developing the Tourism branch. Great developments and economic growth occurred in Golan plant with the introduction of Pex pipes.
The Last decade 1997 - 2010
The kibbutz is in the throes of endless arguments about maintaining its collective orientation. Economic success of Golan Products and agricultural branches stabilized the financial system and enabled growth and rise in standard of living.
The kibbutz built a nursing home for elderly members and made personal pension plans to all members. Some families of sons returned to the kibbutz.
Where Are We Heading?
The arguments between those who are in favor of privatization and those who want to maintain collectivity will continue. As of 2010 the kibbutz numbers:
290 members and 130 children, some are fourth generation to the fathers founders.
Economic status is good and Shaar Hagolan is considered a strong kibbutz both socially and economically.
כתב: דני ברייר
תרגום: ניצה שמיר