The Pioneers (Halutzim)

´╗┐Joseph Trumpeldor - the iconic pioneer who died in 1920 while defending the small Jewish settlement of Tel Hai - described the pioneers (in Hebrew: "halutzim") as anonymous soldiers in the army of Zion who labored, with no thought of personal gain, to build up the land. The pioneers personified a unique combination of pure idealism and dedication to positive deeds. The typical pioneer was one who sacrificed his personal convenience for essential national goals and, in particular, for members of those Zionist groups who had not yet immigrated to the Land of Israel but were preparing themselves, in the Diaspora, to make Aliya. These pioneers emphasized the importance of physical labor and non-exploitation of the individual in recreating a healthy Jewish society in the Land of Israel.

Most of these pioneers came from Eastern Europe, were unmarried, well-educated and in their twenties. They came with the ideal of preparing the way for others and creating new social forms which would lead to a healthier and more just society. The first pioneers were those of the First Aliya (1882-1903) and they were followed by the Second Aliya (1904-1914) and the Third Aliya (1919-1923). The pioneers of the First Aliya turned to agriculture and established the first agricultural settlements (moshavot) - Petah Tiqwa, Rishon Le'Zion, Rosh Pinna, Hadera and Zichron Ya'akov. They were unable to achieve economic independence and it was Baron Rothschild (the "Famous Philanthropist") who helped them out with financial assistance and the guidance of his officials.

The Second Aliya also turned to agriculture and many of its leaders, such as A. D. Gordon were influenced by the Russian Narodnaya Volya movement and saw in primitive agricultural work the achievement of the supreme ideal, symbolizing the unity of Man and Nature. It was the pioneers of the Second Aliya who created the Kibbutz and the Workers' Settlements based on the ideology of equal partnership and shaped by the special conditions prevailing at that particular period. They were assisted by the World Zionist Organization which, while it could not identify with their ideology, appreciated the importance of their work.

The pioneers of the Third Aliya arrived after the British conquest of Palestine and many of them - women and men alike - found work in road-building and other public works for the British authorities. For the great majority of them, it was the first time in their lives that they had engaged in manual labor. They organized themselves into small contracting groups all of whose members had equal rights, e.g. The Trumpeldor Work Brigade, formed in 1925, took part in road construction and its members lived in tents which they set up at the roadside, dismantling and re-erecting them as the road advanced. The hard physical labor in which they were occupied throughout the long day did not prevent them from enthusiastically dancing the "Hora" at night.

Under these conditions of separation from their families and having to perform strenuous physical work in a climate to which they were not accustomed, many of these pioneers could not stand it for more than a few months. For many of them the bleak reality of the competition of Arab labor and the endless round of heated ideological discussions were too much of a contrast to the dreams they had dreamed. Some returned to Eastern Europe and others continued their wanderings, to reach Western Europe or the United States. Those who remained were few in number, but it was they who shaped the social, economic and political institutions of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine).

The stamp (one in a series of 5) was issued in 1976. Designer: Z. Narkiss.