Coordinates: 32° 45' 30" N 35° 24' 07" E
Ilaniya (Tree), also known as Sejera, is a moshav in northern Israel. Founded by the Jewish Colonization Association in 1899, it was the first Jewish settlement in the Lower Galilee since the early centuries of the Common Era. During the Byzantine Era, there was a Jewish town in the nearby hills during the period of the Talmud and the Mishnah (ca. 200 CE). The initial modern settlers consisted of an amalgam of people from Safed, Kurdistan immigrants, and Russian Christians who had converted to Judaism; these latter were known as Subbotniks1.
The agricultural colony was established on land purchased by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild. Agriculture was seen as morally and economically proper aims. What was unique about this colony was that it consisted of both experienced farmers and a training farm for unskilled workers. However, the training farm could not sustain itself economically and was eventually terminated.
In 1907, a socialist commune began running the farm. Eighteen commune members were able to make the farm a profitable agricultural enterprise. Sejera became the first successful Socialist-Zionist commune in Palestine and a precursor of the kibbutz movement. Augmenting the farming were daily lessons in Hebrew and Arabic; the former was taught by a young David Grün, the future Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion; the latter was taught by a local Arab villager. The farm was also used for self-defense training with Bar-Giora2.
By the early years of the second decade of the twentieth century, the farm had played a significant role in establishing Zionism in Palestine. Critical skills had been taught to agricultural workers. Leading pioneers of the First and Second Aliyah were brought together and would establish infrastructure underlying Zionist society.
The Army for the Liberation of Palestine attacked Sejera several times during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Many of the Jewish residents left for safer regions, but others remained to defend the village. After the war, the settlement grew, incorporating the nearby abandoned Palestinian Arab village of al-Shajara.
Leah Haber Gedalia
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Created: 26 Sept. 2017
Last Modified: 09-27-2017