This Day in Jewish History Reestablishing a Kibbutz

After first being established in the 1920s, again in the '30s, and again in the '40s, Kibbutz Kfar Etzion was reestablished a third time on September 25, 1967 after the Six-Day War.

David Green
David B. Green
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
David Green
David B. Green

On this day in 1967 (some sources say September 27), Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, situated in Gush Etzion between Jerusalem and Hebron, was established for the fourth time after being evacuated by Israel during the War of Independence in 1948. The first time was in 1927 when a group of Orthodox Jews from Mea She’arim set up an agricultural settlement there called Migdal Eder. It was destroyed two years later during the Arab rioting of 1929. An attempt to resettle the land a few years later, under the name Kfar Etzion, met a similar fate during the Arab uprising of 1936. Then in April 1943, pioneers of the Bnei Akiva youth movement established a kibbutz at the site, one of four communal settlements created in the area pre-Independence. The collection of settlements (including Massu’ot Yitzhak, Revadim and Ein Tzurim) was referred to as Gush Etzion (the Etzion Bloc).

Following the UN vote of November 1947 to partition Palestine, Gush Etzion, located in territory designated for the Palestinian state, found itself under siege. The women and children of the settlements were evacuated in January 1948, but the decision was made in Jerusalem for the men to stay and fight. On May 13, 1948, Kibbutz Kfar Etzion fell to the Arab Legion and all but four of the 161 who remained were massacred by the attackers. Additionally, 35 soldiers had been killed in January in an effort to reach the bloc with supplies. The next day, the day when Independence was declared, the other three settlements of the bloc surrendered, and their members taken captive by the Jordanians.

For the next 19 years, survivors of Kfar Etzion and their descendants kept the memory of the kibbutz alive. Immediately after the West Bank was conquered in the Six-Day War, they began to make pilgrimages to the site, then an abandoned Jordanian army camp. Finally, in September 1967, shortly before Rosh Hashanah, the government gave them permission to return. Today, Kibbutz Kfar Etzion has some 870 residents (about 100 families) who make their living from agriculture, educational projects, a small defense R&D plant, and outside work.

After four establishments spanning nearly 40 years (from the 1920s to the 1960s), Kibbutz Kfar Etzion is still an thriving community between Jerusalem and Hebron.Credit: Eyal Warshavsky

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott