Degania Alef

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Degania Alef
The original Zionist kibbutz settlement
The original Zionist kibbutz settlement
Degania Alef is located in Israel
Degania Alef
Degania Alef
Coordinates: 32°42′29″N 35°34′29″E / 32.70806°N 35.57472°E / 32.70806; 35.57472Coordinates: 32°42′29″N 35°34′29″E / 32.70806°N 35.57472°E / 32.70806; 35.57472
Council Emek HaYarden
Region Jordan Valley
Affiliation Kibbutz Movement
Founded 1909
Founded by Jewish pioneers
Population (2008) 517[1]

Degania Alef (Hebrew: דְּגַנְיָה א', D'ganya Alef) is a kibbutz in northern Israel. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Emek HaYarden Regional Council. Degania was Israel's first kibbutz. It was established in 1909 in Ottoman Palestine.[2]


First hut, Umm Juni

Degania Alef was the first kibbutz established by Zionist pioneers in Palestine, then under Ottoman rule. It was founded by a group of ten men and two women.[3][4] Degania Bet was established to the south in 1920. On May 20, 1948 during the Battles of the Kinarot Valley, Degania Alef and Degania Bet repelled a Syrian attack.[4]

The poet Rachel Bluwstein, the "prophet of labor" A. D. Gordon, and Joseph Trumpeldor all worked at Degania Alef. Gideon Baratz was the first child born on the kibbutz and Moshe Dayan was the second. Dayan was named after Moshe Barsky, the first kibbutz member killed in an Arab attack.[5] Barsky was killed in November 1913. He was alone in the kibbutz fields when he was shot in the back and left for dead by Arab marauders.[6]

Both Deganias lie along the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee. In 1947, Degania Alef had a population of 380. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the settlement was completely destroyed by the Syrian army.[7] According to a 1949 book by the Jewish National Fund, the village was destroyed following attacks on the neighboring Jewish villages of ´Sha'ar HaGolan and Masada. The settlers resisted, however, and launched a counter-attack which helped to recover the neighboring settlements. Reconstruction started almost immediately. The name is derived from "dagan", meaning "grain".[8]


In 2007, Degania Alef moved to undergo privatization."[9] Instead of assigned jobs and equal pay under the former communal economy, the reorganization requires members to find employment, live on their income, and allows them to own their homes, but still offer a form of a social "safety net" supplement for members whose livelihood is inadequate to meet their expenses. This move to privatization was chronicled in Yitzhak Rubin's 2008 documentary, Degania: The First Kibbutz Fights Its Last Battle.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1981, Kvutza Degania Alef was awarded the Israel Prize, for its special contribution to society and the State in social-human pioneering.[10]


  1. ^ "Locality File" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  2. ^ Adult children of the dream, Jerusalem Post
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Yuval El'azari, ed. (2005). Mapa's concise gazetteer of Israel (in Hebrew). Tel-Aviv: Mapa Publishing. p. 125. ISBN 965-7184-34-7. 
  5. ^ Taslitt, Israel Isaac (1969). Soldier of Israel: the story of General Moshe Dayan. Tel Aviv: Funk and Wagnalls. p. 8. 
  6. ^ La Guardia, Anton (2002). War without end: Israelis, Palestinians, and the struggle for a promised land. Tel Aviv: Macmillan. p. 113. 
  7. ^ Martin Van Creveld (2002). The sword and the olive: a critical history of the Israeli defense force. PublicAffairs. pp. 79,82,180. ISBN 1-58648-155-X. 
  8. ^ Jewish National Fund (1949). Jewish Villages in Israel. Jerusalem: Hamadpis Liphshitz Press. p. 31. 
  9. ^ Tim McGirk (2 May 2007). "Postcard:Galilee". Time Magazine. 
  10. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1981 (in Hebrew)". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gavron, Daniel (2000). The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 

External links[edit]