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Ilaniya is located in Israel
Coordinates: 32°45′30″N 35°24′7″E / 32.75833°N 35.40194°E / 32.75833; 35.40194Coordinates: 32°45′30″N 35°24′7″E / 32.75833°N 35.40194°E / 32.75833; 35.40194
Council Lower Galilee Regional Council
Founded 1899
Founded by Jewish Colonization Association (JCA)
Population (2012) 471[1]

Ilaniya (Hebrew: אִילָנִיָּה) is a moshav in Israel's Lower Galilee Regional Council. The village, also known as Sejera, after the adjacent Arab village al-Shajara, was the first Jewish settlement in the Lower Galilee and played an important role in the Jewish settlement of the Galilee from its early years until the 1948 War of Independence. In 2012, Ilaniya had a population of 471.[1]


Sejera, later Ilaniya, was established in 1900-1902 on land purchased by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild which was transferred to the management of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA/ICA) in 1899. Also in 1899, JCA bought additional land for its planned colony. The small settlement founded by JCA had two sections, a sharecroppers' colony for more experienced farmers, and a training farm for unskilled workers. The former consisted of a short street with private houses on both sides, inhabited by families from Kurdistan and Subbotnik families from Russia, with garden plots in front and sheds at the back.

The training farm was located slightly higher up the slope, with a yard enclosed by a wall and single rooms for workers. The overall concept came from the JCA employee Chaim Margalioth Kalvarisky. The JCA's purpose was to help settle the land with professional Jewish farmers, agriculture being seen as a morally as well as economically sound activity. Unwilling to run their project as a charity organisation in the style of Baron de Rothschild, the JCA leaders in Paris expected the training farm to be self-sufficient and to generate profit. Once this didn't immediately happen, they replaced Kalvarisky already in 1901 with the young agronomist Eliyahu Krause. Since the farm continued losing money, the JCA started in 1906 a process of reducing the administered training farm and gradually transferring its allocated land to the sharecroppers.

In 1907-1908, a socialist commune led by Manya Wilbushewitch and Israel Shochat was allowed by contract to run the farm autonomously for one year, without administrative interference from the JCA. For this Manya Wilbushewitch received the full support of Yehoshua Hankin, who in his turn won over Eliahu Krause for the project. Krause was then instrumental in the commune's success by helping them create a sound activity plan. The eighteen commune members, a combination of young men and women from Sejera and elsewhere in Palestine, aided by a number of sympathisers, managed for the first time to generate a profit and ensure constant employment for all workers of Sejera (with the side effect that outside Arab workers were no longer needed), while also pioneering full equality for women. Along with their work in agriculture there were daily educational meetings where they learned Hebrew from the young David Grün, none other than the future prime-minister of Israel David David Ben-Gurion, as well as Arabic from an Arab villager, socialist theory from Manya Wilbushewitch, and learned about the latest news from Israel Shochat. Less publicly, the group used Sejera for training the newly-constituted Bar-Giora Jewish self-defense organisation, which eventually took over from Circassians and Arabs the guarding duties in Sejera and other nearby Jewish settlements. Manya Wilbushewitch and Israel Shochat married in Sejera in 1908.

Despite the economic success, JCA did not renew the agreement with the socialist commune at the end of the one-year experiment. By taking what was one of the least profitable ranches in the land and making it profitable, Manya Shochat showed that her ideas for a communal collective could work. This first well-run socialist-Zionist commune in Palestine is counted as an important precursor of the kibbutz movement and one of the nuclei of Jewish rural settlement in Palestine.

By 1912-1913, the training farm was closed down, its land reallocated to the sharecroppers or sold to a Jewish plantation company. Still, after over a decade of teaching essential skills to agricultural workers, and by bringing together some of the leading pioneers of the First and Second Aliyah who would go on to establish the infrastructure of the pre-state Zionist society, the farm can be said to have played an essential role in the Zionist enterprise.

Later[when?] near the farm[where?], a moshava was founded by inhabitants of Rosh Pina, Yesod HaMa'ala, Tiberias and Safed, joined by students of the Mikve Israel school, by several Jewish families from Kurdistan and Morocco and 8 families of Russian Subbotniks from Astrakhan.

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War the village was attacked several times by the Army for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji. Most of the Jewish inhabitants temporarily abandoned the place, while the remaining ones took part in the fighting. By 1949 the settlement expanded and included the territory of the adjacent Palestinian Arab village of al-Shajara, which had been depopulated during the war.

At some point Ilaniya became a moshav[when?]

Sites of interest[edit]

Ilaniya and the Sejera farm are on the list of conserved sites. Some places of note are:

  • the old school, founded in 1922
  • the mikveh tahara in a sepulchral grotto
  • The house of the peasant Naftali Fabrikant—now a library and educational centre
  • the ruins of a synagogue from the Byzantine era


  1. ^ a b "Locality File" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2014. 

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  • HaReuveni, Immanuel (1999). Lexicon of the Land of Israel (in Hebrew). Miskal - Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed Books. p. 33. ISBN 965-448-413-7. 
  • ed. Yuval Elazari - Map's Concise Gazetteer of Israel Today MAP - Mapping and Publishing, Tel Aviv, 2003 (Hebrew)
  • Ran Aharonson (2000). Rothschild and Early Jewish Colonization in Palestine. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 282-283. 
  • Neville J. Mandel (1977). Arabs and Zionism Before World War I. University of California Press. p. 67-70. 
  • Derek Jonathan Penslar (1991). Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918. Indiana University Press. p. 29-33. 
  • Paul R. Mendes-Flohr, Jehuda Reinharz (editors) (2010). The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History. Oxford University Press. p. 565. 
  • Shulamit Reinharz (1992). "The winding road to Sejera". In Deborah S. Bernstein (editor). Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel. State University of New York Press. p. 95, 105-116.