The Shomer Hatza'ir Youth Movement is the first Zionist Youth Movement established within the Jewish people. It was formed in Europe in 1913 by a group of Jewish young men who envisioned a new path for their contemporaries and their people.
From the outset this was a Movement set on realizing its dreams of a new life in Eretz Israel. This has led to significant and impressive achievements in the history of the Jewish people and the Zionist enterprise. For example, the instigation and leadership of the warsaw ghetto uprisings, the establishment of tens of kibbutzim, the foundation of the Workers' Union, Keren Kayemet in Israel as well as abroad, the Palmach and the Israeli Defense Forces. New cultural ties between the Jewish and Palestinian people and an earnest struggle for peace and justice within the social infrastructure of Israel have been created. Beyond these impressive achievements hundreds of thousands of young people and children have been educated within the Movement.
To-day The Shomer Hatza'ir Movement has become the educational and moral framework for thousands of young people in Israeli society both Jews and Arabs, new immigrants, Israeli-born youth from kibbutzim and in the cities. More than 100 as well as many diverse, educational enterprises have made their mark on Israeli society
Within the Shomer Hatza'ir Movement a continuation of the Arab Youth Movement (Ajyal) has been formed and which is run independently. The co-existence goes hand in hand with the firm belief that only through mutual meeting points can solidarity and peace subsist in order for the two nations to live in a shared sociaty , thus enabling the Zionist undertaking to deepen its roots for generations to come.
The Movement has many activities aimed at educating thousands of Jewish youth throughout the world towards fulfilling the Zionist dream. Over the past few years, The World Movement of HaShomer Hatza'ir has renewed its educational efforts, redefined its vision for the future and has designated Kibbutz Holit in the Western Negev to be the place where their senior guides are to realize the Zionist vision as seen by the Movement.
The three leading principles of the Movement have always been: "Towards Zionism, Socialism and Peace among nations". These are the values that have been imbued into educating towards Zionism, social justice, peace, equality and democracy. Our motto is: " Be strong and brave!" This is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy Book 31 and tells of Moses giving over his leadership to Joshua so that he should take the Jewish people into the land of Israel. This motto represents the connection of the Shomer Hatza'ir Movement to the Jewish people, its heritage and the leadership and responsibility expected of its members. In addition, The Ten Commandments of the Shomer acts as a moral compass and a milestone on the educational path taken by its young leadership.
Creating "Shomerit" groups comprising up to 15 young members is part of the system into which they are educated. Here they have activities throughout the week after school hours. These smaller groups become a part of a larger group called a "cell" which in turn becomes a community of young people of similar ages and interests. Within these two settings the members of the Movement undergo meaningful experiences whether on trips or in seminars where they learn about cooperation and helping each other.
Every year many scouting projects are launched where the young members are shown the connection between the guiding principles of the Movement and the Israeli landscapes and places of historical and geographic interest. Here too the guiding principles of team work, orienteering, independent thinking, coping with challenges on a personal and other levels as well as scouting skills. One of the main guiding principles of the Shomer Hatza'ir Movement is the education towards "hagshama"- value actualization. The young guides of the Movement are required to embody those principles in their daily lives and in the choices they make. They are expected to take responsibility of their branch, their community or kibbutz. At the end of 9th Grade they go on an advanced training guides seminar after which they become guides for a year or more. One of the educational highlights of 9th graders is the experience of this event which prepares with skills for the year of being group leaders and guides in the 10th Grade and beyond.
At the end of their schooling at the age of 18, the members of the Movement leave for a year's community service. They become a commune living and sharing daily chores on the educational, economic and personal levels. The members of the commune are also goal oriented towards an educational process in the communities in which they live and work. At the end of this year they are given a badge symbolizing their entry into a life of hagshama after which they enlist and become a part of a the "nahal". (They are sent to a number of different units in the army to which they can enlist). This is a path taken by the recruits that work hand in hand with the guiding principles of the Movement: to physically protect the country as well as ensure the moral and social safety of the country. Within this time of service a year is devoted to perek mesima leumit in which the soldiers live together again as a commune and work in educational services in underprivileged areas all over Israel. Once those soldiers have been released from the army, these young people join the Adult Group of the Shomer Hatza'ir Movement. There are many such groups of Adult Group Leaders living in communes throughout the country in kibbutzim and underprivileged neighbourhoods. Here again the communes work towards their joint educational goals such as social "justice, equality and democracy in Israeli society. the other goal is to work together as a group on personal, group and economic levels. These Adult Group Leaders choose one of two areas in which to put their efforts: 1. The formal education system and the extra curricular educational system with the aim of deepening the message of social justice together with the development of the next generation of young leaders in Israel.
2. Regeneration of cooperative living in Israel as a way to offer an alternative to social masses, social alienation and the economic and social privatization schemes. This is done by creating a dialogue and different life styles within the system. The goals of the Adult Leadership within the Movement are: the establishment of many communes situated within the main cities throughout the country, the founding of Kibbutz Pelech in the North and, forming core groups of educators within the system of Youth Groups like Tzaffit, Maaleh Absor, Harie Efraim.
A short historical explanation:
The Shomer Hatza'ir Youth Movement was formed from the combining of two different youth movements at the beginning of the last century in Poland. The "Shomer" together with the "Youth of Zion" organizations decided to amalgamate and became one movement in 1913. This was to be the first Jewish/Zionist in history. They chose to call the movement "Hashomer Hatza'ir" and began working with youth in hundreds of "nests' all over Poland. These branches were to become the gathering places for 70,000 young Jewish people who were looking for a connection with the Jewish people and the Zionist Movement being established in Israel.
Throughout the years of its existence the Movement has had a significant effect on the Jewish community in the Diaspora. It endeavoured to strengthen the Zionist vision, organized the Aliyah and promoted the education of Jewish Youth in the communities for self realization in Israel and the Diaspora. During World War II, many leaders were lost and as a result the existence of the education and culture within the community became endangered. The Shomer Hatza'ir Movement was faced with serious trials and their survival was challenged in the ghettoes and concentration camps where many of the members were brought. Members of the Movement led many a rebellion within the ghettoes with the knowledge of how important it was to rebel against the enemy even though victory was not to be ensured under such circumstances.
Coinciding with the many activities in the Diaspora many members made Aliyah to Eretz Israel. Kibbutzim were being established as early as the 1920's with the ideals of Zionism within a cooperative framework as their goal. In 1927 " The Kibbutz Ha 'Artzi and the Shomer Hatza'ir" created a joint organization with 90 kibbutzim under its banner. In 2000 this same organization amalgamated with the TAKAM and created "The Kibbutz Movement". Since then the value systems and organizational ideals have been closely kept with the Youth Movement.
In recent years the Youth Movement has founded a group of "graduates". This is a new group of socially principled people in Israel comprising hundreds of young men and women belonging to the Shomer Hatza'ir. This dynamic group of young people is working towards pioneering the educational value system of cooperative goal-oriented frameworks. They create young leadership and educate towards taking responsibility in a society torn by diversity. The graduate members are busy with educational projects with a social emphasis within various communities throughout Israel.