Bar Giora (Organization)

Bar Giora was a secret Jewish self-defense organization and the precursor of Hashomer. Furthermore, the organization operated in Israel (Ottoman Palestine) from September 1907 to April 1909. The organization’s goal was to occupy the guard in the Jewish colonies from the Arabs and the Circassians and transfer it to Jewish hands. Named after Shimon Bar Giora, commander of the Great Revolt executed in Rome in 71 CE.

Bar Giora Historical Background 

The period of the first aliyah (1882-1904) under the Ottoman rule was marked by a lack of law and order. For example, wandering Bedouins often sabotaged and stole from Jewish and Arab communities alike. Arab villagers attacked both their neighbors and passers-by. Despite the regulations of the Jewish Pioneers who advocated for Hebrew labor; the reality forced the Jewish colonies to hire Arab workers. The first immigrants needed help and many working hands; especially during the harvest and harvest seasons, as well as guards.

The Arab and Circassian guards often enjoyed the sympathy of the Ottoman authorities and police and even their support. They were allowed to carry weapons and used them better than most Jews. Furthermore, The Jewish settlers could neither work during the day nor guard at night. Moreover, when a Muslim guard wounded or killed an Arab, no revenge threatened the settlers’ lives. The second wave of aliyah brought with it tens of thousands of immigrants and demand for “the seizing of labor.” The Socialists, members of the “Second Aliyah,” argued that the local economy should not be dependent on the Arab practice or exploited. Hebrew work was a key component in the Zionist-Socialist ethos. 

They believed that it was necessary to transfer the protection of the Jewish settlements to Jewish hands. A number of activists from the Po’alei Zion party began to formulate an organizational framework, in order to transfer the guard to Jewish hands. Israel Giladi initially tried to operate in the Meir Shefia colony, but without success. At the Zionist Congress held in The Hague in 1907, Giladi proposed the idea of ​​establishing a defensive force, and the Congress approved the spirit of things.

The Formation of Bar Giora 

The Bar Giora organization was founded on the night of Simchat Torah, September 29, 1907. During the third conference of the Poalei Zion party, a group of activists headed by Israel Shochat, Israel Giladi, Alexander Zeid, secretly gathered in Yitzhak Ben Zvi’s small room in Jaffa. The meeting was also attended by Yitzhak Nadav, Ben Zvi’s roommate; Dov Schweiger; Yehezkel Nisnov; Moshe Yozover; Goldstein-Givoni; Yehezkel Hankin; Mendel Portugali, and Zvi Becker.

The group decided to establish a secret organization called “Bar Giora” after Shimon Bar Giora; one of the leaders of the Great Revolt and whose goal was to occupy the labor in preserving Jewish settlement. Israel Shochat was elected commander of the organization. The organization’s slogan: “In the blood and fire of Judah has fallen, in the blood and fire of Judah will rise” inspired by “the thugs”, a poem by Jacob Cohen that miraculously raised the Jews who rebelled in Rome. The group aspired to establish groups of workers who would establish settlements, lead Hebrew work, train with weapons and take over the guard in order to create a nucleus of a protective Jewish force.

The Bar Giora Collective 

Members of the “Bar Giora” group, with the exception of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Yehezkel Hankin, were required to immigrate to the Lower Galilee and join the “collective” established by Mania Wilbushevich-Shochat in the Sejera colony. Mania Shochat succeeded in convincing the agronomist Eliyahu Krause; who managed the colony on behalf of ICA, to hand over to the group members land, which they cultivated while establishing a communal way of life. 

After a few months, the people of Bar Giora succeeded in convincing the farm manager to hand over the guard; after proving to him that the Circassian guard was negligent in his duty. This is how Sejera Farm became the headquarters of the organization. 

In the face of Arab warfare that intensified after the “Young Turks” uprising in July 1908; the need for Jewish guards increased. The members of “Bar Giora” decided to move the activity to a broader framework and establish a new and legal organization (as opposed to the “Bar Giora” organization, which was secret) called “Hashomer”. The organization’s founding meeting was held in the village of Tavor on the 21st of Nisan, the seventh day of Pesach, 12 April 1909.


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

Simon Peter


Which Is the Capital of Israel

Which Is the Capital of Israel? Well, my answer, in short, would be, depends on who you ask I guess if you want the longer answer click here!

Nebi Yusha Fort

Nebi Yusha Fort is a place that inspires the emotions of pain, for the price paid for independence, worth visiting if you are in the area.

Netzer Acharon: Zippora (Feige) Jacobowitz

This post is about Zippora (Feige) Jacobowitz and her life story that was what we call Netzer Acharon. But what is Last Remnant (Netzer Acharon)? ...

Straton’s Tower

Straton’s Tower was the Hellenistic city the preceded Caesarea. The Phoenician city, Stratonos Pyrgos (English: Straton’s Tower), is known largely because Herod the Great built Caesarea ...

Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem

Melisende was Queen of Jerusalem from 1131 to 1153. She was the daughter of Baldwin II first Crusader ruler born and ruled Jerusalem.

Battle of Megiddo

This Battle of Megiddo is recorded as having taken place in 609 BCE when Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt led his army to Carchemish (northern Syria) to join with his allies; ...

The Opening Note of the 1948 War 

What was the Opening Note of the 1948 War? So The Arab decides to attack for the very first time a day after the United ...

Herod Agrippa King of Judea

Herod Agrippa was the last Jewish King over the Kingdom of Judea. To Pick up from our last post, our Story stopped at the moment ...

Provincia Iudaea

Provincia Iudaea was a Roman province immediately after King Herod's death. It was formed out of the territories of the Herodian kingdom.

Knights Templar

The Knights Templars were a Catholic military order founded in 1119, headquartered on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem through 1128. The order was active until ...

Need help?