Joseph Trumpeldor, Tel Hai hero, fought with the valiant eight (Shmona) at the battle of Tel Hai,to protect one of the four Jewish farming villages at the northern end of the Hula Valley in the Upper Galilee. Joseph Trumpeldor, a Zionist national hero was an exceptional soldier who fought with Hula Valley Pioneers to defend their homes to the death. The valiant eight, (Shmona in Hebrew) who fought against a much larger group of Bedouins were led by Trumpeldor who had considerable army experience gained prior to his aliyah to Palestine in 1911. Joseph Trumpeldor’s final words, as he was carried from the battlefield to the nearby Kfar Giladi settlement were:
It does not matter, it is good to die for our country.
The valiant eight
The valiant eight, which included two women, as well as Joseph Trumpeldor,, are buried in a common grave at the cemetery in nearby Kfar Giladi. Each year, on the 11th of Adar, an official memorial ceremony is held for Trumpeldor and his comrades, all members of Hashomer. A statue of a roaring lion, sculpted by Avraham Melinkov, in 1926, stands in the cemetery, expressing the ideals of their strength and commitment to the defense of the Jewish people, in their homeland. This was, in fact, a turning point, where Jewish defenders fought back against the marauders, to secure their settlement, even to death.
The legacy of the eight lives on, with the town of Kiryat Shmona (City of Eight) named after these valiant defenders and the Hashomer movement has a long and noble history as the first Jewish security organization providing Jewish defense for the Yishuv.
Joseph Trumpeldor became a hero for both right-wing and left-wing Zionists as he is viewed a defender of the kibbutzim and, the inspiration for Jewish youth aliyah. The Betar youth movement was named after him by the Revisionist Zionist movement in the days of the Yishuv. His famous last words have been an inspiration to many young soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.
A visit to Tel Hai, with an opportunity to experience the multi media presentation, followed by a visit to the cemetery at Kfar Giladi will be both exciting and inspiring and provide a new understanding of the history of the State of Israel and the heroes who made it possible.