November 2nd 2013
For those interested in the history of the British Palestine Mandate era, which spanned from the end of World War I until the founding of Israel in 1948, the Tel Chai Court and Museum is a must-see. Located in Kibbutz Kfar Giladi in the Upper Galilee, the museum tells the story of the famous battle that occurred here in 1920, as well as the story of the daily life of the Zionist pioneer men and women who lived here at the time.
The Battle of Tel Chai took place on March 1, 1920, with six men and two women, eight heroic fighters, against hundreds of militants from neighboring Syria. The significance of this spot is primarily grounded in the influence of this early battle on Israeli culture. Tel Chai is the place where the motif of a small number of Jewish troops fighting bravely against a much larger number of Arab forces was first established. In addition, the Battle of Tel Chai is considered the very first battle in the enduring Arab-Israeli conflict.
Until recently, Tel Chai was associated with Joseph Trumpeldor, the one-armed Russian immigrant who led the defense against the marauders. Trumpeldor and five fellow fighters, along with two unarmed women, were killed in the battle. The city of Kiryat Shemona, meaning Town of Eight, was named after them, and an iconic monument to them stands at Tel Chai.
Recently, however, the museum at Tel Chai has been supplementing the story of the famous battle with the equally engaging story of the daily lives of the ideologically motivated settlers who lived here in poverty during the early part of the 20th century. There is a special emphasis on the important role of the women who populated Tel Chai. In 2011, the museum staff brought together 90 descendants of the original Tel Chai settlers to witness and contribute to the larger story of life in Tel Chai before the battle.
The Tel Chai Guest House offers 63 clean and simple rooms in the Israeli guest house tradition. Located near the Tel Chai Court and Museum, the guesthouse is an ideal place from which to tour other sites in the area, including the Nahal Ayun reservation, a photography museum in the Industrial Park, the Manara cable car and the Canada Center in Metula.