Aharon David (A.D.) Gordon
(1856 - 1922)
A.D. Gordon was born in 1856 in Podolia, Russia to
a pious family who were related to the magnate Baron Horace Guenzburg.
After his marriage, Gordon was given responsibility for the
management of a large tract of land which was rented out for farming.
However, after the lease ran out in 1903, Gordon looked for new
employment. Whilst he had been involved in Hovevei
Zion there was little expectation that he would emigrate to
Eretz-Israel and become an agricultural laborer especially given his
relatively advanced age forty-seven.
Nonetheless, Gordon decided to come to Eretz-Israel
and begin a life of agricultural labor first in Petah Tikvah, later
in Rishon Le-Zion and finally making his home in Degania, the first
of the kvutsot. It should be remembered that Gordon had been a
white collar worker all his life and had no experience of
agricultural labor. However, he believed that physical effort on the
land would not only bring about his personal redemption but also that
of the Jewish people. He attributed pioneer work a semi-religious
status, arguing that it created an organic interrelationship between
the man, the land and culture.
Gordon became the inspiration for a generation and
more of Labor Zionists who saw in his example a way to personal and
national fulfillment. A number of youth movements were influenced by
his teachings and one, Gordonia, took his name as the rallying call
for their work.
Gordon died in 1922 and was buried in Degania
where he had lived during his final years.
Sources: The Jewish Agency for
Israel and The World Zionist