GORDONIA, pioneering Zionist youth movement that was founded at the end of 1923 in Galicia from small cells and grew into a world movement. The first groups of Gordonia were created under the influence of *Hitahadut, on the one hand, and by members who had left *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir, on the other. The official name of the movement was chosen at the first world conference in Danzig (November 1928) as Histadrut ha-No'ar ha-Amamit ha-Ḥalutzit Gordonia (the People's Pioneering Association of Youth – Gordonia). The principles of the movement, which were set down at the same conference, were the "building up of the homeland, education of members in humanistic values, the creation of a working nation, the renaissance of Hebrew culture, and self-labor (avodah aẓmit)."
From its beginnings, the movement developed around two ideological bases. It aimed at reaching the lower classes of Jewish society (artisans, farmers and villagers, poor people, which constituted a large percentage of Galician Jewry), in contrast to Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir, which was composed principally of students; and it wished to mold these youth in the spirit of A.D. *Gordon's personality and teachings. Although Gordon, as a historical figure, was recognized by all the pioneering youth movements, Gordonia regarded his philosophy as its principal ideological source and adopted his world view. In contrast to the dogmatic attachment of Marxist movements to Marx, the relationship of Gordonia to Gordon was characterized by its lack of dogmatism, as reflected in Gordon's personality itself. Gordon's ideological image was not distinguished from his personality, and the combination of both was viewed as expressing free humanistic creativity (influenced by both the world at large and the Jewish world) that perpetuates independent, original thought which is always related to all facets of life. This philosophy was particularly attractive to those who had been disappointed by Marxism and did not believe that it was relevant to a youth movement wishing to build its future in Ereẓ Israel on the basis of labor. The Danzig Conference established 13 standards for the behavior of the individual in his personal life and in the movement, and in his relationship to the Jewish people, Ereẓ Israel, labor, socialism, etc. Although it had taken much from other youth movements, especially German ones, Gordonia meticulously maintained its unique character as a Jewish, Zionist, and Ereẓ Israel-oriented movement.
From Galicia Gordonia spread to the rest of Poland, Romania, and the United States and, by World War II, had close to 40,000 members. At all its conferences, it stressed its identification with the Ereẓ Israel labor movement and its fundamental principle – personal fulfillment through aliyah and settlement within the framework of collective living and labor. The first Gordonia groups began to settle in Ereẓ Israel shortly after the riots of 1929, first in Ḥaderah and later in other places.
Later followed the merger of Gordonia with Maccabi ha-Ẓa'ir, which developed as a Jewish scouting movement in Germany and Czechoslovakia and whose members began to settle in Ereẓ Israel in 1932–33. Maccabi ha-Ẓa'ir set up its first settlements (Kefar ha-Maccabi, Ma'yan Ẓevi) in the framework of Ḥever ha-Kevuẓot in 1941, integrated with Gordonia, and thereafter the two movements served as a single framework for pioneering Jewish youth from Eastern and Western Europe. In 1937 a Gordonia movement came into being among Jewish youth in Palestine, and in 1945 it united with part of Mahanot ha-Olim and founded Ha-Tenu'ah ha-Me'uḥedet (full name, Ha-Tenu'ah ha-Kelalit shel ha-No'ar ha-Lomed). After the Holocaust, attempts were also made abroad to unite pioneering youth movements with aims similar to those of Gordonia, and finally, when the *Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim was created (in 1951), and after a series of mergers with Gordonia, *Iḥud Habonim was founded.
Gordonia played a heroic role in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. In Warsaw, under the leadership of Israel Zeltzer and Eliezer Geller, a secret center of the movement was established on 23 Nalewki Street, which organized a considerable network of underground educational activities among its members of all age groups. The center, mainly through Geller's visits in the ghettos of Czestochowa, Opoczno, Bendin, Sosnowiec, Opatow, and other towns, contributed greatly to the resistance movement and also to the preparations for active revolts, particularly in Warsaw in 1943. Gordonia's Polish-language underground paper in Warsaw, Słowo Mlodych, was published in Hebrew translation in 1966 by the archives of Gordonia-Maccabi ha-Za'ir. From its foundation, the movement published newspapers and literature in a number of languages. Pinḥas *Lavon (Lubianiker) was the head of the movement from its foundation throughout its existence. He served as Israel's minister of defense from 1953 to 1955.
P. Lubianiker, Yesodot (1941); idem, in: Derekh ha-No'ar (1930), 47–73; idem, in: G. Chanoch (ed.), Darkhei ha-No'ar (1937), 17–26; Mandel, in: J. Cohen and D. Sadan (eds.), Pirkei Galiẓyah (1957), 270–81; A. Avnon (ed.), Ittonut Gordonia be-Maḥteret Getto Varshah (1966); I. and G. Kressel, Mafte'aḥ le-ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir (5668–5717) (1968), s.v.; Gordonia Report (1938). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Margalit, Gordonia be-Polin (1980).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.