HAPOEL (Heb. הַפּוֹעֵל "The Worker"), Israel workers' sports organization, affiliated with the *Histadrut. It had its beginnings in a Haifa soccer team in 1924. The countrywide association was organized in 1926 with a twofold aim: to provide opportunities for physical education and sport for the masses of Palestinian youth and to involve them in the labor movement. Hapoel members pioneered in naval and other activities in order to assist "illegal" immigration into Palestine. They also helped to establish settlements and were active in the *Haganah, the pre-state Jewish defense organization. Through Hapoel's efforts the number of swimming pools in the country increased and floodlit playing fields were opened making possible nighttime basketball and volleyball. Hapoel organized the Lake Kinneret swims in which some 10,000 swimmers participate annually, road marches, and long-distance foot races as well as sports conventions (Poeliad) with international participation. Hapoel's teams and individual contestants won championships in most of the fields of Israel sport. The organization also encourages sports activities in various places of work, such as factories, shops, etc. From 1927 Hapoel was affiliated with the International Labor Sports Organization. After the establishment of the state it played an important role in encouraging and organizing sports activities in the underdeveloped African countries. In 1968 there were more than 85,000 members of Hapoel in 600 branches throughout the State of Israel. In 2004 Hapoel supported 980 youth groups, 325 adult groups, and 765 sports associations in 28 different competitive sports branches, among them successful athletes who represent Israel in the Olympic Games and other international competitions. In addition, Hapoel was also affiliated with workplace teams, competing in 15 sports in the framework of workplace leagues.
Paz and A. Lahav, Alafim ve-Allufim (1961), with notes in Eng. WEBSITE: www.hapoel.org.il.
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.