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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 Organization