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Kibbutz Huldai

Kibbutz Huldai (Heb. חֻלְדָּה) is a kibbutz in the Judean foothills, 7½ mi. (12 km.) S.E. of Rehovot, affiliated with Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot veha-Kibbutzim. It was established in 1909 on one of the first plots of land acquired by the Jewish National Fund (1907). Initially Huldai was an agricultural training farm. A section of the olive tree forest planted in Theodor Herzl’s memory was situated here and a closed courtyard and administrative building (Herzl House) were erected.

During World War I, the olive groves did not thrive, owing to lack of care, and after the war the first experiment in afforestation with coniferous trees was carried out here. The isolated settlement was attacked in the Arab riots of 1929; its 24 defenders held out against overwhelming odds, although their commander Ephraim Chizhik fell in the battle. (A statue erected in 1929 in the Herzl Forest by Batya Lishansky commemorates Chizhik and the heroic defense of Huldai.) The British Mandate police immediately evacuated the defenders, but the site was resettled in 1930 by members of the Gordonia youth movement. The site of the kibbutz was transferred somewhat to the west. Farm branches were developed; economic progress was slow at first due to the scarcity of water, but the situation improved after the War of Independence (1948), in which Huldai served as a headquarters for the Israel forces opening the Jerusalem Corridor from the west.

Huldai is a historical name, first appearing in a Christian place names list dating from the sixth century. In the mid-1990s, the population of the kibbutz was approximately 365, dropping to 312 in 2002. The kibbutz was the home of the Barkan winery, owned by private investors who purchased 40 dunams of land from the kibbutz for their winery and visitors center.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.