Hakamat Hamedina - Hagana
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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Topic: HaKamat HaMedina
Written By: Josh Skarf
Goals: Teach about the struggles of Jewish Defense before the State of Israel, and the role played in the establishment of the State.
Materials: Cups, large sock, nerf ball or stuffed animal
Starting in 1920 and continuing throughout the 30’s, the Jewish settlements in Israel were under attack by the Arab community. In order to protect itself, the Hagana was formed, one in a series of Jewish Defense forces. The members of Hagana trained in armed combat, jujitsu, and many other types of fighting. However, the old yeshuv (the ultra-orthodox community) largely rejected the idea of a Jewish Defense force, and instead relied on the British for protection. This is one reason why Chevron was so poorly defended in 1929 during the Arab riots there.
Game 1: Military Training
Play a series of games with the chanichim to simulate military training. Give a little background, explaining that you are the Hagana preparing to defend Jewish settlements in the 30’s. Explain that these settlements are weak and vulnerable, and need a strong force to protect them from Arab riots. Several possible games include:
a) relay race(s). These could simply be races back and forth, or more creative (one pair might need to wheelbarrow, while another person hops, another has to carry someone on his/her back, etc.)
b)Pick two chanichim. Have them position themselves as if they are about to do pushups, heads about 6 inches apart facing each other. The goal is to slap the opponent’s arms to make them fall. No grabbing is allowed.
c) Have two chanichim stand facing each other, separated by a foot, with feet shoulder length apart. They hold up their hands with their palms facing each other, but not touching. The two slap palms together to try and knock each other off balance. No grabbing is allowed. The first to move his/her foot loses.
Feel free to be creative here and come up with your own games/activities for this purpose.
Game 2: Choma U’Migdal
During the 30s, Israel was a very dangerous place to live. However, Jews wanted to build new settlements and “conquer” new areas. For this purpose, they came up with the idea of Choma U’Migdal, literally meaning Wall and Tower. The settlers knew that Arabs never attacked during the day. Therefore, a group of Jewish settlers would leave a settlement and go to a new, unsettled area. Upon reaching the new location, they would set to work quickly building a perimeter wall and watch tower. If they were able to complete this before dark, they would be safe from attackers, having outer defenses and a watch tower. 52 such settlements were built.
Divide the group into two or more kvutzot, so that each group has about 4-6 people in it. Give each group a package of cups to use as building equipment. Each group must build a Choma U’Migdal settlement in as little time as possible (this can be a race.) Give them specific requirements, such as a tower 10 cups high and a two story wall with an area of 5x5 cups (for example).
Game 3: Obstacle Course/Bridge Bombing
After the end of World War II, the Hagana entered a new state of existence. As of 1946, instead of simply defending Jewish settlements, it was also concerned with Battling the British, who were refusing to let Jewish refugees from Europe move to Israel. On June 17, 1946 the Palmach (the strike force of the Hagana) blew up ten bridges linking Israel with neighboring countries. The Allenby Bridge, which crossed the Jordan River, was one of these bridges. At this time the Hagana was working in conjunction with two other more radical armed Jewish forces, Etzel and Lechi.
Divide the Chanichim into two groups. Have them design an obstacle course, involving chairs and themselves. For example, one obstacle could be walking across three chairs, then climbing under one, jumping over a person crouched on the ground, slaloming between three people, under salmon’s legs, etc. (those on the obstacle must always have people on their team providing the obstacles.) The first team sends it’s members through the course one at a time, stopping between people to note the time it took to go through. (All times for one team are added together to give the final score.) Meanwhile, the other group is stationed on the other side of the room. This second group is armed with a “foxtail.” To make a foxtail, take a large sock and put a nerf ball or small stuffed animal inside by the toe. The sock can now be swung around and thrown. This is their “explosive.” They stand on the opposite side of the room and, one at a time, try to hit one of the obstacles with the foxtail. After each shot, the next person on their team goes and retrieves it, and then gets to shoot. IF anyone succeeds in hitting an obstacle, that obstacle is blown up. The person on the obstacle course must stop and replace that obstacle before continuing. If it is a chair, he must get another chair from the other side of the room and put it in place. If it is a person, another member of his team must take the place of the person hit. Whichever team finishes with the shorter total time wins.