10 Things You Need to Know About… Eliyahu Golomb

Chief architect of the Haganah

1. He was born in March 1893 in Volkovysk, Byellorussia. When he was sixteen, his family made aliyah. He graduated with the first class of Herzliyah High School.

2. He went to settle in Kibbutz Degania Aleph, working there and organizing agricultural training courses. But upon the death of his father, he returned to run the family flour mill in Jaffa. When World War I came, he was ordered by the Turks to operate the flour mill on Shabbat. He refused, and was publicly whipped for it.

4. He opposed Jewish enlistment in the Turkish Army. When, late in the war, the British permitted formation of a Jewish Legion, he headed up the volunteers for it.

Golomb.stamp5. He was active in the labor party Ahdut Ha-Avodah, but he is best known for his work in creating a Jewish military presence. Golomb believed that all Jews must be involved in their own defense. After the war, he was active in founding and organizing the Haganah. He served on its command council and in 1920 was involved in sending aid to the defenders of Tel Hai.

6. From 1922-24, he was abroad – Vienna, Berlin, Paris – purchasing arms for the Haganah and organizing pioneer youth groups.

7. Through the 1930s, Golomb largely directed the organization and financing of illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine. During the riots of 1936-9, he was one of the initiators of the field units that confronted Arab terrorists. He supported defense against Arab attacks, but not indiscriminate attacks on Arab populations. These punitive actions he opposed.

8. Like most of his compatriots, he supported the British in World War II without ever forgetting the need to remove the mandate. He was a founder of the Palmach – the elite unit of the Haganah – and trained many future commanders of the IDF.

9. He authored “The History of Jewish Self-Defence in Palestine, 1878-1921,” a pamphlet that is currently (May 2014) up for bid at Delcampe.net.

defence-museum-_0110. He died in June 1945. His home on Rothschild Street in Tel Aviv, where the command council typically met, is now Beit Eliyahu Golomb, the museum of the Haganah. His apartments have been restored, and the museum is adjacent.

In Haifa, you’ll find Eliyahu Golomb Street running southeastward from the Bahai Shrine.

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