The Founder of Maidens’ Farm

The Fellowship  |  November 25, 2020

Hana Meisel (center), 1912
Hana Meisel (center), 1912

Born to a Jewish family in the Russian Empire in present-day Belarus, Hana Meisel adopted Zionism there in Eastern Europe around the turn of the century. Hana then moved to her biblical and historic homeland as part of the “Second Aliyahin 1909. At the time still Ottoman-ruled Palestine, the Holy Land welcomed the new olim’s (immigrant’s) agricultural know-how.

Having studied agriculture and natural science in Ukraine, Switzerland, and France, Hana Meisel proved a much-needed farming expert for the thriving Jewish communities. She founded Havat HaAlamot (Hebrew for “Maidens’ Farm) at Kinneret Farm, an early Zionism farm near the Kinneret, or Sea of Galilee, in 1911. Above, she can be seen (center) with students of hers in 1912. In 1929, Meisel founded an agricultural school for girls at Nahalal.

But just as important as her love of agriculture, Hana Meisel believed in the Zionist movement. Both she and her husband, Eliezer Shochat, played important roles in early Zionism, and her brother-in-law, Israel Shochat, founded two of the precursors of the modern-day Israel Defense Forces. After helping the Jewish state grow, both physically and spiritually, Hana Meisel passed away in Nahalal in her late 80s. May her memory be a blessing.

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