History

In the beginning

history1Na'amat's roots start at the turn of the 20th century.

Protesting a society in which women were relegated to the kitchens while men worked the land and built the country, the women who made aliyah, made it their goal to become equal partners in the life of the founding of the State, the Labor movement and the future of the Jewish people. Pioneering women believed that a women’s Labor Zionist organization would engage immigrant and working women in the Zionist cause and organized the first feminist movement in Israel; NA’AMAT, (formerly Moetzet Hapoalot - the Working women’s Council).

history2In 1921, with the severe water shortage threatening to destroy a fledgling Jerusalem tree nursery, Zionist leader, Rachel Yanait Ben Zvi, one of the early founders of the Labor Zionist Movement, had dug a well to irrigate the trees. Yanait wrote that “our tree nursery cannot exist without a well” and that during the previous two years “more than 130,000 saplings have been planted in seventeen points in Galilee and Judaea.” She contacted her friend Sophie Udin, based in New York, and she, along with a small group of women in Canada and the United States rallied in support and successfully raised the necessary funds. The gesture forged a spirit of sisterhood, leading in 1925 to the founding of The Women's Organization for the Pioneer Women of Palestine (Na’amat).

The organization opened new channels of communication between the Palestine Labor Movement and the Jewish community in Canada and became a significant force in Canadian Jewish life, playing a central role in Canadian Zionism, in the years prior to the formation of the State of Israel. In 1966 Pioneer Women (Na’amat) became autonomous in Canada.

Laying the Groundwork

history4Former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meyerson Meir, was one of Na'amat's earliest members. In the 1930’s as Na'amat's National Secretary, Golda proudly wrote that the organization was "the first and last women's organization for which I ever worked."

During the 1920s and 1930s, Na'amat laid the groundwork for a modern Israeli social services network-- creating training farms for girls; opening hostels and vocational classes for young women and pioneering the concept of “day care,” for children whose mothers were working to build the land and its economy.

In Canada, among their initiatives during this period was the launch of a Zionist youth movement, Habonim D'ror.

Na'amat members held meetings in their homes raising both awareness and support for, the budding Jewish homeland.