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Literally, pioneers. The term came into widespread use after World War I, when Joseph Trumpeldor helped found the Hechalutz movement in Russia. Inspired by the ideal of rebuilding Palestine as a Jewish homeland, Halutzim came from coun_tries ravaged by war and revolutions. To reach their goal, Russian Halutzim traveled dangerous roads over the Balkan lands and Caucasian mountains. Halutzim made up the bulk of the Third Aliyah, or immigration, to Palestine from 1918 to 1924. They undertook the most difficult tasks, building roads, draining swamps, and establishing colonies.

The first World Conference of the Hechalutz movement took place in Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia, in 1921. The movement established hakhsharot, or training farms, in many countries, particularly in Poland and other East European nations. The farms prepared the young Halutzim for agricultural life in Palestine, learning Hebrew and receiving a deeper knowledge of their people’s history. Before World War II, Hechalutz members numbered in the tens of thousands. At the present time, Hechalutz organizations exist in North and Latin America, North and South Africa, and several European countries.

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