What About the Women Pioneers?


Note: This lesson is designed to be learned following the “anchor” lesson of the Pioneering unit,  A Pioneer Is Born

Both men and women believed in the vision and mission of the “New Jew” and journeyed to Palestine to actualize this dream for a better future. Although some measure of gender equality existed, women pioneers often encountered obstacles due to the fact that they were women. (See the historical background in the expanding your horizons section below.) In this lesson, learners will explore archival films and photographs that tell this story, and learn about the unique issues that female immigrants were confronted with. Creative learning activities and thought provoking discussion prompts such as, whether or not working in the kitchen or the laundry room can be seen as pioneering work are featured in this resource.

The learners will: 

  1. understand the tensions that arose around gender roles when actualizing the vision of the “New Jew” in the Chalutzim settlements

  2. know about the challenges faced by the women pioneers in pre-state Palestine

  3. be able to create a campaign that could have been used to advocate for and strengthen the positions of women pioneers

Note: All of the links in the lesson plan below can be viewed as a whole class activity or individually, on the learning platform.

Step 1Watch the segment from the film shot in the Land of Israel in 1913. 

  • Focus on the opening scene (until 00:25) and ask the students to note the occupations of the people shown. (The women are standing in one place, folding laundry, and the men are moving around, attending to the equipment.)

  •  Continue watching the film, and draw the students’ attention to the fact that women don’t appear in the shots showing work in the fields.

  • Ask the students to write a narration that explicitly  relates to the place of the women. 

  • If your students wrote a narration in the  A Pioneer Is Born lesson, they should compare and contrast the two, and discuss the value added of the second narration.

Step 2: Watch the trailer for director Michal Aviad’s film, “Women Pioneers.” 

  • Mention that the narrated texts were taken from diaries and letters written by women who immigrated to the Land of Israel in the 1920s, settling in Ein Harod. The texts can teach us about the women’s hope for an equal society and about their eventual deep disappointment.

  • Read the students the passage that appears in the activity (or have them read it on their own), and ask: Based on the trailer and the passage, what were unique issues that women immigrants had to deal with?

  • Take another look at the interactive photo of the pioneers that references different characteristics of the ideal pioneer, as well as the poster for Michal Aviad’s film “Women Pioneers,” which appears in the activity, and ask:  Why do the letters “Wo” in the poster appear as if they were added later by pen?


Step 3Watch the segment taken from a film on Degania, the first communal settlement to be founded by Second Aliyah immigrants in 1909. 

  • Afterwards, ask the students to read the passages included in the activity and answer the questions.

  • Discuss: Can different forms of service workin the kitchen or the laundry room, be seen as pioneering work?  Was the woman who worked as a laundress or a cook in the communal dining hall a pioneer? 

Note: The discussion can be held in class or in the learning environment (written).


Step 4Prompt for Independent work:

  • With the tools available to us today, come up with a campaign that could have been used to strengthen the status of the woman pioneer, allowing the women of the first and second Aliyot to also take part in defining the term “pioneering.”  


Responses may be uploaded onto the learning platform in the forms of a text,  poster, or brief video.

Computer, projector, personal computers for each student (optional)

Welcome to UnitEd's new website!

Our website is just starting its journey,  and we'll be adding new content, features, and resources regularly.

We invite you to return to our website and follow its growth!