Hulda Forest – Herzl House: the Beginings of Israel

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
What started in the Hulda forest later became a part of the Israeli landscape. After Herzl’s death in 1904, a forest was planted in Hulda to commemorate him, along with a house named after him. In celebration of Israel's 50th anniversary, it was decided to renovate 50 historical sites, including Herzl House. Renovation was done with the help of KKL-JNF friends in the US and Canada, and the Council for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites and Israel's Nature and Parks Authority. It includes displays describing the site's history, and the renovated Efraim Tschisik memorial. In 2023, the house re-opened under the name "Herzl Farm", as a culture house hosting exhibitions and events.
  • How to get there

    The Herzl Forest in Hulda is about 10 km southeast of the city of Rehovot. From Tel Aviv or Jerusalem drive on Highway 1 until the Latrun Intersection and turn toward Ashkelon (Highway 3). After the Nahshon Junction drive about one more kilometer and turn toward Rehovot at Hulda Junction (Highway 411). The forest is on the right side of the road, about 2 km from the junction.
  • Geographic location-

    Sharon and coastal plains
  • Area-

  • Special Sites in the Forest-

    Pool. Hulda Memorial, Rachel’s Grove, Quarry.
  • Facilities-

    Picinic area, Marked path, Archeological or Historic site.
  • Other sites in the area-

    The Heroism Memorial, Einot Gevaton Nature Reserve, Sharett Forest and Mitzpe Bekoa, Burma Road, Mitzpe Harel, Hanassi (Tzora) Forest, Tel Gezer.
  • Type of parking-

    Picnic parks

The Herzl Farm – a Seasonal Culture House at the Hulda Forest

The Herzl House is open for visitors as the Herzl Farm. Restrooms in the site will be open on the farm's opening hours, as well as on Friday, Saturday and on holidays from 08:00 to 16:00.
The gallery floor will feature the exhibition "Welcome to the Forest" curated by D. Dan Handel, with works created by Roni Azgad-Hamburger and Eli Magziner. The exhibition was designed by Alon Sarig.

will be open on the farm's opening hours, as well as on Friday, Saturday and on holidays from 08:00 to 16:00.
The gallery floor will feature the exhibition "Welcome to the Forest" curated by D. Dan Handel, with works created by Roni Azgad-Hamburger and Eli Magziner. The exhibition was designed by Alon Sarig.

The exhibition will be open on the following dates:
Friday, September 22: 09:00-15:00
Friday, September 29, Sukkot Holiday Eve: 09:00-14:00
Tuesday to Wednesday, September 3-4,  Sukkot Holiday: 10:00-16:00
Friday, October 13: 09:00-14:00
Friday, October 20: 09:00-14:00
Friday, October 27: 09:00-14:00
Friday, November 3: 09:00-14:00
Friday, November 10: 09:00-14:00
Friday, November 17: 09:00-14:00
Friday, November 24: 09:00-14:00

Organized tours for groups that include a visit to the exhibition can be reserved. For reservation, please fill the online form.
For questions and requests, please email


After the demise of Theodor Herzl in 1904, KKL-JNF started the Olive Tree Donation project, a fund that would collect money for buying land and planting olive trees. The lands of Hulda were acquired by the fund, and they were designated for planting olive trees to honor the memory of Herzl.

In 1909, an olive tree farm was founded, and a beautiful house was built and called the Herzl House. The farm was managed by agronomist Louis Barish, who lived alone on the second floor of the house, and left the crowded ground floor for the workers. Inexperience and lack of knowledge about the local climate hindered the tree planting project. Out of the 12,000 olive tree saplings, only 3,000 took root. The feeling was bad, and relations between the manager and the farmhands were not promising.

Hulda Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.
Under his successor, the agronomist Yitzhak Vilkansky, Hulda changed and became an educational farm. In addition to the olive trees, fruit trees, shrubs and forests were planted, including almond, pine, acacia, cypress and carob, and there was a chicken coop, a cowshed, grain fields and agricultural industries that turned the place into a diversified farm.

During the years of WWI, most of the workers left or were evacuated, and the farm was abandoned. The few remaining farmworkers coped with a severe water shortage and a plague of locusts that decimated the vegetation. After the war, groups of pioneers settled in Hulda, who brought with them the idea of afforestation of desolate lands. “We will plant trees on the hills, make them live, and live there ourselves,” is what they said. The forests were planted primarily with pines, which did well. The groups spent varying lengths of time at the farm, where they received professional training and furthered the farm and its various branches of agriculture and afforestation.

The vicious rampages that swept across the land of Israel in the summer of 1929 did not spare the isolated farm. On the night of 28 Av, September 4, the defenders of Hulda were attacked by local Arabs. Efraim Chisik, who had come to help, was killed in combat. The tragic stories of Chisik and his sister Sara illustrate the self-sacrifice and dedication of the pioneers dedicated to the Jewish repatriation of the land of Israel.

Sara Chisik was killed in the defense of Tel Hai, which turned into a symbol of the few prevailing against the many. Chisik arrived in Hulda with a man from the erstwhile Hashomer, Yaakov Abramson, where they found sixteen men, two women and two children. Another twenty Haganah men arrived, and they began to fortify the village, but thousands of Arabs from the villages in the vicinity attacked the yard and set the silo on fire.

As the defenders crawled back to Herzl House, Efraim Chisik, who led the retreat, was fatally wounded. The Herzl House was besieged. British soldiers arrived during the night and ordered the defenders to leave the place. They left the destroyed farm, reluctantly, and the forest that had gone up in flames. For the next two years, the devastated farm remained deserted.

Then, in 1931, a group of pioneers arrived from the Gordonia movement in Poland and began rehabilitating and replanting the burnt forest, the olive groves and orchards, and the grain fields. The Gordonia people left the farm in the Herzl Forest in 1937 and went to establish Kibbutz Hulda on a nearby hill, which was more favorable for living and farming. During the Israel War of Independence, when the road to Jerusalem was blockaded, Kibbutz Hulda was the embarkation and organization point for the people who broke through the blockade to the capital city.

Herzl House inside. Photo: Avi Hayun.

Hulda Forest National Park

An olive grove with 12,000 saplings was planted at first in Hulda, a vineyard and almond orchards. Later the Hulda farm was established. Today the forest covers an area of more than 200 dunams and includes recreation areas with picnic tables and water faucets. There is a marked trail for visitors that goes through the forest between the various sites. The forest is a national park, and it is maintained by KKL-JNF. In addition to Herzl House, there are other sites including the following.

The Pool

There is a round pool made of concrete at the edge of the olive grove. Water was conducted to the pool from the pipeline that was installed during the War of Independence along the Burma Road, which supplied water to Jerusalem after its main water supply was cut off. There is a remnant of the original pipeline near the pool.

The Hulda Memorial

There is a stone sculpture made by sculptor Batya Lishansky, commemorating Efraim Chisik, his sister Sara, and others who were killed in the wars of Israel. The memorial was installed there in 1937.
Sarah and Efrayim Tzisik Statue. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.
Sarah and Efrayim Tzisik Statue. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.

The Schaham Well

The Well, built in the path of the Shaham Stream at the edge of the forest, is nine meters deep and was used to provide water for the residents of the Arab village Hulda. The Hebrew name Shahma preserves the original Arab name Bir-a-Shahma. The residents of Hulda have paid for using the well.

The Deep Well

In 1912, in an attempt to find an alternate water supply source, not dependent on the Arab village, a 180-meter deep well was dug. Its water quality was poor. The Schaham Stream is dry throughout most of the year, and only fills with water after strong rainstorms.

Rachel’s Grove

There is a grove of trees that was planted in memory of the poet Rachel, in 1931, the year of her death.

The Quarry

The people of Hulda used this quarry to supply building stone during the insurgency years, 1936 – 1939. Later it was used by the Haganah as a shooting range.


Forests and the Quality of Life

The Herzl Forest in Hulda is the cornerstone of the glorious KKL-JNF afforestation program. Over the years, KKL-JNF planted more than 220 million trees on more than 920,000 dunams all over Israel, and developed hundreds of recreation areas among them, observation points, hiking trails, sports and playground facilities, and a number of large scale regional parks.

These days KKL-JNF is at the forefront of the fight to prevent the country from being covered with cement and concrete. It invests in the great efforts to protect the forests and the open spaces from harm due to urban development pressure, which does not consider the needs of people for a little bit of green, the sound of the wind in the trees and the call of a bird.

Visitors in the forest get a feeling of home, of roots, of a connection with the earth and with the land. The question is if, in another year or two, or five, if we will still be seeing green, flourishing landscapes. KKL-JNF calls on everyone who cares about these landscapes to lend a hand in their preservation and maintenance.

Hulda Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.