Thursday, 13 January 2022

Ness Ziona

Mister Handmade in Israel and I recently went on a guided tour of Beit Rishonim (Founders' House) in Ness Ziona, a town in central Israel. The little museum, which originally served as the schoolhouse, the synagogue, the city council building and the community centre, now documents the history of the town since its founding. Built in 1907 by Reuven Lehrer and his family, the museum houses pictures of the first settlers, artifacts and historical documents.
Ness Ziona's first communal building, 1907.

Ness Ziona was first known as Wadi Hunayn, after the local Arab village. In 1878 the German Templer Gustav Reisler purchased land there and changed its name to Wadi Chanin. He planted an orchard there but after his family died from malaria, Reisler returned to Europe. In 1882 he travelled to Odessa and met Reuven Lehrer, a religiously observant Russian Jew with Zionist ideals. Lehrer owned farmland in Russia and Reisler traded his Palestine land for Lehrer's land, Lehrer believing that the land he had received was "near" Jerusalem. In 1883 Lehrer emigrated to Palestine with his eldest son Moshe. His wife and four of his children arrived the following year. They settled on the land which became known as Nahalat Reuven (Reuven's Estate). 
Photo credit: Netto Design House

In 1887, after the family had begun to cultivate grapes, almonds and raise bees, Lehrer posted signs at the arrival gate in the Jaffa port imploring fellow Jews to help him settle the land. These new arrivals established a separate neighbourhood named Tel Aviv (the city of Tel Aviv did not yet exist). In 1891 Michael Halperin, a member of the First Aliyah, bought more land in the wadi. He arrived at a village ceremony riding his horse and waving a blue and white flag inscribed with the words "Ness Ziona" emblazoned in gold. "Ness Ziona" means "Banner to Zion". This motto is based on a verse in the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:6). In 1897 Halperin offered this flag, minus the words Ness Ziona, to the first Jewish Congress in Basel, which was presided over by Theodor Herzl. It was later adopted by the State of Israel as the national flag. Halperin's actions led the settlers to change the settlement's name to Ness Ziona.
In due course, the colonies of Nahalat Reuben and Ness Ziona, the neighbourhood of Tel Aviv in Ness Ziona and the Arab village Wadi Hunayn merged into a single, larger village. Its main export was citrus, grown in orchards that were irrigated by numerous wells dug around the village. The residents worked in the orchards and sold their yield in the cities. Lining the walls of Beit Rishonim are old photos of camels carrying boxes of oranges to the market in Jaffa and the first Jewish pioneers toiling in the fields. By the 1920s, despite difficult struggles against neighbouring Arabs, malaria and challenging agricultural conditions, Ness Ziona was thriving and prosperous.
Photo credit: The Ness Ziona Workers, 1883-1948, by Yoav Regev
The Great Synagogue of Ness Ziona, located next door to Beit Rishonim, bottom photo, was built in the 1920s, during the period of the Third Aliyah. In 1924 the British Army contracted with the Israel Electric Company to supply wired electric power to Ness Ziona. Until the 1948 War of Independence this amalgamated village was the only mixed Arab-Jewish village in Mandatory Palestine. The co-existence of Arabs and Jews was, on the whole, peaceful, though the village was attacked by Arab forces in the 1936–39 Arab Revolt, and again during the 1948 war.
After the establishment of the State of Israel, Ness Ziona's population almost tripled. Families from Iran, Morocco, Yemen and Iraq moved in in the 1950s and 60s, living in ma'abarot (immigrant and refugee absorption camps ) at the edge of town until they could afford to buy something of their own. Today the city's population is still relatively small - around 50,000 - with an annual growth rate of two percent.
Ness Ziona's story is a story of hardship and poverty, famine and disease, but also of great love for the Land of Israel, a story of the establishment and development of the beekeeping industry in the town, the first of its kind in Palestine, and the story of how the national flag was raised for the first time in the town.

PoCoLo

16 comments:

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Fascinating history of the area and its struggles. Israel just has so many ancient and modern stories.Thank you for sharing.

Tamar SB said...

Oh wow - what a fascinating place to visit!

Miss Val's Creations said...

It is so interesting to learn how a village or town grew with the community working together. It is sad to hear this area experienced such poverty and struggles. Thank you for sharing!

VeggieMummy said...

What an fascinating place and story. Interesting about the flag and I love all the old photographs. Thank you for sharing this. xx

thisiswhereitisat said...

What an interesting piece of history to learn about and explore x #pocolo

riitta k said...

Such interesting history about this city and the Israeli flag. Beautiful photos of the museum.

Tom said...

...a nice history lesson.

Jayne said...

What an interesting museum. I loved learning more about Ness Ziona's story. Thanks for sharing Lisa. x

Glenda Cates said...

I enjoyed seeing the photos and getting to know more about the Museum which I will share with my son in our Homeschool History Class.

Joanne said...

I love learning about the history of all the places you visit! Thanks for taking us along on your journey.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Thanks for the history lesson and the guided tour, all very interesting and visually appealing.

NCSue said...

Thank you for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2022/01/seen-on-blue-ridge-parkway.html.
Shalom!

Tom said...

...this museum as a rich history to tell and I thank you for sharing it. Take care and stay well.

Fun60 said...

The building has its own history prior to becoming a museum. Thank you for educating me about the rich history of Israel.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Very interesting information on the history and impact of Ness Ziona--thank you for sharing!

Stephanie 139a said...

I love these posts of yours - so informative - thank you. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

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