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Petah Tikvah

Petah Tikvah, a city seven miles east of Tel Aviv, was founded in the 1870s by a group of religious Jewish pioneers from Jerusalem, who decided to become farmers and establish a village.

They called it Petah Tikvah ("Gateway of Hope") after the divine promise uttered by the prophet Hosea (2:17):


"And I will give her... the valley of Achor for a gateway of hope."

It was the first Jewish village in the country, and later became known as "the mother of the moshavot," or cooperative smallholders' villages. The original settlers of Petah Tikvah soon had to abandon their newly acquired land because of malaria, a disappointing first harvest, and disagreements among themselves.

In 1883 a second attempt to settle the site of Petah Tikvah was made by Bilu immigrants. They too faced many problems: they lacked farming experience and money; they were often raided by Arab neighbors; they were harassed by the Turkish authorities. Most of these difficulties were overcome when Baron Edmund de Rothschild, a wealthy French philanthropist, provided them with funds for draining the swamps, and when he temporarily took over the administration of the moshavah. To solve the problem of Arab raiders, the settlers organized a watchmen's group which drove off marauders. In the Arab attack of May 1921, four young settlers were killed.

Once the swamps were drained and citrus groves planted, more settlers, including immigrants, were attracted to Petah Tikvah. Because of its central location within the Jewish settlement zone, it expanded and became a city in 1939, with a population of over 20,000. At that time it was a marketing center for the region's farm products and industries. By 1990, its population was 144,000. and it supported many large industries, including metals, rubber tires, textiles and food. Farming, especially citrus-growing, still plays a role in Petah Tikvah's economy, but now takes second place to industry.

The bearded pioneers of 100 years ago had founded the first Jewish village in the country, and in so doing had opened up a wide and welcoming "Gateway of Hope" for generations of refugees, immigrants and settlers.


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