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its name ("First in Zion") implies, was the first permanent
settlement established in Erez Israel by Zionist immigrants.
It was founded in 1882 by ten pioneers from Russia who managed to acquire 835 acres of land southeast of Tel Aviv and set up a village there. They were soon joined by about 100 other settlers.
Inexperienced in agricultural methods and plagued by an acute shortage of water, these original settlers faced a grave crisis. They were saved by the efforts of Baron Edmund de Rothschild who contributed money for a well, provided for the upkeep of the families, and sent experts to help with their agricultural problems.
Though the Baron's participation in the internal affairs of the town often caused uneasiness among some of the settlers, his assistance proved crucial. Rishon le-Zion soon became well-known for its prosperous vineyards, wine cellars and citrus groves. Rishon le-Zion was the site of many "firsts" in Erez Israel: the first Hebrew kindergarten and elementary school opened there in the 1880s, as did the country's first orchestra. The population of Rishon le-Zion was some 140,000 in the early 1990s.
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