Coordinates: 32° 59' 21.48" N 35° 34' 13.08" E
Mahanayim1,6 ('Two Camps'). In biblical times, as revealed in Genesis 32:2, Jacob stayed in the Gilead city of Mahanayim before he met with his brother Esau and saw angels. As a consequence, the city was called Mahanayim (i.e., 'two camps') of God.
In modern times, 1892, land near what is believed to have been the site of the ancient city of Mahanayim was purchased by the Ahavat Zion ('Love of Zion') Hovevei Zion2 ('those who are lovers of Zion'), an organization that was formed in Russia in response to the anti-Jewish pogroms of the 1880s. The objective was to establish a moshava. Six years later eleven religious families from Tarnow, Galicia (the southern part of what had been eighteenth century Poland but, since the last quarter of that century, was under control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) settled on the land bought by Hovevei Zion.
Things did not go well; the settlers were not familiar with the region, had insufficient funds, were inexperienced, and suffered natural disasters. The enterprise was a failure and the moshava fell apart. The Jewish Colonization Association3 tried to grow tobacco, but this, too, failed, and the village was abandoned in 1912.
But, as it turned out, not all was lost. In 1916, a Kvutza4 (i.e., 'team') of Poale Zion5 members tried its hand and set up a successful settlement – the first working settlement in the Upper Galilee. The 1922 British Mandate Census indicated that there were thirty Jews living in Mahnayim (see Census Page).
The settlement's fortunes turned once again. The year of 1928 saw the abandonment of the moshav. It wasn't until 1939 that the members of Kibbutz Yodfat gave the moshav a third lease on life. Beginning in 1979, the moshav's metalworks was used by Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, as a secret bomb-construction site; the bombs were used in the Lebanese Civil War. Mahanayim is also the home of a sculpture studio, a stained glass workshop, and an alternative medical facility.
Besides the notable Meir Dagan, another notable living in Mahanayim is Penny Ur, who was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from The Queen of England for her contribution to the teaching of the English language. General Israel Tal (a.k.a. Talik), Israel Defense Forces expert on tank warfare, was born in Mahanayim in 1924.
Mahanayim was the site of the Final Armistice Agreement, ending Israel's War of Independence. The agreement was signed by representatives of Israel and Syria on 20 July 1949. Earlier in 1949 agreements were signed with Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Leah Haber Gedalia
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Created: 20 June 2018
Last Modified: 06-26-2018
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