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Zikhron Ya'akov, Israel
זכרון יעקב

Coordinates:  32° 34' 15.00" N  34° 57' 06.00" E
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Elma Arts Complex
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Zikhron Ya'akov1,4 ("Jacob's Memorial") was founded in 1882 by Romanian Jewish pioneers who belonged to the Hibbat Zion movement2 ('Lovers of Zion'). Hibbat Zion was established in response to the Russian Empire's anti-Jewish pogroms of the 1880's; the movement's goal was to encourage immigration to Palestine with an emphasis on the creation of agricultural settlements. The Romanian Jews bought land in Zammarin, twenty-two miles south of Haifa on the southern end of the Carmel Mountains.

The soil was rocky and the area was prone to malaria. Outbreaks of the latter, along with the difficulty in cultivating the land, led many settlers to leave within a year of arriving. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild was the patron of Zikhron Ya'akov and it was under the baron's auspices that the layout of the Zikhron settlement and the emphasis on agriculture was established. Zikhron Ya'akov was named in memory of Edmond's father, James (Ya'akov) Mayer de Rothschild.

Great Synagogue
Ohel Ya'akov Synagogue
(click to enlarge)

Baron de Rothschild hired city planners to design and allot housing to the new farmers. Each farmer received a house, a courtyard, and an outhouse for storing farming tools and equipment. Each farmer also received a salary. The Ohel Ya'akov Synagogue was constructured by the baron and named after his father. The synagogue, which has an ark made of white marble, was completed in 1886 and still serves the needs of the town's residents.

Following several economic failures the settlement, with the help of Baron de Rothschild, decided to try growing a vineyard to produce wine for the first winery in Israel – Carmel Winery. The first seven years were productive, but in 1892 the vineyard fell victim to a parasite; this problem was solved by using American seedlings that are resistant to the parasite.

Zikhron Ya'akov was the center of the Nili Spy Ring3 during World War One. The ring was set up by Sarah Aaronson and her brothers and their friend Avshalom Feinberg. The spy ring, in service to the British, spied on the Ottomans. Unfortunately, in September 1917, the Ottomans broke the ring and arrested several of the members, including Sarah. After subjecting Sarah to several days of torture, she was able to get her hands on a gun and killed herself; Sarah never gave up information to the Ottomans.

The British Mandate Authorities conducted two censuses in Palestine – the first in 1922 and the second nine years later in 1931. The total 1922 Zikhron Ya'akov population was 1,302 people. Stratified by religion, the largest group, 77.8% of the population, consisted of Jews; the remaining 22.2% were Muslims and Christians. The 1931 population increased 9.8% during the preceding nine years, with 1,429 people enumerated. The relative proportions by religion showed that the Jewish population increased 17.7% during this period; the Muslim population, by contrast, decreased by more than 24% during this same period. The Christian population increased from seven to twenty-three people, an increase of more than 328%. See Palestine Census for more details and for links to the actual Census records. By the second-half of the twentieth century Zikhron Ya'akov's population was fairly stable at about five-thousand souls; the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century saw the population grow by a factor of nearly four – to 18,719 inhabitants.

A number of notable residents are connected to Zikhron Ya'akov.
Among these are:

  1. Wikipedia: Zikhron Ya'akov
  2. Wikipedia: Hibbat Zion
  3. Wikipedia: Nili Spy Ring
  4. History of Zikhron Ya'akov (תולדות העיר)

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Created: 17 Mar 2018

Last Modified: 05-13-2018

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