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Today in history: Mikveh Israel

Today in 1870, the ‘Mikveh Israel’ Agricultural School was established – the basis for the first Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel in modern times.

It was during the days of the ‘precursors of Zionism’, before the first Aliya; At this stage, European Jews with ties to the Land of Israel focused mainly on attempts to improve the situation of the Jewish settlement that had already existed there. Among them was Karl Neter, a KIC activist (all of Israel are friends – a Jewish aid movement for communities in distress), a French socialist and ideologue who visited Israel and concluded that it was necessary to teach the residents agricultural work in the hope of leading to agricultural development. Netter established an agricultural school called Mikveh Israel, backed by the Ottoman government in February 1870, which was located not far from Jaffa (today near Holon). The school trained Jews from the ‘old settlement’ and from abroad for agricultural work, and with the beginning of the Aliya a decade later it became an infrastructure of knowledge and assistance for them. The school became a landmark for the developing community and national pride, and Herzl even met there with the German Kaiser; over time, its practical importance diminished, but its symbolic importance, as the first pioneer settlement in the renewed Land of Israel, did not diminish for a moment.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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