Be'er Toviyyah

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BE'ER TOVIYYAH (Heb. בְּאֵר טוֹבִיָּה), moshav in the southern Coastal Plain of Israel, affiliated with Tenu'at ha-Moshavim. It was founded in 1887 by Jews from Bessarabia with the aid of Baron Edmond de *Rothschild and for years it was the southernmost Jewish settlement in the country. The village did not prosper, due to the scarcity of water, lack of capital and experience, distance from other Jewish centers, enmity of neighboring Arab villagers, and, particularly, the strained relations between the settlers and the Baron's administrators. It was nearly abandoned, but in 1896 the Ḥovevei Zion Association of Odessa (see *Ḥibbat Zion) purchased the land and new settlers came. They too endured hardships and in World War i were forced to leave temporarily by the Turkish authorities. The village was abandoned after it suffered losses in an Arab attack in the 1929 riots. The land was then taken over by the Jewish National Fund and the village was founded anew in 1930 by veteran agricultural laborers. Ground water was discovered and mixed farming introduced. Be'er Toviyyah soon became one of the most populous and prosperous moshavim in the country. In 1939 a second moshav, Kefar Warburg, was established on part of its land. After the Arabs abandoned the entire region during the Israeli *War of Independence (1948), Be'er Toviyyah became the center of a densely settled farming area, to which such urban agglomerations as Kiryat Malakhi and Ashdod were later added. Many of the settlers of Be'er Toviyyah came from Eastern Europe and Germany, others were Israeli-born. In 1968 the population was 645. The economy was mainly based on citrus and intensive farming. In 2002 the population was 763. The village was initially called Qastīna, after a neighboring Arab village. It became Be'er Toviyyah in 1896, the name being adapted from the Arabic name for the site, "Bīr (Biʾr) Taʿabya."

[Efraim Orni]