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Ben Shemen


BEN SHEMEN (Heb. בֶּן שֶׁמֶן), youth village and moshav in central Israel, in the northern Judean foothills, 1.8 mi. (3 km.) east of Lydda. Land bought here in 1904 by the Anglo-Palestine Bank was transferred to the *Jewish National Fund in 1907, thus becoming one of its first holdings in the country. "Atid," a Jewish company for oil and soap production, founded a factory here in 1905. A year later, Kiryat Sefer, a children's village, was established for orphans of the *Kishinev pogrom, under the direction of Israel *Belkind. In 1908 the Palestine office of the Zionist Organization set up a training farm for agricultural workers; they planted groves of olives and other fruit trees. These plantations were then named "Herzl Forest." Ten Yemenite families were settled at Ben Shemen in 1911 to combine farming with arts and crafts in the style of the *Bezalel School of Jerusalem. During World War i Ben Shemen was a battlefront between the German-Turkish and the Allied armies. It was abandoned and largely destroyed. In 1921 one of the first moshavim was founded at Ben Shemen. In 1927 an agricultural school was opened under the direction of Siegfried *Lehmann and in 1934 it was among the first institutions to be included in the framework of *Youth Aliyah. Early in 1948, during the War of Independence, both the school and the moshav came under siege and the school was evacuated to the Ḥefer Plain until the end of the year, there constituting the basis for the Ne'urim Youth Village. In 1952 a new moshav (affiliated with Tenu'at ha-Moshavim) was established by settlers from Romania, whose main occupation was dairy and citrus farming. In 1968 Ben Shemen had 920 inhabitants, of whom 720 were in the youth village. In the mid-1990s Ben Shemen had approximately 1,360 inhabitants, of whom 990 were in the youth village. In 2002 the population of Ben Shemen (moshav) was 550 residents with another 638 in the youth village. The school includes an elementary and high school with dormitories. The name is taken from Isaiah 5:1.

[Efraim Orni]

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