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Benei Aish

BENEI AISH

BENEI AISH (Heb. בְּנֵי עַיִש), community in central Israel. The settlement is located a little over a mile (3 km.) south of *Gederah. It was founded in 1957 on land that had served as a British military base during the Mandate period. The first settlers were mainly new immigrants from Yemen, Persia, Iraq, and Morocco who were removed from nearby transit camps (see *ma'abarah). In the beginning, they worked in the nearby moshavim. In 1981 Benei Aish received municipal status and during the 1990s it absorbed many new immigrants, with 1,500 new apartments built. By 1998, 65% of the inhabitants were recent immigrants. The absorption of the immigrants, mainly secular, led to tensions with the old-time religious settlers. Subsequently the municipality sponsored culture activities aimed at integrating the two populations. However, the result of demographic and social changes was to make Benei Aish less religious than before, though it still maintained religious services. Its population in 2002 was 7,570. The settlement is named after R. Akiva Joseph *Schlesinger, a leader of *Po'alei Agudat Israel and one of the founders of *Petaḥ Tikvah.

[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]

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