Mikveh Israel

views updated


MIKVEH ISRAEL (Heb. מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל), Israel agricultural school, E. of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Established in 1870, it is the oldest Jewish rural community in Ereẓ Israel. The school was founded by the *Alliance Israélite Universelle on the initiative of Charles *Netter, who visited the country for the first time in 1868. He then visualized such a school as the beginning of a future network of Jewish villages. In 1870 Netter obtained a lease of 650 acres (2,600 dunams) of land from the Turkish government, personally receiving the firman from the sultan in Constantinople. In the summer of 1870 he opened the school, which he directed until 1873, gaining support from the *Anglo-Jewish Association and from individuals and interesting Baron Edmond de *Rothschild in the enterprise. In 1882 the first *Bilu pioneers found work and were trained at Mikveh Israel immediately upon their arrival in the country. During his visit to Ereẓ Israel in 1898, Theodor *Herzl greeted Kaiser William ii at the entrance of Mikveh Israel. Joseph *Niego directed the school from 1891 and Eliyahu *Krause from 1914 to 1955. Numerous species of fruit and forest trees were tried out there in the early years, and under Krause, Mikveh Israel became a pioneering ground for the introduction and improvement of new farm branches. Hebrew became the language of instruction soon after Krause had taken over. In the Israel *War of Independence (1948), the school was attacked several times. Since the 1930s Mikveh Israel has become an important education center for *Youth Aliyah. In 1968 it had 940 inhabitants (pupils, teachers, instructors, and other personnel). In the mid-1990s, the population was approximately 1,545, declining to 749 in 2002. Mikveh Israel has been instrumental in developing novel techniques in citrus and other farm branches, introducing avocado cultivation and the acclimatization of many livestock strains, and while it operated the Mikveh Israel wine cellars produced select wines and liqueurs. At the turn of the 20th century, the campus housed a state and state-religious agricultural high school and a school for agriculture technicians. It occupied 1.2 sq. mi. (3.2 sq. km.) and included a cultural center, a library named after Krause, experiment stations, and a botanical garden featuring over 1,000 species. Agriculture included field crops, fruit orchards, citrus groves, greenhouse crops, sheep, poultry, and bees. The name is taken from Jeremiah 14:8 and 17:13 and means "Israel's Hope."

[Efraim Orni /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]