REḤOVOT (Heb. רְחוֹבוֹת; "Wide Expanses," a name based on Gen. 26:22), city in central Israel, in the Coastal Plain, 14 mi. (22 km.) S. of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Reḥovot was founded in 1890, by First *Aliyah immigrants from Poland. The land had been bought from a wealthy Christian Arab owner through the efforts of Yehudah *Goor (Grasovski), Yehoshua *Hankin, and A. *Eisenberg. The founding group, Menuḥah ve-Naḥalah, was intent on establishing a moshavah independent of Baron Edmond de *Rothschild's aid and tutelage. Reḥovot was then the only Jewish village to achieve this status. Although the moshavah was based on private initiative and property, the settlers showed civic spirit and strove toward cooperation. Initially, they had to overcome many obstacles – the Arab neighbors' enmity, agricultural failures due to plant diseases and the like, and marketing difficulties of their grape and almond produce. Citriculture was introduced in the first decade of the 20th century and the population increased, particularly after 1906, with the settlement of immigrants from Yemen in the suburbs, e.g., Sha'arayim founded in 1912. In 1914 Reḥovot had 955 inhabitants and 2,750 acres (11,000 dunams) of vineyards and almond orchards as well as over 130 acres (530 dunams) of citrus groves. After the hardships of World War i, Reḥovot entered a phase of quick expansion. In 1922 the village received municipal council status. In 1932 the Agricultural Research Station of the Jewish Agency (since statehood under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture) was transferred from Tel Aviv to Reḥovot. In 1934 Chaim Weizmann founded the Sieff Institute in Reḥovot and built a home in the moshavah in 1936. While throughout the 1930s and 1940s the citrus crop continued to constitute the mainstay of Reḥovot's economy, industrial enterprises, particularly citrus preserve plants, were opened. In 1949, the Sieff Institute was enlarged and became the *Weizmann Institute. In 1952 the Agricultural Research Station became the Faculty of Agriculture of the *Hebrew University. In 1948 Reḥovot had 9,000 inhabitants and became a city two years later. The population increased rapidly in the first years of statehood, reaching 23,000 in 1953. Later, its growth continued at a slower pace with 29,000 inhabitants in 1958 and 36,600 in 1968. Citrus and mixed farming still constituted an important element in the local economy, and Reḥovot became one of Israel's principal centers for citrus packing, particularly after the opening of *Ashdod port. Industry was diversified and included the production of artificial leather and chemicals, along with additional food-processing plants. In the late 1960s, a number of scientific enterprises connected with the Weizmann Institute added yet another element to the city's economy. The Kaplan Hospital is included in Reḥovot's municipal boundaries. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 83,200, rising to 98,800 in 2002, on an area of 8.5 sq. mi. (22 sq. km.). A third of the population was religious, 21% had an academic education. The economy continued to be based on packing, food processing, and chemicals, services, commerce, and the science and research institutes.
M. Smilansky, Reḥovot – Shishim Shenot Ḥayyeha (1950); Z. Gluskin, Zikhronot (1946); E.Z. Lewin-Epstein, Zikhronot (1932); Y. Harari, Bein ha-Keramim (1947). website: www.rehovot.muni.il.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]