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Neighborhood Bought for Sack of Gold Coins

Standing on the corner . . . about to set off on a tour of Kfar Ganim

 A warm and pleasant evening saw more than forty people gather on a street corner in Petah Tikvah's suburb of Kfar Ganim for a tour in memory of Arye Shore who had been a member of the ESRA Petah Tikvah committee and had guided a tour last year of the historical sites in the center of Petah Tikvah.

The walking tour was led by Chaim Freedman, a noted genealogy enthusiast, who explained the history of the sites around the area of Yahalom, Degel Reuven and Lohamei HaGhetto streets. Chaim had many fascinating facts and stories about the founding of the Kfar Ganim neighborhood, which originally was a Moshava and in 1962 became a suburb of Petah Tikvah.

Kfar Ganim was established in 1926 and the first house was the residence of the founding family Yahalom. Unfortunately, there are few original buildings left from this era, but the Petah Tikvah council has erected many signs explaining the early history.

Kfar Ganim was purchased from Arabs of the village Yehudiya after protracted negotiations. The Muchtar (Mayor) of Kfar Ganim and first settler there in 1927, Benyamin Yahalom, had to acquire a sack of gold coins which was a condition of the final payment to one of the Arab sheiks. Not wanting to risk a hitch, Yahalom insisted on riding to the village of Yehudia, unarmed and alone at night in the rain to make the payment. Negotiations on the drafting of the agreement took place on a Friday and as the discussions laboriously stretched out, the beginning of Shabbat was fast approaching. Most of the early settlers were observant and feared that the signing of the agreement might breach the Shabbat. That was indeed the case and the settlers turned to Benyamin Yahalom, who was an ordained rabbi for a solution.

He proclaimed that for the redemption of land in Eretz Yisrael, the Shabbat could be broken and the deed was signed.

The first settlers were determined to establish the Moshava despite the lack of electricity, paved roads and water, which had to be brought in barrels drawn up the hill by donkeys. It took some time before wells were drilled and water made available to irrigate the orchards.

Most of the village's residents were unemployed laborers from Petah Tikvah, where the economy was suffering after the First World War. One solution to this problem was a plan to encircle the country's cities with villages where agricultural land could be purchased and dwellings erected at much lower cost than in the cities. Benyamin Yahalom's son-in-law, Yosef Markus, was a leader in the development of an extensive citrus fruit industry which benefited from export marketing.

During the 1936 riots, Markus established a defense line for Petah Tikvah on its southern side, opposite the villages of Suraqi, Yehudiya, Kafr Anna, and Arab al-Hazzi. Markus and his handful of soldiers eventually joined the Haganah.

Yahalom and Markus and later Hibner led a committee which obtained a bank loan to set up the Moshava and a cooperative association for the marketing of fruit and communal facilities. A municipal framework was granted to the village in 1951, when it was appointed by the Ministry of the Interior, which began building the school and paving roads. In 1962, Kfar Ganim was merged with Petah Tikva.

Today, much of Kfar Ganim is an urban suburb of multi-story housing. Those who recall the place in the 1970s will remember that the last houses on Hibner Street were facing the green pastoral scene of the orchards stretching as far as the eye could see southwards. Now, they have given way to Kfar Ganim Bet and Gimmel. As for oranges, go to a shop. Such is progress. 

 

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Wednesday, 08 December 2021

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