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Places >> Rachel Ben-Zvi’s Learning Farm est. 1919

Rachel Ben-Zvi’s Learning Farm est. 1919

"Rachel Ben-Zvi’s Learning Farm” was established in 1919 in the Talpiot quarter of Jerusalem. In 1948, it moved to ‘Ein Karem, where it operates to this day as an agricultural school.

In 1919, Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi established the “women’s farm,” a nursery on the grounds of her home in the Rehavia quarter. The activity surrounding the facility attracted growing opposition on the part of neighborhood residents, so in 1928 the enterprise moved to a location not far from the High Commissioner’s residence, east of Talpiot, on a five-hectare (12.5-acre) plot purchased by the Jewish National Fund. In 1933, the “learning farm” was established there as a residence for girls and, subsequently, for boys as well. Once up and running, the “farm” admitted groups under the auspices of Youth Aliyah. In 1948, it was evacuated to abandoned buildings in ‘Ein Karem and reestablished itself on the grounds of today’s ‘Ein Karem Community Environmental School.

One of the young Holocaust survivors who were enrolled in the institution in ‘Ein Karem was Aharon Appelfeld, subsequently one of Israel’s greatest authors. He describes his experiences there in his memoirs: “In 1946–1948 I was in Youth Aliyah and in 1948–1950 I attended the agricultural school that Rachel Yanait had set up in ‘Ein Karem, as well as Hannah Meisel’s agricultural school in Nahalal. For four straight years I was in contact with the soil and I was sure that fate intended me to be a worker of the soil. I loved the soil and, especially, the trees that I tended. My daily routine was clear during those years: reveille before dawn, arduous labor from 6:00 to 8:00, a full and aromatic breakfast, and uninterrupted work after that. I loved the afternoon naps that I took on hot summer days. In fact, part of my being was somnolent in those years. The war years dropped through me like a stone and I went and communed with the soil, the Hebrew language, and the books that I read with immense thirst.”

Today, the “farm” serves as a regional high school for the upland localities in the Matte Yehuda Regional Council area and as a youth village. It teaches agricultural trades such as horticulture, nutrition, treatment of potted plants, geology, environmental studies, theater, Arabic, biology, and others, all in addition to the regular subjects.
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