Article - Petah Tikwa Centennial
which is today one of the most prosperous towns in Israel, was founded in 1878 by a group of very orthodox pioneers from the old Yishuv in Jerusalem. This group of people had grown tired of living on "halukah" (charity) and decided to found a Jewish village to be based on "Torah and toil" where they could earn an honorable living. To realize their dream, they founded a company called Cultivation of the Soil and Redemption of the Land in 1876, which worked hard to find a suitable piece of land.
Among the active leaders of this group were Rabbi Joel Moshe Solomon, Rabbi David Meir Gutmann, Rabbi Yehoshua Stampfer, Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Yehuda Raab, Rabbi Zerah Barnett, and Rabbi Michael Leib Katz. Their spiritual leader was the Gaon Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger ("Ish") who drew up a detailed plan for founding a model Jewish village based on the Torah.
After great efforts in overcoming endless difficulties, the initiators of the scheme succeeded in purchasing, with their own funds, the land belonging to the abandoned Arab village of Um-Labbes near the Yarkon river. They called their settlement Petah Tikvah - the "Door of Hope" - based on the passage in Hosea 2:17: "And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope ..." (quoted on the tab of the stamp).
The first parcel of land was purchased in the summer of 1878 and on November 3, 1878, the founders of Petah Tikvah moved onto the site and plowed the first furrow in the middle of an area plagued by malarial swamps and hostile neighbors. The appropriation of this site marked the beginning of the Jewish resettlement of the Land of Israel. It is no wonder, therefore, that Petah Tikvah was honored with the title of "Mother of the Colonies." Petah Tikvah was followed by a series of settlements established by members of the First Aliya which in turn became the base of the revived Jewish settlement in the Land of its Fathers.
The stormy history of Petah Tikvah is composed of a string of achievements and failures, periods of suffering, and struggle against human and natural afflictions. The founding fathers had no experience in farming and had to contend not only with the difficult living conditions but also with financial problems. Within a short time their funds were exhausted. But their strong will and deep faith in their work gave them the strength and the courage to continue to work the land.
The original settlers were joined in 1879 by another Jerusalem group called the "Yarkonim" who settled near the Yarkon river in spite of the veterans' warnings of the dangers of malaria in the area.
The year 1881 was a critical one for the young colony. Malaria played havoc with the lives of the settlers and they were compelled to abandon their beloved village for a while. They returned to the area in 1883 and temporarily transferred their "settlement" to nearby Yehud where they were absorbed without difficulty and took a share in the rehabilitation of the "Mother of the Colonies." After an interval of no more than a year, the veterans and others returned from Yehud to Petah Tikvah as the problems of malaria were solved. They reestablished the settlement and were joined by additional settlers who flocked there from all corners of the world, until the colony began to take on the appearance of a small-scale ingathering of the Exiles.
At about this time too, the Russian Hibat Zion movement came to the assistance of the courageous settlers, and the benefactor Baron Edmund de Rothschild also aided them in overcoming their problems. Nevertheless, it was the burning devotion of the settlers to their ideal of achieving economic independence, their hard work and willingness to make do with little that enabled them, in a comparatively short time, to put the colony on a firm footing and develop it into a flourishing viable center of agriculture. In this manner, the "Mother of the Colonies" became the "Mother" of the various branches of Jewish agriculture.
Over the years Petah Tikvah served as a training center for the thousands of worker pioneers, where they learned the elements of farming and living on the land before branching out to found new settlements all over the country.
It was in Petah Tikvah, during the period of the Second Aliya, that the foundations of the first communal small-holder settlement, Ein Ganim, were laid down, and it was there that the principal workers' parties -Hapoel Hazair and Ahdut Avoda - were founded. Today, Petah Tiqwa is a "City and Mother in Israel" with a population of over 150,000.
Petah Tikvah is widely known for several of its public institutions. A highly attractive museum complex includes the Yad Lebanim museum (the first and largest of its kind in the country); the Mankind museum (the only one of its kind in the country); a biological museum; a zoo; and Bet Neta (devoted to the history of the Labor Movement). A 1,200-dunam park stretches out at the source of the Yarkon river, and the Afek archaeological site around the Antipatris fortifications is open to the public. There are also such important medical and rehabilitation institutions such as the Rabin hospital. All these institutions draw visitors and patients from all over the country.
The city continues to grow apace and attracts both new immigrants and children of the old Yishuv.