Ajzenbergs first came to Palestine in the 1920's and 1930's.  They settled in a place now called Hadera. To this day it remains the primary home for my Israeli relatives.  Hadera is in the area that includes Netanya to the South and Caesarea to the North, all part of what tourist guide books now refer to as, "The Golden Coast" of Israel.  It was not a Golden Coast in 1891 when Hadera was first settled.

Most of the following information is derived from material provided by "the K’han Museum" in Hadera.

In 1891 eight Jewish delegates, representing 178 Russian Zionist families[2] who were looking for a large tract of land, arrived in the Arab port of Yafo (Jaffa).  At the time, Palestine was under Turkish rule, part of the Ottoman Empire.  They had heard of an estate of 7,500 acres near Caesarea called, ‘The Green,' owned by a Christian Effendi[3], who was eager to sell his property.  With their negotiator, the delegates viewed the land, which was basically an open flood area with much greenery.  On the hill in the middle of the area sat a single farm called the K'han, a fortress-like building enclosing a large central courtyard.

The purchase was made and the families back in Russia were told to "sell out and come over here."  The land was described to them as "spacious," the water as "plentiful," and the seashore as "wonderful."  "We will be able to farm and also to raise fish in the lakes.  The land is arable and there is even a place to live--a 26 room building called 'K'han,' that we have already begun to clean up and renovate."

In the winter of the same year, 1891, the first settlers arrived.  They moved into the K'han and lived there for six years until the first private homes were built.

It was the most difficult of times.  Many farming efforts failed due to the inexperience of the settlers and improper tools.  Even worse was the problem of malaria.  "The people of Hadera were unwilling to give up their independence nor were they willing to abandon this deadly place."  In the first 20 years 1891-1911, 210 out of 540 (39%) people died[4].  The "lakes" were, in reality, deadly swamps that had to be drained, a task that took many years.[5]

In 1912, during the Second Aliyah, the next wave of immigrants to arrive in Hadera was 40 Yemen families.  In 1920-1921, students and youths from Poland and Russia arrived.  The 20's were also years of serious Arab riots throughout Palestine.  Jewish settlements were burned and looted.  The settlers had to organize themselves in self-defense groups.  Hadera was nearly wiped out in an Arab attack in 1921.

It was during the Third Aliyah that the first Ajzenbergs arrived in Palestine.  All came to Hadera.  In February of 1923, Chiam Ajzenberg then age 29, his wife Liba and their two-year-old son Moshe arrived in Hadera.  Sometime between 1923 and 1924 Dov Berel and Elka came from the US. 

Other Eisenbergs came during the Fifth Aliyah. Yitzhak arrived from Telechan in 1932 followed by the Marder family from Hartford Connecticut in1933.  In 1934 Hershele/Zvi arrived from Telekhan.  In 1935 Chaviva immigrated and in 1936, my grandmother, Minka arrived.  Finally in 1949 after World War II, Golda and Ziporah came from a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany.  All settled in Hadera.

Hadera has not only survived it has flourished.  The land area has grown to twice its original size, now 14,000 acres and in 1952 it became a city.  The population in 1994 was 63,000.  The K'han still stands in the middle of town.  The first Ajzenberg houses were close by, at the foot of the hill.

Alice Mileikowsky described Hadera of the 1930’s as follows:

The house “was on Herbert Samuel Street, Practically at the end of Hadera, with a few houses further away. (Shmuel) Chaim’s houses (two of them) were on Aliyah Reshona Street, a block away from ours.  On our land was another cabin, or hut, about 20 feet long and 12 feet wide.

This was our place of living till Dad arrived in 1934, when he added bathroom, porch, cellar, library, kitchen, and toilet. Today where the house stood is in the center of town.  All the houses next to ours and on the street were one family houses.  Today there isn’t one house left.  All were sold and apartments were built.”

In 1933 all settlers of Hadera were either workers or owners.  Everyone knew one another.  My friend’s parents were people who came to Palestine in the late 1880’s, built up Hadera from malaria and yellow fever, were wealthy later on and ran the town.  Many of the first settlers died from these sicknesses.

There were two schools then, Bet SeferAmami, and Bet Henuch.  The latter being of the working class.  …these school yearswere the best of my life; my cousins went there also as the second school was built after 1933, and so finished the same school (Amami) as I did.  

In July 1992, while I was writing this portion of the book, I came across the following news article in the Boston Jewish Advocate:

Hadera Immigrants Demand Utilities
"Twenty immigrants from a mobile home site in Hadera who broke into city hall on Sunday were forcibly removed by police.  Three women were held for questioning.  The immigrants, who disrupted the work of city hall staffers, were protesting what they called the 'in human' conditions at their site, which has not had it's infrastructure completed.  They were demanding immediate utility hookups.  The 20 represented the 17 families who were moved to the site two weeks ago, even though the infrastructure was not yet complete.  Complaints about the conditions, including the lack of running water and electricity and the stifling heat in the caravans, began only days later."

Over 100 years later, new immigrants are experiencing some of the same problems.  I am sure it is a hardship for them, but a significant difference from the conditions confronting the original settlers.

[1] The word is derived from the Arabic al-Khadre “the Green”

[2] According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, Hadera was founded in 1890 by members of Hovevei Zion from Vilna, Kovno and Riga who had bought the land a few months earlier

[3] A Turkish title of respect, especially for government officials; a man who is well educated or a member of the aristocracy.

[4] The Encyclopedia Judaica states that “more than half died of maleria”.

[5] The Encyclopedia Judaica states that in 1895 Baron Edmond de Rothschild began aiding the village, by sending Egyptian workers to lay out the first drainage network and planting large eucalyptus groves.  The eucalyptus tree became the symbol of Hadera