“Ingathering of the Exiles,” Davar Newspaper, March 11, 1949
The airport at Lod, like the ports along the coast, are crowded with olim [new immigrants] who are coming from the north and the south, the west and the far east. The olim come from Poland, Aden, Eritrea, the United States, Czechoslovakia, China, and other countries. The establishment of the State of Israel has aroused the hearts of the dispersed of the nation, and the masses from different climates and cultures are flowing to the rejuvenated land of their forefathers. This is an amazing movement of a nation that derives from a great love for the homeland and the inability to stay in the Diaspora. We bring here a few pictures, but the number of olim is immense. We must all ask ourselves: How will we receive these olim? Where will they find shelter and work? How will they learn Hebrew, and where will their children be educated? We will join the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency in this large and urgent mission to absorb the Aliya.
This is an article published in the Davar newspaper on March 11, 1949. Under the heading “Ingathering of the Exiles by Air” are pictures of immigrants from various countries. The photographs include immigrants from Poland, Aden, Yemen, China, Eritrea, Germany, and America. There are also two photographs of Zionist activists: Miriam Sharshat from the United States and Margot Bloch from Germany. The new immigrants are carrying their belongings in bags and parcels and are mostly in family groups. They are dressed in warm clothes, and some are wearing traditional clothing.
The text in the centre describes the mass aliya (immigration) to Israel. It explains that the establishment of the State of Israel has inspired people from around the world to return to their homeland, some because they felt they should be in Israel and others because they were unable to remain in the Diaspora. The short article details the needs of the new arrivals: housing, employment, language, and children’s education. The text finishes with a call to the readers to join the government and the Jewish Agency in the task of absorbing the new olim.
In Israel’s early years, there was a major wave of Jewish immigration. Most of the immigrants were Holocaust survivors from Europe or Jews who were fleeing persecution in Arab countries. Within three and a half years, the population of Israel had doubled. In 1949 alone, the year of the publication of this newspaper, around 250,000 people arrived in Israel – the largest number of olim to this day. Many arrived from displaced persons (DP) camps and from British detention camps in Cyprus. The immigrants from Arab countries mostly arrived in special operations evacuating communities that were in grave danger, such as Operation Magic Carpet from Yemen (1949–1950) and Operation Ezra and Nehemia from Iraq (1951–1952).
The large influx of people was welcomed by the new state, but resources for their absorption were scarce. A system of rationing, the tsena, was thus implemented, and the new immigrants were housed in transit camps called ma’abarot.
As mentioned in the article, the olim arrived in Israel via the ports and Lod Airport. The airport, named after the nearby town of Lod, was established by the British Mandate and inaugurated in 1937. It was first named the Wilhelma Airport, a reference to the German colony on whose territory the field was built. With the death of David Ben-Gurion, the name was changed to Ben-Gurion Airport.
The phrase “ingathering of the exiles,” kibbutz galuyot, appears in the Torah and is a reference to the End of Days when all the Jewish People exiled to different places in the world will be returned to the Land of Israel.
This article can be used in Jewish History lessons when teaching about the mass aliya of the 1940s and 1950s.This article can also be used when teaching about the challenges facing the new State of Israel.
This article can be used in Sociology or Current Affairs lessons when discussing the topical issue of immigration and refugees. The text of this article focuses on many relevant issues including reasons for emigrating and the challenges facing both the immigrants and the host country.
What is the title of the article? What is its literal meaning?
When was this article printed?
Which newspaper published this article?
Look at the photographs.
Who are these people?
Where are they from?
How are they similar to one other?
How are they different from one another?
Read the translation of the text that accompanies the photographs.
What are the main points?
What does the article ask of all the readers?
Reading Between the Lines
This article from 1949 refers to a wave of immigration to Israel.
Look up this event and find out the following information:
How many immigrants arrived in Israel at that time?
Where did the immigrants come from?
What were the reasons for their immigration?
What were the challenges facing the at the time of the article?
The photographs show from various countries. Do you think their different countries of origin would have affected their feelings on arriving in Israel and their subsequent absorption?
Due to the mass immigration, Israel’s population doubled in a very short period of time.
What challenges did the Israeli government and Israeli society face due to this mass immigration?
The Israeli government organised operations to bring Jewish communities from Arab countries to Israel, such as Operation Magic Carpet and Operation Ezra and Nechemia.
Research these operations and find out why they were necessary and how many people arrived in Israel with these operations.
Why do you think a newspaper would have dedicated an entire two-page spread to the subject of the new immigrants?
Why does the newspaper use the biblical term of the “Ingathering of the Exiles” to describe what was happening?
Immigration to Israel is referred to as and immigrants as .
What do these words mean literally? Why are they used to describe immigration to Israel?
Aliya still takes place today.
Do you know anyone who has immigrated to Israel in the last few years?
There have been various waves of from different countries.
From which countries have immigrants come to Israel in recent years?
Compare the challenges faced by today and in the early days of the State of Israel.
What is similar? What is different?
Write a newspaper article for an Israeli paper explaining how Israeli citizens can best assist new today