Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pre-State Ashkelon

As we continued to explore Ashkelon, we went to the old city center to visit the Ashkelon-Museum/Chan. It was a pretty eye-opening experience.
The Museum stands on the corner of Independence Square. B"H for independence, because exactly at this square, Egyptian forces paraded their Jewish captives during the War of Independence. The Egyptians had gotten that far!!

B"H for the kibbutzim and the young fighters throughout the Negev that actually held off the Egyptians from overrunning the entire country.

After Biblical days, Ashkelon was called Majdal. In fact, a large part of the museum was an exhibit that explained the debate over changing the town's name. After the British Mandate when Majdal was saved from the Egyptian invasion, its name was eventually changed back to Ashkelon.

Ashkelon's shores were the recipient of only one successful illegal immigrant ship in Aliya Bet. A ship from Rena, Romania, set sail on March 6, 1939 with 720 refugees bound for Eretz Yisrael. The ship sailed for four-and-a-half months before it reached Ashkelon's coast. Unfortunately the British intercepted it, jailed the refugees, but after two months of interrogations, the immigrants were released.

Three ma'abarot (immigrant tansit camps) were set up for immigrants from Arab countries, as well as Romania and Poland. The first homes built in Ashkelon in 1951 were inhabited from olim from South Africa and South America.

Ashkelon's residents still have strong ties with South American countries, and a sculpture exhibit outside the Ashkelon Heichal HaTarbut (Cultural Center) is made up of sculptures dedicated to the various nations of South America - Guatemala, Uruguay, Panama, Honduras, etc.
And hopefully, there'll be a movie clip to come soon too.

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