This is a photograph of a family of olim (new immigrants) from Romania. It was taken in Ma'alot in the north of Israel in 1949 by the photographer Rudi Weisenstein.
In the photograph we can see a father, a mother and a young child. The family is seated around a dining table. The father is reading a newspaper in a European language, the mother is writing, and the child is looking at his mother. The parents' clothes are very casual and simple, but the mother is wearing make-up and the child seems to be dressed and combed especially for the photograph. The furniture is made of wood, and there are elegant dishes on the shelves. The room looks small, and there are no paintings on the walls.
This family is an example of Jews who left Europe and other countries, immigrated to Israel, and were sent to build their home in the peripheral areas of the new State of Israel, in this case in Ma'alot, a development town in northern Israel (12km east of Nahariya) which was established for Jewish immigrants from Romania, Iran, Lebanon and Morocco. In 1963 Ma'alot merged with the neighbouring Arab village Tarshiha, and in 1996 Ma'alot-Tarshiha was recognized as a city. While it has developed considerably since its early days, the city still has many economic and social problems due to its location in the periphery of Israel and the fact that it has suffered many rocket attacks from Lebanon.
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Immigration to Israel in the early years of the State – The early years of the State of Israel were noted for the large wave of immigration from all over the world. During its first three and a half years, 688,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel, doubling its population. The immigrants were mostly Holocaust survivors from Europe and refugees from Arab countries. This welcome influx of Jews to Israel required many resources. The new immigrants needed housing and jobs. They also needed to quickly integrate into Israeli society, and thus there was a massive campaign to teach them Hebrew.