This photograph from 1950 shows tents in a transit camp or ma’abara in Hebrew. The tent seen in this picture is one of many erected on the ground with new streets or pavements between them. Outside the tent are five children who are tending to small plants that have been planted next to the tent entrance. Inside the tent are two older girls or women.
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Ma’abara – The ma’abarot were transit camps that were built to accommodate the large influx of Jewish immigrants who came to Israel in the 1950s. The word ma’abara derives from the Hebrew word ma’avar meaning move or transit. These communities were intended to be temporary places of residence until the immigrants found permanent homes. Living conditions in the ma’abarot were difficult, and inhabitants were exposed to the heat of the summer and the rain and mud of the winter. They were the first home in Israel for more than 200,000 immigrants, until the last one was closed at the end of the 1950s. Many ma’abarot became development towns providing permanent housing to Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Holocaust survivors, and other new immigrants. Many development towns, such as Kiryat Shmona, Bet Shean, and Yokneam, developed into thriving towns and cities, while others, mainly in the peripheral areas of Israel, still have difficulty overcoming various socioeconomic issues.
Mass Immigration to Israel in the Early Years of Israel - The early years of the State of Israel were noted for the large wave of immigration from all corners of the world; in the State’s first three and a half years, 688,000 new immigrants arrived, doubling Israel’s population. The immigrants were mostly Holocaust survivors from Europe and refugees from Arab countries. This welcome influx of Jews necessitated many resources. The immigrants needed housing and jobs. They also needed to integrate into Israeli society, and there was therefore a massive campaign to teach the immigrants Hebrew.