Postcards from the Alexander Collection
“Had Mikveh Israel not been established – it is doubtful whether the State of Israel would have been established.” David Ben-Gurion
Mikveh Israel, the first agricultural school in Eretz Israel, is etched upon our collective memory as the venue of the 1898 meeting between Theodor Herzl and the German Emperor Wilhelm II, later to become a symbol of the Jewish settlement and its development. It was established as a small agricultural village prior to the establishment of the first moshavot (rural settlements) by Kol Israel Haverim – Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU), which is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary.
AIU was founded in France against the background of the emancipation and the idea of Shivat Zion (return to Zion). Its slogan “All Israel are responsible each for the other” reflects its chief objectives: to assist in attaining equal rights for Jews in their countries of domicile; mutual help and activity toward educating children for study and work. The organization founded hundreds of schools throughout the world, in which the children studied general and Jewish studies in French.
Carl Netter, the organization’s secretary and later its first principal, was first sent to Eretz Israel in 1868. He recommended establishing an educational framework that would offer agricultural training and eventually a source of income. To this end he worked vigorously to raise money, even going to Constantinople to obtain a franchise for purchasing land for the school.
Founded in May 1870, Mikveh Israel met with a great deal of hardship in its early years, and only with the immigration of the First Aliya and arrival of the expert agronomist Joseph Niego, did the school become a modern farm, renowned throughout the world. After World War I the language of teaching was changed to Hebrew and the agricultural school of Mikveh Israel became a source of inspiration for intellectuals and a breeding ground for the halutzim (pioneers), defenders and leaders of the Yishuv.
The letters and postcards displayed in the Alexander Collection were sent to the principals of Mikveh Israel in the first decades of its existence. The exhibit comprises documents, stamps, and first day covers. All these reflect the story and uniqueness of the pioneering school.
Curator: Kineret Palti
Opens: March 7
Closes: October 22 2011