BE'ER YA'AKOV (Heb. בְּאֵר יַעֲקׁב), town in the Coastal Plain of Israel, W. of Ramleh, founded in 1907 by a group of 56 Jews from Russia (most of them "Mountain Jews" from Dagestan). Some of the settlers were peasants in their country of origin and preserved their picturesque dress and customs throughout the decades. Initially, almond orchards constituted Be'er Ya'akov's principal farming branch. In 1925, 20 families from Turkey settled in the village, but until 1948, its population did not exceed 400 inhabitants due to a scarcity of land. After the Israeli *War of Independence (1948), however, new immigrants were absorbed in local housing projects and in two moshavim, Be'er Ya'akov Pittu'aḥ and Talmei Menasheh, which were subsequently integrated into the municipal area. In 1949, it received municipal council status. Citrus orchards, poultry, and dairy cattle were originally prominent branches and constituted an important part of Be'er Ya'akov's economy. It was the site of three large hospitals (Asaf ha-Rofe, Shemu'el ha-Rofe, and a mental hospital) and industrial enterprises, among them a crate factory employing hundreds of laborers and a division of Israel Aircraft Industries. Be'er Ya'akov's educational institutions also attracted pupils from other localities, e.g., the Johanna Jabotinsky agricultural high school, a religious girls' teachers seminary, and yeshivot. The population rose to 3,950 in 1968, 6,960 in the mid-1990s, and 8,320 in 2002. The name, "Well of Ya'akov," commemorates the spiritual leader of the founders, Rabbi Ya'akov Yiẓḥaki of Dagestan.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.