Zikhron Ya'akov

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Zikhron Ya'akov
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • Hebrew זִכְרוֹן יַעֲקֹב
 • ISO 259 Zikron Yaˁqob
 • Also spelled Zikhron Ya'aqov (official)
Zichron Yaakov (unofficial)
HaMeyasdim Street in Zikhron Ya'akov
HaMeyasdim Street in Zikhron Ya'akov
Official logo of Zikhron Ya'akov
Emblem of Zikhron Ya'akov
Zikhron Ya'akov is located in Israel
Zikhron Ya'akov
Zikhron Ya'akov
Coordinates: 32°34′15″N 34°57′06″E / 32.57083°N 34.95167°E / 32.57083; 34.95167Coordinates: 32°34′15″N 34°57′06″E / 32.57083°N 34.95167°E / 32.57083; 34.95167
District Haifa
Founded 1882
 • Type Local council
 • Head of Municipality Eli Abutbul
 • Total 32,129 dunams (32.129 km2 or 12.405 sq mi)
Population (2009)
 • Total 18,719
Name meaning Jacob's Memorial
Building wine barrels, 1890s

Zikhron Ya'akov (Hebrew: זִכְרוֹן יַעֲקֹב, lit. "Jacob's Memorial"; often shortened to just Zikhron) is a town in Israel, 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Haifa, and part of the Haifa District. It is located at the southern end of the Carmel mountain range overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, near the coastal highway (Highway 2). It was one of the first Jewish settlements of Halutzim in the country, founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and named in honor of his father.[1]


Historic Rothschild administration building

Zikhron Ya'akov was founded in December 1882 when 100 Jewish pioneers from Romania, members of the Hovevei Zion movement, purchased land in Zammarin.[2] The difficulty of working the rocky soil and an outbreak of malaria led many of the settlers to leave before the year was up.[2]

In 1883, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild became the patron of the settlement and drew up plans for its residential layout and agricultural economy. Zikhron was one of the first Jewish agricultural colonies to come under the wing of the Baron (along with Rishon LeZion and Rosh Pinna), who renamed it in memory of his father, James (Ya'akov) Mayer de Rothschild.[1][2]

To accomplish his first objective, Baron de Rothschild brought in planners who designed and allotted housing lots along the main road for the use of settlement farmers. Each lot included a house facing the street, a long interior courtyard and a rear building for storing agricultural implements. The French-inspired architecture included tiled roofs and painted wooden windows. Each farmer was given a salary and placed under the direction of Elijah Shaid, the Baron's clerk. The Baron also commissioned the construction of the Ohel Ya'akov Synagogue, named after his father, to serve the town.[3] Sparing no expense to build the edifice, the synagogue features a majestic ark made of white marble. The synagogue opened in 1886 and has conducted daily prayer services continuously to this day.

Following a number of economic failures, in 1885 Rothschild helped to establish the first winery in Israel, Carmel Winery, together with a bottling factory, in Zikhron Ya'akov. This was more successful economically although it was initially short-lived as in 1892 the grapevines succumbed to phylloxera, a type of parasite. After a brief set-back, American seedlings which were resistant to phylloxera were grown and the winery began to flourish. Today, the winery remains in action, as do the huge wine cellars that were carved into the mountain over a century ago. In 1954, the remains of Baron Edmond de Rothschild were reinterred in Zikhron Ya'akov.

Nili spy ring[edit]

Zikhron Ya'akov came to fame during World War I for the establishment of the Nili spy ring by Sarah Aaronsohn, together with her brothers, Aaron (a noted botanist) and Alex, and their friend Avshalom Feinberg. The group volunteered to spy on Ottoman positions and report them to British agents offshore. In September 1917, the Ottomans caught one of Sarah's carrier pigeons and cracked the Nili code. In October, they surrounded Zikhron Ya'akov and arrested Sarah and several others. After four days of torture, they planned on transporting Sara elsewhere, she requested to be taken home to change her clothes and shot herself with a pistol hidden in her bathroom and died after several days. The Aaronsohn House–Nili Museum recreates the history of this period.


The population increased dramatically in the early 1950s, after the establishment of the State of Israel. Between the 1960s and 1990s, the population remained constant with about 5,000 inhabitants. At the end of 2009, Zichron Yaakov had a population of 18,719.[4] Many residents continue to engage in agriculture, although upscale private homes have been built by families attracted to the scenic landscape. Zikhron Ya'akov has a high amount of English speaking residents, olim and others. They amount to 20% of the moshava's population.

Education and religious institutions[edit]

There is a sizable religious Jewish community in the town, including ultra-orthodox members of the Ohr Yaakov Yeshiva of Jerusalem and members of a Chabad-Lubavitch community. In addition to religious communities in Zikhron Ya'akov, there are Progressive/Reform and Conservative Jewish communities and synagogues in Zikhron Ya'akov. The former, "Kehillat Sulam Yaakov" (in Hebrew "Jacob's Ladder Community") is a synagogue that practices Progressive Judaism and is a part of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism. The latter, "VeAhavta", is a synagogue that practices Conservative Judaism.


The original Carmel-Mizrahi Winery continues to make wine in Zikhron Yaakov. The town draws many tourists attracted to its picturesque setting and historic city center whose restored main street of landmark buildings, called Derekh HaYayin ("Path of the Wine"), houses coffeehouses and boutique shops selling locally-made crafts, jewellery, and antiques, especially on the town's famous "Midrachov" (Rechov haMeyasdim — Founders Street).[2] It was announced in early 2008 that a 150-acre (0.61 km2) wine park would be created on the slope between Zikhron and neighboring town Binyamina.[5]

Notable residents[edit]

International Relations[edit]

Twin towns — sister cities[edit]

Zikhron Ya'akov is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Zichron Yaakov". Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Gems in Israel-Zichron Ya'acov". Gems in Israel. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  3. ^ Ya'akov offers breathtaking views, history lesson
  4. ^ "List of Localities" (PDF) (in Hebrew, English). The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. 31 December 2009. p. 10. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "Israel seeks to become wine tourism destination". Globes. 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 

External links[edit]