The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


TIBERIYA, Israel, Tuesday—My first day in Israel was begun by seeing a really startling industrial enterprise. It was the Sabbath, but the Yankee foreman had no objection to meeting us and showing us the remarkable 66-inch pipes that he was constructing for the irrigation that is gradually bringing the Negev under cultivation.

This redheaded young man has a somewhat varied working crew, made up of something like 17 different nationalities.

The Yemenite group came to him one day deeply disturbed because there had been a number of industrial accidents. It was carefully explained that this would be remedied as they became more experienced. But they felt that these accidents were a sign that God was angry with them and so they wished to sacrifice a sheep there at the plant. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Supply did not agree with their idea and they were given no sheep for this purpose and slowly the Yemenites discovered that industrial accidents do, indeed, cease when more skill is gained.

We saw the line where the two pipes running north and south and east and west meet and had it explained to us that as each section was finished those immigrants who were going to work that ground moved in. Almost immediately the land began to bear fruit.

What astounds one in Israel is that the spirit is like the American spirit. There is imagination to accomplish great projects and no fear of undertaking them. When we reached the pumping station we saw the maps with the projected pipe lines and irrigation projects and those already accomplished.

I think Beersheva, which is the city farthest to the south that we visited, was the most interesting experience of the day. Here there was a man who was a Latvian, a builder of houses who also is the mayor of the town. It was quite evident that his whole heart was in the building up of the town's new quarters. He took us first to see where the new immigrants were received and lived in little tin shelters. Sometimes they live in tents, but the sanitary arrangements are made carefully and showers are provided for. After six months or so they have been taught and are capable of building a two-room house, with which they get a small garden plot. Here they live for some time while they continue building the next step, which is a two-story apartment house unit housing 1,000 families.

The last step after this is to be one of the builders on a project of three-story apartment houses. As the families move in, they landscape and develop new, small garden plots so that when the apartments are all completed the land all around will be landscaped and planted.

This is an industrial area, so they do not go in for large-scale farms but there is in the neighborhood a glass factory and a ceramics factory. A unit also is being constructed for small shops where individual artisans can run their own small businesses.

The Hadassah hospital that serves this neighborhood is well run and in nice quarters. There is a nurses' training school and in it are some of the young women from the neighboring settlements who have come in and learned to be nurses.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Tiberiya, Israel [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 20, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.