Reference in the bible

The plain of Ono is mentioned in the bible in the Book of Nehemia (6:2). According to the legend, in the days of Joshua it was surrounded by a wall. In 445 BC the tribe of Benjamin came to settle in this fertile region. Ono was also mentioned in the Mishnah, and there is a connection between this reference and the name of the village Ana, which is part of Or Yehuda and where there have been archaeological findings on the land that prove a settlement existed in this same place in ancient times.

The Arab villages of Chiria, Skia and Kfar Ana were captured by the Alexendroni Brigade in the "Chametz" campaign during the War of Independence. The abandoned houses in these villages were used by the first settlers of Or Yehuda beginning in 1949.

The Name of the City

The city is named after Rabbi Yehuda Shlomo Chai Alkelai, a native of Yugoslavia, and one of the heralds of religious-practical political Zionism in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. Another version associates the name with an agricultural farm in Izmir, Turkey, "Yehuda's Farm" where new immigrants from Turkey were trained before making aliyah to Israel.

The First Immigrants

Following the War of Independence, new immigrants came to Or Yehuda, and each one brought another and another. The first settlers arrived in 1949. These were Turkish immigrants who left the Shaar Aliya absorption camp in Haifa on their own initiative. During that same year immigrants from Libya also came to settle there. They lived in extremely harsh conditions, in clay houses in the abandoned Arab villages Skia and Kfar Ana. And water they hauled in buckets from Tel Litwinksi (today known as Tel Hashomer). In 1950 the first transit camp – ma'abara- was established, Skia A, and between 1950-1953 immigrants arrived from Iraq, in the "Ezra and Nehemia" Campaign, in many cases they became members of the settlement's population. The transit camps Skia A and B, Kfar Ana A and B were established and the immigrants lived in tents and shacks that sprouted like mushrooms after the rain. Each transit camp had its own management committee. In the hard winter of 1951/2, the children were evacuated by the army to the military base in Tel Hashomer and were then sent to private homes and kibbutzim.

Employment in the City

The employment situation was difficult. The residents worked in harsh conditions for meager wages, and it was on this background that strikes broke out. In 1952 the United Committee was established – HaVa'ad Ha'Meuchad – consisting of all the transit camps with the purpose of improving conditions, however it experienced financial difficulties. Petitions of the residents to the Ministry of Interior requesting to establish a Local Authority met with refusal because the settlement was only intended to be a temporary place of residence. Despite the move from tents to shacks, conditions remained harsh, as before, and the educated and more affluent families left the settlement moving to Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.

Or Yehuda the Permanent Settlement

In 1955 Or Yehuda was declared a permanent settlement; a local council was elected and in 1962 it was recommended as an area for municipal planning. In the sixties the living conditions improved for the residents as well as employment opportunities and most moved to live in the neighborhoods that the government was beginning to build (in 1958). The construction rate began to accelerate and the settlement was connected to the intercity roads in the region.

Or Yehuda- City and Mother in Israel

In the seventies and the nineties Or Yehuda absorbed thousands of immigrants from Georgia, Bukhara and the former USSR. In the eighties, in the framework of the neighborhood renewal project, Or Yehuda was adopted by the Jewish communities of Milwaukee, USA and Ontario, Canada. As part of this project, the local council led a scheme in which thousands of families bought the apartments they were living in from Amidar (a government-run construction company who built housing upon the establishment of the State of Israel), while at the same time the council halted the construction of new apartments being built by the Ministry of Housing. Instead, thousands of apartments were enlarged by the inhabitants with the help of the council's plan, and hundreds of old apartments were refurbished for young couples. In 1988, Or Yehuda was declared as City and Mother in Israel.

Building New Neighborhoods

In the beginning of the nineties, Or Yehuda signed a contract with "Africa Israel" for building of a new neighborhood Neve Savyon, which included 2500 housing units in different variations. Simultaneously, many public institutes were built such as a cultural hall, a library, a science and arts center, a music and dance center, a sports arena, a swimming pool, soccer field and tennis courts and new schools.

A few years later, planning began for another new neighborhood and construction soon commenced, this was the Neve Rabin neighborhood in the eastern part of the city. Development of a new commercial and employment center also commenced and in the southern part of the city the Halom industrial area was built. In the beginning of 2000 academic institutes began to open in Or Yehuda, for example the Heck Center of Academic Studies and a branch of the Ono Academic College.

In 2007, following the disbanding of the Efal local council due to financial difficulties, Ramat Pinchas was annexed to Or Yehuda and became one of the city's neighborhoods.

Today: Investment in education and upgrading infrastructure

In the past few years Or Yehuda's municipality has invested in various fields of life focusing on the realm of education, which it views as the key to progress. Following the signing of a "roof agreement", all the educational institutes in the city, the public gardens and parks, sewer infrastructure neglected for decades and roads will be upgraded. Along with investment in the older neighborhoods, plans for building two new neighborhoods in the city are also being promoted: Bait Ba'Park, north of Road 461, and Park Ayalon, this neighborhood is an extension of Nachal Ayalon.

Furthermore, the municipality established a municipal innovation division for advancing execution of clear-and-rebuild schemes and Tama 38 for upgrading old structures in the older neighborhoods and granting the residents a higher standard of living.