Treasure Trove: David Matlow looks at early home-building in Israel

The B’nai B’rith Palestine Housebuilding Fund was established in 1924 to build communities for immigrants. The fund purchased 25,000 dunams of land (2,500 hectares or a little over 6,000 acres) in western Jerusalem and developed the neighbourhood now called Bayit Vegan (house and garden). Conceived as a utopian community where all classes of people would work and contribute to the success of the cooperative venture, the area is now an affluent suburb. 

The B’nai B’rith organization was founded in 1843 in New York as a Jewish service organization. In 1888, it recognized its first lodge in Israel which opened Jerusalem’s first public library (the nucleus of the National Library of Israel which is unveiling a new building this year). B’nai B’rith would go on to build kindergartens, orphanages and homes and communities for new immigrants.