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The Bashan Foundation is named after Mr. Avner Bashan (1919-1985) and Mrs. Sara Bashan (1924-2018), viticulturists for the wine industry and descendents of the first pioneers of the State of Israel. They encouraged agricultural and environmental research and development. The Bashan Foundation is a direct continuation of that spirit.

Historical background of the Bashan family

The Bashan family is deeply rooted in the founding of modern-day Israel. Their ancestors might be considered 19th Century equivalents of the 17th Century "Mayflower" pioneers of America. Similarly, they fled persecution and hardship in their European homeland to establish their new home in an almost empty territory, in what they considered to be the biblical Promised Land, which became the modern state of Israel over a century later. The Bashan family originated from two completely distinct groups of East European Jews arriving from the republics of Moldavia and Rumania, and for different reasons. One group was ultra-orthodox, seeking physical, economic, and spiritual refuge. The other was a Zionist group, looking forward to re-establishing a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land, which was then a remote Ottoman Palestine colony. This was a common, romantic dream in 19th Century Europe for many minority ethnic groups.

The Benderly family branch: The Zafed Era

The first group came in 1833 from the Bessarabian town of Bendery on the Dnesr River (population then approx. 10,000 with 3000 Jews), about 100 km northwest of the Ukrainian city of Odessa on the Black Sea. Bessarabia was a Rumanian Principality in the region of today's Moldavia, bordering the Ukraine. Until 1812, the Principality was part of the Ottoman Empire, and was then conquered by the Russian Czar Alexander I. In 1825, the new Russian Czar, Nicholas I, introduced discriminatory decrees against Jewish citizens of the Russian Empire. The local economy soon declined and anti-Semitism increased as a result. The local Russian populace followed suit and large-scale destruction of Jewish communities (pogroms) ensued. Even worst, the new Czar issued an imperial decree obligating Jewish youth to join his army for 25 years. For the Jews of Bendery, these persecutions led to a movement to leave. Encouraged by their spiritual leader, Rabbi Avraham-Dov Mavritz, about 300 immigrated to the Holy Land in 1833. They chose the Holy Land rather than the "New World," as other Jews did, because they saw the Holy Land as a land of opportunity, since many of them were merchants, young adults with families, and relatively wealthy. Their main occupation in Bendery was textile manufacturing and banking. Palestine was relatively close to Rumania, and religious history provided a strong rationale.

Yosef and Soshana-Reizel
Benderly in Zafed with their
children (1911). Mina Benderly
standing on the left.

The immigrants immediately dispersed among four ancient cities of Palestine--Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, but mostly to the northern town of Zafed, where the ancestors of the Bashan family settled. Four brothers of the Bendery family reached Zafed (David, Yosef, Avrahm, and Dov) and one sister (Haya-Golda) and their families. They chose Zafed for practical reasons. Zafed had 5000 Jewish inhabitants whose ancestors had lived there for centuries (the second largest Jewish population after Jerusalem) and many inhabitants were Hasidic, as was the case for many from Bendery. From an economic point of view, Zafed (a minor town today) was a major road junction and commercially active regional city. They assumed that they would be able to resume the commercial activities of their homeland and stay economically independent. As such, they would not have to live on scarce donations from Jewish European communities, as was common at that time. And worse, the donation system was controlled by a corrupt religious administration.

However, establishing their settlement in Zafed was hard, starting with a very heavy snow upon arrival in 1833. This brought misery to the unprepared families, and this was followed by a black plague epidemic a year later. In 1835, as a consequence of the weak Ottoman government in the remote colony, Arab farmers from the Golan Heights robbed the city. In 1837, a major earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the city, killing half the Jewish population. In 1838, the Druz population (a Muslim sect) from Lebanon rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, and in the process also sacked the commercial town.

Despite the hardships of their first years, the family got along well with the local population, Jews and Arabs, and many members of the family prospered. They were known as the "Benderly" family, a name reminiscent of their city of origin, as was common in Turkish traditions.

After the hardships of the early years, in 1850 there was major relief. The central Ottoman administration wished to improved economic activity in the colony and re-organized itself. Consequently, many minorities, Jews included, had less restrictions. In Zafed, it meant that the Jewish and Christian minorities had the same civil rights as the local Arab population. For example, they were allowed to travel long distances. The family, basically merchants, took advantage of the “new economy” and improved itself. Because they immigrated from Bendery, that was until relatively recent times under Ottoman rule, they were recognized by the Ottoman government as Ottoman citizens. As a result, they obtained a license to be merchants and to move freely between Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, to Egypt and Sudan, an event that created large business opportunities for merchants.

The most prominent brother was David, who started to be a large-scale importer and exporter for the entire Middle East. Apparently, he was considered a very reliable man among his business associates and the government civil servant administration of the empire and his name reached the supreme ruler of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan Abd-el Hamid II in Koshta (Istanbul of today). As a sign of respect for his significant economic activities and his reliability to the empire, the Sultan granted him a very special permit; to print money notes on official Turkish paper for his business because of lack of commercial banks in many commercial areas where the family worked. Finally, the Sultan gave him the rarest and coveted permit of all—to check and certify the scales of all merchants in the area. For this post, the Sultan gave him the seal of the empire and the official title “Honorific Sultan.” David, in return, added to the name of Sultana to his daughter Sara’s name and his descendents added Sultan to the family name of Benderly. This is founding of the Benderly “dynasty.”

Meanwhile, David enlarged his commercial enterprises in any place possible. In addition to textiles, he bought and sold anything that had a market. As business was good and regionally far-reaching, he enrolled his family for support because family ties guaranteed loyalty to the headquarters in Zafed. Members of the family left Zafed and settled in Zidon, Acre, Haifa, Port Said, Cairo, and Khartoum in Sudan. Dozens of mule, camel, and donkey caravans, led by Arabs and Jews criss-crossed the Middle East, yet the base of operations was Zafed. The caravans’ operations were run by his son Mordechai who, as a consequence, was almost never at home. One cousin, Shimon Benderly, operated a huge warehouse in Port Said in Egypt and a private pier in the port. He also opened a cigarette factory (Simon-Arch) and his youngest son, Bernard, opened a business in Cairo for import and export of watches and jewelry (Bernard Benderly Corporation). The multiple businesses of David were well run for 30 years until his death in 1882. Despite his success and fame, he paid attention that his immediate family, including his sons, continued to live in Zafed.

Yosef and Soshana
-Reizel Benderly in
zafed (circa 1930).

After his death, his son Shlomo inherited the business empire. Unfortunately, the Ottoman Empire started to disintegrate at that time. International trade among countries in the Middle East, within the Empire’s own borders, was more and more difficult. Consequently, the commercial sphere of the family significantly shrunk and concentrated in the area between Gaza in the south to Beirut and Damascus in the north. Also, the diversity of the trade goods shrunk and they concentrated on salt, food, and grains.

Since 1900, the economic status of the family continued to decline, but was not severely damaged. Grain commerce was still possible and important, and they were the only provider of salt (major food supplement of that time) in northern Palestine. In 1914 and WWI, all males of Turkish citizenship like the Benderlys were drafted into the Turkish army. Most Jews in Palestine realized that nothing good could come from joining the Turkish Army that was on the losing side, pushed by the British Army. Some wealthy citizens like part of the Bendely family smuggled themselves abroad, mainly to Brazil but also to Australia, Argentina, the USA, Germany, France, and Italy. During WWI, the Benderly family members who stayed in Palestine encountered severe poverty as regional and international commerce was now past history and two typhoid epidemics decimated the general population to about a third of the size present before the war.

Neve Zedek (today’s Tel Aviv) and the Gorodenzik Family Era

The branch of the Benderly family that is the Bashan family originated from the brother Yosef (1822-1870) who immigrated to Palestine as a teenager. One of his five children, Nisan-Zvi (1845-1911) had also five children. One was Yosef Benderly, Jr. (1870-1933), who lived mostly in Zafad and, in his late years, in Neve Zedek, (buried in Zefad) and his wife Soshana-Reizel, an orphan from Galicia who came to Palestine in search of a husband. They were the parents of Mina Benderly who married Shlomo Gorodenzik and was the mother of Sara Bashan (see below).

Yosef Benderly (the younger) was an ultra-religious Hasid, as is obvious from photographs of his late years, including typical Hasidic dress he wore most of his life. His sole occupation was to study in religious school (Yeshiva); he was a useless businessman. Because the family received no Haluka funding (donations from Jewish European communities), no support from other Benderlys who were rich merchants in town, and produced eight children, they were extremely and continuously poor. They had a small grocery store in Zafed that hardly supported them. During the WWI, they frequently went hungry. This bleak economic situation improved somewhat after the arrival of Australian soldiers to Zefad with the Egyptian (British) Expeditionary Force of General Allenby, who were willing to pay well for salt.

Mina Gorodenzik

Yosef and Soshana-Reizel Benderly had eight children. Because of severe poverty and no economic opportunity in Zefad, seven of them moved, one by one, to Neve Zedek (Justice Oasis), which eventually became one of the two founding neighborhoods of the city of Tel Aviv. As a young woman of the fifth generation, Mrs. Mina Benderly (Mrs. Sara Bashan's mother) was the first to leave Zafed, matched (as was common then) with Shlomo Gorodenzik. Together, they were one of the first Jewish pioneers who left the city of Jaffa in 1920 and built the new neighborhood of Neve Zedek. They built their home at Sharabi 13 Street in Neve Zedek that still stands. Her parents, Yosef and Soshana-Reizel Benderly from Zafed, visited them in 1929. Coincidently during their visit, the general Arab uprising in Palestine destroyed their home in Zefad. From that time, the parents stayed with their daughter’s family in Neve Zedek, returning to Zafed only for burial. Regardless, their activities made them feel more like survivors than pioneers.

The family of Shlomo Gorodenzik, circa
1910. Seated: Hana Riva (mother).
Standing from right to left: her children
Sara-Faigel, Zvi, Rachel, Shlomo, Frieda (Kazurin). Seated: Yael (Krupik).
The seated man is unidentified.

Shlomo Gorodenzik was probably born in the village of Ekron, between Jaffa and Jerusalem, in 1887. (His son, Avram Gorodenzik, the last person still having the original family name, says that his father was borne in Jaffa). He was the son of Binyamin Gorodenzik and Hana-Rivka Shkolnik, who had immigrated to Palestine from Grodna, Byelorussia in 1883.

Shlomo Gorodentchik,
one of the pioneers of
Tel Aviv, attending an
unknown social event
(about 1920).

Binyamin and Hana-Rivka
Gorodenzik in Neve Zedek
(circa 1930).

Of the ancestral branches of the Bashan family, the roots of the Gorodenzik family are less clear. From bits and pieces of information, a general picture can be seen. Bynyamin Gorodenzik immigrated to Palestine with his father Avraham-Yosef Gorodenzik and five brothers; all were carpenters. These brothers were extraordinarily-skilled furniture carpenters, apparently wealthy from their trade, and, as a donation, built the Tabernacle that contains the Torah scrolls of the synagogue in Neve Zedek. Bynyamin Gorodenzik arrived first to Jaffa and sometimes lived there. Eventually, he moved to Neve Zedek and built a large home that still stands. Their father, Avraham built another historic large house nearby. The brothers were very religious people and part of they holdings were donated to religious charities. Normally (with information available only on the activities of Bynyamin and his father Avraham), they did not help their children, who were left to their own initiative to advance their personal economic welfare. Binyamin travel frequently to South Africa to earn more money. He died in 1946 in Tel Aviv. He is burried in the Olive Mountain Cemetery in Jerusalem, together with all his brothers in the family “mausoleum.”

Binyamin and Hana-Rivka Gorodenzik in Neve Zedek with daughter Yael (standing with a child), circa 1940.

Contrary to his grandfather and father, Shlomo Gorodenzik and his wife Mina (Benderly) were small merchants, working from before sunrise to well after sunset in their grocery store. They had no entrepreneurial spirit and were not interested in expanding their business. Initially, Shlomo built a grocery store in the market of Jaffa. In the second Arab uprising of 1936, the store was burnt to ashes and he moved the store to the living room of his father’s home on Achva Street in Neve Zekek. This small store, that still stands, was their sole livelihood, until their death. Both are buried in Tel Aviv. Shlomo and Mina Gorodentzik were the parents of Sara Bashan who together with her husband Avner Bashan started the Bashan Family (see below).

The Bonshtein Family, era of the first pioneers of Israel

Zikhron Ya'aqov: monument to
the pioneers.

The monument to the pioneers
of Zikhron Ya’aqov

The monument to the pioneers of Zikhron
Ya’aqov, Hebrew inscription indicates
“Avraham and Adela Goldshtein,” the pioneers
of the colony, the parents of Rachel Bonshtein.

The purchase contract for the
land at Zikhron Ya’akov by its
pioneer settlers (circa 1880)

Causes for immigration

The other ancestral group of the Bashan family came from the same Eastern European area, but for more idealistic reasons. Europe in the late 19th Century was a boiling pot of nationalistic movements, cultivating "independence" for many minority ethnic groups. Some Jewish groups and their Zionist idealism (Zion, a biblical synonym for the land of Israel), increased their enthusiastic activities after severe and systematic destruction in pogroms of Jewish communities in southern Russia and Romania carried out by local peasants. The main objective of the Zionists was to reestablish Jewish settlements and later a "state" or "cultural autonomous region" in the Holy Land, governed then by the decaying Ottoman Empire. The Zionist movements were the first deliberate attempt to initiate large-scale immigration of Jews to the remote Ottoman colony of Palestine, despite Turkish prohibition. Earlier, Jewish immigration was composed of very small religious groups (like the Benderly and the Gorodenzik groups described above) and old Jews wishing to die and be buried in the Holy Land. These small communities lived on donations from Jewish communities in Europe and from commerce, but not from agriculture. This limited immigration did not establish any new settlements, barely increased the local population, and was concentrated in the four "Holy Cities" of Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Zafed.

Zikhron Ya'aqov Historic Center. The
administration building of Baron Edmond de
Rothschild's Palestinian holdings
(late 19th century). Today, it is the Pioneers

Zikhron Ya'aqov Historic Center.
The first water container of the village
(late 19th century). Preserved as an
historical monument.

The ship “Thetis” departing from Galatz
(Romania) in August 1882 with the first pioneers
of Zikhron Ya’akov.

The movement

One Zionist group in Rumania, called "Hovevey Zion" (friends of Zion) organized a group of settlers who initiated modern Jewish immigration to Israel. On 18 August 1882, the families left the city of Galati in Rumania on the ship "Tetis," and eventually established eight villages in Palestine. These settlers were more visionary than practical, and as farmers, they were amateurs. This led to a total economic collapse of the entire farming idea until they received financial and agronomic help (and personal repression, as a consequence) by the investments and support of the French Baron Edmond James de-Rothschild, who took over the entire Zionist initiative a few years after their arrival. Two of these first villages, "Rosh Pina" (Cornerstone) and "Shomron-Zamarine" (later renamed Zikhron- Ya'aqov,"Memory of Jacob", as instructed by the Baron's administration as a memorial to his father) were the settlements where ancestors of the Bashan family lived. Upon arrival, after a short and miserable stay in the small Arab port town of Haifa, in December 1882, some of the group moved to the overpriced, 500 hectares of mainly mountain land they purchased in "Zamarine" from the vice consul of France in Haifa for 50,000 francs and to other purchased land in "Rosh Pina." The first two recorded ancestral immigrants were Yosef-Nahum Goldstein and Mordechai Bonstein, both 1882 pioneers of Rosh Pina, today a northern village in Israel about 50 km north of the Sea of Galilee and close to Hermon Mountain, which marks Israel's northernmost point.

Tantura. Baron Edmond de
Rothschild's glass factory for his
winery (late 19th Century).Production
failed and the factory was abandoned.
Today it is the site of the Hamizgaga
Museum for the antiquities found
in the port of Dor (King Salomon's port).

The port of Tantura (1877). The home
of Mordechai Bonstein is visible on
the beach. Photo provided by the
magazine Teva Hadvarim.

Mordechai Bonshtein (1856-1952), the pioneer

Haya Rachel Bonshtein, the
wife of Mordechai Bonshtein,
the pioneers of Tantura, who
lived for 10 years as the only
Jewish family among the
Arabs of the village (late-in
-life photo, circa 1930).

Mordechai Bonstein, son of a railroad engineer, born in Berdichev in 1856 (or Kiev or Oddesa, based on other sources), Ukraine, was a young and physically very strong farmer despite the photos that were left when he was a very old man. He was a pioneer in Rosh Pina from its onset in 1882. However, his land holding was small and rocky, and he wished to own and cultivate larger areas; in east Europe, where he leased large areas and married Haya (1863-1942), he had dreamt of being a rancher in Palestine. This was impossible in Rosh Pina. In 1884, the chief clerk of the Rothschild's Palestinian holdings (who, by then had almost complete financial control of all the pioneer settlements) offered him a proposition that he could not refuse—a much larger land parcel, a sort of a ranch of 60-80 hectare that was the property of the Baron, in return for his meager land in Rosh Pina. The large parcel had some downsides; it was made of numerous small fragmented parcels, and worst, located in the midst of the parcels of Arab village of Tantura, now called Dor-Nachsolim.Although close to "Zikhron Ya'aqov," cultivation of that estate by "new" and untrained unmarried pioneer farmers from Zikhron Ya'aqov, who did not reside there, was difficult without the presence of a strong farmer because local Palestinians occupied the land and the Ottoman government agents that enforced the law were weak and corrupt.Mordechai Bonstein and his wife Haya (1863-1942) accepted the challenge and became the only Jewish family among these Palestinians for ten years.

As a hard working farmer cultivating fertile land, within a few years he had tremendous economic success as a traditional farmer , cultivating the land as his Arab neighbors did, by growing grains, apples, milk cows, goats, sheep, poultry, and even pigeons. He soon became independent of the Rothschild's financial support, and sustained neighborly good relations with the Arab populace. Some accounts say the relations were outstandingly friendly. Amazing stories (that sound unrealistic today) about the relations between the nationalistic Arab village and their single Jewish family is a picture of an unparallel life in peace and co-existence; Mordechai Bonstein was the highly respected arbiter in conflicts among the Arab peasants who trusted his judgment more than the decision of the Ottoman court in nearby Caesarea. He was offered the chairmanship (Muchtar) of the "Council of the Elders of the Village," even though he was young. He declined the honor, but other sources say that he accepted it for one year. During the harvest season, the fields were communally harvested by the entire village. As a Jew, he did not work on Saturdays. The Arab peasants also rested on Saturday as a gesture of respect. Naturally, nobody touched the family or its property even during the Arab uprisings in 1929 and 1936, contrary to what happened to the Benderley and Gorodenzik families.

Mordechai Bonshtein, the
sole pioneer of Tantuta (late-
in-life photo, circa 1940).

Their nine children survived the living conditions, a rarity at the time. The Baron's administration was very satisfied with the work of the Bonstein family and tried several times to bring in more farmers to support them in increasing the Jewish population in Tantura. All remained for a very short time, leaving quickly for larger settlements.
Zikhron Ya'aqov Historic
Center. Renovation and
restoration of the main street
of the village. Today a thriving
tourist attraction.

However, in this ideal surrounding, there was a major flaw. The nearby marshes were the "nursery" of mosquitoes that spread malaria. All the family but Mordechai were sick for months at a time. The doctor and the pharmacist from Zikhron Ya'aqov, who visited the village regularly, ordered the mother and young children to leave Tantura and to move to the healthier climate of Zikhron Ya'aqov in the nearby mountains, at least for the seasons when malaria struck hardest. The mother, Haya, also wanted her children to receive a better education that was available in Zikhron Ya'aqov. They left for months at a time, but Mordechai Bonstein refused to leave Tantura. He was a person with a vision. His vision, enforced by the baron's administrative chief, was of the future Tantura as a prosperous town with an active port and industry. The area had most of the small bays along Palestine's Mediterranean coastline, and, at that time, was the export center for watermelons. Later, with Arab laborers, Mordechai built a large glass factory there for the Baron de Rothschild to support his winery in Zikhron Ya'aqov, but it was soon abandoned. It is now the archeological museum of antiquity of Dor. The entire vision depended solely on Mordechai Bonstein's willingness to stay there. As the only settler, no industry and port could be built if he left, and the future city would be lost. Unknowingly, this was a realistic prophecy that, unfortunately, was fulfilled. Eventually malaria was victorious. Mordechai Bonstein left with his family for Zikhron Ya'aqov where his descendants have continued to live, but he still cultivated the Tantura's estate.

Tantura and his home in that community still stands, now called the kibbutz "Nachsholim", a minor beach resort for summertime vacationers. His wife, Haya, died from cancer many years before him and he lived with his youngest son Aharon on the edge of Zikhron Ya'aqov until he died. In Zikhron Ya'aqov, he had a small backyard pasture for personal use. There he raised a few cows, chickens, some vegetables, and a famous white horse that was his local transportation in the village. In his nineties, when he was too old to ride a horse, his grandson, Avner Bashan, used to give him rides on his large motorcycle. He died in 1952 in the home of his son Asher Bonshtein at 96 of old age, and not from disease. He was buried in Zikhron Ya'aqov next to his wife. Yoav Bashan was a newborn baby at the time of his death.
Current view of Karmel Mizrachi, the wineries
of Zikhron Ya'aqov.

Lange estate. One of the oldest in the
colony still standing as ruins. Currently
under restoration for the Open University.

The historic synagogue of Zikhron
Ya’akov in 2007, which has undergone
continuous restoration since its construction.

A herd of cows returning
from pasture standing in front
of the historic synagogue of
Zikhron Ya’akov in 1950.

Asher Bonshtein (1892-1958), the chief of the colony and manager

Asher and Rachel Bonstein
and their grandchildren (about 1958). From left: Yoav Bashan, the late Uzi Bashan, the late Erela Nedivi, Moti Bonstein, and Shoshana Nedivi.

His son, Asher Bonstein, was born among the Palestinians of Tantura in 1892. At the age of seven, he moved with the rest of his family to Zikhron Ya'aqov. An excellent student, he was sent to Switzerland in 1912 (a rarity among pioneers), and studied engineering. At the start of World War I, he returned to the Ottoman Empire's Palestine colony and volunteered for the Turkish Army. While serving with the army, he became an officer, and was the military governor of Bayt Jala, then a Christian town south of Jerusalem (now part of the Jerusalem metropolitan area). In a desert battle against the invading British, he was wounded and returned to Zikhron Ya'aqov. After recovery, he quit the army. He met and married Rachel Goldstein-Hayfler (1895-1971) at the end of the war. Her ancestors were also pioneers of Rosh Pina and Zikhron Ya'aqov. Here, they established a farming estate and a large hardware store. However, he was only a part-time farmer, devoting most of his time and energy to civil activities, such as "chief of the colony" during the 1930s. In the 1940s, he served as the "chief of the farmer's organization.

He died in 1958, at the age of 64, leaving two sons (Avner and Yosef) and a daughter (Batia). One of his sons, Avner Bonstein is the founder of the Bashan Family.

Asher Bonshtein and his
grandson Yoav in the
gardens of “Gan Tyul” in
Zikhron Ya’aqov (1956).

The battle between the Turkish army and the British army in WWI in Palestine where Asher Bonshtein was wounded and discharged. (PowerPoint presentation in Hebrew by Duba Primerman).

Avner Bashan (1919-1985), the farmer

Avner Bashan as
a toddler (early 1920s).
Wedding of Sara and Avner
Bashan in Tel Aviv in 1951.

Avner Bashan (born Bonshtein) was born in the village (agricultural colony) of Zikhron Ya'aqov in the Carmel Mountains, which faces the Mediterranean Sea about 40 km south of the city of Haifa. He was the third generation of Jewish pioneers of the village, which was one of the eight villages established in 1882 as the initial wave of the First Zionist Immigration Movement (Aliya Rishona). At that time, the greater part of Palestine (much of what is now Israel) was a remote outpost of the Ottoman Empire. His father, Asher Bonstein, the first native generation born in the now extinct Arab village of Tantura (now Kibbutz Nachsholim on the Mediterranean shore, close to Zikhron Ya'aqov), was a part-time farmer and a part-time civil servant for decades voluntarily heading several councils at Zikhron Ya'aqov. His mother, Rachel, also born in the village, was the daughter of pioneers of Zikhron Ya'aqov (Hayfler) and Rosh Pina (Goldstein), and ran a large hardware store to maintain the family. Avner Bashan was born after the British conquered Palestine from the Turks during World War I.

In the transition period between empires, life in the few remote Jewish villages was difficult, and higher education unavailable. Furthermore, the Zionist movement, responsible for the ideological establishment of these pioneer villages, romanticized farming as a proper occupation for Jews who returned to live productive lives in the Holy Land from the Diaspora rather than come to Palestine to die and be buried, as was a practice in earlier centuries. As a teenager, Avner Bashan decided to be a full-time farmer like his grandfather Mordechai Bonstein the pioneer, rather than a civil servant like his father. As farming was traditional in the family, but the land inherited was small, he slowly acquired additional agricultural land, learned to farm intelligently and effectively, and eventually became a wealthy farmer specializing in large-scale vineyards for grapes destined for the local wine industry, which was also based in Zikhron Ya'aqov.

Avner Bashan resting in his
favorite chair after a long day
of grape harvesting (circa 1975).

Sara and Avner Bashan at an unknown Bar Mitzva or wedding (circa 1965).

He was a dedicated and hardworking farmer, investing his profits in extending his estate, and except for participating in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 and obligatory military services in the army reserve, he almost never traveled abroad or left his land unattended. He had a strong belief in his economic independence and refused credit even when offered. Despite his wide and variable agricultural activities, when he passed away, he had no debt, only a very profitable business.Because he lacked a higher education, he encouraged agricultural research and encouraged his two sons to become better educated. In 1969, in a burst of enthusiasm and for unknown reasons, he changed his family name from the Eastern European Jewish name "Bonshtein" to "Bashan," which is also a local Israeli name, after a biblical name for a mountain range in Jordan. In 1985, after a brief illness, he passed away. The Bashan Foundation was named after him.

Sara Gorodenzik married Avner Bonshtein (later Bashan) in 1951 in Tel Aviv. First seated from left: Mordechai Bonshtein, Erela Nedivi, Mina Gorodenzik (mother of the bride), Sara and Avner Bashan (Bonshtein), Rachel Bonshtein
(mother of the groom). Second raw from left: unknown, Shlomo Gorodenzik(father of the bride, with glasses),
Avraham Gorodenzik, unknown, Carmela Gorodenzik, Yael Krupik, unknown child,
Yizhak Krupik, Batia Bonshtein (Nedivi, with glasses), Asher Bonshtein (father of the groom).

Part of the Bashan family in 1964. From
left: grandmother Rachel, Uzi, Avner and
Sara Bashan.
(Yoav took the photo with his first camera.)
Birthday party for Uzi Bashan
at the kindergarten in Zikhron
Ya’aqov in 1958.
Birthday photo of Uzi cannot
be enlarged as the rest of the

Uzi Bashan (1955-2000), the entrepreneur

Uzi Bashan as a toddler

Uzi Bashan as a student
at the engineering school
in 1973.

Uzi Bashan was the son of Avner and Sara Bashan. He was the 7th generation in Israel from his mother's family and the 5th generation from his father's family. Uzi Bashan obtained degrees in different fields--mechanical engineering from Yad-Nathan engineering school of The Israeli Institute of Technology, and economics, international relations, and land appraisal from Tel Aviv University. He was a driven person and a visionary entrepreneur, seeing opportunities for developing land everywhere. He saw endless development possibilities in any land his eyes fell upon. Most people saw nothing in these sites. He restlessly and successfully promoted residential neighborhoods, industrial zones, and tourist projects throughout the entire area where he lived. He died unexpectedly in the midst of his development activity, leaving a wife and two young daughters.

Information (in Hebrew)*
  1. Anonymous. 1982. Interview with Ya'aqov Epshtein, the curator of the "Pioneer's memorial" of Zikhron-Ya'aqov.
  2. Bahur, I. 2005. A cracked bell. Bahur Publishing, Zikhron-Ya’aqov, Israel. 253 p.
  3. Benderly A. 1998. Yosef Benderly, a patriot from Zafed. Published by Shabtai Gal-On, Kefar Tabor, Israel, 147 p.
  4. Benderly family's book. 1998. Complied for the first meeting of the Benderly Family in Zafed, Israel. 54 pp.
  5. Dagan, S. 1993. The knights of the malaria order: assays, stories and memories from the first years of the colony of Zikhron-Ya'aqov and the nearby colonies. pp.146-148.
  6. Gorodentchik, A. 2005. Interview with one of the sixth generation of the Benderly Family.
  7. Mager, H. 1986. Interview with A'aron Bonstein, the last surviving son of the pioneer Mordechai Bonstein.
  8. Samsonov, A. 1943. Zikhron-Ya'aqov, its history since 1882 (reprinted 2001 by the Council of Zikhron-Ya'aqov, Israel) pp. 130-132, 501 pp.
  9. Vered, D. 2005. Interview with one of the third generations of Bonshtein Family.
*Information varied in some details among the sources, as most sources were not officially documented, but recorded from conversations and stories of mostly old or very old people who heard the stories first-hand, but many decades ago.

This section was compiled and written by Yoav Bashan in 2003 and updated in 2008 when more historical facts were available.

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