If I told people today that one side of my family is from Bnei Zion, dollar signs would likely pop in their mind’s eye. Some of the richest people in the country live there today, and rent is high.
Yet this once-upon-a-time village was built by farmers, by released English military soldiers – and by people, like my grandparents, who left their European homes, families and friends to come to the desert called Israel and built the country.
My mom still remembers where her house was located, where the other neighbors lived, where the grocery store was and how her father had to drive her outside of Bnei Zion so she could catch the bus, since no bus went through the village.
Located in the HaSharon region, it was originally called Ra’anana Hills, perhaps because it is merely a 20 minute drive north from the city of Ra’anana. Ra’anana, too, was a place for farmers in the past. If you happen to visit Netanya for the electricity cabinets street art or for the sunset colors, you can drive 30 minutes south and find yourself in Bnei Zion. The village’s name was changed from Ra’anana Hills to Bnei Zion after an organization by the name of Bnei Zion donated funds for the further development of the village.
The name Bnei Zion means Sons of Zion, of Israel, and it goes well with this precious street name – HaManim Street. The name was given to this street when my wonderful grandpa was in his 80s or 90s. The street is dedicated to various people who participated in building Bnei Zion. These people, my grandpa among them, had different last names – yet they all ended with “man” (for example, Weitzman). Therefore, if we literally translate it to English, the meaning would be the Street of the Men, even if it wasn’t the exact intention.
It is the street on the right:
The names Bnei Zion and HaManim Street could make you believe only men worked there, but don’t let these names deceive you: women, too, like my wonderful grandma, worked from morning to night to build Bnei Zion, to build the country.
Hopefully, later this year, I’ll get to show you a place my other set of grandparents built.
Where are your routes?