Ingathering of the Exiles, Building up the State: 1950-1959
The Law of Return was passed in 1950, guaranteeing every Jew around the world the right to return to the Jewish homeland.
In 1949, virtually the entire remaining Yemenite Jewish community was airlifted to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet.
Between 1948 and 1952, 648,000 Jews came on aliya to Israel from Eastern Europe, mainly Holocaust survivors, and from North Africa and the Middle East, doubling the population of the young state.
The economic burdens of the first few years forced the government to declare rationing. Minister of Rationing and Trade Dov Yosef distributed ration coupons to all citizens for food, clothing and other necessities.
In 1952, the German Reparations agreement was signed between the Israeli and German governments, facilitated by Jewish Agency and World Jewish Congress chairman Dr. Nahum Goldmann, providing much needed economic support.
The 50’s were marked by major development projects in Lachish in the south, and the Jezreal Valley in the north. The huge Huleh Valley land reclamation project was a symbol of the period. The decade was also marked by Fedayeen infiltrator attacks across the Jordanian and Egyptian borders.
When Egypt, under the leadership of President Gamal Abdul Nasser, closed the Suez Canal and the Straights of Tiran to Israeli shipping, Israel launched the Sinai Campaign in October 1956, joining the British-French Suez Campaign. Israel rapidly conquered Gaza and the Sinai desert, but withdrew in early 1957 in response to the joint request of the American and Soviet leaders.
Training Department for Women
In the fifties, the Ministry of Labor entered into partnership with WIZO and providing part of the financing for the courses in which the Ministry was interested. This partnership continues to the present day in certain courses. In another two vocational courses given in conjunction with the Ministry of Labor, (Pedicure and Manicure), diplomas are awarded to graduates by the Ministry.
1950- WIZO begins massive work with new immigrants in the ma’abarot (transit camps), absorbing children into
schools and youth villages, hosting families in the homes of WIZO chaverot, raising funds and providing
educational and welfare services.
1951- The Equal Rights for Women Law, proposed by WIZO Knesset member Rachel (Cohen) Kagan, is passed by
the Knesset. Other laws promoted by WIZO and passed over the years include the Law of Common Property
(195l), Law of Inheritance (1965), Grant to Families with Many Children (1965) Alimony Law (1972) and
Insurance of Housewife Against Accidents (1974).
1956- WIZO activist Hannah Levin elected first female mayor, of Rishon L’tzion. She later serves as Chairperson of
WIZO Israel, 1961-1971.
1958- WIZO schools become regional high schools, to absorb pupils with adolescent and social problems who
continued to live at home. Vocational training and social integration added to the educational goals, alongside
1959- WIZO recognized by UN as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the first Zionist organization to be
granted consultative status with ECOSOC.
WIZO granted representation (6 non-voting members) at the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency for