Gedera is among the most powerful symbols of the first steps of the return to the Land of Israel in modern times.
It was founded by the pioneering group Bilu in 1884. This group, which is considered in Zionist history as the first immigration wave, came to Israel two years earlier but suffered a lot while searching for a permanent home.
The group was founded in Harakov, Ukraine following terrible pogroms against the Jews. They followed the Socialist-Zionist ideals.
Rabbi Yechiel Pines, one of the founding fathers of the religious Zionist ideology, bought 3,000 acres near the Arab village of Katra. On Hanukkah of the same year, the first members – Zvi Horowitz and Shlomo Zalman Zuckerman arrived on the hill and lit two bonfires in remembrance of the two Chanukah candles.
Later on the other members of the group arrived and the area was divided between them. They started to work, cultivate and develop the site. But shortly after this growth, Arabs of the neighboring villages got angry at this success, notifying the authorities and even attacking the settlement, but thank G-d unsuccessfully. The settlement continued to grow.
Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War a wave of immigrants from Yemen arrived to Gedera. Their absorption was not successful, as they were not accepted as equal members of the community and they were only employed as laborers. This first group left but many years later, in the 50’s, after Operation Magic Carpet, a large groups of Yemenite Jews arrived again in Gedera and basically took it over. Till today Gedera is considered a stronghold of the Yemenites in Israel. Many years later, in the early 90s, following Operations Moshe and Shlomo, many immigrants arrived from Ethiopia and settled in Gedera.
Throughout its entire history, Gedera absorbed immigrants from east and west, north and south.