MERḤAVYAH (Heb. מֶרְחַבְיָה; "God's Wide Space"), (1) kibbutz in the Jezreel (Ḥarod) Valley, Israel, E. of Afulah and at the foot of Givat ha-Moreh, affiliated with Kibbutz Arẓi Ha-Shomer Ha-Ẓa'ir. In 1909, the first holding in the Jezreel Valley was acquired at Merḥavyah by Jews through the efforts of Yehoshua *Hankin on behalf of the Palestine Land Development Company. Initially, a group of *Ha-Shomer established a farm there (1911). They persevered in spite of the malaria and the attempts of the Turkish authorities and their Arab neighbors to make them leave the place. Merḥavyah soon became a workers' cooperative according to Franz *Oppenheimer's ideas. During World War I, German pilots set up a temporary camp there. The cooperative dispersed after the war and another group founded a settlement, joined by veterans of the *Jewish Legion, which, however, did not succeed. In 1929 a group of Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir pioneers from Poland established its kibbutz on the site. It became the movement's organizational center, including the Kibbutz Arẓi secretariat, archives, printing press, and the Sifriat Poalim publishing house. In 1969, the kibbutz, with 550 inhabitants, based its economy on intensive farming, and also had a factory for plastic pipes and a metal workshop. In the mid-1990s, the population of the kibbutz was approximately 620, growing further to 675 in 2002. In the 2000s the kibbutz economy was based on two industries, plastics and wood, and a resort with an amusement park and events garden. Farming included field crops, citrus groves, and dairy cattle. The "Big Yard" featured restored houses built between 1912 and 1916, a visitors center, and a museum in memory of Meir *Yaari, one of the Kibbutz Arẓi Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir's leaders. (2) Moshav founded on part of the Merḥavyah lands in 1922 by a group of Third Aliyah pioneers from Eastern Europe. Merḥavyah, affiliated with Tenu'at ha-Moshavim in 1969, engaged in intensive agriculture with field and garden crops, dairy cattle, and poultry as prominent branches. In 1968 its population was 42, jumping to 285 in the mid-1990s and 630 in 2002 after expansion.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.