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Zvi Hirsch Geffen Encyclopedia of Pioneers by Dovid Tidhar - Tel Aviv
translated from Hebrew by Daniel Rubinson

Geffen Brothers "In The Orchard" Photo Courtesy of Udi Goldman

"He was born in the year 1878 in Jonava, Lithuania to Abraham (forest merchant) and mother Chana (maiden name Berman).

He learned in the Cheder and in the Yeshiva. At home he studied general studies and languages. He knew Russian, Polish, Lithuanian and German.

In Lithuania, he dealt with the forest business and managed the agricultural farm of his family next to the town of Jonava He discovered a distinct tendency for agricultural work and for horseback riding. Later, he opened in the industrial center of Lodz, Poland, a factory for processing fiber wastes. He was an active Zionist both in Jonava and later in Lodz.

In 1925, he married Bluma, the daughter of Yoseph Rabinovitz, a family active in Social and Zionist issues in Lithuania and Russia. The family was also active in the 'Macabi' sports movement.

In 1924, he made Aliya to the Land of Israel and founded with two of his brothers the partnership, 'The Geffen Brothers'. The partnership was for orchards and for land purchasing. For a short time they also had a partnership for the cleaning of public wells and pits in Tel Aviv. This was before the city of Tel Aviv took over responsibility for this work.

The Geffens bought and 'redeemed' land from the Christian Arab, Edmund Ruk (from Jaffa). These properties were near the old train station in Tel Aviv. They also purchased part of the Goldberg orchard in Ramat-Gan. They kept to a strict code of only 'Hebrew labor' and were very careful in their relationship to their workers. They developed their orchard to a very high standard and in the Fair of 1927, they won three prizes for the quality of their fruit.

Eventually, with the building up of the town of Ramat-Gan, the orchard was incorporated into the city boundaries of Ramat-Gan and today the 'Geffen Neighborhood' stands on this land.

The partnership also bought land in 'Sarafind' (today Tsrifin), an area that was known in those days as the 'Geffen Quarter'. After the establishment of the State of Israel, this land was bought up by the Jewish Agency and the 'Argentinean Neighborhood' was built upon it.

He was responsible for organizing the 'Rider's Club' in Tel Aviv with the mayor Meyer Dizzengof and Abraham Shapiro. This was the first such club in the whole country. These three founders would ride in front of the annual Purim Parade in Tel Aviv. The festivities of the 'Lag BaOmer' holiday were held under the auspices of the 'Rider's Club' at the Geffen Orchard every year. School children would be welcomed warmly and graciously into the Geffen estate for educational and recreational activities.

The Geffens also gave generously of their fruit products to the local orphanage in Ramat-Gan. Just as he had done in Lithuania, also here he was very diligent in his aid to the needy and in his good advice to others in need.

From the year 1936, he was active in assisting illegal immigrants - giving them shelter in his house and assisting them with finding work.

In the Arab riots of 1929, he was active in the defense of the Jewish population and would supervise the forward positions while riding on horseback.

He died in Tel Aviv on the 14th of Elul, 5699 - August 29, 1939."



Jaffa Orange Show 1927 2nd Prize Award to Zvi Geffen. Photo courtesy of Zvi Geffen, Ramat Gan. Click here to view enlargement.

Zvi Geffen on the left with Tel Aviv's first mayor, Meir Dizingof on the right. Photo courtesy of Zvi Geffen, Ramat Gan. Click here to view enlargement.

One of the very first shares of the Colonial Trust issued in 1901and bought by Zvi Hirsh Geffen. Photo courtesy of Zvi Geffen, Ramat Gan. Click here to view enlargement and read details.