Kfar Saba

A city in the Sharon area, the center District of Israel with a population of 80.000 inhabitants.

Kfar Saba is named after the ancient Capharsaba, which was an important settlement in the Southern Sharon during the Second Temple Period. Capharsaba is mentioned for the first time in the writings of Josephus FIavious, in a description of King Alexander Jannaeus’ (126-76 BC) attempt to stop an invasion from the north:
“He (Antiochus, who was called Dionysius) also came immediately and made expedition against Judea, with eight thousand armed footmen and eight hundred horsemen. So Alexander, out of fear of his coming, dug a deep trench, starting at Chabarzaba, which is now called Antipatris, to the sea of Joppa, on which part only his army could be brought against him” (Antiquities book 13, Ch. 15:1).

There is also reference to the name in the Talmud tractate on “corn tithing”, where the “tale of the Capharsaba sycamore tree” is told.

It is known fact that Rabbi Meir and many Tana’ites lived in Capharsaba, which was located on the site of the sabiya ruins (today’s Shabbazi and Aliya neighborhoods).


The History of Kfar Saba:
Ancient maps verify Kfar Saba’s place of prominence and continued existence, all the way from its beginning days to our own.

Arab Kfar Saba, which was located in what are now the Kaplan, Yosefthal, and Givat Eshkol neighborhoods, was no more than a village which came unto being in the last century, and took up the name of the original settlement.
The village was abandoned during the War of Independence. Ruins of a large ancient settlement were uncovered underneath the Arab homes. Nowadays there is a public park on the site, which is in the city’s eastern and, between Givat Eshkol and the Geller community center.

Large stone cylinders were found on the site, pitted with holes. These cylinders were part of an oil press. Excavations from the top of the mound have managed to reach the original soil layer, unearthing remains of a settlement from the Roman Era, in addition to many other findings. Clay oil lamps, called the “Samaritan oil lamps”, which are believed to have been used by the Samaritans, stand out in particular. The “corn tithing” tractate in the Jerusalem Talmud (22:3) mentions the fact that Samaritans were living in Capharsaba. The settlement is also mentioned in other Jewish and foreign sources.

It is quite likely that Saba was the name of the original settler (being also the name of the well known Judean Desert monastery-Mar Saba). In all likelihood the name was later taken up by the entire family, which settled in the valley. The family, in turn, gave the name to the entire region, as well as to the village.


The Sabiya Ruins:
These are the remains of a settlement situated on the western section of the city, along the road which ran across the country, on the way to Apollonia. The site is known by its Arabic name – the Sabiya ruins, meaning a sub settlement, or a satellite of the greater Kfar Saba. The Sabiya ruins extend over an area of about 60 dunam (15 acres), on the eastern side of the Aliya neighborhood, between the health clinic and the football field. This site was also researched and surveyed, yielding coins, oil lamps, a handle of a storage jar bearing an inscription in Arabic: “Blessing upon the governor”, and a large four-handled jug. A well constructed mausoleum, dating to the Roman Era, which was in use for 300 years, was discovered in close proximity to the clinic. A large underground structure, dating to the Byzantine period, was unearthed in the heart of the site. It is inlaid with white mosaic and with clay pots, which were laid horizontally, inside the walls.

It is interesting to note that no “Samaritan” oil lamps were discovered on this site, which indicates that the Samaritans probably did not inhabit the place during the Roman Era. Large cylinders, parts of an oil press, were found here too.

Many blocks of crude glass, remains of kilns and ashes, testify to the existence of a large scale glass industry in the ancient settlement.

Jews acquired land in Kfar Saba as early as 1892. Rabbi Yehi’el Michal piness purchased land for an agricultural settlement, but the land remained desolate for 7 more years. In the course of these years, while the land was in possession of Baron Rothchild, an attempt was made to grow jasmine flowers for perfume, but the experiment failed. It was only in the year 1903, when the land was turned over to Petah Tikva farmers for tilling and cultivating, that the new settlement – which was to be named Kfar Saba – was actually established. To begin with – the khan (inn) – which now serves as city hall, was built. The settlers-cum-farmers convened around the Khan, and started out by planting eucalyptus and almond trees. Two of the original eucalypti can still be seen in the compound of the Municipality.

These two trees, and the first building, form the Kfar Saba emblem.

The first years proved difficult for the pioneers, because of the prohibitions and restraining measures imposed by the Turkish authorities. However, due to their determination, the pioneers were able to construct, in a matter of just a few years, 12 housing units, and thus the settlement started taking shape.

In World War 1, Kfar-Saba was on the front line between the British army and the Ottoman army, and was destroyed. At the same time about a thousand residents of Tel-Aviv and Jaffa came to live in the town. They had been forcibly deported from their homes by the Ottomans. Due to the pogroms of 1921 these deportees returned to their original cities. In 1922 the original residents returned and in 1924 additional settlers joined them. In this period the cultivation of citrus fruit developed.

In 1937 Kfar-Saba was declared a local council.

In the time of the Arab Revolt, in 1936-1939, as in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Kfar-Saba’s population suffered from attacks by Arabs from the Arab, Saba village and other villages in the area. A short time before the Israeli declaration of independence these villages were conquered in operation Medina. In 1962 Kfar-Saba was awarded city status. At the time of the Six day war Kfar-Saba suffered attacks from the neighboring town of Qalqilya that is located just over the the 1949 armistice line with Jordan.