Har Tov

In 1882, 23 Eastern European families arrived at Jaffa port. These families, refugees from the Russian pogroms of 1881, constituted the beginning of a historical phenomenon spanning over 25 years:  the first wave of mass Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel in modern times, what would later be known as the First Aliyah. The arrival of these 23 families also marks the beginning of a characteristic that would characterize the Jewish Yishuv from that point up until today: the need to deal with groups from different cultural backgrounds.
The newly arrived immigrants brought with them new and foreign ideas from the other side of the Mediterranean, such as modern nationalism, secularism and agricultural settlement. Their outlooks and ways of life collided with those of the religious, traditional Jewish Yishuv of the time, which still evolved around the religious establishment. The gatekeepers of the Jewish community that were in the midst of a hopeless battle against modernity, perceived the new immigrants as a dangerous element that could corrupt the community. And so – the new families struggled to find their place within the Yishuv. They were asked not to attend Friday prayer in order to avoid "theological disputes", and members of the Jewish community kept their distance from them. The rift between the two groups was soon filled by a third element – the Christian Mission.
Fight for every soul
19th century Palestine, quite befittingly for the land that was promised to everyone, was a land of endless possibilities. The gates of the country were opened to foreigners in 1840, and in the coming years every major western colonial power worked towards turning Palestine into its own sphere of influence. The first modern hospitals founded in Jerusalem by foreign powers were the "collateral benefits" of this geo-political brawl. One of these hospitals was that of the English Christian Mission that was becoming increasingly active in Jerusalem during those years. Despite founding several schools and medical establishments in Jerusalem and other cities, the Mission failed to make significant gains among the Jewish community. But in 1882 its luck was about to change.
The news of the group of struggling Jewish immigrants reached the heads of the Mission in Jerusalem. The needs of the Mission and the needs of the immigrants were in perfect symmetry: the Mission was searching for lost souls in need of patronage and salvation. The immigrants, who were in dire need of patronage, had nothing to give but their souls. They were even willing to risk salvation. This would be, the heads of the Mission hoped, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The house on top of the hill
 In 1883, the English Mission purchased 6,000 acres from the village of Artuf, south of Jerusalem, at a comfortable distance from the watchful eye of the leadership of the Jewish Yishuv. The immigrants were allowed to settle there free of charge, work the land, and inhabit the large brick house the Mission built for them. In return for its generosity, the Mission asked for one thing: attendance at Sunday mass. Other than that, the residents were allowed to adhere to their Jewish way of life. The new colony was called "Har Tov".
"The inciters' colony", as it was known in the Jewish press of the time, was the flagship project of the English Mission in Palestine. The Mission's journal, "Tides from Zion", included a special section dedicated solely to the colony, covering the trials and tribulations of its residents – earthly and theological alike.  The project was also covered extensively in the Jewish newspapers, and contributed to the immigrants' growing isolation from the Yishuv. But despite the impression it made, the colony did little to advance the Mission's goals. Three years after the founding of the colony, merely three families put their Sunday lessons to good use and converted to Christianity. The rest, driven by the harsh living conditions and growing pressure from the Yishuv, began leaving the colony one by one. In 1893, the colony was deemed a failure, and was put up for sale.
The Bulgarian colony
In the coming years, Har Tov continued to be a home for groups that were unable to integrate into the social fabric of the Yishuv. In 1895 the colony was bought by delegates from the Jewish community in Bulgaria, and Bulgarian Jews began coming to the colony. Like the previous residents of Har Tov, they too scarcely had any ties with the Jews of the Yishuv, who were not familiar with their language or customs. The colony developed into a type of commune, where the residents married among themselves and made a meager living from corn crops and the production of goat cheese and oil. This was the first Sephardic colony in Palestine.
In 1910, there was another twist in the story of Har Tov, when the Jewish philanthropist Yitzhak Goldberg bought a third of its land and founded an agricultural farm, providing work for many of the colony's residents. In the next years, a quarry was established, followed by the building of permanent housing for the residents.
In 1948 Har Tov was evacuated following a siege of a number of days. The colony was never rebuilt.