When singer Meir Banai wrote in the 1980s about the “sweet smell of orchards” being the elixir of life, he could have been singing about Moshav Sha’ar Efraim. Located 20 kilometers inland from the coastal city of Netanya, the rural community is in the heart of Israel’s fertile central plain.

It is hard to imagine a more pastoral scene: The community is awash in summer green, surrounded by trees. Public spaces are tidy, well-irrigated and grassy, homes and public buildings are simple but neat. Since the settlement’s establishment by Yemenite Jews in 1953, the communal village has grown to include some 80 private farms, totaling approximately 1,600 residents. Walking around the moshav at mid-day during the summer holiday, it appears mostly empty – the area has not been affected by rocket fire from Gaza, so most local kids are in summer camps or working on their family businesses.

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