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One of Ra'anana's best-kept secrets is the existence of a public archives, filled with fascinating objects from the days when a handful of pioneers from New York stood by their wagons and contemplated an almost endless vista of barren sand dunes rippling off toward the empty horizon.
Not to be confused with the better-known Ra'anana Museum housed in the city's Yad Lebanim complex, the archives occupy a building on the grounds of the Bar Tov elementary school on Rehov Eliezer Yaffe.
Run by a small friendly and helpful staff, the archives boast an extensive collection of official papers, personal letters - many in English - and photographs from the city's beginnings to the present day.
Residents of Ra'anana will find many of the photographs fascinating: pictures of the first settlers; early houses; the first five unpaved streets; and shots of camels being led single file down what is now the Rehov Ahuza thoroughfare.
In a particularly interesting corner of the archives, visitors can see pictures, books and other memorabilia from the family of Baruch Ostrovsky, one of Ra'anana's founding fathers and the city's first mayor. The photos, family albums and papers dating from the family's arrival in 1930 - even the former mayor's desk - were donated to the archives by Shoshana Ostrovsky Goldberg, daughter of the mayor and still a Ra'anana resident.
Archives director Rachel Reinshtein proudly shows visitors around the facility, which includes two rooms full of artifacts and memorabilia, the archives storage room, computers and a photocopying machine for visitors to copy documents, as well as a 100-seat auditorium for lectures and other events.
"Now is a particularly good time to come and visit," says Reinshtein. "We have a lot of very interesting historical documents in English and Hebrew, especially about education in the first years of Ra'anana. These documents were discovered only recently, and now they are here."
Sivan Sela, who is in charge of the archives's educational programs, hosts groups of students and guides them through experiential learning activities such as packing crates of oranges "to help them get a real feeling of what life was like here in Ra'anana at the beginning."
There is also a small agricultural museum in a courtyard outside the building, with antique farming implements from the earliest days of the settlement.
The archives are open daily, and all its collections are open and accessible to the public.
For further information, call (09) 741-4110