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The Arza sanatorium, 1934
Motza ( ) is a neighbourhood in the western edge of Jerusalemmarker, Israelmarker, located 600 metres above sea level. In the Judean Hills, surrounded by forest, it is a relatively isolated place connected to Jerusalem by the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and the winding mountain road to Har Nofmarker. Originally the first modern Jewish village outside the city, Motza is located on the site of a Biblical village of the same name. It was the scene of a violent attack in the 1929 Palestine riots.


Modern Motza's beginning can be traced to the 1859 purchase of farmland from the nearby Arab village of Qalunyamarker (Colonia) by a Baghdadi Jew, Shaul Yehuda, with the aid of British consul James Finn. Jewish families from Jerusalem joined the enterprise, one of which ran a tile factory, among the earliest industry in the region. Despite preparation for groundbreaking and deciding on the name Motza for the place, legal complications prevented settlement, though a traveller's inn was established at the site in 1871 by Yehoshua Yellin, a notable figure of the Old Yishuv. He built the inn on the foundation of an older Roman building. A B'nai B'rith official eventually solved the legal problems, and finalized a deal in which the Motza residents could pay for their plots in long-term payments.

On his visit in 1898, Theodor Herzl planted a cypress tree which became a centrepiece of the village for a time, though it was later uprooted. The tree-planting inspired David Remez to name the sanatorium opened in the village Arzamarker, or cedar, even though it was a different species. The children of Motza were educated by author and researcher Moshe David Gaon, father of future star Yehoram Gaon. The village was the only Jewish presence in the area, as the other Jewish villages of Kfar Uriamarker and Hartuvmarker were far to the west among the Judean foothills.

1929 murders

Despite good relations with neighbouring Arab communities, the village was attacked during the 1929 Palestine riots. Several residents of Kolonia attacked an outlying house belonging to the Maklef family, killing the father, mother, son, two daughters, and their two guests. Three children survived by escaping out a second-story window; one, Mordechai Maklef, later became Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army. The attackers included the lone police officer and armed man in the area, as well as a shepherd employed by the Maklef family. The village was subsequently abandoned by Jews for a year's time.

The Hope Simpson Report in 1930 mentions a farmer by the name of Broza who, without any help, planted an orchard which flourished in Motza.

In 1933 the villagers also founded the neighbouring Upper Motzamarker (Motza Illit). Jerusalem's expansion incorporated Motza into the city. Motza is today home to one of Israel's oldest wineries. In 2006, the Yellin and Yehuda families helped restore Joshua Yellin's original home, among the oldest and most derelict buildings at the site.


  1. National Campus for the Archeology of Israel
  2. Motza, Atarot, and Neveh Yaacov
  3. Ancient Motza
  4. לגרב ימ בכרב ימ
  6. Herzl’s Tree
  7. סיפור הפרברים: חמישה אתרים בשולי ירושלים
  8. Hope Simpson Report
  9. עבודות שיפוץ ושימור לבית משפחת ילין במוצא

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