The Cucuy Family: From Canada To Israel
By Nadav Man, Ynet News
November 14th, 2013
It's 1917. The Cucuy family from the previous article in this series resides in Canada and earns a living from agricultural work. In November, Canada's Jews learn of the Balfour Declaration issued by Lord Arthur James Balfour, and the entire community is aroused.
The head of the family, Asher Cucuy, decides to establish a cooperative of Jewish farmers planning to purchase lands in the Land of Israel, settle there and earn a living from agricultural work.
In 1919, Asher goes on a journey to the Land of Israel on behalf of his fellow cooperative members, in a bid to look into the implementation of their plan.
In Israel, Asher meets with British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, who offers him a large piece of land in the Beit She'an area, as long as he brings along a group of farmers and agricultural equipment to cultivate the land.
But while Asher tries to get the deal going, the Land of Israel undergoes a restless period – led by the 1921-1922 events. The British Mandate government is now fearful of the establishment of a Jewish agricultural cooperative in the Beit She'an area, and the entire plan is canceled and not executed. In compensation, the mandatory government offers land in a different area.
In 1921, Asher returns to Canada and tries to organize a group of farmers who will immigrate to Israel. But the rumors about the Jaffa events prevent the recruitment of volunteers.
Asher won't give up and decides to bring his family to the Land of Israel and find a living in a different area in the country. At first, his eldest sons travel to Israel and find work in accordance with their talents, and in the summer of 1922 the entire family arrives in Israel.
On January 18, 1923, Herbert Samuel and Asher Cucuy sign a lease agreement for 420 acres near Akko (an area called "al-Rakayek") for 99 years. Asher leases a large building from an Arab man outside the walls of Gaza City. In those years Jews barely lived outside the city's walls, and the only building near Asher's house was a match factory.
From the beginning it became evident that the leased land was bad. The underground water in the ground were salty and up all year long, so nothing could be grown on it apart from wild flora. The family members were thus forced to engage in different labors across the country.
The following pictures document the period between 1919, when the family still lived in Canada, and 1924, after they immigrated to Israel.