How Gush Etzion got its name


January 28, 2022

“Jonathan Feldstein did an excellent job of the overall history of Gush Etzion [Heritage, Jan. 21 issue ‘The rise and fall and rise again of Gush Etzion’],” a Heritage reader wrote. He continued, “There’s just one thing I thought might be interesting and that is how it got the name Gush Etzion.”

The reader explained that Gush means “block” so it’s the “block of Etzion.” Where did the word “Etzion” come from?

The reader went on to explain it comes from Shmuel Yosef Holtzman (or Holzman). Holtzman was a Jewish businessman of German extraction, and in 1932 he provided financial backing for the second attempt at resettling the area. In 1935, the village of Kfar Etzion was established, named after Holtzman, which in Yiddish means “tree” or “woodsman.” The 1936–1939 Arab revolt made life intolerable for the residents, who returned to Jerusalem in 1937. After this, the Jewish National Fund purchased the land from Holtzman, and in 1942 Kfar Etzion was re-established, but Holtzman’s name held fast.

Gush Etzion means “block of the tree of Zion.”


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