History of Eshel

History of Eshel

Soon after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the Israeli Government was concerned with recovering from the War of Independence and creating new social and economic infrastructure for its growing population. Israel was absorbing between 10-30,000 new immigrants a month. Many of these immigrants were frail older adults (7%), sick (11%), or disabled. The massive influx of immigrants was too overwhelming a task for the young Israeli government.

The State of Israel turned to JDC to take on the responsibility for the absorption of those "weaker" immigrants waiting in the DP camps throughout Europe. JDC and the State of Israel established JDC-Malben, which was tasked with absorbing these immigrants into the State and developing institutional and community services for them.

Although the original agreement upon which Malben was founded was for 14 months (November 1949 - January 1951) and totalled $15m, Malben served Israeli society until 1975. By this time, 250,000 Israeli citizens had received health and welfare services through the institutions and services of Malben. 

Malben was a pioneer in establishing comprehensive services for the aged, a system that it developed and nurtured for 26 years, and impacted Israel's policy for treating the aged for years to come.

By 1976 – Israel's growth made it possible for the government to take over direct provision of the homes for the aged and rehabilitation centers established and operated by Malben. At this point, JDC, under Malben, ceased being a provider of direct services, and transformed into a forum for ideas, a planner and designer of innovative projects for older adults – and Eshel was born.

Over the next few decades, Eshel successfully developed comprehensive services for older adults that encouraged active aging and enabled them to live within the community.