Jewish Book Review » You Come for One Reason But Stay for Another: Making the Odyssey to Israel could be subtitled “It takes an Optimist”
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tel Aviv is the first all-Jewish city in modern times. Originally named Ahuzat Bayit, it was founded by 60 families in 1909 as a Jewish neighborhood near Jaffa. In 1910, the name was changed to Tel Aviv, meaning "hill of spring." The name was taken from Ezekiel 3:15, "...and I came to the exiles at Tel Aviv," and from a reference in Herzl's novel Altneuland, in which he foresaw the future Jewish state
as a socialist utopia.
In 1909 the founders of Tel Aviv are living in Ahuzat Bayit and they want to found the most modern city in the world. Keep in mind that there were only 60 families to carry out this enterprise. The idea actually started in 1906, but in 1909 they had a lottery and they really started to build. They decided to flatten the land in an empty dry river bed to be able to build on it. They filled the area with sand from the beach, using wheelbarrows. They didn’t want to use Arab labor. The main street of the city was Herzl St., which was the widest street.
Independence Hall Museum (old home of Dizengoff, built in 1909)
It is a very plain building, but was the place of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv lived here with his wife, Zina. It was in this c house that the independence of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948. Exhibits here detail Israel's declaration of independence. The first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, made the proclamation at 4pm on May 14, 1948 in the main hall, eight hours before the British mandate over the region was due to end, in the presence of the members of the Vaad Leumi (Jewish National Council), as well as the leaders of the Jewish community. After David Ben-Gurion read the declaration of independence, Rabbi Fischman (Maimon), recited the Shehecheyanu blessing, and the Declaration of Independence was signed.
You can see a picture of the 66 families that founded Tel Aviv, from Jaffa. A guide will tell you about how the original families chose lots, by using white and gray sea shells. Names were put on one set of sea shells, and the lot numbers were put on the other. Jews were not allowed to buy land from the Ottoman Empire, but after 3 years they managed to buy 40 acres of sand dunes just north of Jaffa. The first neighborhood was called Ahuzat Bayit. Dizengoff received lot number 43. There is a 14-minute film about the founding of Israel to the present time.
After the film a guide will take you to the main hall and talk about the day that the Declaration was signed. In the main hall of the house, visitors can hear a recording of Ben-Gurion reading the Charter for the new State. The next morning Arab armies were invading and the Egyptian Air Force was bombing Tel Aviv. There are actually two museums in this building; the Dizengoff Museum and the Beit Ha Tanach –
The Bible Museum.
Opening Hours are Sunday-Friday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
16 Rothschild Blvd., Tel Aviv (03) 510-6426, (03) 517-3942
If you are planning a trip to Tel Aviv, be sure to visit the Nachalat Benyamin - Art & Craft Fair. Tel Aviv’s Nachalat Benjamin Street comes alive with an Art & Craft Fair that features the works of roughly 220 artists, twice a week. Called Nachalat Benyamin in Hebrew, it is adjacent to shuk Ha’Carmel. In Tel Aviv’s early days this was the longest street in the city.
The setting is one of Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhoods. First established as the Nachalat Benyamin Association, it initially comprised 40 members. Unlike the residents of Achuzat Bait, most of whom were from the upper classes, most of the new association’s members were tradesmen, clerks and shopkeepers who wanted to create a neighborhood similar to Achuzat Bait.
They managed to purchase 5 acres which were divided into 35 plots (smaller than those of Achuzat Bait). The houses that were erected consisted of two rooms, a kitchen and a porch. Construction began in 1911 and by 1912 there were 23 houses. When construction was completed the new residents realized that they did not have the means to establish the necessary infrastructure for their new neighborhood. Therefore, a partial consolidation of Nachalat Benyamin and Tel Aviv took place in 1911; the full consolidation was completed in 1912.
Since 1987 the street (which has many textile shops) has been home to the Art & Craft Fair. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself to a gift, need one for your hosts in Israel, or friends back home, this is great place to shop. Prices are extremely reasonable and the variety is such that there is literally ‘something for everyone’.
Hours: The Art & Craft Fair at Nachalat Benyamin is held on Tuesday and Friday – from 10:00 AM – to 5:00 PM, year round. The Fair does not take place in cases of heavy rain or winds. 03/516-2037.
Another market you'll surely want to visit is Shuk HaCarmel located in the middle of the Yemenite Quarter of Tel Aviv.
If second-hand clothing and shoes are your thing, then the first stalls you see when you enter the market offer fashions reminiscent of the 1980s. Further along the market towards the bus station is the epicentre of HaCarmel - the food market.
And as long as we are in Tel Aviv, we might as well make a stop in Jaffa. Jaffa is the oldest and perhaps most famous of the ports along the Israel’s coast. From Jaffa port, the prophet Yonah set sail for Tarshish, running away when G-d commanded him to preach in the wicked city of Nineveh.
King Hiram of Tyre sent wood for the First Temple on a raft to Jaffa. and when wood was needed for the Second Temple it, too, arrived by way of Jaffa. The old city of Jaffa is filled with much Jewish history.
And if you came to hunt for a bargain, you came to the right place; the Jaffa flea Market located east of the clock tower at the foot of Old Jaffa.
You can weave your way through a mixed array of treasures and junk. Merchandise varies, but copper, brass, old Persian tiles, and jewelry are always to be found, as well as Judaica items, old family photo albums, and tons of used jeans and mildewed clothing from India. Bargaining is the order of the day; feel free to indulge in lengthy haggling. Even if there is a little language problem, you can get a lot understood with your hands. It's great fun even if you don't buy anything.
The flea market is open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm and on Friday from 10am to 2pm.