jerusalem, preservation, historic districts, town planning
The Historic Neighborhood: Nahalat Shiv’a – Jerusalem
07/18/2021
Ahuzat Bayit – becoming a modern Hebrew city 
09/12/2021
Tel Aviv, history,town planning

Ahuzat Bayit  – Tel Aviv 

During the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the relocation of many Jewish residents outside the walls of the old city of Jaffa as well as the need to find housing for many Second Aliyah immigrants resulted in the establishment of many new Jewish neighborhoods around Jaffa.

Jaffa, History, Neve Zedek

Neve Zedek

Although the idea of establishing Ahuzat Bayit, took shape on the backdrop of these events, the vision that inspired this new neighborhood was very different than the reasons behind the establishment of the first neighborhoods around Jaffa.  Though researchers do not agree on the exact nature of this vision, the establishment of Ahuzat Bayit clearly became a turning point in the history of urban Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael.

A turning point for urban Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael.

Though some scholars claim that Ahuzat Bayit was perceived by some as a cleaner, more spacious and modern suburb of Jaffa, it is clear that its founders — middle- and upper-class Ashkenazim and Sephardim, immigrants and veteran inhabitants– were not just looking to solve the Jewish housing crisis in Jaffa; rather, they were motivated by a modern national Zionist vision.  They wanted an all-Jewish town, with decent buildings, gardens and places of culture. They did not seek to build a neighborhood in the traditional local style of the time, but envisioned a modern European-style suburban neighborhood that would play a national role in absorbing masses of new immigrants that were expected to make their home in Eretz Yisrael.  The modern urban planning principles that guided the founders, especially Hovevei Zion who came to Eretz Yisrael around and after 1904, took into account residents’ needs, comfort and a higher standard of living. In  1903, Zalman David Levontin, director of the Anglo-Palestine Company (the central financial and credit institution established under British auspices)expressed the need to  establish modern urban neighborhoods in the style of Valhalla.

Promoting Zionist goals through urbanization

Leaders of the Zionist organizations realized that all immigrants could not be expected to live in agricultural settlements and make their living off the land. They hoped that the establishment of new urban centers would attract capital investments and that the geographical concentration of new immigrants within these centers would help achieve national goals, such as integration of the Hebrew language, the establishment of Hebrew institutions of educational and culture and the development of a national public agenda. In addition, the establishment of Ahuzat Bayit was also seen as a means to strengthen Jews in Jaffa and enable them to gain more political power.  

Tel Aviv

Akiva Arie Weiss

The jeweler Akiva Arie Weiss, a Zionist leaders from Lodz, and the branch manager of Geula (a company established to redeem land in Eretz Israel) had a similar vision, as did  Yitzhak Hayut-Man, who was the main agent for Singer.  No practical initiative was taken until Akiva Arie Weiss immigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1906. On the day he arrived in Israel, he went to a meeting of the Jews of Jaffa at the Yeshurun ​​Club and presented the idea of ​​establishing a new neighborhood outside Jaffa. After some thought, a decision was passed to establish the Ahuzat Bayit- Building Cooperative for Jaffa and Eretz Yisrael, and Weiss was elected to chair a committee that included David Smilansky, Yehezkel Danin (Socovolsky), Yitzhak Hayutman and David Berger. Their mission was to find land that they could purchase and on which they could establish the new neighborhood. In a prospectus dated July 31, 1906, Weiss wrote: “We must purchase a decent piece of land on which to build our homes as soon as possible. It should be located near Jaffa, and it will be the first Hebrew city, with a 100 percent Hebrew population, where Hebrew will be spoken, and purity and cleanliness maintained … And just as the city of New York is the central gate to America, we must perfect our city, and it will in time become the New York of Eretz Israel … This city will have lighted streets and sidewalks, and spring water will reach the houses through pipes as in any modern city in Europe, and a sewage system will be built to protect the health of the city and its inhabitants. “

Tel Aviv, history, town planning

Lottery of Plots

Tel Aviv, History

Founders of Achuzat Bayit

 

 

 

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