This post is all about the Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour. In fact, this tour would be like a journey after the old and the modern. Tel Aviv, they say it’s the city that rose from the sand dunes. And it’s true in the 19th century there was nothing here but camels and sand dunes. Tel Aviv is Indeed an amazing city to visit. Indeed, major events concerning modern Israel took place right here. So we shall start with the Independence Hall at Rothchild Boulevard, where the Israeli Declaration of Independence took place in May 1948. Here in this place, David Ben Gurion read the unforgettable words from the Declaration of Independence:
“I hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Yisrael, to be known as the State of Israel.”May 14th 1948, the Declaration of the State of Israel, David Ben Gurion
And by articulating these words, 2,000 years of exile for the Jewish people had ended. People were dancing in the streets. But it was also a very sad moment. Golda Meir was among the 200 lucky ones invited to attend the ceremony. As a member of the People’s Council, she was entitled to sign the Declaration of Independence. While she was signing she broke into tears. She states in her autobiography:
“All I recall about my actual signing of the proclamation is that I was crying openly, not able even to wipe the tears from my face, and I remember that as Sharett held the scroll in place for me, a man called David Zvi Pincus, who belonged to the religious Mizrachi Party, came over to try and calm me. ‘Why do you weep so much Golda?’, he asked me. ‘Because it breaks my heart to think of all those who should have been here today and are not’, I replied but I still couldn’t stop crying.”Golda Meir, ‘My Life’
I guess she was referring to all those Holocaust survivors that were perished in the camps and over Europe. If the State of Israel could have been founded just a decade earlier imagine how many lives could have been saved? In any case let’s put our spirits and walk along what is the very first street Tel Aviv, Rothschild Boulevard. There some important and historical buildings are waiting for us to discover.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: The Haganah Museum
The Sharet family in the early 1920s built this home. Then it was the private home of Eliyahu Golomb and his family. Moreover, it served as the Haganah headquarters, of which Golomb was the untitled commander and founder. Two of the originally kept rooms allow visitors to feel the atmosphere of those days. In this house major crucial decisions took place. For example the forming of the Palmach, the Haganah elite units. About them, we will learn more at our next stop! Here is a link to their website for more info!
My goodness! Tel Aviv has so many good restaurants, where should we start? Since I’m sure you crave something local there is nothing better than Hakosem! This joint probably has the best falafel in Israel. The Shawarma, promise me you will lick your fingers! And the Hummus, holy moly the Hummus here truly the best. So trust me this is THE place for lunch while private touring Tel Aviv. I just wish we had some more days here that we could try all the rest of the places. But you can go over my post for Great Restaurants in Tel Aviv and check some of them out in one of your free evenings.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: Carmel Market
Established back in the 1920s, the Carmel Market is the Tel Avivian version of Machane Yehuda. Not as nice and spacious but authentic. In other words, it looks quite the same as it was in the 1920s. Here we will make our way through locals and tourists alike since it became very popular in recent years. We will feast our eyes on all the baked goods, fish, meat, and cheese; nuts; seeds, and spices. You have it all here. On Tuesdays and Fridays, if time permits and you would like to, we can check out the Artisan Market in Nahalat Binyamin St. Vendors are selling their local, hand-made art. I promise those cute little things they put on display are not bought in China.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: The Palmach Museum
The Palmach was the strike force of the pre-state underground Haganah defense organization. During our tour real I.D.F soldiers will accompany us while we’ll stroll through a series of multimedia experience chambers. The experience here is different, we will go into the minds of those young boys and girls that volunteered to the Palmach and became heroes after giving the victory to the young state. But sadly there was a high price to pay, many of them fell in battle leaving loved ones behind. Those young men and women that served to defend the country were real heroes. But from where did they get all the ammunition? That will be our next stop.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: The Ayalon Institute
Now a very cool museum, the Ayalon Institute was an underground bullet factory disguised as a kibbutz that ran a laundry service. The factory was established in 1945 and manufactured ammunition till 1948. I don’t want to give you any spoilers so I’ll keep my mouth shut. But we will actually see the original machines; listen to some first-hand testimonials and more! Ok but now it’s time to go some 3,000 years back in time and check out Jaffa. Here is a link to their website.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: Old Town Jaffa
Jaffa is mentioned four times in the Hebrew Bible, as a city opposite the territory given to the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:46). The biblical narrator tells us that the tribe of Dan did not manage to dislocate the Philistines from Jaffa. But many descendants of Dan lived along the coast and earned their living from ship making and sailing. In the Song of Deborah the prophet asks: “Why doth Dan dwell in ships?” (Judges 5). After the Canaanite and Philistine dominion, King David and his son Solomon seize Jaffa and they use it as a homeport of Jerusalem. Also as a port-of-entry for the Cedars of Lebanon for Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16). Moreover, Jonah the prophet went on his mission from Jaffa port (Jonah 1:3).
Jaffa’s Visitor Center
Under the current modern plaza lies deep under an archaeological site that unearthed the ancient Agora and the Roman Forum. Now we know that this was the city center and marketplace even two millenniums ago! And guess who was the man responsible for all the measurements and weights in the marketplace? His name was Judah the Agoronimus, we’ll talk about him some more during our tour and actually visit his house!
Neve Tzedek: The First Jewish Neighbourhood Outside Jaffa
At some point the Jews living in Jaffa in the 19th century kind of had it living there. It became quite overcrowded, with no running water, not to mention a sewage system, in short, not fun! Moreover, the more Jewish immigrants came to Jaffa, which I remind you, dear readers was all Arab; the more the friction with the local population grew. Also, Jews need their synagogues and Mikah and all those things that a Jewish community needs. Now with Arab landowners, you would agree the communication wouldn’t be easy. So the Jews living in Jaffa decided to start their own little neighborhood, in other words, Neve Tzedek.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: The Chelouche Family
Our story starts with Aharon Chelouche, during the end of the 19th century he was a major figure in Jaffa’s Jewish community. Also, he is known as the founder of Neve Tzedek, now part of Tel Aviv. There are various houses in the area that belong to the family. And one of them is just next to Cinema Eden, the first open-air cinema in Tel Aviv which became quite an establishment in the history of the young city. The house got the name the Twin House because, in fact, we are talking about two different homes.
We know that Aharon Chelouche built two identical homes for his two oldest grandkids: Marko, the elder son of Abraham Chelouche. And Moshe, the elder son of Yosef Eliyahu Chelouche. Now Moshe in 1912 was about to get married to Rachel. Unfortunately, Marko was still a single, poor guy. To keep peace in the Chelouche family Aharon decided to build each one exactly the same home. In order to now make anyone envious of the other. By the way, Moshe became the third mayor of Tel Aviv for ten days. Until the British replaced him and appointed Israel Rokach instead.
Tel Aviv Old Jaffa Tour: Akiva Aryeh Weiss House
Akiva Aryeh Weiss was a Zionist activist and the primary founder of Tel Aviv. Benjamin Theodor Herzl Zionism swept Aryeh Weiss away and in 1906 he and his entire family immigrated to Israel including his six-month son, named Herzl (B.T. Herzl died in 1904). The family rented a house in Jaffa that Meir Dizengoff found for them. Already on the day of his arrival, he was invited to an assembly the Jews of Jaffa held. right there he suggests buying a piece of land and build on it the first Hebrew city, Tel Aviv. But with a huge difference from Jaffa.
This city will be like New York. In other words, modern; with running water, a sewage system, and schools. Exactly then the association ‘Ahuzat Bayit’ was created in 1906. At first, the association counted sixty members. As problems suddenly surged, for example, the Ottomans didn’t allow Jews to acquire land in Palestine. At their rescue came Jacobus Kann, a Dutch Jewish banker and partner of the Lissa & Kann banking house and one of the main leaders of the early Zionist Movement.
Since he was a foreign subjugate he could purchase the sixty-first plots. And list them under his name on the Ottoman land deed that was received in 1908. In 1910 sixty homes were already erected on what was two years just sand dunes. A convoy of camels from Jaffa brought the Weiss’ furniture to the new home. Now located at Herzl St. 2, Ahuzat Bayit. This was the first name given to the new city. Afterward, it changed to Tel Aviv.