In honor or Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, Jewish Treats presents a very brief history of a very well-known city: Tel Aviv. Known as the first all-Jewish city of modern times, it was founded in 1909 by sixty Jews looking to leave the over-crowded streets of Yafo (Jaffa). They succeeded in creating not only a pleasant new residence for themselves, but in laying the foundation of a city that would grow so large that it overtook the settlers’ original home, leading to a municipal merge in 1950 (officially it is Tel Aviv-Yafo).

The original settlement was known as Ahuzat Bayit, but within a year it was renamed Tel Aviv as a reference from Theodor Herzl’s novel Altneuland. Ahuzat Bayit was not the first Jewish settlement in the area, that was Neve Tzedek (established 1886), but it was the first with a specific plan for the future.

The city’s growth was rapid, disrupted only by an Ottoman imposed evacuation of all Jews from Tel Aviv in 1916 (World War I turned control of the area to Britain). Rioting in Yafo in 1921 gave a significant boost to the population as thousands of Jews relocated. By 1947, there were close to 200,000 residents of the young city.

During the 1948 war, when Jerusalem was first occupied by the Jordanians, Tel Aviv served as the nation’s place of government. Even after the government moved back to Jerusalem, many foreign governments maintained their embassies in Tel Aviv (including the United States). While no longer the political center, Tel Aviv remains Israel’s center of business and arts. It is home to a number of important cultural sites such as The Diaspora Museum and Ben Gurion’s House, as well as its unique World Heritage Site “White City” – the designation of the city’s prominent Bauhaus architecture.

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