Located on the Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest and most vibrant metropolis, it is the country’s financial and technology center and an urban stage for art, fashion and culture.
In the south of Tel Aviv, with its red tiled rooftops, lays Neve Tzedek, the neighborhood which marks the birthplace of this great city.
The History of Neve Tzedek
Founded in 1887, Neve Tzedek was first inhabited by a small group of Jewish families, such as Chelouche, Stein and Rokach amongst others, who sought to distance themselves from the density that characterized Old Jaffa and make their new home amidst the orange groves and the sand dunes.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Neve Tzedek became a hub of prominent cultural figures such as S.Y. Agnon, Deborah Baron, Yosef Aharonovich and Yehuda Burla who resided and worked in the area through its defining first years. The first Synagogue, located just off today’s Shabazi Street, was headed by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, known as HaRav KooK.
With the passing of time and the development of the northern, more modern, parts of Tel Aviv, the political and cultural elite left the neighborhood and by the 1950s Neve Tzedek had deteriorated into an urban slum.
In the beginning of the 1980s and as the result of an extensive urban renewal and land redevelopment programs, the area has been rejuvenated and is now a magnificent mixture of trends, architectures and people; Old and new, Sabra or newcomers, young and old, traditional and contemporary.
Neve Tzedek today
Today, Neve Tzedek neighborhood is filled with trendy boutiques, fashionable galleries, excellent restaurants and cafes. It combines authentic, low-rise buildings which preserve the original character of days gone by, alongside newer building developments and bordered by sky-high towers.
The most prominent sites in Neve Tzedek and its immediate vicinity are; The Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre, home of dance in Israel and the premier presenter of Israeli and international contemporary dance companies, The Tahana (The old Jaffa Railway Station) which offers fun, fashion and culinary delights and Rothschild Boulevard with its urban ambience and endless gastronomic options and a dynamic business center. The mythological Carmel Market is just around the corner and its colorful variety of fruit, vegetable, meat, cheese and flower stands, are an entrancing experience every time.
Last but not least, a short walking distance away, the Mediterranean sea and Tel Aviv’s magnificent beaches display a fabulous combination of sea, sun, sand and the most magical sunsets.
Dellal Center for Dance and Theater
The Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater is one of the cornerstones of the Neve Tzedek neighborhood as well as one of its most identified locales. This cultural center, which promotes the art of contemporary dance in Israel, was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 2010, for its contributions to dance. The center attracts art and dance lovers, who visit it regularly, and who enjoy its vast cultural events and performances throughout the year.
Shimon Rokach House
It was Shimon Rokach who established the NeveTzedek neighborhood, and this house was one of the first built there, renowned for its domed roof. After years of neglect, it was Rokach’s grand-daughter the artist and sculptor Lea Majaro-Mintz, who purchased her grandfather’s house in 1982. She restored the house while preserving the original character and historic architectural elements and has won awards from the Ford Foundation and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites. In 1984, the house opened as a museum where historical pictures of the neighborhood are exhibited and the works of Majaro-Mintz are displayed.
Located on Chelouche St. #32 in Neve Tzedek is Chelouche House, an epic landmark in this historic neighborhood. Built by Aharon Chelouche in 1892 the house was used by the family until 1920. Years later it was handed over to the Tel Aviv municipality where a school was established. In 2001, empty and neglected, it was sold to private owners and again in 2007 it was sold to persons who began to plan its preservation and development.
The Writers’ Home – The Nahum Gutman Museum of Art
For years, The Writers’ Home (where the enchanting Nahum Gutman Museum is housed) was the hub and meeting place of significant artists who defined local culture. The house, built in 1887, received its name since many writers, among them Devorah Baron, Yosef Aharonovich, Asher Barash, Yehuda Burla resided there at some point. The exhibitions at the museum include the versatile works of Nachum Gutman as well as the works of contemporary artists, an amalgamation that creates a dialogue between different epochs in art and their varied points of view. In September 2009, a new wing was opened named after the philanthropist Murray Pergament and his wife Irene, where additional art is proudly showcased.
One of Tel Aviv’s mythological cinemas, Eden Cinema was founded in August 1914 on the corner of Pines and Lilienblum St. In its heyday, the cinema presented the best Hollywood films of the 1920’s accompanied by a permanent chamber orchestra. Later, the cinema featured Indian and classic films. The cinema was fully operational until July 1974 when it was purchased by Bank Leumi and later sold to a private investor. In recent years plans are being developed to establish a boutique hotel in this historic building and to once again bring life to this famed venue.
Ha’Tahana (The Jaffa Railway Station)
Originally and between 1892-1948 the Jaffa railway station was located here, the very first in the Middle East. Today, after major restoration, this locale has been converted into one of the most picturesque shopping spots in Tel- Aviv. A selection of trendy boutiques and splendid restaurants have been built within the authentic structures that date back to the times of the Ottoman empire. The old railway tracks and train cars of days gone by, provide exceptional charm to this magical place.