Tel Aviv: Frivolity and Sharing the Burden


Some of the immigrants settled in tent camps in Tel Aviv , and worked at constructing the growing city’s houses . Many of them , young and single , remembered those nights as celebrations of song and dance . At that time the engineer Pinhas Rutenberg arrived from Russia , and drew up a plan for the electrification of Eretz Israel . Initially Rutenberg established a power station in Tel Aviv , and on a spring night in 1923 the city’s streets suddenly lit up - another reason for a celebration that continued the entire night . A Spirit of Optimism The Fourth Aliyah began in 1924 . A majority of the immigrants of the Second Aliyah had come from Russia , where they had been influenced by the ideas that led to the Communist revolution . Most of the new immigrants who arrived now , on the other hand , had lived in the cities and towns of Poland , where harsh economic measures had been imposed on the middle class . Many Jews , merchants and businessmen , had been affected by this legislation and had emigrated from Poland . Since the United States had already closed its gates to immigrants , they came to Eretz Israel . There were some who referred to this wave of immigration as the “ Grabski aliyah , ” after the Polish Treasury Minister . Many of these immigrants were no longer young , having families of their own , and they settled in Tel Aviv , the growing Hebrew city . They brought their capital with them , opened shops on Nahalat Binyamin and Allenby Streets and the vicinity , and built many houses . A spirit of optimism filled the country . Tel Aviv began to assume the character that it would have for many years : an open city , non-ideological , whose residents sought to enjoy life , each in their own way - some through high culture , including the new Hebrew culture centered in Tel Aviv ; and others , in lighter entertainment , which the city also offered . At that time the Zionist camp was wrestling with the question of whether to build and develop the land with monies from public funds , or to build it upon the initiative and with money from private investors and entrepreneurs . The immigrants of the Fourth Aliyah had brought a great deal of capital with them . The country’s economy flourished and many shops opened in Tel Aviv . These businesses and new industries helped the city flourish ( one such enterprise was the large textile factory in the heart of Tel Aviv , built entirely of red bricks , and named Lodzia , after its founder’s city of birth , which was a major textile manufacturing center ) . New neighborhoods grew up in the north of the city , on the dunes that extended to the Yarkon River , and next to them , two leather and textile factories . This prosperity seemed to substantiate the claim that public funds need not be raised to build the land . Some Zionists abroad viewed the hityashvut ha-ovedet as the pinnacle of the Jewish renaissance , and not Tel Aviv . For example , Chaim Weizmann , President of the World Zionist Organization , said that Tel Aviv was a sort of “ Nalewki , ” the crowded Jewish quarter in Warsaw populated mainly by merchants and shopkeepers . Nonetheless , the growing city , with its Jewish inhabitants - from the mayor to the merchant , the laborer , the thief , and the policeman - was a source of pride and proof that Jews , too , are capable of building a city and running it properly . In the heart of the city of those days , on the corner of Ahad Ha-Am and Nahalat Binyamin Streets , a magnificent hotel , the Palatin , was built , just as in all the world’s major cities . The wealthy and the playboys of the city spent their time there , eating , drinking , and dancing the Charleston to the sounds of the jazz band . Workers passed by the hotel on their way to Hannah Meisel’s “ workers ’ kitchen , ” to eat their meager portion of soup . They heard the sounds from within , and were scornful of the world’s wealthy elite . This polarization along class lines was another sign of Tel Aviv’s becoming a large city . Tel Aviv in Hebrew Culture While this was happening , however , Tel Aviv’s cultural life was also growing . The poets , writers ,

Posen Foundation

לצפייה מיטבית ורציפה בכותר