October 18, 2009/30 Tishrei, 5770
Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization employees from across Israel took part in a tour that traced the footsteps of the first immigrants, the Jews who dreamt and fulfilled the dream of settling in the Jewish homeland. Their dreams became reality due to the immense efforts exerted by the Eretz Yisrael Office led by Arthur Rupin, and since 1929, by the Jewish Agency.
On Thursday, October 15, 2009, the tour began at the American-German Colony in Jaffa, the destination of the first Christian immigrants who heralded the later Jewish immigration to Jaffa in the mid-19th century. The employees then walked to the first large absorption center in Israel – Han Manoli, situated on Eshel St. in the heart of the Jaffa Flea Market. All immigrants who took part in the first waves of Aliyah came to this absorption center, including the founders of the State and the heads of the Jewish Agency who immigrated to the Land of Israel from around the globe.
The group then proceeded to Neveh Tzedek, the first Jewish neighborhood outside Jaffa, which was established at the end of the 19th century and signified the establishment of Achuzat Bayit (“Little Tel Aviv,” the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv) on the land of Kerem Jibli, the sand dunes north of Jaffa.
The visitors were surprised to learn that Achuzat Bayit was built by 66 founders who received a loan from national institutions which preceded the Jewish Agency. The loan was processed through the Anglo Palestine Bank, which was founded by the World Zionist Organization.
They were also surprised to discover that had the early leaders of the Jewish Agency not purchased the coastline, Tel Aviv would not have had any beaches!
The group visited one of the first homes built along the border of Achuzat Bayit, the Mani House. The house built by Aaron Brisker, one of the town’s founders, is currently the site of an extraordinary historical exhibit.
The tour gave the employees a historical overview of the Jewish Agency’s work in the area of settlement and Aliyah in honor of the Jewish Agency's eightieth birthday and Tel Aviv's centennial.
Chana Dobkin of the Jewish Agency Aliyah Department organized the first tour, which was guided by Natan Roi from the Jewish Agency Department for Resource Development and Public Affairs.
Photo Credit: Natan Roi