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The history of Tel-Aviv
The "lots drawing" day on 20 Nisan 5770 (April 11, 1909) has since been considered the day on which Tel-Aviv was founded. However, the city was actually established three years earlier at a meeting of Yafo Jews who had convened in July 1906 at the "Yeshurun" Club, located at the end of Bostrus Street.
Those who attended that social gathering complained about the difficult living conditions that Yafo Jews were facing - severe overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, inadequate lighting and, primarily, the "ostracized" decree, which forced them to find alternative housing every year. On the very same day, a new immigrant had arrived in the country, named Aryeh Akiva Weiss, who encouraged the people at the gathering to build a new, clean neighborhood far away from Yafo, where Jews could sleep peacefully at the end of a hard day. Weiss envisioned an exemplary community and even went so far as to say: "Just like New York, which is the main gateway to America, we must also upgrade our city, and it will eventually become the New York of the Land of Israel".
The association they formed to establish the new neighborhood, called The Home Building Society, later changed its name to "Ahuzat Bayit". This marked the beginning of Tel-Aviv.
The city's founders intended to build a neighborhood distant and separate from Yafo, one that would offer the quality of life that was common in Western Europe at the end of the 19th century.
The new neighborhood was supposed to be built according the "garden cities" model espoused by the urban philosopher Ebenezer Howard. This model combined town and country life and envisioned cities with vegetable gardens, flower beds, and playgrounds - a complete contrast to the deteriorating quality of life that characterized Yafo at the time. After enough members signed up for the new neighborhood, they acquired land in the area of the "Jabali" vineyard, on the sand dunes east of Neve Tzedek and adjacent to the beach.
They divided the area into 60 lots for the first 60 families who had joined "Ahuzat Bayit" (although, officially, there were 66 founding families). Initially uncertain about how to assign which lot to which family, the members of the new neighborhood decided to draw lots and convened for that purpose on the second night of Passover in 1909. These distinguished people gathered on one of the embankments in the middle of the desolate area, and Aryeh Akiva Weiss, by then head of the neighborhood committee, went to the beach to collect 60 white seashells and 60 grey ones. On the white ones he wrote the members' names and, on the grey ones, the lot numbers.
Weiss believed that it was fitting for a new city located along the coast to incorporate seashells at its founding ceremony. One of the founders' children was asked to match the lot numbers up with the names, and that's how the first Hebrew city was born.