Synagogue Street, Rishon LeZion, 1893
This photograph shows Hovevei Zion Street in Petah Tikva. It depicts a quiet street with no traffic, except for one man on a horse. The street is lined with trees and detached homes, each with their own fenced-in yard. The word “Hauptstrausse” written underneath the photograph is the German word for main street. The photograph is from a collection by Leo Kahn, an Austrian Jewish photographer who photographed Jewish sites all over Israel in 1912; some were made into postcards for the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL).
At the time this photograph was taken, Petah Tikva was already about thirty years old. It was the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel and was founded in 1878 by a group of religious European Jews from the Old Yishuv who had moved from Jerusalem. The name Petah Tikva means “gateway to hope” and is based on a verse from the Book of Hosea. Petah Tikva is also known as Em HaMoshavot (the mother of the settlements), as it was the first of the modern Jewish settlements to be established. It suffered many setbacks, such as the problems of farming marshland and struggles with disease, and was abandoned three year after its establishment. In 1883, attempts were made to resettle Petach Tikva. The settlers, yet again, faced difficulties, including raids from neighbouring Bedouin and Arabs which led them to post guards around the village. In 1887, Baron Edmund de Rothschild visited Petach Tikva and agreed to provide financial and agricultural support; subsequently, the swamps that caused disease were drained, and the farmers finally managed to live off the land.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Petach Tikva attracted many immigrants from the Second Aliya. These people, many of them secular socialists, slowly changed the character of Petach Tikva. Despite the many difficulties under first Turkish and then British rule, Petach Tikva developed from a small religious agricultural village to a large city.
Today Petah Tikva, located east of Tel Aviv, has a population of about 230,000 and is the fifth largest city in Israel. The city’s industrial area has many factories and high-tech companies, and the citrus groves that once covered much of the area have been replaced by large residential neighbourhoods.
This photograph can be used as an introduction to Geography lessons about the major cities of Israel with a particular focus on Israel’s urbanisation and the city’s rapid development.
Jewish History teachers can use this photograph and the story of Petah Tikva’s founders as an example of early twentieth-century settlement in Israel and the many challenges faced.
Describe the photograph.
When and where was this photograph taken?
What language is the resource written in?
Reading Between the Lines
Why do you think the photographer chose to capture this scene?
Why is the title at the bottom written in German?
The street in the photograph was called Hovevei Zion Street. What does this refer to, and why would the street be thus named?
Find information about Petach Tikva.
Where is it?
Who settled there?
Were they successful?
What challenges did they face?
Have you been to Petach Tikva?
If not, look for images and information about the city today.
What are your impressions?
Look at this modern painting of Hovevei Zion Street.
How does it compare to the photograph?
Divide the class into two groups and ask each group to write a letter. One group writes a letter from the man in the photograph to his future great-grandchild, who also lives in Petah Tikva, describing life in Petach Tikva and his hopes for the future.
The other group writes a letter to the man in the photograph from his great-grandchild, describing modern-day Petah Tikva, its appearance, its successes, and its sources of pride.