Photographs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 1939
Fig.19. Headquarters of the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth (Jewish National Fund) and Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund), Rehavia, Jerusalem.
Fig. 20. A view of one section of Tel-Aviv. As we entered this surprisingly large and busy city we had the feeling that all of a sudden we had come into one of our finest cities in the United States. Everything seems busy and people walk along the streets with a lively sprint. Nowhere else in the Near East can such a city be found. It is said to have more cultural agencies and organizations than any other city of equal size in the world. There are school facilities for every child. And to think Tel-Aviv, with its fine port was only founded in 1909 on some desolate sand dunes by a group of 60 Jewish families (Palestine).
These are two pictures depicting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 1939.
The upper picture shows the National Institutions Building: the joint site of the headquarters of the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish National Fund (Kerem Kayemet) in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighbourhood. The two- and three-floor buildings are built of Jerusalem stone and surround a main courtyard. Behind the building are smaller buildings, and the Jerusalem hills can be seen in the background.
The second photograph is a bird’s-eye view of Tel Aviv. The photograph shows buildings, streets, and trees. In the centre of the picture is the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv that is located in Allenby Street.
Both these photos were taken in 1939 by Walter Lowdermilk, an international expert in the area of land and water conservation. Lowdermilk travelled to many countries in order to carry out a comprehensive study on the quality of the soil. These images were found within his travel notes. Lowdermilk was very supportive of the Zionist enterprise and was full of praise for the advanced techniques used by the farmers to ensure the success of their efforts . He was also highly critical of the 1939 White Paper which sought to limit Jewish immigration to Palestine.
The National Institutions Building is located on King George Street in Jerusalem. The plans were drawn up by architect Richard Kaufman, who was responsible for much of Jerusalem’s city planning during the British Mandate period. The building acted as the hub for the Yishuv in pre-state Israel. National and religious ceremonies took place here, such as children’s Tu Bishvat celebrations. In March 1948, a car bomb blew up in the courtyard, killing and injuring many. Following the attack, a fence was erected around the building. After the establishment of the State of Israel and before the building of the permanent Knesset, the Israeli government convened in this building. Today the building houses the JNF, Keren Yesod, and the Jewish Agency as originally planned.
The Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv is located on Allenby Street and was designed by the Israeli architect Yehuda Magidovitch in 1922. The synagogue was previously in the centre of Tel Aviv, but today the area has become predominately a business and finance area. Due to this demographic change, the number of congregants has reduced greatly.
Jewish History teachers can use this resource when studying the development of Jerusalem during the British Mandate.
Art teachers can discuss the designs of the Jewish Agency building and the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv and how they reflect the styles of the time.
Geography teachers can use these two images to discuss the differences between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem both then and now.
Describe the photograph of Jerusalem.
What is the main building in the photograph?
What can be seen behind the building?
Describe the photograph of Tel Aviv.
What is the large building with the dome at the centre of the photograph?
Is the city crowded?
How tall are the buildings?
When were these photographs taken?
Which buildings does this photograph feature?
How does the author describe Tel Aviv?
Reading Between the Lines
What was the role of the Jewish Agency and Keren HaYesod during the years of the British Mandate?
What has happened to the National Institutions Building since it was built?
Why did the author of the book choose two images which highlighted the differences between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv?
What are the differences between the two photos?
Why was the author amazed by what he saw in Tel Aviv?
The photograph shows the Allenby Road area of Tel Aviv.
Search for information about this road in the past and in the present. What has changed?
Have you visited Jerusalem? What is unique about the buildings in Jerusalem?
Based on information from the internet or personal experience, what are the differences between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem?
Which city do you prefer and why?
Search the NLI catalogue for additional photographs and resources describing Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during the British Mandate period.
Create a presentation comparing the two cities.