“Tel Aviv and Jerusalem”, Hatzofeh for Children, 1949
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
Tel-Aviv, the Hebrew [city].
All of your streets
and all of your houses
were built by your sons and daughters.
Jerusalem is sad,
because it is abandoned.
All of the sons and daughters
have gone into exile to wander.
And behold, the voice of happiness,
happiness and rejoicing,
the sons and daughters have returned,
returned to build it
The poem was written by 14-year-old Chana Bing from Tel Aviv. It was published in the newspaper Hatzofeh for Children on May 5, 1949, a few days before Independence Day.
In the poem Chana contrasts Tel Aviv with Jerusalem. She writes that the sons and daughters who returned to the Land of Israel have built the “Hebrew” Tel Aviv. Jerusalem, on the other hand, is “sad, because it is abandoned. All of the sons and daughters have gone into exile to wander.”
Chana is relating to the sad plight of Jerusalem, a divided city at the time, with the east of the city (including the Old City and the Western Wall) in Jordanian hands. A border, named the City Line, with barbed wire and guards, crossed the city separating East and West Jerusalem. Many houses, shops, and buildings were destroyed during the War of Independence in 1948, and the neighbourhoods adjacent to the Old City became a no-man’s-land.
Tel Aviv, as expressed in the poem, was named the first Hebrew City. Situated on the Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv was not directly affected by the War of Independence. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Tel Aviv continued to flourish, and during the war, many state institutions were temporarily located there.
At the end of the poem, the young writer expresses her hope that the sons and daughters will eventually return to Jerusalem to rebuild it.
Jewish History teachers could use this poem to describe life in Israel in the first year of its independence. Jewish Studies teachers could use this poem in lessons leading up to Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Hebrew teachers could use the poem for teaching Hebrew through literature, since the poem is short and is written in easy and everyday Hebrew.
Israel Studies teachers could use the poem to teach about the differences between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 1949 and today.
Which cities are mentioned in the poem?
How are these cities described?
Who wrote the poem?
Where was it published?
When was the poem written?
Reading Between the Lines
Describe your feelings on reading the poem.
What feelings does the writer convey?
What is the reason for her feelings?
What historical events does Chana refer to in the poem?
Describe the situation in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at the time the poem was written.
The poem refers to “your sons and daughters.” Who are these children?
Why does Chana write that “Jerusalem is sad”?
When and why did people leave Jerusalem?
What does the “happiness and rejoicing” refer to?
When did this happen?
How does Chana refer to Tel Aviv? Why?
Who built Tel Aviv and when?
Is the poem optimistic or pessimistic?
Why do you think this poem was published just before Independence Day?
What was Hatzofeh for Children?
Does it still exist today?
Are children’s newspapers still published?
Would they include poems such as Chana Bing’s poem?
Have you been to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem?
How would you compare them?
Do you think Jerusalem is still sad today?
Explain your answer.
Illustrate the poem and describe your illustrations to the rest of the class.
Using online creation tools, such as PowerPoint and iMovie, present a comparison of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for people who have not been there.