Tel Aviv founded
On the beach, 1909
In 1909 the Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin got a loan from the Jewish National Fund for a small group of people to create a Jewish suburb next to the ancient port of Jaffa. They called their society “Ahuzat Bayit”, meaning “homestead”. The Ahuzat Bayit wanted to create the kind of small city they had left behind in Europe, except this one would be Hebrew in nature, adopt modern urban aesthetics, and be a center for Zionist culture. They even had marketing brochures advertising that the future city would have roads and sidewalks and electricity, and each house would have running water and sewage piping. On April 11, 1909, sixty-six families gathered on the beach to draw seashells to determine who got what plot of land.
A year later the tiny town was given a name to reflect the sense of both the ancient layered past as well as the Jewish renewal it was intended to bring about. The name came from the Book of Ezekial in the Hebrew Bible, where it was written of the Jews living in Babylon, “Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel Aviv.” Tel Aviv was also the Hebrew title given to Herzl’s 1902 book Altneuland, Old New Land. A tel is an ancient mound which covers layers of archeological evidence of past settlements. And aviv, means spring. So Tel Aviv can be translated as “Spring Hill.”