Neve Tzedek was the first Jewish neighborhood to be built (established on 1887) outside Jaffa. For years, the neighborhood prospered as Tel Aviv grew up around it. Years of neglect and disrepair followed, but since the early 1980s, Neve Tzedek has become one of Tel Aviv’s latest fashionable and expensive districts, with a village-like atmosphere. And today we are going to visit it. Let’s begin!
Neve Tzedek is located in southwestern Tel Aviv near Jaffa. Here is a map of the area:
You can find parking lots at different places in the area, but I usually park at HaTachana compound. There is a medium size paid parking lot, and I always found a place there.
Usually, we make a cyclic route starting and ending HaTachana Compound. From the old train station, we use Barnet and Amzaleg streets to explore the neighborhood’s small streets, like Shim’on Rokah, Stein, Kfar Saba, and Bostanai. And then using Shabazi street, we return to the starting point. And this is also approximately the same route that we will be doing today.
What Does Neve Tzedek Mean?
Neve Tzedek can be translated in several ways from Hebrew, but according to different sources on the web, the intention is: “House of Justice.” And according to the Bible, Jeremiah 50:7:
All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.
It is also one of God’s names.
History Of Neve Tzedek
Neve Tzedek was established in 1887, 22 years before the 1909 founding of Tel Aviv, by a group of Mizrahi Jewish families seeking to move outside of over-crowded Jaffa. Soon, additional small developments grew up around Neve Tzedek and were incorporated into the contemporary boundaries of the neighborhood.
The residents preferred to construct the new quarter with low-rise buildings along narrow streets. These homes frequently incorporated design elements from the Jugendstil/Art Nouveau and later Bauhaus art movements and featured contemporary luxuries such as private bathrooms.
At The Beginning Of The Previous Century
At the beginning of the 1900s, some artists and writers made Neve Tzedek their residence. Most notably, future Nobel prize laureate Shmuel Yosef Agnon, as well as Hebrew artist Nachum Gutman, used Neve Tzedek as both a home and a sanctuary for art. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was the first Rabbi of Neve Tzedek; he even maintained a Yeshiva there. During his time in Neve Tzedek, he became very close friends with many of the writers, especially Agnon.
However, as Tel Aviv began to develop away from the Jaffa core, the more affluent people started to move out from the southern end of the city to inhabit the newly-developing northern areas. With its buildings abandoned, neglected and subjected to the unsightly corrosive effects of the shore atmosphere upon concrete and stucco, Neve Tzedek degenerated into disrepair and urban decay. As with the rest of South Tel Aviv, after 1948, it became a predominantly Mizrahi area.
By the 1960s, city officials deemed the neighborhood – by this time almost a slum – incompatible with the modern image of a busy, bustling city. However, plans to demolish the historic neighborhood to make way for high rise apartments were eventually canceled as many Neve Tzedek buildings were placed on preservation lists. At the same time, the old, worn-out neighborhood was also becoming appreciated as an oasis of the semi-pastoral and picturesque amidst the modernist development of the city center.
By the end of the 1980s, efforts began to renovate and preserve Neve Tzedek’s century-old structures. New establishments were housed in old buildings, most notably the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre and the Nachum Gutman Museum, located in the artist’s home. This gentrification led to Neve Tzedek’s rebirth as a fashionable and popular upmarket residence for Tel Avivians. Its main streets became lined once again with artists’ studios, including the ceramics studio of Samy D., alongside trendy cafés and bars, and more recently boutique hotels and shops selling hand-made goods to wealthy Israelis and tourists.
The Tel Aviv Light Rail, which is expected to pass near Neve Tzedek, will make the neighborhood even more accessible for visitors and residents alike.
Source of all history quotes: Wikipedia
HaTachana Compound – Tel Aviv’s Old Train Station
On this visit, I parked at HaTachana compound. But before I go on, I should give a short explanation regarding this place.
What Is HaTachana?
Hatahana means train station in Hebrew. It was a part of the Jaffa – Jerusalem line, which operated from 1892 to 1948. It was the first railway line between Little Asia and Egypt.
A train station on the Jaffa – Jerusalem line, located between the seashore and the Neveh Zedek neighborhood, operated from 1892 to 1948. That was the first railway line between Little Asia and Egypt and the first means of transportation to replace the camel as the mode of transport for heavy loads taken over long distances.
The idea to establish this railway was first proposed in the 1830s by Moshe Montefiore, who was interested in developing modern industry in the Land of Israel but ran into difficulties about the transport of machinery and raw materials.
At the end of a long process that entailed a combination of entrepreneurship, vision, and international politics, in 1888 Turkish Sultan Abed el-Hamid granted the license to Yossef Navon, who was able to raise the necessary capital from Europe to lay the tracks and build the stations.
It took two years to execute the large railway construction project, and its completion heralded the beginning of the age of modern transportation in the Land of Israel.
In 1900, Templar Hugo Wieland returned from Germany to the Land of Israel moved to his home near the train station, building his tile and brick factory alongside. This proximity to the railway allowed Wieland to transport his products efficiently to the Jaffa Port, where they were loaded onto ships and sent overseas.
The number of passengers increased over the years and in 1913, on the eve of WWI, some 183,000 passengers journeyed through the station. The Jaffa station operated on a regular basis almost to the eve of the War of Independence in 1948.
Source: Official Site
Plan Of HaTachana
Here is the plan of the Old Train Station:
Food and shopping are the main reasons for visiting this compound. But I love parking there since there are restrooms. And I should mention that the entrance is free.
One of the restaurants:
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 10:00 – 22:00
Friday: 10:00 – 17:00
A few years back, this compound was reconstructed, and there are different stores and restaurants in the old train buildings. And of course several train cars serve as a reminder.
Another reason for visiting the first station is to attend one of the events. For an updated list visit the Official Site. I will say that currently, they have Israel Made Fair that runs every Friday and Saturday starting from 10 am.
The IDF History Museum
The Museum of the IDF History is located next to HaTachana. This experiential museum tells the story from the time of the British Mandate until modern times. It uses an authentic display that is unique in its uniqueness and size. The exhibition presents a rare collection of original exhibits from the “Slikim” to the advanced weapons of the IDF The authentic exhibits create an unmediated encounter with key events in the history of the State.
According to the official site, the& IDF History Museum will close on 1.1.2019. And the exhibits will be moved to Latrun within the next two years. I guess they refer to Yad La-Shiryon at Latrun. We visited it during last Independence Day. You can find the full post at Attractions At Independence Day In Israel.
Walking Around Neve Tzedek
Neve Tzedek has different areas, some with reconstructed/reserved houses, greenery around them and others, well… not. Here is the dark side of Neve Tzedek.
The Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater
The Home for Dance in Israel. The Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre is Israel’s premier presenter of Israeli and international contemporary dance companies. Established in 1989, the mission of the Suzanne Dellal Centre is to cultivate, support and promote the art of contemporary dance in Israel. The Centre pursues this mission by offering diverse performances, events, festivals, and workshops from the worlds of contemporary dance, theater and performing arts.
The Suzanne Dellal Centre has two primary goals: to create world-class dance productions and engaging educational activities; and to facilitate the high-quality presentation of Israeli and international choreographers. The Centre has launched dozens of innovative programs to nurture and support new work and emerging artists, providing platforms to expose young artists and bring dance to new audiences.
The Suzanne Dellal Centre’s sprawling multi-level campus consists of four performance halls, rehearsal studios, restaurant and cafe, and wide plazas that host outdoor performances and events. The Centre is home to the Batsheva Dance Company, Inbal Dance Theatre, and Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company.
And another view of the inner garden:
Rarely, but you can find graffiti as well.
On the border of Neve Tzedek, you can find this narrow and long parking. Today it serves as parking, but back in the day, it was actually where the train passed.
Migdal Neve Tzedek:
Neve Tzedek Tower was a controversial project. Many neighbors opposed it. Since the whole area has a low construction (2-3 floors). But after several lawsuits, the construction was finished in 2007.
Nachum Gutman Museum
There are several small museums in this neighborhood. One of them is Nachum Gutman Museum.
Nachum Gutman was born in Teleneşti, Bessarabia Governorate, then a part of the Russian Empire (now in the Republic of Moldova). He was the fourth child of Sim[c]ha Alter and Rivka Gutman. His father was a Hebrew writer and educator who wrote under the pen name S. Ben Zion. In 1903, the family moved to Odessa, and two years later, to Ottoman Palestine. In 1908, Gutman attended the Herzliya Gymnasium in what would later become Tel Aviv. And in 1912, he studied at the Bezalel School in Jerusalem. In 1920–26, he studied art in Vienna, Berlin, and Paris.
Gutman was married to Dora, with whom he had a son. After Gutman’s death in 1980, Dora asked two Tel Aviv gallery owners, Meir Stern of Stern Gallery and Miriam Tawin of Shulamit Gallery, to appraise the value all of the works left in his estate.
According to ilmuseums site:
Rokach House was built in 1887, the house of Shimon Rokach, the head of community who had the vision and the initiation to build the first Jewish neighborhood outside of Jaffa walls. Following the construction of Neve Zedek more houses and new neighborhoods were built conquering the dunes and spreading out to form the city of Tel Aviv. Rokach House – encounter with life 120 years ago, operates as a museum dedicated to the period, it includes furniture, household goods, clothing, photographs, historical background and a short film. The house features the sculpture and paintings of Lea Majaro Mintz Shimon Rokach’s granddaughter who restored the house.
This is probably one of the more known houses in Neve Tzedek. It is covered with sculptures:
Here are several closeups:
If you are hungry, then there are several fine dining restaurants in this neighborhood. If you are less hungry, then visit one of the ice cream or yogurt cafes. From our experience, they are great.
Though the neighborhood is not that big, we did not cover all of it in several hours. Simply because there are many things to see. For example, we did not touch the subject of famous residents, one of whom was Shai Agnon. But, our time was running out, so we headed back to the Hatahana compound.
Here are several nearby attractions that you can reach within a short walk:
- If you love graffiti, then visit the nearby Florentin neighborhood. Check out Graffiti At Florentin.
- Jaffa is also very close. You can visit the most popular attractions in Jaffa or visit Jaffa Flea Market.
- You can also visit nearby markets, like Carmel Market, Nachlat Binyamin, and Levinsky Market. For additional information about these places check out Markets In Tel Aviv.
- A little further away, you can find the Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir.
Overall, Neve Tzedek neighborhood is a lovely place where you can spend from several hours to half a day. It is fun to mingle, eat and shop. Moreover, you can visit one of the museums. And many firms and guides offer tours at this neighborhood. Thus if you want to upscale your journey you definitely can.
Have you ever been to Neve Tzedek Neighborhood? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby see Tel Aviv-Yafo page.