Neve Tzedek Tel Aviv
Neve Tzedek is Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood, predating the city itself. Neve Tzedek was the first area built outside Jaffa in 1887, long before Tel Aviv was even conceived.
Two men are credited with the founding of Neve Tzedek. Shimon Rokach, a public servant whose father was given the right (by the Turks) to collect a toll on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa road, and Aharon Chelouche (pronounced and sometimes incorrectly spelled as Shlush), a successful businessman. Both longed to get out of the overcrowded, unsanitary conditions in the alleys of Jaffa, so they bought a small parcel of land and began to form a neighborhood slightly to the north. They included a synagogue (known even today as Chelouche Shul) to encourage more Jews to follow them.
The area later became amalgamated with the development of Tel Aviv and was part of the Ahuzat Bayit group, which formed the new town. To begin with it attracted an eclectic crowd of mostly intellectuals. Amongst many writers, authors Shai Agnon and Chaim Nachman Bialik made their homes there.
Neve Tzedek History
Rokach’s home, designed by an Austrian architect, was famous for its unusual style attracted many visitors. But over the years, wealthier residents moved to the newer more modern and attractive areas of Tel Aviv as it spread northwards, resulting in the Neve Tzedek area turning into a slum.
The entire area was slated for destruction, including the famous Rokach House. It was on the verge of being torn down completely when Rokach’s artist granddaughter, Lea Majaro-Mintz, stepped in to save it and fought hard to have her grandfather’s illustrious home restored. At the last minute, a reprieve was granted; later, due to the success of the project which Majaro-Mintz oversaw personally, it was decided to renovate and rebuild the entire area.
Neve Tzedek Attractions
The Nachum Guttman Museum of Art used to be known as the Writer’s House (Beit HaSofrim) due to the large number of famous writers who lived there and gathered for literary meetings and discussions. It too was left in a terrible state of disrepair for many years before ultimately being restored.
The Suzanne Dellal Performing Arts Center is the cherry which tops the Neve Tzedek cake, being a world famous school of dance that attracts famous artists and performers who can be seen regularly on the streets of Neve Tzedek today. The large, attractive plaza in front of the Dellal Center is often still used for performances.
Tel Aviv Jaffa Railway
The latest renovation project in the area is the old station of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa railway line. Once the commercial center of the area in the railway’s heyday, it fell into disrepair over the years. The old waiting rooms, ticket offices and locomotive warehouses have been converted into restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries and is a frequent venue for children’s performances and food festivals.
Neve Tzedek Today
Neve Zedek is now an upscale, yuppie area, whilst still retaining its quaint character, with colorful buildings and small narrow streets. There are still some old run-down homes owned by the original residents’ families juxtapositioned next to the trendy, modern apartments. The many popular restaurants, cafes, bars, boutiques, museums and cultural centers make this one of the most sought-after residential areas in Tel Aviv.
Neve Tzedek Tel Aviv: DID YOU KNOW?
The Rokach House is now a private museum, possibly the oldest museum in Tel Aviv, and often used to showcase cultural events.