Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Neve Tzedek

Officially, the rooftop misses the original border of Neve Tzedek by about 20 paces but according to other definitions we are well inside. Whatever our precise relationship, it's our neighbourhood; pretty, leafy, old, charming, quaint, constantly changing and now hopping with activity. Neve Tzedek established in 1887 , the result of the first attempt by Jews to break out of the confines of Yaffo, (see link above for history) is celebrating its 120th birthday, and its streets are filled with people seeking the exhibitions, open houses tours and concerts.

The original narrow terraced houses painted in shades of ochre were soon joined by grander residences and also by new adjacent neighbourhoods. In 1909 Ahuzat Bayit (later renamed Tel Aviv) was established on the adjoining sand dunes, Neve Tzedek gradually fell into disrepair and by the 1960s was considered a slum. Now, after a hundred years of Tel Aviv's expansion and development, Neve Tzedek (in its tastefully gentrified mode of course) is back in fashion. Nobel laureate author Shmuel Yosef Agnon and artist Nahum Gutman who lived and worked here as struggling young artists in the early years of the last century, and whose homes are visited on the neighbourhood tours, would find it impossible to find an affordable pad here today. In our cold, alienating, technological world, Ye Olde Neve Tzedek, like other old quarters everywhere, has become a magnet for those seeking an anchor in the authentic, the historic (preferably with a touch of bohemian thrown in). OK, I admit it. I'm one of those people too.

Neve Tzedek supplies all of this and whatever was missing in the way of the 'authentic' has been shipped in from the outside in the form of cool stripped down woodwork, boutiques for babies and dark little tables in the romantic cafes.

On the neighbourhood map, handed out as part of the festivities, the local historic landmarks are marked together with old photos and descriptions. These include schools and synagogues, the houses where writers would meet, housing projects for the poor, law courts. Today that sense of close community has all but disappeared from Neve Tzedek. The same buildings now offer yoga, fashion and cappuccino. Still, there is a community out there (in which we rooftoppers are not sufficiently active) that is fighting in the courts to ward off the encroaching threat of Neve Tzedek, the only really charming part of Tel Aviv, being encircled by a ring off main roads and giant towers. To follow the struggle and to read and see more of Neve Tzedek
(Hebrew only) visit http://www.nevetzedek.org

1 comment:

prof said...

write a letter to a great personnalitie!
i post your letter