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Legend in the Dunes – Tel Aviv *

Rothschild Boulevard in 1913 -- Public Domain

Legend in the Dunes – Tel Aviv

Legend in the Dunes (AGADA BA-HOLOT)

  • Hebrew + English subtitles
  • lirics: Yaakov Gross
  • Music — Nachum Heiman

Once seashells covered the beach — Endless sand and blue skies above The blue sea painted the view – And the burning sun turned each wave into gold A hundred years have gone by – Everything has changed, And across from Jaffa – A legend grew in the dunes to become  Tel Aviv.

Market Jaffa painting by Gustav Bauernfeind 1887
Market Jaffa painting by Gustav Bauernfeind 1887

The First Aliyah – Late 19th-century Jewish neighborhoods north of Jaffa

During the First Aliyah in the 1880s, when Jewish immigrants began arriving in the region in significant numbers, new neighborhoods were founded outside Jaffa on the current territory of Tel Aviv. The first was Neve Tzedek, founded by Mizrahi Jews due to overcrowding in Jaffa and built on lands owned by Aharon Chelouche.[15] Other neighborhoods were Neve Shalom (1890), Yafa Nof (1896), Achva (1899), Ohel Moshe (1904), Kerem HaTeimanim (1906).

The Second Aliyah

The Second Aliyah 1904–1917 led to further expansion. In 1906, a group of Jews, among them residents of Jaffa, followed the initiative of Akiva Aryeh Weiss and banded together to form the Ahuzat Bayit society. One of the society’s goals was to form a “Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene.” The urban planning for the new city was influenced by the Garden city movement. The first 60 plots were purchased in Kerem Djebali near Jaffa by Jacobus Kann, a Dutch citizen, who registered them in his name to circumvent the Turkish prohibition on Jewish land acquisition. Meir Dizengoff, later Tel Aviv’s first mayor, also joined the Ahuzat Bayit society. His vision for Tel Aviv involved peaceful co-existence with Arabs.

On 11 April 1909, 66 Jewish families gathered on a desolate sand dune to parcel out the land by lottery using seashells. (Photo: Public Domain)


 The first lots being auctioned in 1909
Herzl Street, the first street in Tel Aviv. In background Hebrew Gymnasia Herzlia
Herzl Street, the first street in Tel Aviv. In background Hebrew Gymnasia Herzlia

(Photo: Public Domain)

This documentary film of the first 40 years of establishing the biggest Jewish — Hebrew city in Israel. The historic story of Tel Aviv was recorded by motion picture cameras and films from the early days of the city exist. The film Legend in the Dunes follows the development of the city, it’s building in sand dunes. The founders and builders, and many cultural personalities, known artists and creators who settled in the city, giving a new spirit to the people in Eretz Israel. At those days it was hard to believe that you can realize the Zionist dream. Establishing the first Jewish city was for the founders a ‘Jewish State’ in miniature.

  • The film was produced and directed by Yaakov Gross In co-operation with: The Jerusalem Cinematheque – Israel films archives And Spielberg film Archive at the Hebrew University
  • Hebrew narator: Moshik Timor

Yaakov Gross

Yaakov Gross is a documentary filmmaker and film archivist. He directed and produced more than 30 films for organizations such as the KKL-JNF and Israel Television. He worked to find, preserve and restore the earliest known footage of Israel and Palestine. As part of that labor of love, Gross digitized and uploaded the work of countless filmmakers, including his father and himself.

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