Ahuzat Bayit (2)

Tel Aviv was founded on April 11, 1909. On that day, several dozen families gathered on the sand dunes on the beach outside Yafo (Jaffa) to allocate plots of land for a new neighborhood they called Ahuzat Bayit, later known as Tel Aviv - the first modern, Hebrew city. As part of Tel Aviv Centennial commemoration, a souvenir sheet of three stamps was issued, depicting scenes of life in Ahuzat Bayit. Paintings by the famous Israeli artist and writer Nahum Gutman were chosen to depict the scenes and ornamate the souvenir sheet.

Gutman wrote a book about Ahuzat Bayit named "A Little City and Few Men Within It". Following are portions of Shlomo Shva's introduction to the book, in which he calls Nahum Gutman's Ahuzat Bayit "a childhood paradise".

"Nahum Gutman immigrated to the Land of Israel with his parents in 1905, at age seven. When he was twelve years old his family moved to a new neighborhood built adjacent to Jaffa – Ahuzat Bayit, later called Tel Aviv - which was more than just a place to live. It was the Zionist utopia, an example of what the Hebrew-Jewish entity would look like once established in the Land of Israel; and for the boy, the new neighborhood, with its white stone houses peeking out from among the hills, its clean streets and orderly plant-filled boulevards, was like a childhood dream come true.

Nahum Gutman is the main person to fix the image of the early days of Ahuzat Bayit and Tel Aviv in our minds. He did so by writing and drawing decades after the incidents occurred but we have accepted these descriptions as the true image of the fledgling city.

We imagine Ahuzat Bayit, the original Tel Aviv, in the way Nahum Gutman described and when we write or speak of it, we speak of Gutman's pictures.

Tel Aviv appears in Gutman's writings as a community of people who care for each other and do only good - a neighborhood immersed in sunlight which embraces it in the arms of love (he also created a painting of that image). A city with no suffering, the city of the Zionist dream…".

Following are descriptions of the scenes, which include texts taken verbatim from Gutman's book.

The Physician Dr. Hissin (#1): the doctor used to visit his patients riding a donkey. Gutman describes him as a figure very much loved by Jews, Arabs and Christians alike. "Therefore, the children would smile in the street at the mere sight of his back, because they remembered the sweet medicines they got from him. The mothers would stop wiping the dishes and hurry to the window to send him a well wishing gaze. And an old Arab walked rapidly toward him on rheumatic legs to lay "wet flowers" on Dr. Hissin’s saddle."

The First Concert (#2): a rich cultural life has characterized Tel Aviv ever since it was founded. The first concert symbolized an affinity for European culture. The house in which the concert took place became "the center of the world" during those hours. Tel Aviv quickly became the center of art, literature, poetry, music, journalism, etc.

The First Streetlight (#3): installation of the first streetlight, the Lux lantern, was a central event in the life of Little Tel Aviv. It represented not only the entry of civilization into the neighborhood, but also culture. "And the young neighborhood now has a center. The first streetlight in Tel Aviv."

The souvenir sheet was issued in 2008. Designer: Yigal Gabay.