Book Information

Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities

Read Inside

216 pp. 23 illus. 6x9"

Now available on E-book, 978-1-58465-890-0


"Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities" Hizky Shoham in Association of Jewish Studies Review 37:2.

"Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities" Tammy Razi in Journal of Israeli History.

"Sin City on the Sea?" Hillel Halkin in Jewish Ideas Daily.

Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities

Anat HelmanYoung Tel Aviv

A fascinating revisionist history of Jewish life in Tel Aviv in the Mandate era.

Practical Zionism in the Mandate era (1920-1948) is usually associated with the agricultural settlements (kibbutzim), the organized Socialist workers, and the creation of a formal high culture. This book fills a gap in historical research by presenting another, different, type of practical Zionism in Jewish Palestine —urban, middle class, created by popular and informal daily practices. Whereas research on Tel Aviv has thus far been confined to ‘positivist’ historical description or focused nostalgically on local myths, Helman’s book reconstructs and analyses the city’s formative decades on various levels, juxtaposing historical reality with cultural images and ideological doctrines.

“This is a finely crafted and highly original book, both thought-provoking and a pleasure to read, whose subject is the early years of the Tel Aviv metropolis. Anat Helman, who uses to great effect the tools of the new urban history as practiced largely in America and England, focuses on a number of vital and fascinating issues usually ignored by historians of the Jewish community in British Palestine: quality of life, entertainment and leisure time, festivals and celebrations, the emergence of a consumer society, sanitation and hygiene, the emergence of distinct subcultures based among other things on country of origin, the varieties of secularism and religiosity, architecture, the emergence of a popular culture in the revived national language, and the like. This is a must read for all those interested in the pre-history of the State of Israel, in the creation of a new Israeli culture, and in the dramatic creation of the “first (modern) Hebrew city.” Ezra Mendelsohn, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“Anat Helman’s Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities offers a fascinating portrait of ‘the first Hebrew city’ during the interwar years. Based on a painstaking study of myriad of archival and cultural sources, Helman’s study presents the rich texture of daily life and public events in young Tel Aviv as it was developing into a major urban center of the Zionist Yishuv. This work addresses some aspects of Tel Aviv’s life that have been little studied to date and in so doing transforms our perceptions and misconceptions regarding its early years. A must read for anyone interested in Israeli society and culture, urban history, and cultural studies.”—Yael Zerubavel, Rutgers University
Young Tel Aviv is consistently interesting, a first-rate cultural history in the best sense of the term. Blended with great intelligence and scholarly industry is a lucid, and original portrait of the new, often discordant city’s institutions, streets, celebrations, films, and inhabitants. It is history tough to capture, an essential slice of contemporary Jewish life.”—Steven J. Zipperstein, Stanford University

ANAT HELMAN is a lecturer in the Department of Jewish History and in the Contemporary Jewry & Cultural Studies Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

This book was published by Brandeis University Press as part of the Schusterman Series in Israel Studies.