This is a special tour and a unique route. Its difference from the usual city tour is that your mobile phone is the guide. As in every excursion, it takes time to get used to the tour guide, his style, rhythm and pathways. The only difference is that in this case, you are the storyteller, you are walking yourself and set the pace for yourself - all according to your style. Just give yourself time to get used to it and you will come to life with a story full of the vicissitudes of the lives of real people, a story about their joys and sorrows, a story in which urban legends rise from the past, instill hope and simply sums up: here it all began.
This pedestrian part of Baron Rothschild street is a typical street of any district town of the Russian Empire at the late 19th century. It couldn't look different because it was built by the first settlers arrived from Russia. These were two groups from Kremenchug and Kharkov, 17 families who bought land in Turkish Palestine in order to create an agricultural settlement. They elected Zalman David Levontin, a native of Orsha from a Hasidic family, as their representative. People liked him for his fervent faith in the revival of the land of Israel. Even at geography lessons, Zalman David wondered: "If America's black slaves created their free state of Liberia in Africa, why don't we create our country in the land of the forefathers?". 3 days later, after the celebration of the feast called Purim, on March 9, 1882, Zalman David Levontin founded in Jaffa Vaad HaLutzey Yesod HaMaala (HeHalutz) – pioneers, which aimed to bring to life the idea of creating a settlement. Vaad Halutzim was a council of pioneers, and the words “Yasod haMaala” were taken from the Book of Ezra, dedicated to returning from Babylonian exile. That's how Purim of 1882 in Turkish Palestine in ancient Jaffa became a uniting moment for the Land of the Patriarchs and the envoy of Jews who survived a wave of terrible pogroms, which has swept across Russia after the assassination in 1881 of Alexander II, the Emperor.
Lewontin was not alone. In Jaffa, he got help from Yahiel Pines – native of Różan, Grodno province, and Chaim Amzaleg, who was born in Gibraltar. Pines came from a Hasidic family and represented the Fund of Sir Moses Montefiore – the famous English philanthropist – in Palestine. The religious community didn't love Pines for his sympathies with Zionists, Zionists didn't love Pines for his orthodoxy, Sephardic Jews didn't love Pines for his Ashkenazi origin, and Ashkenazi - for his sympathy with Sephardic Jews. But he was loyal to himself and made lots of efforts to establish settlements and to turn Hebrew from the language of the Torah into a spoken language. He introduced the words Compass, Tomato, and Clock into the modern language. Chaim Amzaleg was the son of a famous merchant from Morocco, a friend of Moses Montefiore, whose family settled in Jerusalem since 1834. He was Deputy British Consul in Jaffa and Honorary Consul of Portugal in Jerusalem. Respect and recognition of Chaim Amzaleg, his material standing, and impeccable reputation helped to lobby the interests of the first pioneers to the Turkish authorities. The nephew of Chaim Amzaleg – Josef Navon – a Jerusalem banker and businessman, builder of the railroad between Jaffa and Jerusalem, held talks with the Arab landowner Mustafa Abdullah Ali Dajan, who was willing to sell land in 12 kilometers to South of Jaffa in the area of the Ayun Kara spring - the biblical Ein Kara, mentioned in the Book of Judges. That was Pines who prompted it to Levontin after several months of fruitless search. The purchase took place under the name of Chaim Amzaleg to avoid breaking Turkish restrictions on the sale of land to foreigners. They purchased almost 3.3 thousand dunams (Turkish dunam is equal to 10 acres) at a price of 15 francs (5.5 rubles) per dunam. (The total cost was about 400,000 dollars). More than half of this amount was deposited by Zvi Levontin HaCohen, an uncle of Zalman David Levontin. He was the oldest of the settlers.
After spending the first night on the hill of the future settlement and meeting sunrise over Jerusalem mountains, the settlers uttered the words of the book of Isaiah, "I am the first to Zion." That's how the town got his name "First to Zion", Rishon LeZion. But in the autumn of that same year, due to the financial crisis and disagreements in the settlement council, Zalman David Levontin left the settlement and returned to Russia, receiving a receipt from the settlers that they have no claims to him. Joseph Feinberg, a native of Crimea, Levontin's colleague, who acquired European education and spoke European languages, was delegated by settlers to Paris in order to enlist the financial help of Baron Rothschild. Rothschild allocated 25,000 francs to the settlers, but he made his support conditional upon the fact that the settlement will be led by Samuel Hirsch, a direct protégé of Baron, a reformist Rabbi and philosopher of Jewish origin from Germany. Here a new stage in the history of Rishon LeZion begins. A house near which we stand was built in 1883 on the money from that same amount of 25,000 francs and was intended for a settlement doctor, a pharmacist Zvi Pusicelski originally from the island of Corfu in Greece. Six years Pusicelski held the position, and in 1899 left Rishon Lezion and moved to Jaffa, and then to Cairo in Egypt, where he died in 1906. Later there was a post office and a city council in this house.
Samuel Hirsch was the director of the first agricultural school, Mikveh Israel, near Jaffa. Also, there worked Biluim, members of the youth pioneer organization established by Israel Belkind in Kharkov. They believed that an ideal revival of the country of Israel should come through agricultural communes. Samuel Hirsch did not accept Biluim ideas. He put over Biluim a chief, Abdul Aziz from the neighboring village of Yazur (modern Azur) and imposed them a miserable salary for many hours of work. All members of this organization moved to Rishon LeZion. In January 1883, they met another comrade, Menashe Meerovich, a native of Nikolaev. Meerovich was an agronomist and his knowledge and experience were relevant in Rishon LeZion. The idea of breeding silkworm caterpillars and trying to weave silk belongs to him. He developed a manual on "creation of settlements for the middle class for 1200 rubles." Meerovich stood at the cradle of grape cultivation and wine production. He laid the first gardens and orchards on the ground of the current city park. He died here at his home at the age of 89 in 1949, having seen the Jewish state created in 1948. He was called "the last of Biluim."
Now, at the entrance to the city park, it's time to remember one scandalous story of Rishon LeZion – the story of the riot. The tension between the Biluim and Samuel Hirsch grew higher. Among the opponents of the Rothschild government was Josef Feinberg - the one to whom Rothschild wrote a check for 25,000 francs - and Israel Belkind - the one who created the Biluim organization. In order to mitigate the situation, Joshua Osovitsky replaced Samuel Hirsch on his post. Joshua escaped pogroms in Kiev, brought up orphans in fords and in general, was one of "insiders". In 1884 he was welcomed by the settlers with enthusiasm, and three years later in 1887, there was a riot. Even though Osovitsky managed to create a layer of financially independent settlers in the settlement, to develop social services and to improve the economy, he surrounded himself with informers and lickspittles, introduced a system of fines and cruel rule. The situation got out of control when Osovitsky learned that there was a complaint that had been sent against him. He caused a real pogrom in the house of a perpetrator, Mikhail Galperin, the founder of the first trade Union of workers in Rishon LeZion and the founder of the workers ' party in Turkish Palestine. Galperin's supporters gathered near the house of government and demanded Osovitsky to leave Rishon, but he, in turn, demanded to send Galperin on his way. Osovitsky called Turkish soldiers to his side and only Samuel Hirsch, who arrived from Mikveh Israel, prevented bloodshed. The soldiers went away, the rebels were urged to leave and, Hirsch along with Osovitsky retired in Mikveh Israel. The rebels celebrated their victory.
A month later, in April 1887, Baron Rothschild came to Palestine. He met with Hirsch and Osowicki at Mikveh Israel, and then visited the Holy places in Jerusalem and arrived in Rishon LeZion. People arranged a magnificent reception here, on this avenue, and, with a sinking heart, waited for what would happen next. Rothschild promised to continue financial support, even promised "at the request of Osovitsky" to transfer him to another settlement but put one condition. Rishon LeZion will leave none other than ... Yosef Feinberg. "You got me pulled in this case," said Rothschild to Feinberg, "You are responsible for it. Sell your plot and leave." Feinberg tried to resist and fight the "Baron” but was left on his own. Being under public pressure he wrote in his diary: "I'm leaving Rishon LeZion only for its benefit," Joseph went to Jaffa. His brother Boris went to Russia. Another brother, Lelik, his wife, who was a sister of Belknid, the founder of the Biluim, and other Biluim members based a new settlement called Gadera on the South. Yosef Feinberg tried to establish the production of olive oil in Lod using the money he got on selling his plot but went bankrupt and worked as a cab driver in Jaffa. In 1902, twenty years after his arrival in Palestine and the foundation of Rishon LeZion, at the age of 47, he died seriously ill in Jericho, at the Dead Sea. In a year before his death, Yosef Feinberg had a daughter Dora. We will learn about her fate later.
Intrigues and riots were not the main business of the settlers. In 1885 settlement managers, on behalf of Baron Rothschild, sent a request to the Hovevey Zion, an organization in Russia, and asked to send six talented young people capable of studying agricultural business and teaching it to the first settlers. Among the fellows arrived Michael Puhachevsky. After studying in the North of the country, Puhachevsky very quickly settled in Rishon LeZion and continued Meerovich’s work on the cultivation of grapes. Later he founded industrial cultivation of citrus fruits. Thanks to him, this park turned from gardens and orchards into a research agricultural laboratory, with hundreds of plants from around the world. These tall palm trees are called Washingtonia robusta. Their homeland is Mexico, California, and Arizona.
Jacob Rothschild, the father of Baron Rothschild, bought Chateau Lafite, located near Bordeaux, with its vineyards and winery for 4.4 million francs on August 8, 1868, 25 years before giving 25 thousand francs to Joseph Feinberg. It was an Italian composer Rossini who advised Rothchild to buy this ancient winery by saying: "You should buy this manor. We can have a good rest there and drink some wine." Both, by the way, died in three months after the purchase with just a day apart. Rothschild's wineries in Château Lafite-Rothschild were inherited by his son Benjamin. On the advice of the manager of the winery, based on Puchachevsky's studies, it was decided to plant some varieties of grapes suitable for wine production in Rishon LeZion. Those were years of the rage of Grape phylloxera, an insect who got in Europe from North America. Therefore, Rothschild winemakers brought to Rishon LeZion previously grafted varieties in Kashmir. So, in 1889 began the history of the winery, which we see across the road, and Rishon LeZion became a place where a new leaf of history was turned over.
The wine factory is on the other side, and we are near the Board. This building nowadays houses a nice cafe. Rothschild founded wineries not only in Rishon LeZion, but also in Zichron Yakov, a settlement near Haifa. Rothschild named it in memory of his father James (Yakov), who bought Chateau Lafite (Zichron means "memory" in Hebrew). An emblem for wineries was bought from a small winery Efrat near Jerusalem, which belonged to the Teperberg family. By the way, Teperbergs still produce their own wine, and their brand carries their name. The emblem depicts a biblical story: after forty years of wandering in the desert people of Israel sent scouts to find out what obstacles await them on the new path before entering the Promised land. Some returned complaining about the difficulties, while others came carrying a huge bunch of grapes on their shoulders as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. World fame came to the wines of Rishon LeZion and Zichron Jacob quickly enough. In 1896, a wine shop of Carmel wine was opened in Warsaw, in 1898 - in Odessa. They were followed by shops in Berlin, Hamburg, London and New York. The year of creation the emblem, 1889, was replaced by the year of foundation of Rishon LeZion, 1882, and thus was created a firm connection between the fate of the settlement, the enterprise, the history of the revival of the old Testament story, the fate of the country and the name of Rothschilds. Being a worker at the factory was prestigious and profitable. David Ben Gurion, the founder of the state and the first Prime Minister, worked here for some time. In the building, now housing a cafe, was a dining room, and then a wine shop. In 1957, the Rothschilds sold their shares, and in 2013, a controlling stake was sold to private hands for 130 million shekels.
The city park has been through a lot. Not just Rothschild was welcomed with honor here, but also the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl. It was October 27, 1898. Herzl arrived the day before, managed to visit Mikveh Israel and after a meeting with Haim Hazan, a manager Of Baron Rothschild, spent a night in the board building. Hazan was the last manager. After his service, Rothschild handed reins of power over to the local council. At the time of Hazan's service authorities opened the world's first kindergarten raising children in Hebrew. They built the first in Turkish Palestine weather station and the city club, formally established the library and planted bushes of geraniums and acacia as hedges. In April 1915 Jamal Pasha visited the Rishon LeZion. He was also taken to the park, and he was so impressed that he ordered to stretch sand dunes from Rishon LeZion up to the sea. And Rishon became a "sea city". In 1921, when Palestine was ruled by the British, Rishon LeZion celebrated the arrival of Winston Churchill. Here, on this very spot, admiring the palm alley Churchill said: "Looks like you've turned the desert into Paradise." In 1923, on January 20, Albert Einstein attended Rishon LeZion. Menashe Meerovich, the first agronomist, the last of Biluim, whose house stands on the Rothschild street, said: "We're not asking for anything. Only let the hearts of Jews everywhere be filled with love for the land of Israel and labor. Our national home depends on it."
The water tower was built in 1898. Next to it was a pool, which was used as an open reservoir. From here water irrigated gardens via open arches in the first years of existence of the settlement, and research garden and city park after. Near the pool was a watering place for animals. The other pool was closed, it was intended for the needs of the settlers. And where did the water come from?
A people's house, or, simply put, a city club was built in 1898 on the initiative of the settlers and at their expense. It was a place for concerts, performances, receptions, and meetings. The first of the famous guests who had the honor of performing for the residents was Theodor Herzl. Lots of the children born in Rishon LeZion that year were named Herzl or Herzliya. In the following 1899, Baron Rothschild and his wife visited Rishon LeZion again. For many years above the entrance hanged a plaque that testified about this event. That's when in the city there were talks about the wife of Baron Rothschild, Adelaide. It was said that the Baron's philanthropic work was largely supported by his wife and that it was thanks to her that Rothschild still supported the settlements. During this visit, seeing that Rishon LeZion was firmly on his feet, Rothschild reduced funding and gave control to the local council.
The modern building of the municipality, as well as the shopping center, are named after Zalman David Levontin. From the very first minutes of our walk, we know that Zalman David dreamed of a Jewish state at school, founded the settlement council, acquired the land of Rishon LeZion, but, during the first year, sold his land and went to Russia. Levontin believed that the settlement should be independent, and it should be created and developed by wealthy people. He continued to defend the ideas of Zionism based on private property and categorically rejected the socialist and communist orientation. In 1897, Levontin was one of the first to join the Zionist movement led by Theodor Herzl. In 1901 he served as the Director of the Jewish Bank in London, and in 1903 became Manager of an Anglo-Palestinian company that financed the acquisition of lands for the future Tel Aviv, Herzliya district in Haifa and lands of the valley of Israel. Over time, the Anglo-Palestinian Bank was named the Bank of Leumi – the National Bank of Israel. Zalman David Levontin died in 1940 in Tel Aviv. He was buried at the Rishon LeZion cemetery.
The house that stands at the intersection of Carmel street (it got its name thanks to a winery) and Max Nordau street (he was famous Viennese psychologist and colleague of Theodor Herzl) used to belong to the Gershon Gurvich. Gershon was born in Vilnius, he studied in Warsaw and in 1885 together with Puhachevskiy arrived in Turkish Palestine, among six talented young agronomists from Russia who were sent for by the managers of Baron Rothschild. Unlike Puhachevskiy, Gurvich arrived in Rishon LeZion just three years after arriving in Palestine. Until that time he studied agriculture in the North of the country. Fast enough Gershon has earned the respect of the settlers and in addition to cooperation with Puhachevski, became one of the managers of the winery. In 1936, he advocated the establishment of the Rishon LeZion Museum, which narrated the history of the city. This idea was brought to life by his grandson Avshalom Leshem, a well-known Israeli lawyer. He created the famous Rishon LeZion Museum.
Originally a luxurious two-story house intended for Belkind family was built by Asher Levin, a wealthy peasant who did not need the support of Rothschild. When Belkind couldn't continue construction due to financial reasons, Levin bought the house. Levin's children lived there. On the first floor there was a clinic of Levin's son Gideon, and on the second floor lived his son Elisha with his family. Gideon studied medicine in Paris, where in the 20s of the 20th century he met Elena Rubinstein, a ballerina from Russia. They had a daughter Zahavit. Zahavit lived in London for a long time because she was the wife of Alfred Sherman, a personal secretary and a speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher. In 1983, Sherman was awarded the title of Sir by the Queen of England, and Zahavit became a Lady. But people knew and loved Zahavit not because of the title. Her father Gideon treated soldiers for free, saying: "This is my contribution to the combat capability of the country." Zahavit's uncle, Gideon's brother Elisha was the first importer of Wilis cars in the country. He also was the first man who had a car in Rishon LeZion.
Today this building houses an educational and cultural center and a complex in memory of the residents of Rishon LeZion, who died for freedom and independence of Israel. During the formation of the city, here were institutions of the board and of Baron Rothschild's protégés. On the balcony of the second floor you can see the silhouettes of several people. This composition describes a visit of Theodore Herzl in Rishon LeZion in 1898. The real purpose of Herzel's visit to Turkey was a meeting with Wilhelm II, German Emperor. Emperor was in Palestine on a state visit, visited German settlements in Haifa and the center of the country and communicated with Turkish Pasha in the Holy city of Jerusalem. Herzl sought an audience of the Kaiser as a strong ruler of world politics so that he supported the idea of creating a Jewish state in his historical homeland. Their meeting lasted only a few minutes at the gates of Mikveh Israel. There was no time for cameras to capture this moment, so later it was decided to take a photo montage. Herzl dropped in Richon leZion after this event. He spent less than a day here, having stayed earlier in Mikveh Israel. Herzl had deep disagreements with the policies of Rothschild and his henchmen, but the reception at the house of government was warm and even the city orchestra played in honor of Herzl. From here Herzl went on a visit to the house of Asher Levin, a wealthy peasant who did not need the support of the Baron. Then Herzl visited the city park and performed in the city club. He spent the night here in the house of board and in the morning went to Ness Zion and Rehovot.
This place was previously a one-story house, which was bought in 1887 by Samuel Cohen. He came from Moldova and became a winemaker. Samuel played folk melodies on his violin and over time he got called "Stempenyu" in honor of an itinerant Klezmer violinist from of the same-named story by Sholem Aleichem. Samuel hummed in a folk manner words of a created in Rishon LeZion poem, which further became the national anthem of Israel. This poem was written by Naftali Hertz Imber in the house, which is now on the territory of the Museum.
This house was built by Abraham Zeev Gordon. He came to Rishon LeZion from Vilnius, bought land and became a winemaker. His family lived on the second floor and the ground floor was rented out. There were many interesting people among the many tenants of this house. Remember the revolt of Joseph Feinberg and Israel Belkind? After being allowed to return to the settlement, Lelik Feinberg, Yosef's brother and his wife Fania Belkind, Israel's sister, rented a room here. Holtzman, Gordon's son in law, bred ostriches in the yard of the house, because of a high value of their feathers in Europe. Who knows, if not for World War I, Holtzman's business could succeed. In the 30s Holtzman acquired a lot of land on the south of Jerusalem. Today they are called Gush Etzion. There was a box office in a non-extant Toporovsky's house and now here is a hotel. A couple by the name of London called their boarding house simply "London Pension". Aaron London, a coachman from Jaffa, married Rosa from Rishon LeZion and bought a stagecoach. Board members used it for getting to Beirut and Baghdad and as payment for the service, Aaron London was granted the right to open a hotel. This house was later sold to Zusammer, a watchmaker, whose shop was on the first floor. In the years before the Israeli War of Independence Zusammer secretly repaired guns to members of the Jewish armed resistance.
This is the first operating school in the world, where teaching was carried out in Hebrew. The school was founded in 1886. It was named after Dov Haviv Lobman, who was a teacher and a principal of the school. The Lobman family dates to the famous Jewish sage Rabenu Tam, who lived in France in the 12th century. Almost all the sons of the family were preparing to become rabbis. Being originally from Russia and having received traditional religious education, Dov imbued with the ideas of enlightenment and Zionism and moved to Moscow keeping this in secret from his family. From there he moved to Paris and in 1885 to Turkish Palestine with his brother. He advocated for the introduction of Hebrew as a spoken language. All teaching at the school was carried out in Hebrew, even exact sciences and literature.
We enter the territory of the Rishon LeZion Museum. It includes several historic buildings where took place some of the most important events in the history of the settlement: the creation of the flag and the anthem of the state of Israel. The two-story building to the right of the entrance was built in 1911 by Menachem Mendel Abramovich and his son Mordechai. Menachem Mendel fled army service in Russia at the age of 11 and lived in a foster family for a long time. He married Esther Abramovich, took his wife's name and moved to Jerusalem, where he was going to grind flour and thus provide for the family. However, a roof of the mill he bought leaked and his grain got sprouted because of rains. Menachem and Esther lost all their savings and moved as peasants to Rishon LeZion. They were allocated land and a house. Years later, they returned the loan and became free. In 1902, their son Yakov died at the hands of murderers in Jaffa, and their youngest daughter died in infancy. After standing on his feet, Menachem Mendel built this house in memory of his dead children, and it was intended as a shelter for poor workers. The house served a shelter until his death and then became a clinic, that provided services to those who found it difficult to pay for treatment. The history of the Museum of the city began with this building, in 1982.
These halls store documents about the beginning of the history of the settlement. Families of all the founders are represented on the main stands. Here are also desks from the first school and notebooks of its students. German settlers from the German Templer colonies in the Holy land took an active part in the construction of the houses. Gottlieb Schumacher of the German colony in Haifa designed the building of the winery. They used German technology of building arched vaults of bricks for private houses. In the back of the hall, you can learn the history of agriculture and cultivation of different cultures in the research center in the settlement park.
This house was built in 1883 and was intended for the post office and medical practice. Now it houses an exhibition of crafts of the settlement. One of the most famous and honored craftsmen of the settlement, a smith named Toporovsky, was the first person who began to use the iron plow in Turkish Palestine. At the end of the exposition of the pharmacy was located a real pharmacy of the settlement and the entrance to it was from the opposite side, from the central street.
This house was built by Eliezer Elhanan Shalit in 1883. He came from a Lithuanian Orthodox Jewish family, who didn't welcome studying of sciences, considered liberalism as heresy and Zionism as utopia. Only the study of the Torah, prayer, and work were considered the only true way. Orphaned at an early age, Shalit was raised by his brothers and at the year of 13, was forced to earn his own bread. He moved to Poltava, where he found a job as a traveling salesman and soon married Sarah Ahronovich. Sarah's family did not love the young man infected with the enlightenment virus, and a young couple soon moved to Jaffa. Shalit joined the Vaad Haluzei Yasod haMaala and stood at the origins of Rishon LeZion along with Levontin and Feinberg. Shalit bred grapes, olive and almond trees. The family lived in this house for 40 years. Eliezer and Sarah had 10 children. Five of them were born in Poltava. All the children studied at the Haviv school in Rishon LeZion, the first Hebrew speaking school. The eldest son became a doctor and lived in Paris. Another son founded a Jewish settler movement in Australia. A daughter married an American Jew and settled in America. Another daughter lived in Rishon LeZion and was fond of breeding silkworm caterpillars. One daughter died at the age of 4 months. It was the first death in Rishon LeZion since its foundation. She was buried under a sycamore tree on top of a hill, where the history of Rishon LeZion began. The eldest son of Shalit wrote in his diary: "It was the first sacrifice on the altar of my parents' ideals." The daughter named Rachel was born in Rishon LeZion, lived in the city and buried here. The son named Lev was born in Rishon LeZion. He moved to Australia to his older brother, then to Panama, then to Arizona. He was a passionate Rodeo fan and he died during one of the competitions. Daughter named Malkah was born in Rishon LeZion, she was an activist of the women's international Jewish organization Wizo. Lived in Tel Aviv, buried in her family plot in Rishon. Mordechai, Malka’s twin brother, was born in Rishon LeZion. He studied medicine in Europe, lived and worked in London. The youngest daughter, Leia, was born in Rishon LeZion, spoke six languages, translated medieval poets works into Hebrew, founded the school of Reali in Haifa. She died in New York at the age of 98, buried in the family plot in Rishon LeZion. The second part of the house, which was added later, occupies a clothes exhibition. It presents fashion of different decades, from the first years of the settlement till the forties of the 20th century.
There are a barn and a stable next to the Shalit house. They are restored and indicate how the household of the first settlers looked like. In the yard stands a cart, which is loudly called a stagecoach. In fact, it is an ordinary camp wagon of that time. It is likely that Gordon's wagon looked like that too (the one on which the board members went to Beirut, the reason for receiving the exclusive right to manage the hotel).
This is one of the first three houses of Rishon LeZion. It was built on the money of Schraga Feibel Heisman, a wealthy merchant from Nikolaev. He participated in the creation of the settlement along with Levontin, Feinberg, Shalit. After the revolt against the henchmen of Baron Rothschild and the expulsion of Feinberg, Heisman sold the house and demonstratively left Rishon LeZion. He moved to Jerusalem and joined the Neturei Karta movement, a radical movement of Orthodox Jews protesting the existence of the state of Israel. It was in the basement of this house where for several months lived Naftali Hertz Imber, the writer of the poem Hatikvah, that formed the basis of the national anthem of Israel. Naftali was born in the town of Złoczew near Lviv. He wrote his poem Hatikvah (Hope) in Romania, and only added a few verses to it here. He offered the poem to Theodor Herzl as the anthem of the Zionist movement, but he rejected it. Only in 1903, when there were heated debates in the Congress about the possibility of creating a state in Uganda, the opponents of this project sang Hatikvah in unison: As long as within our hearts The Jewish soul sings, As long as forward to the East To Zion, looks the eye – Our hope is not yet lost, It is two thousand years old, To be a free people in our land The land of Zion and Jerusalem. The second floor of this house tells the story of the flag of the state of Israel. In 1885, the three-year anniversary of the creation of Rishon LeZion was celebrated. It was decided to make this event magnificent and to organize a procession along the main street to the well. Osovitsky sat at the head of the procession on a white donkey. On that time, he, a young and energetic teacher of orphans from Brody, was still beloved by settlers. In a year he became an chef officer of Rothschild’s administration, and in three years there was a revolt against him. It was decided, that he should hold a flag. Without any doubt, the image of a person sitting on a white donkey was associated with the image of the Messiah. But the flag was yet to come up with. And Israel Belkind did it. Along with Fania Meerovich, whose family came from St. Petersburg, he sewed a flag in the form of a traditional talit with Magen David in the middle. Today this flag is kept in the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem. 14 years later, in 1897, at the first Zionist Congress in Basel, David Wolfson proposed this version of the flag to Theodor Herzl. Herzl resisted and offered his own version, but eventually agreed.
The Founders square and the Great Synagogue building. Construction of the synagogue began in 1885. Zvi Levontin, uncle of Zalman Levontin, the one who contributed about half the amount for the purchase of land Rishon LeZion, allocated most of the funds for the construction of the synagogue too. David Papermaster, an engineer and architect who build a magnificent house of the city council in Jaffa, created a project of this building. Fast enough the officers of Baron Rothschild interfered in the construction process. Instead of becoming a Hasidic synagogue as the settlers intended, it was built in the generally accepted Ashkenazi style. Construction lasted 4 years and was completed in 1889 by the arrival of Baron Rothschild. The facade was a little changed subsequently. They added an elevation with an establishment year on the Jewish calendar written in Hebrew letters. Agricultural tools were kept in the cellars of the synagogue. This was since initially this building was presented to the Turkish authorities as a barn for agricultural machinery, since the Turks didn't allow to build a synagogue. Over time, the basement was allotted for a kindergarten. It was the first kindergarten with education carried put completely in Hebrew.
The bell of the settlement informed the residents about important events. It could be beginning and end of a working day, a visit of an important guest, a fire or even theft. Over time, when telegraph and telephone came into use, there was no more need for the bell, and it was hoisted to the top of the monument to the founders of the city. Soon he mysteriously disappeared. In 1982, when the Museum of Rishon LeZion was founded, they created a new bell and hoisted it in the same place. Only in 2004 the loss was found. It was hidden by some boys in a house yard. Because of the shame and fear of being punished, they buried the bell and only after decades they’re not calming conscience forced them with the help of a trusted person to return the bell to its rightful owners – the residents of Rishon LeZion.
This kiosk, as well as a small showcase in the next house, represent the daily life of the settlement when their owners sold soft drinks, soda invited passers to their modest Barbershops.
This house was built in 1900 by Yaakov and Batya Kaner. They came to Turkish Palestine from Bucharest in 1881 and lived in Beirut for six years. In Rishon LeZion they were engaged in viticulture. The Caner house doesn't look like other houses in Rishon LeZion. Its distinctive feature is the balcony that runs along the perimeter of the house. The Caner family was childless, and their house passed into the use of the municipality of Rishon LeZion. It housed the emergency department and during the war of independence of Haganah.
We are approaching the last point of our journey. On the contrary, on the corner of Rothschild and Mogilever streets, there is a nondescript house among high eucalyptus trees. This is the first house of government. It was built for the officers of Baron Rothschild in 1883. Once this house represented all the greatness of the almost limitless power of the mangers of Baron Rothschild. They gave out the allowance, they made all decisions, life in the settlement depended on their anger and love. In front of this exact house occurred the famous revolt and Osovitsky ran to Mikveh Israel from here. Eventually, his post was taken by other officials: Lyon, Haim, Bloch and Hazan, and a delicate balance struck between the Baron's money and the selflessness of the settlers' idealists of Rishon LeZion. Between the Jews of Western and Eastern Europe, between the followers of Hasidism and the supporters of the enlightenment movement (Haskalah). Between different people united by one faith. Faith in the revival of Israel in the land of Israel. This is where it all began.