Early Zionists in the 1920s helping to resurrect Israel as the land of milk and honey

In response to my plea for more pictures about Jews as survivors, not victims, Murray Lawrence forwarded me these incredible pictures from his father showing the 1920s in Tel Aviv, when he was working on construction projects there.  I’m just blown away by these images. I’ve prefaced each image with the information Murray Lawrence included.

1. Father at a tar or asphalt barrel – he’s the short one, fresh from Romania by way of Istanbul and Alexandria. A historian friend of mine told me that a good deal of construction in the city in those days was done by Romanian Jews:

Construction workers, Tel Aviv, 1920s


2. Father and friends at the beach, perhaps from the same construction crew. They clearly do not fit the conventional image of a shtetl Jew:

Construction workers enjoying a day at the beach, Tel Aviv, 1920s


3. Construction site in Tel Aviv, early 1920s:

Construction site in Tel Aviv, 1920s


4. Neve Shaanan Street under construction. Wikipedia says that the neighborhood was founded in 1922 and that it is now a major transportation hub that includes both the old and new bus stations in Tel Aviv. It also notes that the street, whose name means “peaceful abode” in Hebrew, is the main one in that quarter and is now a bustling pedestrian mall. Hence, by stark contrast, it became a prime target of suicide bombers, who killed 37 people and wounded 170 between 2002 and 2006:

Neve Shaanan Street under construction, Tel Aviv, 1920s


5. Group photo at a building site, father in makeshift head-dress, probably taking his cue from his Arab friends, one of whom invited him to his wedding some time in the late ’20s, only to warn him soon after not to attend, because a local sheik had just forbidden further contact with Jews:

Construction site, Tel Aviv, 1920s


6. Boating party, most likely at some point on the Yarkon River as it flows through Tel Aviv. The practical idealism of these young people, their love of life, and sheer civilized natures never cease to impress me:

Boating party on the Yarkon River, Tel Aviv, 1920s