Jewish city story of Jaffa

The Jewish Story of Jaffa

Jaffa is hailed as being one of the oldest operating ports in Israel and a center of connection between the Jewish and Arab Israeli communities. The entire area is packed with mosques, knafeh, art, history, hummus, clothes, and the most gorgeous stretches of beaches along the blue Mediterranean waters. It is also one of the only areas that stays open on Shabbat. On Saturdays the port is where Tel Avivians head for some light shopping, drinking with friends, and some of the best food outside of the local Tel Aviv area.  

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IIana Goor Museum

The Ilana Goor Museum, founded in 1995, is an Israeli art museum situated in the historical part of Jaffa. The museum displays the artowrk of Ilana Goor, an artist, designer and sculptor. Its eclectic collection has been called an "artistic jungle", but Goor considers it to have been her own "university." The building now housing the Ilana Goor Museum was originally erected in 1742. At that time it was used as an inn for Jewish pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. The inn, located outside the city walls, served as a shelter, protecting the pilgrims from robbers. In the second half of the 19th century it became a factory for olive oil soap. Yet another century later, in 1949 and thus by now within the newly created State of Israel, a community of Libyan Jews were using part of the building as a synagogue. Ilana Goor first purchased part of the building in 1983, and then eventually also the rest of it, with the intention of converting it to a museum dedicated to her art collection. The museum was inaugurated in September 1995. The museum has a collection of more than 500 works of art, either created by Ilana Goor or collected by her over a period of 50 years, either in Israel or during her travels around the world. The collection includes paintings, some 300 sculptures, video art, Ethnic Art from Africa and Latin America, antiques, drawings and design objects. The museum has works by contemporary artists like Diego Giacometti, Henry Moore, Josef Albers and Olga Wolniak.


Jaffa Port

The Jaffa Port is an ancient port that serves as a fishing harbor, a yacht harbor, and as a tourism destination. It offers a variety of culture and food options, including restaurants where fresh fish and seafood is served. Jaffa port is mentioned in various ancient works, including the Hebrew Bible, such as the Book of Jonah, and the works of Josephus describing Jewish history and the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. For over 7,000 years it has been actively used, predating Muslims, Christians, Jews, and even Egyptians Still functional as a small fishing port, the port is currently a recreational zone featuring restaurants and cafés. A lighthouse, Jaffa Light, is located above the port. In 1917, during World War I, British troops under General Allenby defeated the Ottomans and took Jaffa, which became part of the British-administered Palestine Mandate (1922–1948). In 1947 and 1948 there was sharp fighting between Jaffa, which was largely inhabited by Arabs, and the adjoining Jewish city of Tel Aviv. On 13 May 1948 (a day before the proclamation of the State of Israel), the Arab forces in Jaffa were defeated after long fighting with the Zionist underground Haganah and Irgun Zva'i Leumi forces. On 24 April 1950, the Jewish city of Tel Aviv and the Arab city of Jaffa were unified, and the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality was established. Image attribution: Heritage conservation picture Project - Jaffa Port Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons; Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia; zeller- zalmanson Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons; Heritage conservation picture Project - Jaffa Port Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons; Bukvoed, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons; Heritage conservation picture Project - Jaffa Port Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons


Suspended Orange Tree

Ran Morin (born 1958) is an Israeli artist, known for his statues involving full-sized living trees. Much of his work is found in Israel, notably the Floating Orange Tree located in the city streets of old Jaffa. Finished in 1993, this is a small orange tree that is elevated off of the ground by a large earthenware jug hung by metal chains from the walls of houses nearby. The tree is growing out of the pitcher, trying to break it. Morin sought to emphasize the increasing world of separation between man and nature, as "creatures that grow in containers." This statue is hung only a foot or so off of the ground - enough to see its shadow, but not so high that it seems about to fall down. The Jaffa orange, a label introduced by German Templers in the late 19th century and also known by their Arabic name, Shamouti orange, is an orange variety with few seeds and a tough skin that makes it particularly suitable for export. Developed by farmers in the mid-19th century, the variety takes its name from the city of Jaffa where it was first produced for export. The orange was the primary citrus export for the city. It is, along with the navel and bitter orange, one of three main varieties of the fruit grown in the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, and the Middle East. The Jaffa orange is also cultivated in Cyprus, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. Image attribution: Mary Madigan from Highland Park, NJ and Santa Fe, NM, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons; צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons

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World Jewish Travel Official July 31, 2022

Jaffa, Israel: The Charming Port City of Color, Art, and Knafeh

The Jewish Story of Jaffa Jaffa is hailed as being one of the oldest operating ports in Israel and a center of connection between the Jewish and Arab Israeli communities. The entire area is packed with mosques, knafeh, art, history, hummus, clothes, and the most gorgeous stretches of beaches along the blue Mediterranean waters. It is also one of the only areas that stays open on Shabbat. On Saturdays the port is where Tel Avivians head for some light shopping, drinking with friends, and some of the best food outside of the local Tel Aviv area.   The History of Jaffa Archaeological evidence emerged in both Israel and Egypt that date the establishment of the area before the 15th century BCE. The area was first inhabited solely by Canaanite communities and later conquered by the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III. After a few thousand years of comings and goings, many nations have left their distinct mark on the city and its cultural life. Jaffa has hosted scores of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. In 1909, the entire city of Tel Aviv was established as a Jewish suburb of Jaffa. Before that there were only two small Jewish neighborhoods, Neve Zedek and Neve Shalom. Both of these areas hosted Jewish immigrant populations that came over from Europe when the concept of Zionism was first being birthed.  At the turn of the century, when Tel Aviv was established, Jaffa hosted a distinctly Arab population. The city has retained its Arab population and roots up until this very day, and one can hear the call to prayer loud and clear five times a day from anywhere in Yaffo. The first half of the 20th century was marked by a shift of power between the Turkish holders of the city and the encroachment of British forces, and Jaffa was won by the Haganah forces of the Israeli army in 1948 during the War of Independence. Today, it is a hotspot for culture, art, and cuisine and is one of the best examples of where the old world of Israel meets the new horizons of the future of Israel.   Visiting Jaffa Today Exploring all that Jaffa has to offer would take anyone at least the better part of a year. However, there are a few iconic sites that should be right at the top of your list. The first thing you will notice when entering the city is the ginormous Clock Tower that overlooks the sea. This tower was constructed over a century ago to honor the Ottoman conquerors of Israel and their vast empire. It is one of seven that can be found throughout former Ottoman territories. In 1948, a plaque was added to the facade of the tower to commemorate the Jewish Israeli soldiers that fought in Israel’s War of independence. Today the clock tower maintains its landmark status as a central point for community gatherings of all kinds, including Christmas parades, markets, and celebrations.  Just a short walking distance from the Clock Tower is the Suspended Orange Tree. Israeli artist, Ron Morin, installed the orange tree in 1993 as a commentary on the urban environment's relationship to the natural world. The roots are encased in an earthenware vessel with the trunk of the tree growing from a crack in the top. The entire installation is suspended a foot off the ground and today, the tree still bears fruit. Jaffa has a healthy artistic life, from the suspended orange tree to the Ilana Goor Museum. Goor is considered to be an international multidisciplinary artist as her artwork borders on functionality and surrealism. Some of the permanent exhibitions include works from other renowned Israeli modern artists and of course works by Ilana herself, all housed in a 280 year old building, a work of art in itself. The final stop on the list is the Old Port of Jaffa (Namal Yaffo). The port is still active with a few fishermen heading off to fish in the Mediterranean every night. However, many of the old fishing hangers have since been converted into restaurants, photography exhibitions, and gallery boutiques. There are also tons of gift shops and even a farmers market on Friday mornings.   Jaffa is a world unto itself, a very classic example of the hybrid nature that is Israeli culture. There are healthy doses of every sort of artistic expression from clothes to high art and even household furniture. Expression, color, and life is what visitors can expect to find in the narrow streets of Jaffa. Around every corner is a new aspect of the city, waiting to be discovered.    

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World Jewish Travel Official December 7, 2022

Christmas in Israel: Decking the Halls of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, and Nazareth

Experience the Story of Christmas in the Holy Land Christmas in Israel is a far less commercialized event than in most other countries. Don’t get it twisted there is still plenty of Christmas festivity to be had during the entire month of December. From Bethlehem to Jaffa and everything in between. However, Christmas in Israel is unlike anywhere else in the world. The history and miracles of Jesus that are celebrated by millions all went down right here. A history that you can see, touch, and celebrate all in one.    Bethlehem: Beginning with the Birth  Although Bethlehem holds a special place in the heart of all three major religions, its worldwide fame has undoubtedly grown from the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, the city does not disappoint when it comes to its yuletide festivities. Most ceremonies are set to take place right next to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, including the lighting of the Christmas tree. However, this is just one event in a series of December long parades, masses, and the ever-important Christmas Market.   Even heading into the first week of January there is a litany of events in Bethlehem that cater to a wide diversity of Christians. The Christkindlmarkt Christmas Market at Lehigh Valley is open again this year. Most Christmas services are offered in both Latin and Arabic culminating in a Christmas Eve Mass. There are also other holy ceremonies held at other sites of significance such as the tomb of the matriarch Rachel. Every year his eminence, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal, is greeted by the Latin Parish Priest of Bethlehem. A symbolic rejoining of the two major Christian cultures in the birthplace of Jesus.    Nazareth: All About the Merriment Christianity is a religion that enjoys its landmarks. Housing the femur of a saint within a space makes that space holy. Life events and places that have experienced great feats of faith are always of high relevance to Christians throughout the world. So naturally, the next stop on our Christmas tour of Israel is in the city of Jesus' upbringing, Nazareth.  The Christmas vibes in Nazareth are far more relaxed compared to Bethlehem. They often edge more towards a cultural bent, although there is still that historic component. There is a wonderful Christmas Market with all sorts of classic and locally made bits and bobs perfect for those last-minute present needs. Also, save some room for the endless array of freshly made baked goods and other tasty eats. Another important celebratory date to mark on your calendar is the Christmas Eve parade, which wraps up with a special midnight Christmas mass held at the Church of the Annunciation.      Jaffa: Santa Makes a Trip to the Old Port Jaffa is the underdog city in the history of Jesus. It does not receive the same worldwide recognition for its historic link to Christianity, but bible studying Christians will know that Peter, Jesus’ disciple did perform miracles in Jaffa. One of these miracles, known as the healing of Tabitha, took place during the days that Peter stayed in the ancient city with Simon the Tanner. The miracle was commemorated by the Franciscan order with the consecration of the Church of St. Peter in the 17th century.  Jaffa also turns up the gas on its Christmas decorations with a stunning and large tree right in the center circle opposite the clock tower. Just like every other city, there is a huge weekend Christmas Market the whole month of December with the best funky Jaffa fair you can find. The Christmas Parade rolls down Yefet street with Santa leading the charge. One additional festivity that seems to be a singular sensation of Jaffa is the Winter Festival. Be sure to also check out what other Christmas events are going on in the general Tel Aviv area. Oftentimes bars and restaurants will be open and serving on Christmas and they will for sure be in theme.   Jerusalem: The Rock of the Christian World Finishing our Christmas in Israel list is the big kahuna herself, Jerusalem of gold. God’s kingdom here on earth and one of the most talked-about and visited cities in the world. Christmas in Jerusalem takes place almost exclusively within the ancient Ottoman walls of the Old City. For the entire month of December, both the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter are lit up and decorated with literally hundreds of lights and several different trees all of equal grandeur and opulence. Also don’t forget to head down to the Via Dolorosa to catch a glimpse of the Christian pilgrims who come every year to rewalk the steps of Jesus’ passion.  Also be sure to check out the Christmas Market, complete with crafts made by local East Jerusalem artisans.  Christmas services are held the entire month of December at the Church of the Nativity, so be sure to head down that way to experience the more faith-based side of Christmas in Jerusalem.    Experiencing Faith First Hand Here in Israel, at the epicenter of monotheistic faith, Christians of all denominations gather in these cities to celebrate the birth of the new king. The history and belief in Jesus Christ's origin tale celebrated and told by Christians around the world began right here in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem. If you are able to make it into the country or live close by, we highly recommend stopping off at more than one location.  

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