The First Hebrew City: Early Tel Aviv Through the Eyes of the Eliasaf Robinson Collection

Exhibition Documenting the First Forty Years of Tel Aviv (1909–1948)

Tel AvivTo mark the centennial of the founding of the city of Tel Aviv, the Stanford University Libraries presents an exhibition documenting its first forty years (1909–1948). The exhibition "The First Hebrew City: Early Tel Aviv Through the Eyes of the Eliasaf Robinson Collection" will be on display from April 21 through August 31, 2009, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda, Green Library. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford will host a symposium of the same title on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., Peter Wallenberg Learning Theater, Wallenberg Hall (Building 160).

Materials on display in Green Library are drawn from the collection of Eliasaf Robinson, a prominent antiquarian bookseller in Tel Aviv who grew up near one of the city's principal landmarks, the Herzliah Gymnasium. The secondary school, which educated generations of pupils entirely in Hebrew, was demolished in 1962 to make way for Tel Aviv's first skyscraper, the Shalom Meir Tower. The building's destruction impelled Robinson, when he was still a teenager, to start gathering original documents and vintage ephemera, photographs, posters, maps, and books about his native city—before its historical legacy was consigned to oblivion. The Stanford Libraries acquired Robinson's collection, which comprises approximately five hundred printed books and periodicals, and twenty linear feet of archival materials, in 2005.

The exhibition tells the story of the city's early years, from its founding on a sand dune in 1909, through 1948, the year that the State of Israel proclaimed its independence with Tel Aviv as its first capital. Among the more than 150 items on display are photographs by Avraham Soskin, (1881–1963), whose 1909 photograph of the historic lottery of housing parcels on the Jaffa sand dunes has become an iconic image of early Tel Aviv; municipal documents, including a handwritten list of the members of Tel Aviv's governing council on a leaf taken from a commercial receipt book; Bauhaus-influenced advertisements, letterheads, and business cards from the 1920s and 1930s; materials related to education of the "first Hebrew generation," such as a 1930 course guide for the Herzliah Gymnasium, the very first secondary school to educate pupils entirely in Hebrew; and programs and posters attesting to the city's place as the artistic, entertainment, and literary center of the Yishuv (Jewish settlement).

Extensive portions of The Eliasaf Robinson Collection on Tel Aviv have been digitized; these materials are now accessible to researchers, at:

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Exhibit cases are illuminated Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. The Peterson gallery is accessible whenever Green Library is open. Hours vary with the academic scheduleFor current library hours, call 650-723-0931.

The April 23 Shoshana and Martin Gerstel Conference Fund Symposium, co-sponsored with the Shenson Fund and the Israel Center of the Jewish Community Federation, is also open to the public.

Symposium information: (650) 725-2789