City (from 1958)
|• Mayor||Tzvika Brot|
|• Total||8,160 dunams (8.16 km2 or 3.15 sq mi)|
|Elevation||37 m (121 ft)|
|• Density||16,000/km2 (41,000/sq mi)|
|Name meaning||lit. 'Daughter of the sea', also 'mermaid'|
Bat Yam (Hebrew: בַּת יָם or בַּת־יָם ⓘ) is a city located on Israel's Mediterranean Sea coast, on the Central Coastal Plain just south of Tel Aviv. It is part of the Gush Dan metropolitan area and the Tel Aviv District. In 2020, it had a population of 160,000.
Bat Yam, originally Bayit VeGan (“House and Garden”), was founded in 1919 by the Bayit VeGan homeowners association, affiliated with the Mizrachi movement. The association was formed to establish a religious garden suburb in Jaffa. By March 1920, it had 400 members. In 1921, 1,500 dunams (370 acres) of land were purchased, of which 1,400 were formally registered by 1923. In September 1924, an urban blueprint was approved by the association. In early 1926, the plots were divided up and a lottery was held to determine who would build first. By October 1926, roads and water supply were complete. Six families settled on the land in cabins. According to a report in 1927, ten houses were under construction. A synagogue was dedicated in October 1928. By then there were 13 families living in Bat Yam and a total of 20 houses.
In the wake of the 1929 Arab riots, the residents were evacuated by the British army and their homes were turned into barracks. The soldiers left at the end of 1931. In 1932, the residents began to return and were joined by others. In November 1933, 85 families were living in the neighborhood. By early 1936, there were 300 homes and a population of 140. Local industry began to develop, a movie theatre opened and a hotel was established. The first school, named after Tachkemoni, was founded in 1936. The first headmaster was Haim Baruch Friedman.
In December 1936, Bayit VeGan was declared a local council. It encompassed 3,500 dunams, 370 dunams of which were Arab-owned. In December 1937, the name was formally changed to Bat Yam (literally “daughter of the sea”). By 1945, 2,000 Jews were living in Bat Yam. In 1936–1939, the town was cut off from Tel Aviv because the road ran through Jaffa, leading to the construction of a new road via Holon. According to the Jewish National Fund, the population had risen to 4,000 by 1947.
Following the vote in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine on November 29, 1947, and the fighting that accompanied the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine, violent incidents, including sniping, were reported by the residents of Bat Yam.
State of Israel
After the establishment of the state in 1948, Bat Yam grew dramatically due to mass immigration. It gained city status in 1958.
Since the wave of immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union began in the 1970’s, Bat Yam became an area where many Russian speakers became settled and continue to live to this day.
Named after Yosef Sprinzak, and is one of the oldest in Bat Yam, with most of its houses built in the fifties and sixties.
A religious-traditional neighborhood. In the southwest part of the neighborhood, the Defenders' Square is located, being the main commercial center of the neighborhood and of the entire city.
An ultra-orthodox-Chassidic neighborhood of the Bobover Hasidism, led by Rabbi Meizlish, brother-in-law of the Rebbe of Bobov. In the neighborhood there is a synagogue, a Talmud Torah, a small yeshiva, a large yeshiva - all in one building; as well as the largest Mikveh in Bat Yam..
Mainly home to Orot HaTorah Congregation - a religious Zionist community led by Rabbi David Chai HaCohen, among the institutions of the Orot HaTorah Congregation in the neighborhood: the synagogue, the high yeshiva "Yishiva Nativot Yisrael" and Talmud Torah Orot HaTorah.
The Defenders' Square
A monument in the memory of the defenders of the city who fell in battle. Located at the entrance to Bat Yam from Tel Aviv. In the War of Independence, there was a defense post in this place called "Hashdera" or "King George's Position" (the previous name of the Independence Boulevard).
HaSela (the Rock) Beach
A popular beach, surrounded by a breakwater, suitable for all ages. The beach is very active and sports activities are held there in the early morning hours. In the summer season there are summer events such as street stalls, clowns and shows.
The Bat Yam Heritage Museum
The museum is located in the municipal library building. The museum has photographs, documents and various exhibits on the history of Bat Yam in the years 1926–1948, including a detailed description of the city's standing in the War of Independence.
The Bat Yam City Hall
The Bat Yam City Hall was designed by the architects Zvi Hecker, Eldar Sharon and Alfred Neumann. When it was built between 1960 and 1963, the building stood alone in the heart of the dunes and was exposed to the coastline of Bat-Yam. The building was designed in the form of an inverted pyramid, in Brutalist architecture style.
In the early 2000s, after financial scandals under the leadership of Yehoshua Sagi, the city was on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2003, he was replaced by Shlomo Lahiani, founder of the Bat Yam Berosh Muram (Bat Yam Heads-Up) party. In 2008, he was re-elected with 86% of the vote. In 2014, Lahiani pleaded guilty to three counts of breach of public trust after being charged with bribery and income tax fraud. He was replaced by Yossi Bachar.
In 2014, after the Bat Yam municipality petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, Interior Minister Gideon Saar appointed a steering committee to explore the possibility of incorporating the city as part of Tel Aviv-Yafo as a way of reviving its stagnant economy. Later that year, when Gideon Sa’ar was replaced by Gilad Erdan, a decision was reached to transfer funding to Bat Yam directly from the state budget. The plan for unification was postponed until the next municipal elections in 2023. In 2019, Bat Yam's current mayor, Tzvika Brot, said he opposed the union with Tel Aviv.
Council heads and mayors
|Head of council||Ben-Zion Mintz||1936–37|
|Head of council||Ben Zion Yisrael||1937–39|
|Head of council||Yisrael Rabinovich-Teomim||1939–43|
|Head of council||Eliav Levai||1943–50|
|Head of council||David Ben Ari||1950–58|
|Mayor||David Ben Ari||1958–63|
|Source: Bat Yam's mayors on the official city website|
According to Bat Yam mayor Tzvika Brot, the city is looking for creative solutions to rebuild the city and preserve its economic independence. The city has six beaches and a 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) long promenade along the Mediterranean coast that connects to the Tel Aviv boardwalk.
According to a report in Ynet, Bat Yam has become a countrywide leader in urban renewal. Many of the city's older buildings are undergoing construction to strengthen their foundations, add floors and improve their appearance, and dozens of parks are being beautified and made accessible to visitors with disabilities.
The Yehuda Abarbanel Mental Health Center is a psychiatric hospital founded in 1944 by the British Mandate authorities. Since the establishment of the state, it had been administered by the Israeli Ministry of Health. The hospital, named for Judah Abravanel, a Portuguese rabbi, Jewish philosopher and physician in the Middle Ages, provides hospitalization and ambulatory services to residents of Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Holon and Bat Yam coping with mental illness.
In 2008, the Weitzman-Albert Education Initiative headed by Jane Gershon, wife of fashion shoe designer Stuart Weitzman invested over $2 million in Bat Yam's Harel Elementary School, which received a top Education Ministry award for academic achievement and immigrant integration.
In 2017, the percentage of high school students eligible for a bagrut matriculation certificate reached 86.3%, compared to the 68.2% national average. The number of high school students doing a five-point exam in mathematics is also on the rise thanks to a program inaugurated in 2015 in cooperation with the Donald J. Trump Foundation and Alliance Israélite Universelle to encourage excellence in math.
Art and culture
In the heart of Bat Yam is a three-museum complex known as MoBY. The main building, David Ben-Ari Museum for Contemporary art was established in 1961. The Rybak House and the Sholem Asch Museum house MoBY's permanent collections and offer educational programs. The Bat Yam Heritage Museum is adjacent to the municipal library,
The Bat Yam amphitheatre, also built in the 1960s near the beach, is a venue for concerts and public events. The International Street Theater Festival, the largest open-space performance art celebration in Israel, is an annual summer event in Bat Yam.
The Ryback House showcases the work of Issachar Ber Ryback. The Yiddish writer Sholom Asch, who lived in Bat Yam in his later years, willed his home to the Bat Yam municipality, which turned it into museum.
In 2008 the Bat-Yam International Biennale of Landscape Urbanism, which is devoted to re-examining urban spaces through art and architecture, was held in Bat Yam. In 2010, the second Biennale, "Timing" took place, which featured site-specific installations from designers and architects from around the world.
The Center for Urbanism and Mediterranean Culture is a research institute devoted to the creation of a new discourse in Israeli urban space. The head of the center is veteran Haaretz correspondent Avirama Golan.
The city has two shopping malls, Kanyon Bat Yam, which opened in 1993, and Kanyon Bat Yamon.
In September 2011, an iron anchor dating to the Byzantine period was discovered off the coast of Bat Yam. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, it was likely that of a boat that sank in a storm about 1,700 years ago and may be proof of an unknown ancient harbor on the coast.
Bat Yam's old city hall, designed by Israeli architect Zvi Hecker in the 1960s, is a modernist building of reinforced concrete in the shape of an inverted ziggurat. The design was chosen in a competition in 1959 which drew entries from the leading architectural firms in Israel.
The location of Bat Yam on the Mediterranean makes it popular with beach-goers. Bat Yam has a 3.2 km (2 mi) long promenade along the ocean lined with pubs and restaurants. The city has six beaches, one of which is protected by a breakwater.
Bat Yam's Al Gal beach is a popular surfing spot with fairly consistent surf conditions, especially during the summer months. Both Al Gal and Hagolshim are straight, exposed dune-backed beaches.
Two railway stations opened in the city in 2011 as part of the new Tel Aviv – Rishon LeZion West line: Bat Yam-Yoseftal Railway Station and Bat Yam-Komemiyut Railway Station. Bat Yam is served by the Red Line of the Tel Aviv Light Rail since August 18, 2023, and is planned to be served by the Metro line M3. The city will be the terminus for both lines and the lines will meet at the new Yoseftal Station.
Bat Yam is twinned with:
- Shay Abutbul (born 1983), soccer player
- Michael Barkai (1935–1999), Commander of the Israeli Navy
- Miri Ben-Ari (born 1978), hip hop violinist
- Moshe Biton, soccer player
- Vered "Vardush" Buskila (born 1983), Olympic sailor
- Tomer Chencinski (born 1984), Israeli–Canadian soccer player
- Eli Cohen (1924–1965), Israeli spy
- Meir Dagan (born 1945), Director of the Mossad
- David D'Or (born 1965), singer, composer, and songwriter
- Elana Eden (born 1940), actress
- Sharon Farber, composer
- Haim Gozali, mixed martial arts fighter
- Matt Haimovitz (born 1970), US cellist
- Henryk Hechtkopf (1910–2004), illustrator
- Rita Katz (born 1963), terrorism analyst
- Gili Landau (born 1958), footballer and manager
- Achinoam Nini (born 1969), singer
- Peter Roth (born 1974), pop singer and composer
- Gal Shish (born 1989), soccer player
- Itzik Zohar (born 1970), soccer player
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