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Meir Dizengoff

1861 -1936.

Meïr Dizengoff was the first mayor of Tel Aviv, between 1921-1925, and from 1928 until his death in 1936.

Born in Moldova in 1861, he received a traditional and general education in Chisinau (today's Moldova).

Meir Dizengoff
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In 1886 he started his Zionist activities and became a member of the Hovevei Zion organization. He represented it in Chisinau by establishing its branch. There he became close to Zionist leaders such as Yehuda Leib Pinsker, Moshe Leib Lilienblum, and others.

In 1892 he came to Israel for the first time on Baron Rothschild's mission and established in Tantura (now Nachsholim) a factory that produced glass bottles for wineries in Rishon Lezion and Zichron Ya'akov.

He returned to Russia in 1897 to participate in vigorous Zionist activities. He participated in two Zionist congresses, the fifth and sixth, and opposed the Uganda Plan. In Odessa, he became close to leading intellectuals in the revival of Hebrew culture, such as Ahad Ha'am.

He immigrated again in 1905 and was one of the founders of the "Ahuzat-Beit" neighborhood, which later became Tel Aviv. He was one of the main leaders of the settlement and head of the Tel Aviv Council. In 1911, Dizengoff was elected head of the committee and remained in this position until he was appointed in 1921 as the first mayor of Tel Aviv (when the settlement received local council status).

Between 1925 and 1927, he served as deputy mayor of Jaffa and managed the Jewish Agency Department of Commerce and Industry.

He devoted his time and energy to Tel Aviv's economic development. He was, among other things, the driving force behind the establishment of the Tel Aviv port, which he conceived in the early 1920s. The port was inaugurated in 1936, shortly before his death.

In 1934, during Tel-Aviv's half-decade celebrations, a street was named after him. In honor of his 70th birthday, it was decided to plant a garden bearing his name, "Gan Meir", but the planting was delayed until after his death. A few days before his death, another neighborhood was inaugurated, Kiryat Meir. The main square in the city, Zina Dizengoff Square (or Dizengoff Square), was named after his wife Zina (photo below).

Zina Dizengoff
Source: Wikipedia.

Dizengoff died after a serious illness in 1936. The city council declared three days of mourning and the entire Jewish community in the Land of Israel mourned his passing.

Meir Dizengoff's great importance was his ability to outline an overall urban vision for Jaffa, by establishing an autonomous Jewish space that is not related to Jaffa, and at the same time does not ignore its existence.

His house, one of the first built in the city and called Beit Dizengoff, or Beit Haatzmaut, is where David Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

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