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The History

Photo source: Archive of the Franciscan Church

The first Jewish
settlement outside
of Jaffa

A view of Jaffa from North to South - The beginning of the development of the city outside of the walls. Approximate date: Late 19th century.
Photo source: Archive of the Franciscan Church
Gershon Gera Album, Photographic Archives in memory of Shoshana and Asher Halevy, Yad Izak Ben-Zvi

The Timeline

  • 1890

    Sha’arei Torah, a public synagogue serving the Neve Shalom community, is founded.
  • 1895

    A seven-room building is established, comprising a study hall, kitchen, and classrooms.
  • 1904

    Rav Kook arrives in the Land of Israel and serves as the Rabbi of Jaffa and the surrounding areas. This is a watershed moment in the development of the local community.
  • 1906

    Rav Kook initiates the establishment of The Craft School within the Talmud Torah institution. The aim of the school is to provide students with artisanal skills and knowledge (mainly metalwork and carpentry) so that they can earn a living.
  • 1908

    The Otzer Chaim yeshiva, led by Rav Kook, is launched with a very innovative curriculum and the goal of becoming the central yeshiva for new immigrants.

The Legacy
of Rav Kook

“The love for all creations in their entirety comes first. After this, love for all humanity. And then the love for the Jewish people, which includes the whole, since it is the destiny of the Jewish people to serve toward the perfection of all things. Each of these kinds of love becomes real through deeds, for to love God’s creations means doing them some good, bringing them to higher elevations. Beyond all these circles of love is the love of divinity, which is fully realized love. It is not the essence of this love to bring about any change, but the heart fills with a cosmic love which is the highest experience of happiness.”

(Translated by Rabbi Burt Jacobson)

Abraham Isaac Kook


Rav Kook, also known as “The Rav,” is widely considered one of the most innovative and influential Jewish religious thinkers of the twentieth century. Having served as a rabbi in Latvia, Rav Kook immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1904. With the establishment of the Chief Rabbinate, he became the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. As one of the spiritual fathers of religious Zionism, Rav Kook developed a Kabbalistic philosophy that was sympathetic toward Zionism and the new Jewish settlement. Rabbi, philosopher, Talmudist, communal leader, poet, mystic, and judge, Rav Kook and his legacy are integral to the ever-evolving story of modern Israel.

The Craft School (Beit Melacha)

Rav Kook set up the trailblazing Craft School within the Talmud Torah institution — the first institution to include both Torah learning and vocational studies, inspired by his vision of combining spiritual life with physical labor.

  • Symbol of the Freemasons
  • Symbol of King David’s Harp
  • Star of David
This historic photograph of the wrought-iron gate of the Craft School is assumed to have been taken after 1924. Photo source: From the book, My Heart’s Desire
Close-up of a stamp featuring an illustration of the synagogue and a written inscription, from 1918. Photo source: Courtesy of Shula Veider
The Sha’arei Torah Synagogue, 3 Shmerling Street, Neve Shalom, 1962. From the collection of Pinhas Ben Shahar, courtesy of the Municipal Archives of the Tel Aviv Municipality.

Sha’arei Torah Synagogue

As Rabbi of Jaffa and the surrounding areas, Rav Kook adopted the synagogue as his personal place of worship and prayed there every day.

Talmud Torah Institution

A school for boys that was established in the compound in 1896. As patron of the institution, Rav Kook helped shape its curricula and would periodically test the students’ knowledge.

From the booklet of Pinhas Grayevski: Rabbi Bezalel Lapin, 1925
Photographer: Frank Scholten
Honi HaMe’agel from the book, My Heart’s Desire

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