Builders of Tel Aviv
1. Aharon Chelouche was born in Algeria in 1827 and made aliyah with his family while still a boy.
2. His two sons, Yosef and Avraham, were named for his two brothers who drowned when the family was shipwrecked on the voyage from Algeria.
3. He made his living as a goldsmith, trading in gold and silver, and as a money changer. And he bought land, lots of it. Some of the land he bought became Neve Tzedek, where he built a house in 1887. This was the first settlement outside of Jaffa’s walls. Adjoining the house, he built a synagogue, Beit Chelouche, which is still in operation today.
4. Aharon died in 1920, by which time his sons were active in Tel Aviv’s affairs. Yosef Eliyahu was educated in a Talmud Torah and at a Jewish school in Beirut. He married at age seventeen.
5. In the 1890s, he and his brother opened a store, Chelouche Freres, dealing in building materials. Later, they used the same name for a factory that produced building products.
6. Like his father, Yosef bought land. He became a building contractor, constructing many buildings in Neve Tzedek and, later, Tel Aviv. Thirty-two of the buildings of Ahazat Bayit were his, as was the Alliance School, now the Susan Dallal Center. The edifice of the Herzliya Gymnasium was another of his accomplishments.
7. In 1909, he was among the founders of Tel Aviv. He became a member of the first local council following World War I, and in the 1920s sat on the Jaffa city council.
8. Because he spoke Arabic, he was an important mediating force between Arabs and Jews. He believed the two peoples could co-exist peacefully and to their mutual benefit.
9. Yosef wrote a memoir, Reminiscences of My Life, in which he made an impassioned plea for Jewish understanding of, and outreach to, their Arab neighbors. An annotated edition of this work came out in 2005.
10. Yosef died in July 1934. The family continues to be involved in the life of Tel Aviv.
In Tel Aviv, you’ll find Chelouche Street in Neve Tzedek and Yosef Eliahu Street near the Frederic Mann Auditorium.