Tel Aviv’s seashell lottery

Seashell lottery of Tel Aviv. Photo by Avraham Soskin, 1909. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Seashell lottery of Tel Aviv. Photo by Avraham Soskin, 1909. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Just about a century ago, a group of Jewish settlers purchased twelve acres of sand dunes near the ancient port of Jaffa from a neighboring tribe of Bedouins. And that was the beginning of Tel Aviv, which in little time has arguably become the Middle East’s most cosmopolitan destination, perched on one of the most spectacular stretches of the Mediterranean.

The early settlers were less interested in potential tourism than in establishing an equitable community. To that end, 66 families gathered to distribute the land in a now-famous seashell lottery. The names of each of the families were written on white seashells and plot numbers on gray seashells, and, according to the story, a child matched shells from each pile until none remained. From then on the families worked diligently to build their new homes and town infrastructure, and moved in within a year’s time.

And below, present-day Tel Aviv, for comparison’s sake:

Present-day Tel Aviv

Present-day Tel Aviv

 

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Comments

  1. Mom and Dad says:

    How interesting! I didn’t know about the seashell lottery. Sounds like you’re getting a lot out of your trip. Keep enjoying it. xoxo

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