"Petah Tikva: Gateway to Hope" Petah Tiqwa by gilabrand

Petah Tiqwa Travel Guide: 35 reviews and 59 photos

"I will speak coaxingly to her
And lead her through the wilderness...
I will give her her vineyards...as a gateway to hope."
(Hosea 2:17)
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Petah Tikva is not your standard tourist destination, but it's a short drive from Tel Aviv and contrary to popular belief, there are some attractions.

At the moment, many of the streets are ripped up for construction in preparation for a light rail system, and don't expect any kind of exciting nightlife (the city center was dark and shuttered way before 10 p.m. on a Saturday night).

But this place has an interesting history as the first Jewish agricultural colony. It was established in 1878 by a group of religious pioneers from Jerusalem.

I wandered around as a "tourist in Petah Tikva," to the utter astonishment of some of the locals, and found museums, monuments, parks, a futuristic pedestrian bridge and a little zoo.

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A Horse of a Different Color

Visitors to Petah Tikva these days will see posters of horses on billboards all over town. To commemorate 128 years since Yoel Moshe Salomon and his buddies arrived on horseback at the swampy site that became the first "moshava," or semi-cooperative Jewish farming colony in Eretz Yisrael, the city is holding a "100 Horses" exhibit in Petah Tikva's version of Central Park opposite the Mall.

No - they are not live horses, but plaster casts painted by artists and public figures. Many have punning, or tongue-in-cheek names, like Pegasus or Dr. Seuss ("sus" is Hebrew for horse). One which has received a lot of attention (and would probably qualify as the ugliest) is a raggedy looking horse dressed in a red soccer outfit by the famous Israeli singer, Arik Einstein. One of Arik Einstein's popular songs in the 1970s was "The Ballad of Yoel Moshe Salomon," about the founding of Petah Tikva.

The Ballad of Yoel Moshe Salomon

In eighteen seventy eight, 'tis said,
One bright and sunny day
Five horsemen out of Jaffa rode
And set out on their way.

And Stemper came and Guttman came
And Zerach Barnet
And Yoel Moshe Salomon,
A sword stuck in his belt.

And silver-headed Mazouriki,
The doctor, came along.
Along the Yarkon in the reeds
They heard the wind's soft song.

Beside Um-Labes they did halt
Among the swamps and trees
And climbed a little hill nearby
To see what they could see.

And as they stood and gazed around
Upon that little hill,
Mazouriki said: I fear the worst,
This place is calm and still.

For if no birds here ever sing
Then death and sickness reign.
So let us flee it while we can
And never come again.

He turned to leave in haste and fear
And three of them agreed
That it was time to ride away
To Jaffa at full speed.

But Yoel Salomon refused,
A light shone in his eyes.
No, I am staying here tonight
Until the sun shall rise.

And so he stayed there on that hill
And in the night, it's said,
That Yoel Moshe Salomon
Grew wings just like a bird.

And where he went I cannot say
And if he really flew,
Perhaps its just a fairy-tale
Perhaps that story's true.

And when the dawn broke in the morn
Above the hills so high
The barren valley echoed loud
With birdsong in the sky.

And to this day, so people say,
Along the River Yarkon
The birds sing songs of praise
to Yoel Moshe Salomon.

(Translated from the Hebrew by Haya Galai)

January 2009: This exhibit is over, but as my son and his wife are moving into their new digs in Petah Tikva this week, I am sure I will have other attractions to report.

August 2009 update: Tips on the way after a weekend at my son's place in the Hadar Hamoshavot neighborhood, once orchards, now clusters of towering high-rises surrounded by palm trees and state-of-the-art jungle-gyms.

  • Last visit to Petah Tiqwa: Dec 2012
  • Intro Updated Dec 10, 2012
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Reviews (3)

Comments (12)

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Jan 1, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    great stuff. brest wishes fvor the new year. sb.

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2009 at 11:14 PM

    When the first "things to do" tip for a place is the "filling station" I had to check it out. One of my dear friends is named Gilah. Best regards, Karl

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Aug 31, 2009 at 9:13 AM

    The horse is a wonderful creature and one I cherish! Looks like a lovely place to visit. Thanks for the tour!

  • iblatt's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    Glad you found a fun & interesting thing to do in PT! Or is the tip nicer than the zoo?..

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    Gila, thank you a lot for birthday wishes. Aroma sounds like a nice place to have coffee and something to eat.

  • lionreb's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2007 at 4:49 PM

    it's hard to keep up with all of these coffee shops. I love hearing about these not so well known places. I appreciate the updating on Petch Tikvah.

  • Soore's Profile Photo
    Feb 17, 2007 at 7:00 PM

    Great night time photo and biblical reference for the gate of hope city. Thanks for the history lesson.

  • janetanne's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2007 at 2:30 AM

    How interesting about Rothschild. I had no idea that he would have been in such a place as Petah Tiqwa.

  • Sharon's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2007 at 11:38 AM

    Yoel moshe salomon ? lol..we grew up on that one. Where's my house... its the main attraction here! :-) i boycot Aroma & be informed that there are now nice new Cafes in Matalon area... oh and even a nice Pub that i once visited ! :-)

  • ophiro's Profile Photo
    Feb 5, 2007 at 3:27 AM

    its about time !!! i think aroma is more a restaurant tip btw. there is also aroma on yahin center.

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