Bat Yam (Hebrew: בַּת יָם or בַּת־יָם (audio) (help·info)) is a city located on Israel's Mediterranean Sea coast, on the Central Coastal Plain just south of Tel Aviv. It is part of the Gush Dan metropolitan area and the Tel Aviv District. In 2020, it had a population of 160,000.
City (from 1958)
|• Mayor||Tzvika Brot|
|• Total||8,160 dunams (8.16 km2 or 3.15 sq mi)|
|Elevation||37 m (121 ft)|
|• Density||16,000/km2 (41,000/sq mi)|
|Name meaning||lit. 'Daughter of the sea', also 'mermaid'|
Bat Yam, originally Bayit VeGan (“House and Garden”), was founded in 1919 by the Bayit VeGan homeowners association, affiliated with the Mizrachi movement. The association was formed to establish a religious garden suburb in Jaffa. By March 1920, it had 400 members. In 1921, 1,500 dunams (370 acres) of land were purchased, of which 1,400 were formally registered by 1923. In September 1924, an urban blueprint was approved by the association. In early 1926, the plots were divided up and a lottery was held to determine who would build first. By October 1926, roads and water supply were complete. Six families settled on the land in cabins. According to a report in 1927, ten houses were under construction. A synagogue was dedicated in October 1928. By then there were 13 families living in Bat Yam and a total of 20 houses.
In the wake of the 1929 Arab riots, the residents were evacuated by the British army and their homes were turned into barracks. The soldiers left at the end of 1931. In 1932, the residents began to return and were joined by others. In November 1933, 85 families were living in the neighborhood. By early 1936, there were 300 homes and a population of 140. Local industry began to develop, a movie theatre opened and a hotel was established. The first school, named after Tachkemoni, was founded in 1936. The first headmaster was Haim Baruch Friedman.
In December 1936, Bayit VeGan was declared a local council. It encompassed 3,500 dunams, 370 dunams of which were Arab-owned. In December 1937, the name was formally changed to Bat Yam (literally “daughter of the sea”). By 1945, 2,000 Jews were living in Bat Yam. In 1936–1939, the town was cut off from Tel Aviv because the road ran through Jaffa, leading to the construction of a new road via Holon. According to the Jewish National Fund, the population had risen to 4,000 by 1947.
Following the vote in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine on November 29, 1947, and the fighting that accompanied the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine, violent incidents, including sniping, were reported by the residents of Bat Yam.
After the establishment of the state in 1948, Bat Yam grew dramatically due to mass immigration. It gained city status in 1958.
A small Hasidic enclave of Bobover Hasidim, known as Kiryat Bobov, was established in 1958. The city later gained a sizable community of Jews from Turkey. Bat Yam again experienced a period of rapid growth in the early 1980s to the late 1990s with the mass immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. There is also a small Arab community (0.4% as per 2012), both Muslim and Christian, many of whom relocated from Jaffa. The vast majority of Israelis of Vietnamese origin live in Bat Yam.
In the early 21st century Soviet/Russian immigrants make up nearly 30 percent of the population.
In the early 2000s, after financial scandals under the leadership of Yehoshua Sagi, the city was on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2003, he was replaced by Shlomo Lahiani, founder of the Bat Yam Berosh Muram (Bat Yam Heads-Up) party. In 2008, he was re-elected with 86% of the vote. In 2014, Lahiani pleaded guilty to three counts of breach of public trust after being charged with bribery and income tax fraud. He was replaced by Yossi Bachar.
In 2014, after the Bat Yam municipality petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, Interior Minister Gideon Saar appointed a steering committee to explore the possibility of incorporating the city as part of Tel Aviv-Yafo as a way of reviving its stagnant economy. Later that year, when Gideon Sa’ar was replaced by Gilad Erdan, a decision was reached to transfer funding to Bat Yam directly from the state budget. The plan for unification was postponed until the next municipal elections in 2023. In 2019, Bat Yam's current mayor, Tzvika Brot, said he opposed the union with Tel Aviv.
|Head of council||Ben-Zion Mintz||1936–37|
|Head of council||Yisrael Ben Zion||1937–39|
|Head of council||Yisrael Rabinovich-Teomim||1939–43|
|Head of council||Eliav Levai||1943–50|
|Head of council||David Ben Ari||1950–58|
|Mayor||David Ben Ari||1958–63|
|Source: Bat Yam's mayors on the official city website|
In 2016, the municipality approved an urban renewal plan in the Ramat Hanasi neighborhood, adding 950 high-end apartments.
According to Bat Yam mayor Tzvika Brot, the city is looking for creative solutions to rebuild the city and preserve its economic independence. The city has six beaches and a 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) long promenade along the Mediterranean coast that connects to the Tel Aviv boardwalk.
According to a report in Ynet, Bat Yam has become a countrywide leader in urban renewal. Many of the city's older buildings are undergoing construction to strengthen their foundations, add floors and improve their appearance, and dozens of parks are being beautified and made accessible to visitors with disabilities.
The Yehuda Abarbanel Mental Health Center is a psychiatric hospital founded in 1944 by the British Mandate authorities. Since the establishment of the state, it had been administered by the Israeli Ministry of Health. The hospital, named for Judah Abravanel, a Portuguese rabbi, Jewish philosopher and physician in the Middle Ages, provides hospitalization and ambulatory services to residents of Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Holon and Bat Yam coping with mental illness.
In 2008, the Weitzman-Albert Education Initiative headed by Jane Gershon, wife of fashion shoe designer Stuart Weitzman invested over $2 million in Bat Yam's Harel Elementary School, which received a top Education Ministry award for academic achievement and immigrant integration.
In 2017, the percentage of high school students eligible for a bagrut matriculation certificate reached 86.3%, compared to the 68.2% national average. The number of high school students doing a five-point exam in mathematics is also on the rise thanks to a program inaugurated in 2015 in cooperation with the Donald J. Trump Foundation and Alliance Israélite Universelle to encourage excellence in math.
In the heart of Bat Yam is a three-museum complex known as MoBY. The main building, David Ben-Ari Museum for Contemporary art was established in 1961. The Rybak House and the Sholem Asch Museum house MoBY’s permanent collections and offer educational programs. The Bat Yam Heritage Museum is adjacent to the municipal library,
The Bat Yam amphitheatre, also built in the 1960s near the beach, is a venue for concerts and public events. The International Street Theater Festival, the largest open-space performance art celebration in Israel, is an annual summer event in Bat Yam.
The Ryback House showcases the work of Issachar Ber Ryback. The Yiddish writer Sholom Asch, who lived in Bat Yam in his later years, willed his home to the Bat Yam municipality, which turned it into museum.
In 2008 the Bat-Yam International Biennale of Landscape Urbanism, which is devoted to re-examining urban spaces through art and architecture, was held in Bat Yam. In 2010, the second Biennale, "Timing" took place, which featured site-specific installations from designers and architects from around the world.
The Center for Urbanism and Mediterranean Culture is a research institute devoted to the creation of a new discourse in Israeli urban space. The head of the center is veteran Haaretz correspondent Avirama Golan.
The city has two shopping malls, Kanyon Bat Yam, which opened in 1993, and Kanyon Bat Yamon.
In September 2011, an iron anchor dating to the Byzantine period was discovered off the coast of Bat Yam. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, it was likely that of a boat that sank in a storm about 1,700 years ago and may be proof of an unknown ancient harbor on the coast.
Bat Yam’s old city hall, designed by Israeli architect Zvi Hecker in the 1960s, is a modernist building of reinforced concrete in the shape of an inverted ziggurat. The design was chosen in a competition in 1959 which drew entries from the leading architectural firms in Israel.
The location of Bat Yam on the Mediterranean makes it popular with beach-goers. Bat Yam has a 3.2 km (2 mi) long promenade along the ocean lined with pubs and restaurants. The city has six beaches, one of which is protected by a breakwater.
Bat Yam's Al Gal beach is a popular surfing spot with fairly consistent surf conditions, especially during the summer months. Both Al Gal and Hagolshim are straight, exposed dune-backed beaches.
Two stations opened in the city in 2011 as part of the new Tel Aviv – Rishon LeZion West line: Bat Yam-Yoseftal Railway Station and Bat Yam-Komemiyut Railway Station. Bat Yam will be served by several new stations on both the Red Line of the Tel Aviv Light Rail and the Metro line M3. The city will be the terminus for both lines and the lines will meet at the new Yoseftal Station.
Bat Yam is twinned with:
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bat Yam.|
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