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The Ambassador’s Residence


The Ambassador’s Residence

la residenzaThe Italian Ambassador’s Residence is one of the historic houses in the Northwestern area of Ramat Gan, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. In the 1920s the area was planted with orange and banana trees and the estate belonged to Isaac Leib Goldberg, an intellectual of Polish origin who in 1897 participated with Theodor Herzl in the Zionist Congress in Basel. In 1932, in memory of his son Biniamin, who was killed during the 1929 Arab Revolts, Goldberg decided to allocate part of the property to the construction of a residential neighborhood: the district of Tel Biniamin (“the Hill of Biniamin”) was born.

Frederick Kisch was the architect chosen for the project. Since the beginning, the intent of Golberg – who was a friend of intellectuals and poets such as Hayim Nachman Bialik, Yaakov Fichman and Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (better known as Ahad HaHam) as well as one of the founders of the newspaper Haaretz and the Theater Habima of Tel Aviv - was to create a neighborhood of artists and thinkers, with the highest architectural standards of the time, large gardens and green spaces. The first houses were designed by renowned European-born architects such as Genia Averbuch (who also designed Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv), Sam Barkai and the exponent of the Bauhaus school, Yitzchak Rapaport. Among the first inhabitants of the neighborhood were the writer Yaakov Hurgin, the painter Arieh Lubin and the entrepreneur Henrich (Hiram) Cohen, owner of the first chain of department stores in Israel.

In 1936, the Arensteins, also residing in the neighborhood, put their home at disposal of Arturo Toscanini when he came to direct the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra (now the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel), created to employ European Jews musicians fleeing Nazism. In the 1950s, illustrious figures like Moshe Sharet, Israel’s Foreign Minister and Prime Minister after David Ben Gurion, and the first US Ambassador to Israel, James MacDonald lived in the neighborhood.

Since then Tel Biniamin has become the location of various diplomatic residences including that of the Ambassador of Italy, initially located in the Saslawsky villa, designed by the architect Joseph Neufeld, and, since the 1980s, in the villa at 6 Rehov Alonim. Today, while all around the neighborhood skyscrapers rise, Tel Biniamin represents a stable point, a crossroads between past, present and future. Here, the lives of great characters, who with their works and their thoughts have contributed to giving shape to the modern state of Israel and its culture, have intertwined.


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