During Passover of 1909 an important historic event took place - the land lottery for the new Hebrew city. Akiva Aryeh Weiss determined the plot allocations based on an original method using sea shells he had gathered on the shore. The date of the lottery, April 11, 1909, was later designated as Tel-Aviv's birthday.
Weiss immigrated to Eretz Israel with his family in 1906 and on the very day of his arrival he participated in a meeting of the members of the Jewish "Yeshurun" club in Jaffa. He felt it was the correct time and place to present his plan for Hebrew cities, the goal for which he had come to Eretz Israel.
"I have a plan as to how we may build 100% Hebrew cities... The streets will be broad, the homes will have running water and be surrounded by gardens, electric lights will blaze in the streets and houses and industry will have electrical power day and night. A comprehensive sewage system will be established and everything required for a modern city will be installed". Weiss' words aroused dispute and questions regarding such issues as where the land would be purchased and how the project would be financed. But Weiss had prepared well for that moment and he clarified that the city would be built as a private initiative, aided by a commercial loan. His proposal was accepted.
The founding assembly of the Hebrew city closed with applause and the singing of "Hatikva".
Weiss was chosen to chair the implementation committee and the "Ahuzat Bayit" association was founded. Sixty six families joined the association and helped build "Ahuzat Bayit", the name of which was later changed to Tel-Aviv.
As chairman of the committee, Weiss directed most of the activities entailed in building "Ahuzat Bayit" — negotiations with !and owners and with the Israel National Fund regarding the loans, management of the wheelbarrow operators who leveled and prepared the land in Kerem Djebali, excavation of the first well, planning and overseeing the construction. He scrupulously ensured that all these were executed using only Hebrew workers, as was appropriate for the first Hebrew city,
Weiss resigned from the committee when "Ahuzat Bayit" was completed in early 1910, due to objection to his proposed expansion plan. Following his resignation, Weiss began private initiatives, among them land purchase, planning and construction companies, the "Ora Hadasha" movie company and the Tiberius Hot Springs Company. Weiss designed and built his home at Number 2 Herzl St., the Lodzia factory and more. He also built the Eden Cinema and the first post office.
Akiva Aryeh Weiss founded the "Diamond Club" which is now the Israel Diamond Exchange, and was its honorary president.
Akiva-Aryeh Street in Tel-Aviv perpetuates his name.
The Weiss home located at 2 Herzl St. was preserved and reconstructed. The historic exhibit in the entrance hall is open to the public.
Edna Yekutieli Kohen
Granddaughter of Akiva Aryeh Weiss