Treasure Trove: David Matlow ventures through the ‘Gateway of Hope’

Petah Tikvah (“Gateway of Hope”) is a city east of Tel Aviv that was founded in 1878 by three religious families from Jerusalem. The name comes from the prophecy of Hosea (2:15): “And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope.”

It was the first modern agricultural settlement in Israel and is known as the “mother of the moshavot” (a moshav is a cooperative village). Today the city is a major industrial centre with a population of over 250,000.

This Petah Tikvah stamp was issued in 1910 and cost 14 para (a unit of Turkish currency). It is the first Hebrew stamp issued in Palestine and was the idea of Isaac Goldenhirsch, by arrangement with the Austrian postal service (which also operated in Palestine). It depicts an orange tree and a plough, the personal emblems of Goldenhirsch, who was an orange grower. 

Goldenhirsch was also the chairman of the local city council, and the proceeds from the sale of the stamp benefited the city treasury. This angered the local Turkish postal authorities who ordered that the sale of these stamps stop (which makes them quite rare) and required Goldenhirsch to pay a fine of a bottle of arak, 200 imported cigarettes and 60 francs in cash.

In more recent news, Petah Tikvah is the terminus of the Red Line of the new Tel Aviv light rail system that opened in August. This line runs 24 kilometers to Bat Yam, with 34 stations. The idea of connecting Tel Aviv to its suburbs by public transportation was introduced by Golda Meir on April 1, 1973. 

At this very difficult time for Israel, we cannot lose hope. The Gateway of Hope was opened in 1878, and it will never close.