This is a story about American Dreams and pioneers – a chapter in Jaffa’s history that dates back to the second half of the 19th Century; even before the notion Tel Aviv was conceived. The drama begins with a group of God-fearing Christian Americans, who were captivated by the promises of their property; they packed pre-fabricated wooden houses to prepare the Holy Land for the return of the Jews and the second coming Christ.
Their experience in Jaffa was short. Forbidden by the Sultan to settle on the hill they believe to have purchased/ they camped on the beach for three months. Twenty-two wooden houses were finally erected on the hill, some of which are still there. The Promised Land soon became “A land that devours its inhabitants”. Many died; their preacher turned to alcohol; the crops were poor and they were left empty-handed after having paid the lease on the land. Most of them were forced to return to the U.S. before the year’s end. Mark Twain, who met some of the settlers on their journey home, described their experience as a “fiasco”.
Adams told sold the houses to the German Templers, who managed to establish a thriving settlement. A few of the Americans remained in the holy Land and some even succeeded there. Among them, the most notable was Rolla Floyd, the father of modern tourism. The American settlers left their mark on the Holy Land. The Hebrew newspapers referred to their arrival with modern agricultural equipment as a model for the pioneer spirit.
Today, 125 years later, one can look back at the story; it is about Americans, lovers of Zion, whose courage to brave a dream brought a pioneer spirit to the shores of Jaffa.
The Tel-Aviv Foundation and the Municipality of Tel-Aviv-Yafo supported this film, with the participation of View Pax Mondiale and Keshet HaShalom.
The purpose of the film is to tell the long forgotten story and arouse curiosity to learn further about it. It was written, directed and produced by Yael Katzir, historian and film maker.