On March 5, 2010, my hometown Rehovot (located in central Israel) celebrated its 120th birthday. There was a huge celebration on Yaakov St, the first street in Rehovot. It was attended by the mayor and the President of Israel.
Rehovot was founded on August 1, 1890, by Jewish immigrants from Poland. Soon after that the first vineyards and orchards were planted. In 1907 a new wave of immigration (or aliya) brought immigrants from Yemen. The immigrants, or olim as they are known in Israel, created three new neighborhoods: the Yemenite neighborhood, Sharaiim, and Marmorak. By 1920 the fruit business in Rehovot was flourishing and a train station was built to accommodate the city. Soon the business became international and the fruit were shipped through the train station to Jaffa and then via ship to Europe. In 1950 Rehovot was announced a city.
On the 120th anniversary of its founding, Rehovot has over 120 thousand residents, a renowned hospital (Kaplan medical center), and the world renowned Weizmann Institute of Science, a branch of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem called The Faculty, which focuses on agriculture and finances, and a blooming high-tech area.
During the celebrations Yaakov St was closed off. The mayor, Rahamim Malul, and the President, Shimon Peres, arrived and gave emotional speeches about the city. Later on a huge parade began marching down the street. The parade included dancers, drummers, cartoon characters, stilt walkers and clowns. Along the sides of the street were stands selling everything from costumes to art and food. In the Smilanski elementary school inflatable slides were set up.
Despite humble beginnings 120 years ago, Rehovot had grown significantly. Throughout the years Rehovot had become the 15th largest city in Israel. I cannot see Israel without Rehovot.
Smilanski kids dancing (video from stoledo50 on youtube.com)