The Cell-Aviv initiative (Tel Aviv by Cellular), is a multidisciplinary initiative developing a tourist guide app, in partnership between students from the Shimon Peres High School for Hi-Tech and Art (formerly the Amal Shevah Mofet School, Tel Aviv) and the On School for Children with Cerebral Palsy and Complex Disabilities, in Tsahala. The initiative is part of a pedagogic paradigm of "layered education in a dynamic environment" which aims to connect the educational process at the school, with life outside it. The app offers visitors a variety of historic, archeologic, biblical, social and cultural content directly to their smartphones, by a simple scan of QR codes displayed on tourist attractions throughout the city, and with an emphasis on route accessibility for disabled visitors. Content items include videos with sign language narration, original interviews with historical figures, text and images. The initiative is a nonprofit venture, intended as a public service. The tour below, "The Secret History of Sarona" is designed for an individual visitor.
Tour Summary – Cell Aviv Sarona
The Small Winery (Distillery), Government Print House and Hebrew Stamps (30 David Elazar St.)
Winemaking began in Sarona during the 1870s. The first co-op winery was located on the other side of the street (27 David Elazar St.) A second winery, known as the "Small Winery" was established in 1898 due to a rift in the Sarona community. During the early 20th century, both wineries were unified under one management, but the new establishment gradually lost prominence and began to serve other uses. In 1925 the Jewish Segal family established a distillery on the premises, operating until the early 1930s. An advanced print house was founded by the Templar community, operating until September 1939. On the eve of Israel’s independence, the facility printed its first stamp series. Since the name of the new country was not yet decided, the stamps only bore the title "Hebrew Post". After independence, the premises served as the government print house, until it was moved to Jerusalem during the 1960s, with the structure becoming a Ministry of Defence archive.
The Large Winery (Old Winery) of Sarona (27 David Elazar St.)
The first industrial winery in Sarona is woven in the history of the colony, as well as the origins of the Israeli Air Force. The advanced winery has been in operation until World War II broke out, when the British exiled the Templar residents of Sarona. In January 1948, near the end of the British Mandate period, the Jewish agency acquired 20 wrecks of "Auster" light aircraft from British military surplus material. These aircraft were stored in the winery complex, when it became the base of "Haganah" (Jewish Underground) forces, Mahane Yehoshua. The aircraft were assembled on the premises by the first maintenance corps of the "Sherut Avir" or Hagana Air Service, seeing extensive service during the early phase of Israel's War of Independence. Additional aircraft assembled at the facility included two "Spitfire" fighter planes, also from British RAF scrap parts. Those aircraft became the backbone of the fledgling Israeli Air force.
The Mamluk Pharmacy (the demolished structure was located between 12-16 David Elazar St., with the sign being on the opposite side).
The pharmacy was established in 1925 by the community council of Sarona, which intended it for pharmacist Yitzchak Isidore Mamluk, a Jew of German origin, and one of the first natural healers in the land. Mamluk continued to serve customers after World War II began, despite being a Jew in Sarona, with many of its Templar residents joining the Nazi party. Sarona converted to a detention center by the British authorities, which declared the Templars as enemy aliens in September 1939. Mamluk was forced to close the pharmacy in 1944, when some of the detainees were exiled to Australia in 1941, and the rest evacuated. The pharmacy structure was demolished during the reconstruction and preservation of Sarona, and a medicinal plant garden was established, commemorating Mamluk, opposite the original location of the building. Two date trees remain at the entrance to the house, planted by Mamluk himself, about 100 years ago.
Draydel House – Formerly the Israeli Air Force Technical Intelligence Unit 121 (11 David Elazar St.)
Templar Christian Friedrich Lämmle, one of the founders of Sarona colony and pioneer in grape and orange cultivation, operated a home honey factory on the premises. After Israel’s independence, the building housed the Israeli Air Force Technical Intelligence Unit 121. During the War of Attrition in 1969, the unit succeeded in discovering the secret location of a new, advanced Soviet radar station in Egypt, interfering with Israeli Air Force operations. The radar was camouflaged in a Bedouin tent, in an isolated area near Suez bay. With this information, the Israeli defence forces were able to mount one of its most daring commando raids, operation "Rooster 53", which used the new "Yasur" heavy helicopters to capture the radar station intact and transfer it to Israel.
The Victor Gate – Scene of the Lehi Attack on British headquarters at Sarona (Kaplan street, opposite David Elazar Street).
On April 25, 1947, during the final days of British mandate rule, two Lehi fighters (an underground Jewish militia) impersonated postal authority engineers, ostensibly called to repair a faulty telephone line in Sarona, then a fortified British police and military base. Their pickup truck concealed 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of explosives. The Lehi operatives fled after setting the timers, and the explosion killed a British officer and four policemen. The operation was one of the most daring attacks in the history of Sarona.
The Templar Treasure (a vantage point from 35 Kaplan St.)
Hundreds of Templars were exiled from Sarona to Australia by the British in 1941, during World War II. Among them were architect Hugo Wennagel and his family, detained in Sarona as enemy aliens from 1939. Wennagel, who was not a Nazi party member, hid a treasure of gold coins in the wall of his house, as he was not sure whether he could safely take them with him. 63 years later, an Israeli architect located the coins, guided by 97-year-old Wennagel himself, on a remote skype call, and restored the treasure to him. The gold coins were given to Wennagel’s father by the renowned British adventurer and officer, T.E. Lawrence, known as "Lawrence of Arabia."
The Old Communal House (34 Kaplan St.)
The old communal house, constructed in 1873, was the first public structure in the Templar colony of Sarona. It was used as the primary community gathering place, for religious ceremonies and as a school for Sarona children. In 1877, a German manufactured clock and bell system was added to the front of the building, chiming on the hour. The original clock face and mechanism are currently on display in the Sarona visitor center, and work is underway to restore the clock to its former place at the top of the building, to chime as it did in the old days.
The Templar Bowling Alley in Sarona (3 Albert Mendler St.)
The original, early 20th century residents of Sarona had enjoyed a glass of beer and a game of bowling, at Kuebler’s beer and wine garden. Sarona sport culture included athletics competitions, soccer, horse riding, and tennis. Restoration of the bowling facility was kindly assisted by two historical photographs sent by the Australian Templar Association.
Wall Paintings Restoration (8 Albert Mendler St.)
Shay Farkash and his team, experts in documenting and restoration of wall paintings, brought to light many works of art typical of Templar houses in Sarona and other locations in Israel. This popular art form includes geometric and plant formations. One of the decorations consists of a shape similar to the Nazi swastika. This symbol was prominent in ancient Indian and Greek art and was adopted by the Nazis during the 1920s.
Sarona Visitor Center – Operation "Balzam" and stories from behind the Iron Curtain (14 Albert Mendler St.).
This building was used as an intelligence center for Israel’s Shin Bet (internal security service). During the cold war period of the 1950s and 1960s, Jewish immigrants arriving in Israel from behind the "Iron Curtain" (Soviet block countries) were interviewed here, to gather information on the U.S.S.R and its allies. The data was provided to the United States. In addition, the location was reputedly where a secret speech by Nikita Khruschev, leader of the U.S.S.R. from 1953 to 1964, was deciphered for distribution in the west.
"Leil Hamishtarot" (1 Arania Osvaldo St., Memorial Plaque)
"Leil Hamishtarot" (Night of Police bases) was a series of raids in February 1946, a period when all three Jewish underground militias (Haganah, Irgun and Lehi) agreed to unite as a single Jewish resistance movement, fighting British rule. The Haganah operatives planned a series of attacks on four British police stations. The attack on Sarona was delayed, losing the element of surprise. The operatives succeeded in infiltrating the British base but faced heavy fire, managing a retreat but losing four men in battle. The four are commemorated by the nearby HaArba’a (four) street.