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Israel's First Movie Theater

Well, technically it was the first motion picture Theater, showing only silent films, long before regular movies came into our lives. We're talking of course about the Eden Theater in Tel Aviv.

The Eden Theater opened its doors exactly 106 years ago today, on August 22, 1914. The soon-to-be cultural cornerstone of Tel Aviv was built on the corner of Lillenbloom and Pines streets, in the beautiful neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. The founder of the theater was Akiva Aryeh Weiss, one of the city's forefathers. In the beginning, the theater mostly showcased silent Russian films. We know what you're thinking, how much demand could there have been for Russian movies in Tel Aviv at the time, well, don't forget, they were silent.

It only took a few years, and in the 1920s the greatest Hollywood silent films of the time began showcasing in the theater. Even though the Eden Theater was the first of its kind in Israel, silent films were recorded in Israel long before. In fact, there were silent films being shot in Israel before the 19th Century, during the Ottoman Empire's rule. In June of 1900, footage of the Dreyfus Trial was aired in Jerusalem, which caused Eliezer Ben Yehuda to come up with the Hebrew word for a motion picture - Reinoah.

The theater was active until 1974, but like many things in Israel, it became neglected and has pretty much been empty ever since.

It's sad to see such a meaningful landmark stand naked, dirty, and neglected for so long. But we have some good news, word on the street is there are plans to add more floors to the theater and turn it into a fancy hotel. How long until we will see that happen? We'll just have to wait and see.


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