The greater Tel Aviv area is the largest and youngest metropolitan area in Israel, with a population of 3.7 million people—and it is growing! Tel Aviv is the financial and cultural hub of the country. It is home to numerous start-ups, museums, art galleries, and award-winning restaurants, plus pristine beaches. The culture of Tel Aviv is distinct from Jerusalem’s. Indeed, Tel Aviv is Israel’s most secular city, whereas Jerusalem is more religious.
There are probably a dozen believing congregations scattered throughout the greater Tel Aviv area—averaging between fifty and seventy-five congregants. Less than 0.5 percent of the overall population are believers. Thus, the modern state of Israel has one of the lowest proportions of Jesus-followers in the world. In this article and video, we will discuss the history of Tel Aviv and our ministry there.
History of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a relatively modern city, especially for Israel. It has grown from a small neighborhood to a major cosmopolitan city in slightly more than one hundred years, and it is still thriving today. The history of Tel Aviv began in 1909 when a few dozen families founded what they called Ahuzat Bayit, which is roughly translated as “homestead.” The name “Tel Aviv” comes from Ezekiel 3:15, which speaks of a village called “Tel-abib,” where some Israelites lived during the Babylonian captivity. Tel Aviv was also the title of the Hebrew translation of Theodor Herzl’s utopian Zionist novel, Altneuland (German for “Old-New Land”).
One of Tel Aviv’s most significant population booms came between 1929 and 1939 when droves of Jewish immigrants fled Nazi persecution in Europe. This group included many scholars, physicians, and lawyers, who greatly enriched the culture of the Jewish settlement. Tel Aviv went from a Jewish population of 4,000 in 1921 to 135,000 in 1935. Now, the Tel Aviv metropolitan area is more than 4.3 million people.
Tel Aviv has been central to Israel’s growth. Israel declared independence in 1948 in Tel Aviv at the home of the city’s mayor. Tel Aviv quickly became the country’s economic and cultural center. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange opened in 1953, and Tel Aviv University in 1956. Before Israel gained control of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel’s government offices were in Tel Aviv, and some still are today.
History of Our Ministry in Tel Aviv
Chosen People Ministries began serving in Israel in the 1930s under the name Beit Sar Shalom (“the House of the Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6). Our work in Tel Aviv began in 1969 when Joseph Alhake joined the work. In the late 80s, our staff members Avner and Rachel Boskey planted a Messianic congregation in Kfar Saba, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The Boskeys also facilitated evangelistic outreaches around the city and in Haifa, which is a little more than fifty miles to the north.
We rented our first Tel Aviv Messianic Center in 2009. In addition to hosting “music and coffee” nights and regular Bible studies, we also operated a thriving soup kitchen. Every week, we served a hot, nutritious meal to at least one hundred people who would not be able to eat a healthy meal otherwise—including the elderly, Holocaust survivors, single mothers, and poor families. We also distributed food parcels with important kitchen staples twice a week. Our unconditional love surprised people, and they frequently asked who we were and why we did this, which sparked conversations about Jesus.
In 2017, we began a dynamic ministry out of a rented center in Ramat Gan, part of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. This outreach focuses on presenting the gospel to younger Israelis—most of whom recently served in the military. Many of these young adults are the sons and daughters of Israeli believers who came to faith in the past twenty to thirty years. They are enthusiastic, bold, and willing to tell their friends about the Lord. At the end of 2022, we purchased a property to house the new Tel Aviv Messianic Center. It is near the highway and light rail, allowing easy access from across Tel Aviv and Israel. This center is more than twice as large as our previous rented space!
Ministry in Tel Aviv Today
We have built a strong social community around our ministry center, which is a safe place for people from all walks of life to come and fellowship, meet people, and enjoy God’s presence, whether they believe in Him yet or not. We recognize Tel Aviv is a predominantly secular place with a huge population of unreached Jewish people, many who are seeking spiritual answers and a deeper meaning to life. Our center provides opportunities for people to get out, meet others, and find some of the answers to their questions.
This ministry center hosts cultural events and concerts, as well as Sabbath and holiday dinners. We also conduct worship nights, Bible studies, and seminars. In addition, we plan various events for Holocaust survivors, children, and young adults.
Our Tel Aviv Messianic Center is strategically located amid more than four million Israelis. It is our hope many of the people of Tel Aviv will come to know Jesus is their Messiah, the Messiah of Israel. We also want to continue to build a community where believers can grow in their faith through our events and Bible studies. We are excited to see what the Lord does in this beautiful, vibrant city of Tel Aviv.
Published on April 26, 2023.
Header photo by Artem Belinsky on Unsplash.
 John Efron et al., The Jews: A History (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009), 365–66.
 Harold A Sevener, A Rabbi’s Vision: A Century of Proclaiming Messiah: A History of Chosen People Ministries, Inc. (Charlotte, NC: Chosen People Ministries, 1994), 175–79.