BAT YAM (Heb. בַּת יָם; "Daughter of the Sea"), city in central Israel, on the seashore south of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, founded in 1926 by 24 religious families who called themselves and the quarter they established "Bayit va-Gan" ("House and Garden"). In the 1929 Arab riots, this isolated group found refuge in Tel Aviv, returning to their homes in 1931. From 1933 the population increased as immigrants from Germany built their homes there. In 1937 the quarter received the status of a local council and changed its name to Bat Yam. In the War of Independence (1948), the town, then numbering approximately 1,000 inhabitants, had to defend itself against strong Arab attacks. With the mass immigration following the founding of Israel, the population grew rapidly. Receiving city status in 1958, it formed part of the Tel Aviv conurbation, bordering on the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in the north, Holon in the east, and Rishon le-Zion in the south. Manufacturing and recreation facilities were the mainstays of its economy. The food industry (light beverages, beer, ice cream) was a leading employer and the city was a popular resort with a seashore of 2 mi. (3.2 km.), three-quarters of it open for bathing. It also had a municipal museum, art galleries, and the Sholem *Asch House. Asch resided in Bat Yam in his last years.
The population of Bat Yam was 10,000 at the end of 1953, 62,000 in 1967, and 133,900 in 2002, making it the 11th largest city in Israel. It had a large concentration of recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Syria, and Ethiopia. The municipal area was 3.1 sq. mi. (8 sq. km.).
[Simha Moretzky /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]