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Jerusalem location

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Gippsland, Australia
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Jerusalem location

Last time we were in Jerusalem we stayed in the Harmony hotel and found that a good location. We have decided that the Harmony is way overpriced and are thinking about renting an apartment so we can cut down costs and stay longer, but we are not sure where.

We plan to be in Jerusalem for three weeks next April so we will be there over Passover. (We are not Jewish). Which location would be best for us. I have been looking at apartments near the Harmony, and also near Emek Refain. I have never been to the German Colony so don't know how it compares to the area around the Harmony.

We want to be walking distance to the Old City (as close as possible to cut down walking as I have some health limitations) and on a route which has good public transport for other locations. We would like to be close to reasonably priced restaurants which will cater for a gluten-free diet.

What area would you recommend? Thanks. :)

Gippsland, Australia
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1. Re: Jerusalem location

Oh and in case we cater for ourselves, I would need to be near shops where I can find gluten free food. :)

Haifa, Israel
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2. Re: Jerusalem location

For apartments I would look at many sites such as https://www.airbnb.com

Passover season is when many food companies provides gluten free products (due to restriction on use of flour during the holiday). You will find them at any supermarket

Jerusalem
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3. Re: Jerusalem location

The German Colony isn't in the middle of town like the Harmony. But it's a very lively, upscale area with lots of cafes and restaurants, and it's right by the new "First Station" complex with shops, stalls, restaurants and outdoor cultural activities. A great base, I think, particularly since you've already been to Jerusalem and know your way around a bit. Depending exactly where you are, it would take about 15-25 minutes to walk to Jaffa Gate.

As Giora says, Passover is the "celiac holiday" when people on gluten free diets stock up with products for the year. Apart from that, health food shops and many supermarkets now offer gluten free bread and other products. Right in the middle of the German Colony there's a small health food shop (32 Emek Refaim) with gluten free bread, pasta and some other products. And on 1 Amatzia St. (five minute walk from the heart of the German Colony) there's a large organic / health food supermarket with a huge range of gluten free things.

Not many restaurants in Israel have clear gluten free markings or sections in their menu. But you will find gluten free options at any restaurant, and particularly in the German Colony people will speak good English and usually be aware of GF issues.

Jerusalem
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4. Re: Jerusalem location

I just realized that my previous message is misleading in one respect. During Passover itself, gluten free bread will not be on sale, because it's still bread ("leaven"). If you arrive just before the festival you need to stock up quickly and keep the bread in the freezer. During Passover itself, you'll be able to buy all kinds of biscuits and products that are gluten free, made with potato/corn flour, coconut, nuts, etc.

Of course you cannot eat matzah itself or any product made with ground matzah, since matzah is made with wheat. If you eat oats, you can buy special oat matzah that is labeled gluten free (I won't get into that argument here).

Israel
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5. Re: Jerusalem location

Oat matzah is $$$.

Both the German Colony & Emek Refaim neighborhoods are lovely. Emek Refaim is closer to the center of town. There are buses though.

Jerusalem
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6. Re: Jerusalem location

Unfortunately all gluten free food in Israel is expensive, but yes - oat matzah is crazily so.

I don't get your distinction between the German Colony and Emek Refaim. If Emek Refaim isn't the German Colony, where is?!

Gippsland, Australia
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7. Re: Jerusalem location

Thank you for all the replies. I as just going to as the same question as PRSV. Looking at the map I thought that Emek Refaim was in the German Colony.

From what you are saying it sounds as though close to the Harmony is a slightly better location (more central) but that the German Colony is a nice area so a good second choice. I have my eye on apartments in both areas at the moment so I am trying to get the best option. It sounds like the Harmony is a little closer to the Jaffa Gate and other places we may not have seen also which would be better for me (back issues mean by the end of the day I get in pain walking so the closer to everything that I am, the less pain I get in). It's also fantastic to have the light rail go so close.

Are there any good health food shops near the Harmony like the one you mentioned at 32 Emek Refaim, or Amazia Street?

Yes I know about Passover food. I feel like.I am in Coeliac heaven when I am in Israel- but that is mainly experience at the hotels and we plan to try and do things a little cheaper this time so that we can stay longer. Going into an apartment where we have the potential to do our own meals is going to be a bit more challenging. I also found that Israeli hotels knew about gluten issues, but things were not quite so straightforward on the times when the tour we were with stayed in the West Bank. We weren't at the Harmony long, but the restaurants around there were helpful.

I knew about Matzah too, but thanks for thinking to say about it.. I don't eat oats. There is debate on this as you seem to be aware and our Coeliac Society in Australia advises against it at the moment. Gluten free food is expensive here also, so I was expecting it to cost more.

Now, another questions about food. Are the ingredients listed on items bought in the supermarket in English as well as Hebrew? In other words, will I be able to recognise that something is gluten free by myself (I don't speak Hebrew but I am currently struggling to memorise the aleph-bet) or will I need to keep asking for help to locate items in a shop?

Thanks for all your help. :)

Israel
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8. Re: Jerusalem location

You will need to ask for help - ingredients will always be in Hebrew. There are many times you will find them in English too, but you can't depend on that being the case. Additionally, often the Hebrew label will be a sticker that is usually placed very strategically right over the English one - quite frustrating.

Gippsland, Australia
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9. Re: Jerusalem location

Thanks. I had better learn the words for wheat, rye, barley, oats, and gluten free then. I have a card explaining it in Hebrew to give to restaurants so I will have to learn which word is which on it. :)

Jerusalem
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10. Re: Jerusalem location

Hi Heather,

Yes, my son has celiac so I'm familiar with all the internal arguments and debates (which amusingly enough are very much like some of the arguments in Judaism about what you can or can't eat on Passover).

Anyway. I think given your back problems the city center (e.g. Harmony) could be a better option in many ways. The German Colony is very nice but you're not going to want to spend entire days there, so you will be traveling a lot. There are good bus links and you can take a bus and then transfer to the light rail, or to another bus, without paying twice, but even so - you might want to stick to the center. An alternative if you find somewhere nice and not too expensive in the German Colony is to use taxis, at least for the return trips when you're tired out.

There are health shops around the city center. The good ones I can think of just now are up by Machane Yehuda market, a good 15 minute walk from the Harmony, but someone else may well be able to think of one nearer.

Labeling is erratic. By Israeli law all products that contain gluten must state this, and if there's English this will also appear. Often there will be English labeling on things, even if it's in very small print. Some products (and a lot of gluten free products) are imported, so they have English labeling. But annoyingly for non-Hebrew speakers the distributors often stick Hebrew labels on top of the English! You may need to ask for help. In any health food shop people will understand GF issues and be able to help you in English. In small shops or supermarkets you couldn't always rely on that.

Edit - I wrote this before I saw Oreet's reply.

Edited: 4:44 am, July 09, 2013