I have lived in Yemin Moshe for the last 6 years, and been the chairman of its neighbourhood council the last five. It is extremely picturesque, with blocks of red tile roofed terrace houses, built in steps descending from the park where King Herod the Great's family tomb is located, following the topography down to the Ben Hinnom valley and the Sultan's Pool (a natural amphitheatre used mainly during the summer months), called the Snake Pool 2000 years ago. Most of the houses have charming little courtyards full of flowers and trees.
The first Jerusalem neighbourhood built outside the walls of the Old City, is Mishkenot Sha'ananim. It was built 1851-1854, in two crenellated blocks of terraces, each with 12 homes, a synagogue and a mikva (ritual bath), one for Sefardi Jews, the other for Ashkenazi Jews ( at the time they lived apart; today, all Jews of all national origins live together, and marry each other, thankfully), by Sir Moses Montefiore, who'd organised the land purchase and construction. Most of the money came from Judah Touro, of the USA.
Sir Moses paid for the construction of a windmill, built by an English firm in 1854-1857. Meant to harness the strong winds to grind grain and give the poor Jews who'd been moved out of the Old City's overcrowded Jewish Quarter to a healthier life outside the walls a livelihood. Sadly, the winds, while strong, are not constant enough. One can still view the windmill, a neighbourhood landmark, and nearby is a reproduction of the carriage used by Sir Moses in his trips to the Land of Israel during the later Ottoman period.
Next door to Mishkenot, is my neighbourhood of Yemin Moshe (Memorial to [Sir] Moses), named after the philanthropist. Sir Moses was Italian-born, to Italian or Sefardi Jews (it isn't clear, from what I've read), but naturalised British. Married to Judith, the daughter of his boss, a member of the English branch of the Rothschilds, he was knighted by Queen Victoria.
Yemin Moshe was built between 1872 and 1920, after the land was parcelised and sold to wealthy Jews, who then built their own homes. 124 homes are extant today out of the 132 which stood here till 1948. In May 1948, Arab attackers, trying to kill the Jews resident here, drove a car bomb next to a block of 8 small servants' cottages, blowing it up.
By the way, the land on which the two neighbourhoods stand, was virgin land owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. After Sir Moses met the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul in 1849, the Sultan ordered the Greeks to sell Sir Moses this virgin land. Of course they complied, and former farmland became 2 new Jewish neighbourhoods.
As you walk through the area, notice the charming courtyards, gardens, and plantings outside in the public areas, as well. Each neighbour takes care of the area near his or her home.
Every family has tried to put it's own stamp on its home. Mine, built by the Sefardi Meyuhas family in 1892, has rain-gutters painted in royal blue, the only one in the neighbourhood. I did that for two reasons: one, I love the colour; two, it was a favourite colour of Baroness Alix de Rothschild, who owned my home from 1968 to her death in 1982. The house, abandoned in May 1948 after the Arab car bomb exploded nearby (about 100 feet away), was used as the quarter's primary school till 1968, when the Baroness Alix bought it. Then-mayor Teddy Kollek, in a controversial move, removed the Turkish and Tunisian Jews who'd moved into the abandoned Jewish homes, and sold the by-now rundown houses to wealthy foreign and Israeli Jews, to finance homes, studios and galleries for artists in the quarter. Yehuda Amichai, a great Israeli man of letters, lived on Malki St. (his widow Chana, still resides there). At the same time, Teddy took over Mishkenot Sha'ananim, converted it into a guesthouse for visiting scholars and artists (Isaac Stern used to stay there a lot; Daniel Barenboim (who now owns a home in Yemin Moshe on HaMevaser St., with crossed trumpets on the mailbox); Pablo and Maria Casals;
Alexander Schneider; just a few of the musical personalities who were hosted.), and got funding from the German government for the Konrad Adenauer Centre, and a wonderful Music Centre, which has free concerts on Tuesdays at 17:30, as a rule.
One word of warning: the lighting and paving of the quarter roads has not been kept up by the East Jerusalem Development Company, tasked with the job. We on the Yemin Moshe neighbourhood council are fighting to improve the situation, but I would like to advise people to be careful after dark. The roads can be a problem, and the lack of adequate lighting has led some criminal elements to attempt to prey on individuals walking on the fringes after dark. Please take care.
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