machane yehuda is identified as the main market of jerusalem but this was originally the name of a residential neighborhood. the market stores were built in 1929 on the initiative of shlomo mousiaeff. the older machane yehuda was built in the 1880's bounded on the north by jaffa street; on the west by navon street; on the east by yosef ben matityahu street and on the north by david yellin street. prior to 1880 there was a single two-storey house in the area – the machane yehuda police station once the home of the british consul noah moore and his large family. he served as consul from 1863 to 1890. behind the house was a stable for horses and donkeys – the main means of travel in those days.
the founding of machane yehuda is connected to the movement of jews out of the old city beginning in the 1860's. ya'akov freutiger from switzerland, a protestant of german origin, established the freutiger bank in the old city. persuaded by his business partners yosef navon and shalom knostrum, freutiger agreed to build a jewish neighborhood on land he owned adjacent to the police station. the name chosen was machane yehuda in memory of yosef navon's brother who had died young. each home had two rooms (an inner room accessed via the outer room) and kitchen and bathroom and were sold on very favorable terms.
39 families purchased the first two rows of houses along jaffa street in 1887. by 1888 there were 50 homes. the earliest families included the chief rabbi meir panigel, rabbi eliahu naum and his son yosef and rabbi israel dov frumkin. in the first decades some of the plots remained unbuilt. many synagogues and yeshivot were built including the sefat emet yeshiva of gur hasidim in 1925.
the neighborhood was built around the synagogue of this name. rabbi nissim elyashar, the son of the rishon lezion sephardi chief rabbi, rabbi yissa beracha, was one of the prominent land dealers in jerusalem. after yeruham shabetai elyashar, the son of rabbi elyashar, died when only a child, his father nissim elyashar decided to donate a plot in his memory on the slope between today's ussishkin street and gan sacher. the plot was allocated to the yemenite community of jerusalem which was looking for a place to build a synagogue and talmud torah. the empty plot was named 'yeruham' and on it the community erected a three-storey building and courtyard. the upper floor housed the 'mekor haim' synagogue and was crowned with a silver dome. the ground floor rooms around the courtyard housed new immigrants from yemen and a talmud torah for their children.
after receiving the 'yeruham' plot as a gift, the yemenites, led by their rabbi, haim shlomo iraqi, decided to purchase adjacent plots in 1922 and build a neighborhood which would be called 'nachlat ahim' to reflect unity and brotherhood of community members.
the enlarged talmud torah was opened in 1937. the yemenites were builders and stonemasons. the streets were wide and sunny. the neighborhood remains today one of the prettiest in the city. it stretches from tiberias and shabazi streets in the north to narkiss street in the south; and from ussishkin street in the east to lod street in the west.
shevet zedek (the tin neighborhood)
the neighborhood of shevet zedek was built in the years 1890-1892 with the aid of the sephardi community which purchased the land. the housing was allocated to the poorest of the yemenite and persian immigrants who previously resided in wooden huts near yemin moshe which were decreed by the ottoman government as unfit for human habitation and demolished. these residents built their new homes out of broken wooden crates covered with old tin sheeting, sand floors and no bathroom or kitchen. by the 1920's the original residents had moved on and the majority of the new residents were iraqi immigrants. since the 1970's most of the original homes have been demolished or renovated. the buildings along agrippas street serve as restaurants and stores. young couples are moving into the area because of its proximity to the city center.
the neighborhood lies between ben zvi and shazar boulevards, agrippas street and nissim behar street.
beit ya'akov lies to the west of machane yehuda around beit ya'akov street. building started in 1877. the name beit ya'akov (house of jacob) reflects the number of houses the founders intended to erect based on the verse in genesis (46:27) ''all the souls of the house of jacob, which came into egypt, were threescore and ten''. amongst the founders of the neighborhood was shmuel houminer who was also a founder of meah shearim.
the neighborhood's main synagogue was erected in 1877 with the financial assistance of an english jew from birmingham. after the arab riots of 1929 the haganah built under the holy ark a secret hiding place for weapons which they covered with torn pages taken from old prayer books.
in the open plot at the entrance to the neighborhood (today bank discount) was the carriage terminus for horses and carriages from the main terminus outside the jaffa gate. (the other main transport route was from jaffa gate to meah shearim). near beit ya'akov was a market for fruit and vegetables originally called the 'beit ya'akov' market but subsequently became the machane yehuda market. beit ya'akov was founded by ashkenazi jews from the social elite of jerusalem. today, few people live in the neighborhood which is now mainly a commercial district.
ohel moshe is one of five neighborhoods named in memory of sir moses montefiore. this was originally a purely sephardi neighborhood. the 'moses montefiore fund' established in honor of his 90th birthday decided to concentrate its efforts on developing new neighborhoods in jerusalem starting with mazkeret moshe followed by ohel moshe. when it was decided in 1880 to build ohel moshe the sephardim of spanish and portuguese origin demanded a neighborhood for themselves. ohel moshe was built for security reasons with houses facing an inner courtyard with gates to the outside street which in fact remained permanently open. the average apartment consisted of two rooms. the outer room served as kitchen, and the inner room was living and sleeping quarters. 60 homes were built. in 1887 a stone plaque in memory of montefiore was placed over the main archway leading into ohel moshe. in the early years the residents of all neighborhoods in lev ha'ir took upon themselves responsibility for garbage collection, street cleaning, planting trees, paving internal paths and general maintenance. only in 1905 did the jerusalem municipality accept responsibility for maintenance.
the great sephardi synagogue of ohel moshe was the main sephardi synagogue outside the old city and attracted worshippers from many parts of the city. the edifice was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1927 and repaired for what was a princely sum of 350 palestine pounds raised by public subscription.
ohel moshe is bounded by agrippas street, zikhron tuvia, hatavor street and mazkeret moshe. in the heart of the neighborhood is a three-storey house which originally belonged to the jacobson family and after serving as a youth club then stood empty for many years. the building was renovated in the mid-1990's by keren hayesod and today houses the minhal kehilati neighborhood administrative council.
even yisrael is located in the city center and is one of the oldest neighborhoods in jerusalem. it is situated between agrippas and jaffa streets. the neighborhood was created with private funds of members of the hurva synagogue in the old city, descendents of the vilna gaon. the initiators of the project saw in it a step towards 'hastening the coming of the messiah'. three of the founding members had been amongst the founders of nachlat shiva: joseph rivlin, beinish salant and aryeh leib horowitz. the houses were built facing into a rectangular courtyard for defense and security. the courtyard which was for public use had wells, a bathhouse and communal oven. the neighborhood, established in 1875, had 53 families and was called even yisrael since the numerical value of the hebrew word 'even' (gematriya) is 53. by 1916 there were 152 families. in recent years the homes have become stores and restaurants and recently the main street has been turned into a pedestrian mall hosting outdoor musical and cultural events.
the neighborhood, located between bezalel, ussishkin, hamadregot and shabazi streets was established in 1934 as part of nachlaot. the founders were of the orpheli community which originated in the town of orphela in turkey.
zikhron tuvia was established in 1890 as a small one-road neighborhood bounded by agrippas, bezalel, shilo and ezra raphael streets. its name is taken from psalms 145:7 ''they shall utter memory of thy great abundance'' ('tuv' in hebrew).
zikhron yosef was established in 1927 adjacent to the machane yehuda market by jews who had come from kurdistan and originally settled in the old city. the neighborhood is named in memory of yosef levy whose son sold the land on condition the area be named in memory of his father. the main streets are: yarmukh, arnon and yarkon. the neighborhood underwent major renovations in the 1980's as part of project renewal.
zikhron ya'akov was established in 1937 on land purchased from the arabs of lifta. the original residents were immigrants from kurdistan. the main streets are: eliyahu salman, haham shalom and bezalel.
ultra-orthodox neighborhoods in lev ha'ir
the batei broide courtyard was established in 1902 thanks to a donation from ya'akov broide of warsaw in poland. the area is named in his honor and was intended 'for wise men of the ashkenazi community who study torah all day'. more than a century after it was built batei broide remains an ultra-orthodox residential area in the heart of the city center.
batei munkatsh was established in 1928 as a kolel (yeshiva) for jews originally from the town of munkatsh in europe. it is located on bezalel street adjacent to batei rand and batei broide and houses 30 families. even in the twentieth first century its ultra-orthodox residential nature remains true to the wishes of its founders.
batei minskthe minsk kolel is located on hanetziv street near bezalel street. the houses are built in a long straight line and one of them housed the original halperin matza bakery. the neighborhood was built in 1897 with small two-storey homes for poor students in the minsk kolel. the ultra-orthodox residents pay a small nominal rent even today.
batei rand is located next to mazkeret moshe. the neighborhood, named in honor of mendel rand who donated the funds, was built in 1910 for 22 very poor ultra-orthodox families. each apartment has two rooms with a kitchen outside in the courtyard.
knesset israel was built in the late nineteenth century. the houses are hekdesh (public property for eternity) intended for poor families and are located on both sides of hanetziv street. the houses were built by the general committee of the ashkenazi community with funds donated by american jews. the neighborhood was built in three stages: knesset aleph in the 1890's consisted of single-storey homes around a central courtyard; knesset bet at the beginning of the twentieth century consisted of two-storey buildings around a central courtyard; knesset gimmel immediately after the first world war. the number of families in knesset israel increased from 125 in 1929 to more than 200 in 2005 making for very cramped living conditions.