Discover Jerusalem’s 25 (un)familiar facts through the lenses of a young Jew absorbed by the city’s environment and people.
#11: General Edmund Allenby (1861-1936) –
The commander of the British troops who liberated Jerusalem and Palestine from the Ottomans on the first day of Chanukah in 1917. Approaching the walls of Jerusalem, Allenby had dismounted his horse, entering the city through the Jaffa Gate by foot. By doing that, Allenby showed just how much respect and awe he had for the city of Jerusalem.
The cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Church, which commemorates the Scottish soldiers who fought under Allenby’s command in the First World War, was laid by Allenby himself in 1927.
Ironically, although Allenby had been inscribed in the history of Jerusalem and Israel forever, unlike Tel Aviv and Haifa that have long and important streets named after Allenby, there is no street named after him in Jerusalem.
#12: Ratisbonne Monastery –
Just one glance at this appealing building was enough to start researching about it. Interestingly enough, the initial purpose of the institution located in this building was to try to convert Jews to Christianity and create a better understanding between Jews and Christians. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise if knowing that the institution was founded by a Christian convert from Judaism called Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, after whom the monastery is called. Indeed, there was a real monastery afterwards. Nowadays, the building houses the Jerusalem Campus of the Faculty of Theology of the Salesian Pontifical University.
#13: Bookstores –
Have you heard of an expression Ahl al-Kitāb (Arabic for People of the Book)? It is an Islamic term describing Jews. Personally, I find it legitimate. A short walk through Jerusalem substantiated that label for me. There are bookstores all around the city; even in parks!
There is a personal experience related to the matter that I would like to share with you.
When returning from work one day, I randomly got off the bus in King George Street because I felt like walking home. On the way, I stumbled upon a shelf of 5 shekel books in front of an apartment building with a paper attached to the shelf saying “…there are more books inside”. So I went inside with Lights on the Way by Ramchal on my mind, having studied it in Hevruta the previous week and being fond of it. I entered one of the apartments, which was a maze of books, stacked one on top of the other, with narrow aisles between them. It was a movie-like scene. A unique, overwhelming, dusty smell of old books and an old man sitting in the far corner of the bookstore/apartment behind an old computer. We started talking and I ended up staying a whole hour there, talking with Abraham (that’s the old man’s name) about life, history, Israel, people and books of course. I left the bookstore with 5 classic novels in my possession, all recommended by Abraham. This spontaneous experience is one of my highlights during my stay in Jerusalem and proves that adventure and education can be found on every corner – especially in the Holy City!
#14: Places to Eat –
This issue is an important one for anybody who travels.
I come from a place where food is considered a treasure and a culture. It’s precious to the people, and moreover it’s delicious, cheap and superb in quality. Being a student and a big eater, I tend to choose the food with highest price-quality-quantity ratio abroad, which is not an easy task when one comes from a “developing country”. However, I’m always ready to pay more if a local dweller recommends a place.
On Agripas Str there’s a lot to choose from, but what sticks out is “Arica“ (אריכא) with a meal called sabih. This one was recommended from a fellow colleague from IsraelScaventures and it’s worth trying, more for its taste than quantity. Sabih is a simple pita meal made with fried eggplants and eggs, and all the sauces, vegetables and salads one wishes to put in. It costs 19 shekels in “Arica”. It has a surprisingly good taste! “Arica” is usually packed with people; arm yourself with patience.
“Marzipan“ (מרציפן) in Agripas Str has arguably the best rugelah in Jerusalem. The waiting line is so big for them that they cause chaos on the sidewalk. What makes the rugelah so soft and squishy, as I heard, is that they are being sprayed with sugar water when they come out from the oven. Beside rugelah and other sweet pastries, “Marzipan” also sells salty pastries.
“HaHummus Shel Tehina“ (החומוס של טחינה) is an all-you-can-eat hummus place in Nisim Bahar Str. For 25 shekels, you can have an infinite amount of hummus and pita and end up in bed afterwards. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? There are also other foods to eat here, but the place is most famous for its tasty and affordable hummus. (Trip Advisor 2017 Certificate)
15#: The Shuk (Mahane Yehuda Market) –
The Shuk is the place that struck me as the most diverse, representative place of Jerusalem. The sheer number of different people, products, smells, sounds and sites really engage all of the senses.
It is a busy, energetic area where nearly anything can be found. Machane Yehuda Market serves as the main place for locals to buy fresh groceries. But over the years, it has transformed from strictly being a market to a diverse place for young and old people. At night, bars, restaurants and cafes attract the younger generation and those seeking murmur and company, while vegetable and fruit stands, bakeries, butcheries, egg, fish and spice stands which are open during the day serve those in need for fresh groceries. Beside food and drink, one can also find specialty shops, jewelry and house ware stores, and boutiques. For a unique experience of Machane Yehuda Market, one can join an exciting IsraelScaventures’ Shuk Dash!
At its core, Machane Yehuda Market is the main place for Jerusalemites to buy groceries: produce galore (and super fresh, to boot), meat and fish, eggs, spices, baked goods and the like. But over the years, it has become so much more. Specialty food shops, restaurants and cafes, bars, houseware stores, and even clothing and jewelry stores. You can find it all in Machane Yehuda. But more than that, the shuk is a place of legends and stories. A place where you can truly absorb the atmosphere that is uniquely Jerusalem. It is a place to shop, but also a place to sit, to talk, to meet, to smell, and to listen. Today you will go into the Shuk and discover its vibe for yourself the Shuk Dash way.
Check back in next Thursday for part four of (Un)Familiar Facts About Jerusalem!