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  • Talma Gotteiner

Jerusalem: The Jewish Quarter's Makeover

Hi there!

Over the years, archaeological excavations in the Old City and its environs have become an inspiring national enterprise and have generated a tremendous public interest in Israel and around the world. The Jewish Quarter Reconstruction and Development Company, headed by CEO Herzl Ben-Ari, is working to renovate the Jewish Quarter and make these historic gems accessible to visitors from around the world.

I am happy to share with you some of the available locations and some of the plans for future ones.

Trip Itinerary

  • A Rooftop Breakfast at the newly launched Ibis Styles Hotel

  • Plugat HaKotel Museum (i.e. The Museum of the Western Wall Platoon)

  • The Burnt House

  • Under Restoration: Tiferet Israel Synagogue

  • Under Construction: The Western Wall Elevator

  • The Bible Experience "Chavayat Hatanach"

  • Lunch at Hummus Haviv

  • The Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Trip Details

A Rooftop Breakfast at the newly launched Ibis Styles Hotel

The Ibis Styles Hotel is the second hotel of the international IBIS hotel brand that belongs to the Accor International Hotel chain to have opened in Jerusalem after Ibis Red. The new hotel has an incredible location. It is situated in the center of Jerusalem, on 4 Ben Yehuda Street, in the middle of the pedestrian mall, near Zion Square, a few minutes' walk from the Old City, the light rail, Mahane Yehuda market and a variety of tourist attractions in Jerusalem.

Ibis Styles Hotel, Jerusalem

Top Left: Tal Feldboy, Marketing and Sales Director

The hotel design led by Aryeh Dvilansky Architects was inspired by the nearby Mahaneh Yehuda Market, with a variety of cheerful, colorful illustrations. The new ibis Styles is set in a historic building and has 104 different rooms with standard rooms and family rooms, mini suites and rooms with balconies. Children receive a gift kit at check-in and have a children't menu.

Ibis Styles Hotel, Jerusalem

Clockwise from Top Left: With Tal Feldboy on the Roof, Erez Bernstein General Manager and Chef Noam Nitzan

In addition to the family rooms, on the 8th floor of the hotel guests can enjoy a restaurant and a bar with panoramic views, where a large breakfast buffet is served daily from 06:30 to 10:00. You can enjoy the breakfast buffet separately from the accomodation. Every day between 18:30 and 19:30 the hotel has a happy hour in the restaurant. The restaurant itself will be open for three meals after Passover. All meals at the hotel are kosher.

Plugat HaKotel Museum (i.e. The Museum of the Western Wall Platoon)

Last year, and about 80 years after it was closed by the British, the Museum of the Western Wall Platoon was opened to the public. The museum brings the heroic story of those young members of the Betar revisionist movement and their decision to stay in the Old City.

It is located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter inside the original house used by the platoon for residential purposes, and tells the story of the young volunteers who went to work in the mornings and trained at night in an effort to guard the safety of the Jews who used to pray at the Western Wall. The presentation is about 35 minutes long and tells about their life under the British rule and about one of the most famous heroic activities that they undertook on the Yom Kippur of 1928.

Registration is through the Begin Heritage Center's office.

Plugat HaKotel Museum

The burnt house is a nickname for an archeological site that is one of the homes of a wealthy Jerusalemite dating back to the period of of the Second Temple around the destruction in 70 CE.

During the Second Temple period, Jerusalem was built on two adjacent hills: Mount Zion and Mount Moriah. On Mount Zion lived the aristocracy of the city including some of the priests' families. Professor Nachman Avigad revealed many important findings in the burnt house during the excavations including: a broken stone weight bearing an inscription in contemporary Hebrew script that anyone can read today, a weight belonging to the owner of the house, engraved with the name of the tenant who is one of 24 priests' families who worked during the Second Temple period, a metal bayonet and the remains of a young woman's arm.

The visit includes a view of the house and some of the archeological findings as well as a spectacular audio-visual display that carries you back in time to the events preceding the fall of the Second Temple. The burnt house has already completed its renovation and the audio-visual comes in Hebrew, Chinese, Spanish, English, French and Russian.

The Burnt House, Jerusalem

Under Restoration - Tiferet Israel Synagogue

One of the most prominent buildings in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem up until it was destroyed in 1948 was the Tiferet Israel Synagogue. About four years ago archaeological excavations began and only recently the restoration of the synagogue began. The final restored synagogue is expected to rise to 25 meters high. The work is expected to spread over four years. Currently, in the first stage, the construction work is focused on three underground floors that go down ten meters below street level. Once the three levels are complete, the Tiferet Israel synagogue will be restored. The total cost of the project is estimated at 50 million NIS.

Tiferet Israel Synagogue, Jerusalem

Above: Herzl Ben Ari, CEO, The Jewish Quarter Reconstruction and Development Company

Under Construction - The Western Wall Elevator

Between the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem are several staircases that limit access to people with disabilities. The Western Wall Elevator project is designed to create a convenient and accessible passage for the entire population. The planned elevator will be 26-meters-long and will go down a 65-meter shaft that will take visitors straight to the Western Wall plaza. The project covers a total area of about 2,000 square meters and the cost is estimated at 57 million NIS.

The Western Wall Elevator, Jerusaelm

Above: Our guide Pini Refael showing us the elevator

The Bible Experience "Chavayat Hatanach" Hebrew Website and Phone: 073-3744427

A new interactive game for the whole family was recently inaugurated in the Jewish Quarter. The Tourism Department of the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter, in cooperation with the Bible Experience, is launching a "Fast Train" that will take the visitors to the past, through futuristic technology and the world's most beautiful scenery of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The game takes you through hidden underground passages and excavations in the Jewish Quarter pursuant to solving a series of challenging riddles. The game takes about an hour and a half and is conducted with advanced technological aids including tablets and laminated reality technology designed for an unforgettable tourist experience.

Chavayat HaTanach, Jerusalem

Above: Avital Sela, Chavayat HaTanach

Lunch at Hummus Haviv Hummus Haviv is the first hummus restaurant that opened in the Jewish quarter in Sept.2018 under the auspices of Rabbi Rubin and serves tourists and some of the ultra-Orthodox residents alike. It is run by entrepreneur Tzach Haviv (46) who has managed two more businesses in the Jewish Quarter and in the center of Jerusalem.

The atmosphere and is modern even though the building is preserved as an authentic building of the Quarter with many original Jerusalem touches and seats up to 40 people.

The restaurant serves vegetarian / vegan food based on fresh raw materials daily with no preservatives. The hummus is served hot and ground thinly, based on a personal recipe together with gluten free green falafel, homemade fries and Chef Moshe's "Father's Shakshuka" that is unique in its intense seasoning. The pita bread is freshly baked at the restaurant. The menu also includes soups, a rice and lentil dish called "Majadra", cooked vegetables and salads to complete the meal.

Hummus Haviv, Jerusalem

Above: Tzach Haviv, Owner holding the basket and Chef Moshe

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center The Menachem Begin Museum is a building dedicated to the 6th Prime Minister of Israel. The visit takes you through an extraordinary journey into the life of one of the most prominent leaders in the country's history. The multi-sensory audiovisual experience appeals to all the senses of the visitor through rare films, interactive touch screens, accompanying soundtrack, dramatic lighting and a whole set of reconstructions and original items.

The museum is divided into four parts. The first part of the museum deals with Begin's childhood in Europe. This section of the museum also describes the story of Menachem Begin's arrest for Zionist activity.

The second part of the museum is dedicated to the Etzel command period, which describes some of the main activities of the Irgun in the struggle against the British, such as the bombing of the King David Hotel, the break-in to the Acre prison, etc.

The third is dedicated to the political years when Menachem Begin was in the opposition. Visitors are invited to sit in the living room of the Begin family as it was at 1 Rosenbaum Street in Tel Aviv and then join the square to hear some of Begin's famous speeches. The fourth chapter focuses on Menachem Begin's activities as Prime Minister - the peace treaty with Egypt, the Nobel Peace Prize, the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and more ...

The museum ends with a boulevard dedicated to Menachem Begin's heritage as conveyed by his letters and public activities over the years.

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Within the museum's compound lies an archeological park called "Katef Hinnom" that is part of a necropolis of burial complexes that dated to the First Temple period, the days of the Kings of Judah. Other findings on site include remains of a Byzantine church, rock-hewn shaft tombs from the Roman period and a burial ground of the 10th Roman legion. The most fascinating find is a burial cave from the First Temple period, illustrating the process of burial in those days, in which the unique and exciting discovery was found - a silver cylinder bearing the familiar verse from the Birkat Kohanim: "May the Lord bless you and preserve you." This finding is the oldest biblical text to date.

The park has been recently renovated with appropriate signs and walking paths that connect the site to a sequence of parks between Bloomfield Garden and the Biblical Hill. Admission to the park is free between 10:00-18:00, Sunday - Thursday even after museum hours, but requires advance notice.

The museum is an experience for the whole family and is only by guided tour. The tour lasts about 75 minutes with a waiting period of half an hour in between tours. The tours are provided in the Begin Museum in Hebrew and English, and you can also receive headphones for Spanish, French, Russian and Arabic.

Best, Talma

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