The neighborhoods of Mishkenot Sha’ananim (1860) and Yemin Moshe (1890), built by Sir Moses Montefiore, are a rare beauty in the city of Jerusalem and remain living proof of the generosity of visionaries and the courage of ordinary people.
I would begin by describing its unique character and all of its charm today, but first, to appreciate it, one must remember its early days as it was birthed in the undeveloped city of Jerusalem.
Before the building of Mishkenot Sha’ananim and Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem existed only within the walls of the overcrowded Old City (0.9-square-kilometre), with families of eight often living in cramped apartments and unsanitary conditions.
Sir Moses Montefiore, a British Jewish banker and philanthropist, recognized the dire condition of Jerusalem and decided to build the first-ever Jewish neighborhood outside the city walls across from Mt. Zion. He called it Mishkenot Shaananim, meaning “dwellings of tranquility,” which comes from Isaiah:
“And my people shall abide in a peaceable habitation, and in secure dwellings, and in quiet...
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