Theme Week West Jerusalem – Rehavia

Friday, 9 November 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Terra Sancta College on Keren HaYesod Street © Djampa/cc-by-sa-4.0

Terra Sancta College on Keren HaYesod Street © Djampa/cc-by-sa-4.0

Rehavia, also Rechavia, is an upscale West Jerusalem neighborhood located between the city center and Talbiya. The Prime Minister‘s Official Residence is the “Aghion House“, at No. 3 Balfour Street near the corner with Smolenskin Street. Most of Rehavia’s streets are named after Jewish scholars and poets from the Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain. Among them are Abravanel, Ben Maimon, Ibn Ezra, Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, and Radak. A glaring omission is the name of Yehuda Halevy, celebrated physician, poet, and philosopher. Zionist leader Menachem Ussishkin, who lived on Rechov Yehuda Halevy, changed the name of the street to Rechov Ussishkin in honor of his 70th birthday in 1933, and installed new ceramic signs crafted by local Armenian craftspeople.

In its first decades, the district was considered a “German” district. Jerusalem architectural historian David Kroyanker described Rechavia as a “Prussian island in the Sea of the Orient.” Between 1934 and 1936, Erich Mendelsohn designed and built a library to house the over 60,000 works collection of his longtime patron Salman Schocken, founder of the Haaretz Group. Today, it is among the most significant examples of German-Jewish cultural heritage in Israel.

Rehavia was established on a large plot of land purchased in 1921 from the Greek Orthodox Church by the Palestine Land Development Company (PLDC) and the first house was completed in 1924. It was given the biblical name Rehavia. The area was known at the time by the Arab name of Ginzaria, a native Jerusalem plant, elsewhere spelled as Janjirieh. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) bought the land and commissioned the German-Jewish architect Richard Kauffmann to design a garden neighborhood. Kauffmann, who spelled the name of his project as Janziriah, created a typical Garden City neighbourhood, with gardens surrounding the houses and an orderly, but not too strict grid of streets and footpaths set in relation to the main boulevard cutting through the area, thus avoiding an excessive sense of symmetry. For legalistic reasons the land had to be transferred back to the PLDC in exchange for lands in the Jezreel Valley, but the JNF retained some real-estate in the neighborhood. The Gymnasia Rehavia high school, Yeshurun Synagogue, and the Jewish Agency building were built on this land. Rehavia’s general outline was modelled after the garden cities of Europe, while the architecture of the buildings shows an emphasis on the International Style popular at the time.

Windmill on Ramban Street © Neta/cc-by-sa-3.0 Terra Sancta College on Keren HaYesod Street © Djampa/cc-by-sa-4.0 Jewish National Fund office © Neta Jewish Agency for Israel building © Neta Jason's Tomb © Neta Aza Street © Etan J. Tal/cc-by-3.0
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Terra Sancta College on Keren HaYesod Street © Djampa/cc-by-sa-4.0
The first phase, called Rehavia Aleph, was bordered by King George Street to the east, Ramban Street to the south, Ussishkin Street to the west, and Keren Kayemet Street to the north. To preserve the quiet character, the neighborhood association allowed commercial businesses only on the two main roads at the neighborhood’s edges. The roads open to traffic were deliberately built narrow, to keep them less busy and thus quieter. The main, tree-lined boulevard which bisected the neighborhood was open to pedestrian traffic only. Later expansion was primarily to the south, in the direction of Gaza Street.

Landmark buildings in Rehavia include the headquarters of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the windmill on Ramban Street, and the Regensburg Monastery. Gymnasia Rehavia, Palestine’s second modern high school (after Gymnasia Herzliya in Tel Aviv) was built on Keren Kayemet Street in 1928. Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who was to become the second president of Israel, and his future wife, Rachel Yanait, were teachers there. In the center of historic Rehavia is Yad Ben-Zvi, a research institute established by Ben-Zvi. Jason’s Tomb was discovered during construction work on Alfasi Street.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Wikipedia Rehavia (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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