Following a large wave of Russian pogroms in the early 1880s, Jews began
emigrating from Eastern Europe. Thousands of destitute refugees headed for the
Holy Land in 1882, forming part of the First Aliya. Leaders of the Zionist
movements asked Baron Edmond de Rothschild for help in establishing colonies
in the Land of Israel — but were refused. The poor Jews of Jaffa, where the
newcomers disembarked, and Jerusalem, where many ended up, had very little
In Jerusalem, hundreds of refugees were forced to get help from an English
missionary group known as the London Jews’ Society. The mission was eager
to assist, and soon its institutions were filled with Eastern European Jews. The
able-bodied among them were given work on 32 dunams (eight acres)
of mission-owned land along Rehov Hanevi’im (Street of the Prophets). They
cleared the land of rocks, built walls and planted ornamental and fruit
Jerusalem rabbis were appalled at the Jews’ close links to the mission and
vehemently objected. But since they weren’t in any position to find work and
housing for their fellow Jews, they finally gave in — on one condition: Whenever
a missionary began preaching, the Jews were to cover their ears. It is said that
one reason Baron Rothschild finally began underwriting Jewish settlement in the
Land of Israel was the situation in Jerusalem, with Jews depending
on missionaries for their sustenance.
From 1882-1883, hundreds of refugees were employed by or housed in the
beautiful mission complex, today the Anglican International School and part
of a lovely stroll along one of west Jerusalem’s most historic and well-
preserved streets. Begin your jaunt on the corner of Hanevi’im and Jaffa Road —
at Kikar Davidka. The walk ends on the corner of Shivtei Yisrael and
The main feature of Kikar Davidka is a memorial to the men and women who
defended the city during the War of Independence. You might need your
imagination to see a resemblance, but the top of the stone monument is meant
to look like stocking caps worn by Palmah soldiers.
In front of the memorial stands a Davidka. The strange-looking mortar was
conjured up on the eve of the war by engineer David Leibowitch, a member of the
Hagana who spent his evenings trying to upgrade the few weapons it had managed
to acquire. Although the Davidka did little but give off a huge, terrifying
shriek, that noise was enough to cause the enemy to flee in panic. The
inscription is part of a phrase from the Bible: ’I will defend this city and
save it...’ (II Kings 19:34).
NOW YOU reach the Anglican complex, at No. 82. The property on which
it stands was bought in 1863, making it one of the first plots of land purchased
outside the Old City walls. The original structure was designed that same year
by famous architect Conrad Schick, a missionary with golden hands who built his
own home just up the street.
Thirty years later, a girls’ boarding school was built on the property, and
in 1897 the English Mission added a hospital. During World War I, the Turks used
the mission hospital for their wounded soldiers, and in 1917 the British turned
it into headquarters for the 60th Division, conquerors of Jerusalem. Gen. Edmund
Allenby, commander of British forces, lunched here one day with Lawrence
The intersection of Hanevi’im and Strauss boasts three famous structures.
To your right, with a main entrance on Strauss, stands Bikur Holim Hospital. The
original hospital was inside the Old City; the current facility opened in 1927.
Take a look at the entrance: Its most impressive features are pilasters and
three sets of double doors designed by Ze’ev Raban. Made of beaten copper, they
are covered by biblical verses and symbols of the 12 tribes.
Facing Bikur Holim across Hanevi’im is the Israel Center, located in what was
once Jerusalem’s premier hotel — the San Remo, erected in 1927.
Across Strauss, the more elegant wing of Bikur Holim was originally a German
hospital. Strangely shaped, with one side on Hanevi’im and the other on Strauss,
it was designed by Schick for the Protestant Diakonissen Kaiserwerthes
Schwestern Order. See if you can make out the order’s symbol — a dove carrying
an olive branch.
Stop at the old railroad car just past the hospital. It served as national
headquarters for Yad Sarah, a volunteer organization that provides free medical
and rehabilitative equipment to all comers, from its establishment in 1976 until
completion of a more modern facility in 1998.
Enter the picturesque alley across the street at 64 Hanevi’im, and find
yourself in another world. One of the early residents of this charming garden
neighborhood was painter William Hollman Hunt. Famous for his religious
paintings, Hunt traveled to the Land of Israel often in search of inspiration
for his work. In 1869 he built the house at the end of the lane and settled down
for good. One of Hunt’s best-known creations is a strawberry-blond goat with sad
looking eyes. Called Scapegoat, it was completed in 1854.
The first pediatrician in Jerusalem, Dr. Helen Kagan, also resided in this
alley; so did the poet Rahel, who came to ease the pain of her fatal
tuberculosis with the dry air of the Holy City. Across from the tiny white hut
where she lived was a garden whose blossoming pear tree figured in one of her
Back on Hanevi’im, cross the street to get a good view of Tabor House (58).
The elaborate edifice was erected by Schick, one of Jerusalem’s most
multifaceted inhabitants, for his family. A German Protestant missionary who
arrived in 1846, Schick was an expert draftsman, painter, watchmaker and
carpenter who taught himself architectural design and archeology. He specialized
in building detailed models of both the Temple and the Temple Mount that were
a big hit among wealthy Jerusalemites. Indeed, he received 800 gold coins for
one of his models, a fee which enabled him to construct this imaginative
combination of eastern and European architecture.
The handsome Hadassah College of Technology on the corner of Rehov Harav Kook
was originally the Rothschild Hospital, built in 1888 as the first Jewish
hospital outside the Old City walls for patients of all creeds and
A few years before the onset of World War I, a group of Presbyterians came
to Jerusalem. Apparently, they planned to set up a tent on the Mount of Olives
for 50,000 people, who would then be the first to be redeemed by the Messiah,
and they left the tent curtains and rods in the basement of Rothschild Hospital
When the hospital ran out of sheets during the war, someone remembered the
curtains; the rods were turned into fuel for heating the patients’ rooms.
Eventually the hospital was forced to close. Later it was taken over by the
Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America to become the first Hadassah
Now walk down to the magnificent edifice at 42 Hanevi’im. It was on this spot
in 1882, then a vacant lot, that Theodor Herzl met with German Emperor Wilhelm
II to discuss Zionist issues. Who knows what might have happened had Wilhelm
given his wholehearted support to Herzl’s cause.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the German government built an imposing
two-story building here to house the head of the German Protestant community.
Although the eagle and cross that symbolized the German Empire have since been
removed, two walls retain inscriptions. Look for them on the front and side
of what is now the Jerusalem ORT College.
CROSS THE street for a better look at the enormous building which is both
No. 38 and 40. For many years Ethiopia’s consulate, it was erected
in 1928 by the devout Christian Ethiopian Empress Zauditu and features bright
mosaics, attractive windows and decorative gables. Ethiopians trace their royal
family to a union between King Solomon and the queen of Sheba. The Lion of Judah
is the symbol of the Ethiopian royal house, so the mosaic lion on the faade
comes as no surprise. Today the building is rented out to lodgers.
Now feast your eyes on one of the most superb complexes in the country: the
Italian Hospital. Designed by Antonio Barluzzi, who created several
of Jerusalem’s most inspiring houses of Christian worship, the palatial
structure was completed in 1919.
During World War II, the British turned the hospital into headquarters for
the Royal Air Force. Three years later, when the British began pulling out
of Palestine, both the Arabs and the Hagana hoped to get their hands on this
strategic property near the border with east Jerusalem. Fortunately for the
Hagana, it discovered the exact time of the British exit and the Jews got
in first. Today the Italian Hospital building houses the Ministry
Our tour ends at the arresting edifice on the corner of Hanevi’im and Shivtei
Yisrael, which dates back to 1885. The house was built by a Protestant
missionary named Jacob Johannes Frutiger who called it Mahanayim and wrote its
name above the door. The name comes from the biblical passage: ’When Jacob saw
them, he said, ’This is the camp of God. So he named that place Mahanayim’
(Genesis 32:2). Pass the house, cross the street and stand way back to spot
a balcony high atop the roof: It offered residents and guests a splendid view
of the Old City.
As the years passed, Frutiger became one of the richest bankers in the
country. Then he began getting lost on his way to work and it was thought that
his mind was gone (possibly, he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease).
His wife asked her son to take over the bank, but the son was arrested for
not carrying a lantern at night — an intriguing Turkish law which assumed anyone
without a light was bent on nefarious purposes. His incarceration did little
to mend the reputation of the bank, which collapsed. The family was forced
to sell their property, including the house.
Menahem Ussishkin, director of the Jewish National Fund, lived here from
1922 until 1927, when he was forced out of this gorgeous domicile to make room
for the British High Commissioner. So upset was he by this move that when
he built a house in Rehavia, he inscribed ’Mahanayim’ above the door!