History through a keyhole

Houses From Within grants you an intimate look at many of Jerusalem's architectural landmarks - public and private.

By KEREN NEIGER
September 10, 2009 12:15
2 minute read.

Jerusalem dates back to the 4th millennium BCE, making it one of the most ancient cities in the world. It has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times and captured or recaptured 44 times. The Talmud states it best: "Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem." As Jerusalem moves into the future, its past is beautifully preserved in many of its historical dwellings, cared for devotedly by their occupants. On September 11 and 12, you will have an opportunity to study and review the private mysteries of this enigmatic city during the Houses From Within exhibit. Houses From Within offers the public two days to tour private homes, churches, synagogues, pilgrimage sites and also modern day operations that are redefining the city. PARTICIPATING SITES INCLUDE: Zamenhoff House - located on Zamenhoff Street, it will be open for several tours. The house was built at the beginning of the 20th century by Christian Arabs and divided during the 1950s to shelter two European refugee families. At that time, Hanoch Rosk began using one of the apartments as an Esperanto publishing house. Esperanto, invented by Dr. Eliezer Zamenhoff, was a language designed for international communication. For Zamenhoff, the language was intended to promote the peaceful coexistence of different peoples and cultures. Beit Avinu - The Mountain Palace - is located in Ein Kerem. Since the 1880s this compound has served as a British officers' club, a care center for Holocaust survivors, and currently serves as a center for Messianic Jews. In the garden one can enjoy sculptures and inscripted verses telling the story of Joseph and his brothers and an ancient wine press dating back to the Second Temple period. Tzidkiyahu Cave - the 9,000 square meter structure is the largest man-made cave in Israel. The cave was drilled under the Muslim Quarter and used as a strip mine while the city of Jerusalem was being built over 2,500 years ago. The cave runs from near the Damascus Gate to the Via Dolorosa, not far from the Temple Mount. Some scholars claim that this cave provided the stones for the building of the First Temple. King Tzidkiyahu was the last of the kings of the First Temple period. As the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, Tzidkiyahu tried to escape the city through the caves, only to be caught, tortured and killed by the invading army. ACTIVITIES INCLUDE a photography workshop with Baruch Gian, whose works are on permanent display at the Jewish Museum in New York. Gian will guide amateur photographers through the Mahane Israel neighborhood, one of the first neighborhoods built outside of the Old City by its residents. In a city where so many ethnicities and ethos collide, the homes of Jerusalem dwellers reflect the character of Jerusalem society. As the city moves forward into the future, its leaders must evolve from its people's past - respecting the cultures that have evolved here, the historical sites that rest on the city's grounds, and the devotion its occupants have to this shifting, simmering city. The architecture of homes and buildings in Jerusalem hint at its tales of conflict, destruction, renovation and renewal. The insides of these structures hold the key to our ability to live in the modern world without forgetting the traditions and layers of the city's past. For more information visit www.batim-jerusalem.org


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