Thursday, 15 November 2018

Living in Jerusalem - The City of Peace

Hebrew: ירושלים - עיר השלום

jerusalem 

View of Jerusalem from the Mt. Olives (Image credit: Unsplash)

What can one say about Jerusalem that hasn't already been said before  It's the most written about city in the world! The capital of Israel, the "City of Peace", holy to the three major religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - goes back thousands of years. Holy sites are abundant.  Once thought to be the center of the world, the ancient and the modern meet here.  The Divine Presence can be felt in every alley and every corner.  Each and every cobbled stone tells a story of  Jerusalem's history, its struggles and its triumphs.  Every person that visits here has a unique and unforgettable experience. 

Jerusalem has a population of over 3/4 of a million residents.  Approximately 2/3 of the population are Jewish, the rest are Muslims, Christians and other religious groups.

Jerusalem nestles in  the Judean Hills which includes the Mount of Olives  in the east and Mount Scopus in the north-east. Bethlehem lies to the south and the Dead Sea to the south-east.  About 60km to the north-west lies Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem is surrounded by hills, valleys, seasonal river beds and the remnants of magnificent natural forests of pine and olives in wonderful hues of green.  Ancient, supporting stone terraces can be seen everywhere.  

Jerusalem has a generally uniform climate it is not too hot, not too cold, not too dry and not too wet. It is not uncommon though, for Jerusalem to be blanketed in snow in the winter. 

Layout of the Jerusalem

 

jerusalem map

The Old City

The city of Jerusalem is divided into 3 main parts: the Old City, the modern city and East Jerusalem. The most historical and holy part of Jerusalem is the Old City.  The Old City is divided into four quarters: The Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Jewish Quarter.

East & West Jerusalem

Outside the walls of the Old City is the New City or West Jerusalem.  Like every other modern city in the world, bars, restaurants, shopping malls, museums and other facilities are in abundance.

jerusalem suburbs

The third section of Jerusalem is East Jerusalem and has a much more eastern feel to it.

There is not much point in saying anything more about Jerusalem and boring you with facts and figures.  You will find all the information you need in the Bible, on Wikipedia, and thousands of other websites and resources.  We want to give you practical tips and information.  We want to give you and insiders view of the city so that your experience will be better and easier.

Shopping & Entertainment

The Mamilla Mall

The Mamilla Mall is a very upmarket center and forms part of the redevelopment of the Mamilla neighborhood. Adjacent to the mall and part of the redevelopment plan, is the Mamilla Hotel. The Mamilla complex is close to Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City.  Go up above the street level and spend a few quiet minutes gazing at the incredible views of the Old-City of Jerusalem

The Malha Mall

Jerusalem's most popular mall is The Malha Mall a.k.a the Jerusalem Mall. An average of 35,000 people per day visit the mall daily.  In addition to the 250 shops that cater to Jerusalem's unique requirements,  there is also a synagogue on the premises

Ben Yehuda Street

Ben Yehuda Street also known as the "Midrachov" - pedestrian mall is a major street in downtown Jerusalem. It intersects with Jaffa Road and King George Street and Zion Square. Here you’ll find a great selection of Judaica, jewelry, T-Shirts and other gifts. At its mid-section, Ben-Yehuda turns into a pedestrian mall with sidewalk cafes and an assortment of street musicians from around the world offering their music, from Offenbach to Carlebach and everything in between. It’s also the venue for some of the Jerusalem's annual events like the Jerusalem March and the Independence Eve bandstand.  On Saturday night stores and cafes re-open after the Sabbath ends and  teenagers and young adults are out and about. At the bottom of the street Ben-Yehuda intersects Solomon Street is  the neighborhood of Nahalat Shiva - one of the first neighborhoods to be built outside the walled Old City in the 19th century, Nahalat Shiva has been restored as a cluster of charming streets and lanes lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.

Fun Fact: Ben Yehuda street is named after the founder of Modern Hebrew, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

 

The Mahane Yehuda Market

Israel has some fabulous fresh produce markets - shuks.  The Beer Sheva Market, Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv, the Talpiot Market in Haifa are all unique experiences.  The Mahane Yehuda Market however, takes first prize.  You'll find everything you want from fresh produce, bakeries, delis, and household good.

More on shopping centers

Shopping in Israel's markets: produce markets, farmers markets, craft markets

Education

Whether you are looking for state, or state religious educational streams, you can enroll your child in kindergarten, at one of 78 elementary schools, one of 66 high schools or a in one of the special education programs in Western Jerusalem. 

Jerusalem's Ultra Orthodox Education Department is the central body that handles the education needs of this specific community. 

The shHebrew University of Jerusalem - HUJI  is Israel's second oldest university established in 1918. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Givat Ram campus.

Fun Fact: The first Board of Governors of HUJI included Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, and Chaim Weizmann.

Learning Hebrew

There are many ulpanim, Hebrew learning centers, for new immigrants either private or run by the Ministry of Absorption and included in the Aliyah benefit.  The classes are offered at various levels, times of day and for a wide variety of age and interest groups.

Aliyah Communities

Like all big cities, there are many neighborhoods.  Each one has its own character and offers a different lifestyle to new immigrants .  Whether it's  predominantly Anglos, open spaces, a religious community or one that is quite traditional,  quiet suburban living or hustle and bustle  you are after, Jerusalem has something to offer you.

Jerusalem residents are entitle to a resident's card - the Yerushalmi Card - this card entitles you to special benefits and discounts for parking in the city, cultural events, shows, sports, studies, recreational and after-school activities as well.

Housing options in Jerusalem

Housing in Jerusalem is not cheap.  Expect to pay anywhere between 2,500 for a one bedroom apartment to around  6,000 shekels per month for a 3 bedroom apartment.

Whether you are buying in the city center or outside of the Center expect to pay anywhere between 15,000 - 30,000 shekels per square meter.

Medical & health services

All four of Israel's health funds operate in the city: Kupat Holim Maccabi, Kupat Holim Clalit, Kupat Holim Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit

Hadassah Medical Center is Jerusalem's main public health treatment center.  The schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacology are affiliated to the Hebrew University (HUJI).  The Medical Center operates two hospitals - one at Mt. Scopus and the second at Ein Kerem. Emergency medical treatment can be obtained at one of the branches of TEREM or soldiers can go to Bikur Rofeh.

Public Transport

Buses leaving and arriving at the Central Bus Station connect to every corner of Israel.  The Jerusalem Light Rail is fast and convenient way of navigating your way through Jerusalem.  A rail line, connecting downtown Jerusalem is still under construction and is expected to be complete in 2017.  There is a train station currently operating at Malha.  Jerusalem's hop-on, hop-off, city tour, scenic bus route 99, is a wonderful way for tourists to take in all the major tourists attractions.

Tour and explore Jerusalem

Egged's No. 99 double-decker bus, is a good way to see the city.  It takes you on a circular route that stops at 24 of the most popular tourist sites across the city. During the tour, it is possible to get off and on the bus an unlimited number of times. For bus times, routes and more information, click here.

Places of interest, off the beaten track & fun things for children

Lotem Integrated Nature Studies have developed a number of wheelchair accessible tours in Jerusalem and its environs.

A tour of the Jewish Quarter includes a visit to Mt. Zion, David's Tomb, The Cardo, City Walls and the Western Wall.  The tour can also be combined with a visit to various museums and the Herodian Quarter.  For more information call 054-651 2653

Museums

Our favorite museums in Jerusalem are:

  • The Bloomfield Science Museum
  • The Museum of Natural History
  • The Israel Museum

 

Other Aliyah Communities & Destinations

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Bahai Community in Israel

Druze Community in Israel

Eating out in Israel