The Jewish Agency Board of Governors met in Jerusalem
with the unification of Jerusalem as its theme, but
their annual meetings and agendas were overshadowed by
the controversies over the Kotel, Western Wall, and the conversion bill.
However, tours were organized
by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research
for interested international delegates to see ‘Jerusalem Up-Close’.
Hi-Tech, Haredim, and East Jerusalem were offered,
but ‘Jerusalem Civic Society’ captured my attention,
with not one, but three locations I wanted to see.
First stop HaMiffal.
Walk across King David Street,
from the David Citadel Hotel,
and make a quick left past the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria,
the there in the courtyard,
is this simple sculpture and building.
Jerusalem had many old abandoned buildings.
So members of the Jerusalem artistic community,
started taking over these sites,
and instead of drug havens, they became workshops.
HaMiffal has flourished.
Now working with the municipality,
multiple rooms inside,
and hallways, display various expressions of art.
The old, new and creative coming together,
and now, insured and protected by modern security systems.
Next stop was the Clal Building,
located near Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk.
the Terrace, is a rooftop for new urbanism,
The Clal Building was envisioned to be an urban mall.
it felt like a giant sauna as we climbed the spiral stair case.
But up on the roof,
we found Gag-Eden, a center for urban agriculture and sustainable living,
has added vegetation and community meeting areas,
promoting green technology for urban dwellers.
there is workshop space for handicrafts of earth materials.
Thanks to our guide Lior Schillat,
the director general of the Jerusalem Institute,
this was first time I did not get lost in the building.
There are over 300 shops in the building,
each privately owned, not rented,
and most are empty these days.
My favorite eyeglass repair shop was still in business.
Where else in world do you get a warranty that is good
“Until Moshiach comes.”
Still waiting for the arrival of the Messiah,
and the glasses did not break after his repair.
For the third stop on the tour,
we crossed Ki”akh Street,
the street everyone knows, but not by name,
to Beit Alliance.
The first time I tried to find the building was at night.
I walked back and forth, finally someone had to come out
and show me how to enter.
This old building is in the midst of a construction area.
All around, and in the shuk, you will see re-gentrification.
The first floor of Beit Alliance hosts new hi-tech start-ups,
while upstairs there is also a center for civic issues,
with a kitchen as a communal meeting spot,
and offices and meeting rooms.
Newest of all is the space developing downstairs.
Jerusalem, Israel, has been known for many things,
but not for fashion design.
With new opportunities, this jewelry designer,
is one of four designers sharing this space,
Beit Alliance will be a new must see, stop and shop spot.
There you have it,
three old and abandoned locations
are now active cultural and creative spaces.
It’s time for you to come and see
what is really happening in Jerusalem.
More photos of the tour are published on Facebook
can be seen HERE