Mishkenot Sha'ananim

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Mishkenot Sha'ananim guesthouse, restored historical building

Mishkenot Sha’ananim (Hebrew: משכנות שאננים‎‎, lit. Peaceful Habitation) was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, on a hill directly across from Mount Zion. It was the first area of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem outside the Old City walls.[1]


Ottoman era[edit]

Mishkenot Sha'anim was built by British Jewish banker and philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore in 1860 as an almshouse, paid for by the estate of an American Jewish businessman from New Orleans, Judah Touro.[2] Since it was outside the walls and open to Bedouin raids, pillage and general banditry rampant in the region at the time, the Jews were reluctant to move in, even though the housing was luxurious compared to the derelict and overcrowded houses in the Old City.[3] As an incentive, people were even paid to live there, and a stone wall was built around the compound with a heavy door that was locked at night.[4] The name of the neighborhood was taken from Book of Isaiah 32:18: "My people will abide in peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places."[2]

Jordanian occupation[edit]

Montefiore Quarter - Mishkenot Sha'ananim 1948

After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, when the Old City was captured by the Arab Legion, Mishkenot Sha'ananim bordered on no man's land in proximity to the armistice line with the Kingdom of Jordan, and many residents left in the wake of sniper attacks by Jordanian Arab Legionnaires. Only the poorest inhabitants remained, turning the complex into a slum.

Restoration after 1967[edit]

The no-man's-land bordering Mishkenot Sha'ananim was captured by Israel during the 1967 War, together with the rest of Eastern and Old Jerusalem.

In 1973, Mishkenot Sha'ananim was turned into an upscale guesthouse for internationally acclaimed authors, artists and musicians visiting Israel.[2] Apart from guesthouse facilities, it is now a convention center and home of the Jerusalem Music Center.[1] The music center was inaugurated by Pablo Casals shortly before his death.[2]

The Jerusalem Center for Ethics was established in Mishkenot Sha’ananim in 1997. The board of directors is headed by Prof. Yitzhak Zamir, a retired justice of the Israeli Supreme Court.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mishkenot Sha'ananim, jewishvirtuallibrary.org
  2. ^ a b c d Street People, Helga Dudman, Jerusalem Post/Carta, 1982, pp. 21-22
  3. ^ Jerusalem architectural history
  4. ^ [1] More information about Yemin Moshe
  5. ^ Konrad Adenauer Conference Center of Mishkenot Sha'ananim


Coordinates: 31°46′17.05″N 35°13′27.65″E / 31.7714028°N 35.2243472°E / 31.7714028; 35.2243472