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Friday, July 6, 2012

The Meyuhas House©

By Vardah Littman
From the early nineteenth century there had been a large influx of immigration both from European and Muslim countries to Eretz Yisrael. Olim had gone to one of three places: Jerusalem, Tzfas, or Tiberias. The 1837 earthquake destroyed both Tzfas and Tiberias, so from that point on, most newcomers settled in Jerusalem.
By about mid-nineteenth century, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was literally bursting at its seams. The living conditions were terribly crowded and unsanitary. The lack of proper sanitation and overcrowding were life-threatening. Many epidemics broke out, and the Arab landlords kept on raising the rent.
Today’s Jerusalem is so spread out that it’s hard for us to comprehend their great fear of living beyond the strong walls built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. However their fears were justified since Arab marauders and wild animals roamed unchecked in the rocky and uncultivated terrain. It was terrifying even to contemplate moving beyond  the city walls. 
But Rahamim Nathan Meyuhas, the scion of an old Sephardic Yershalmie family, a livestock butcher by trade who lived in the Old City in the late 19th century, was a most courageous person. In 1873, Meyuhas decided to leave the cramped but relatively safe confines of the Old City, and move beyond the city walls. He bought a plot of land in the southern part of the City of David on which he built his home.
In a letter to his family, he wrote: “We are establishing our home from now on in the village of Shiloah near the city. There we will live and there we will have light and breathe fresh air. We will no longer drink murky well water, and we will no longer eat purchased vegetables, but rather our water will be living water from the spring, and with our own hands we will sow vegetables and  partake of them.”
At the beginning of the 20th century, Baron Edmond Rothschild, bought large tracts of land including Beit Meyuhas, on the eastern slope of the City of David, for archaeological research. In 1991, Jewish families returned to live in the Meyuhas House and other parts of Ir David. As of today, about sixty Jewish families live in the area of Ir David alongside a similar number of both Christian and Muslim Arabs. In the area live about forty thousand Palestinians and four hundred Jewish settlers live in the village.

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