Off Rechov Hanevi’im is
which is home to what is now called the Prima Palace Hotel. This property was a
major player in the history of Rechov Hanevi’im.
Many of us remember this hotel as the Central Hotel, or Malon Hamerkaz, belonging to Menachem Porush. The Central Hotel was inaugurated in 1966. Everyone streamed to see the exquisite decorations in its front courtyard sukkah.
However, the history of the place goes much further back. Yerushalayim of the mid-19th century was within the
walls. Life in Yerushalayim was extremely harsh, and for sheer lack of space
there was unbearable crowding. There was no plumbing system or sanitary
regulation; open sewers ran though the streets, and the nearby Arab lanes were
even worse. Old City
In the Arab market, the slaughtering of animals took place outdoors and the resultant blood attracted big, black flies. Rotting produce and accumulated rubbish littered the ground, and horrendous odours filled the city. So no matter how clean Jewish housewives would keep their homes, whenever people stepped outside, they were affected by the unsanitary habits of the Arabs.
In addition, the extreme poverty caused by the difficult financial situation resulted in nutrition problems, which weakened the inhabitants and made them more susceptible to disease. It must also be remembered that this was an era before antibiotics.
The missionaries realized that the precarious health situation was fertile soil to “convert’” both Jews and Arabs. The English mission was the first to jump on the band wagon; they were followed by the French, the Germans, and then others. Until 1838 there had not been a single resident medical practitioner in the entire region. By the First World War, though, 19 hospitals were established in
— most of them as part of the “mission.” Jerusalem
Already in 1838, the English mission (“London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews,” known as the “London Jews’ Society mission”) sent a team to open a clinic that would provide free medical services. At its head were two apostate Jews: Dr. Albert Gerstmann (1815-41) and a pharmacist, Dr. Melville Peter Bergheim (1815-90). At first, the unsuspecting Jews defended these people from the Turkish government. By 1844 the clinic had become a 24-bed hospital, and the Rabbanim felt that too much admiration was being given to the renegade medical-men, and that their influence was damaging. A cherem of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Rabbanim was issued, which forbade using the services of apostate medical men. Unfortunately, it was a decree the public could not abide by, as there was at the time nothing in place of the team’s medical care.
Hospital was first opened in 1854 in the .
The Rabbis instructed that it be built so that Jews could be independent of
Christian missionary hospitals. This hospital was meant to counteract the
missionary hospitals that were out to entrap Jewish souls. Old City
In 1888, the
Hospital relocated and became the first
Jewish hospital outside the . It had all the
modern amenities of those days, which included 120 beds and expert medical
attention. In addition, it boasted a beautiful garden for the sick to enjoy.
(It stood where today is 37 Rechov Hanevi’im, at the corner of Rechov
Harav Kook. In 1970 Michlelet Hadassah [Hadassah College of Technology] was established
on this handsome, historic campus. As you enter the courtyard, you will find
yourself in the most gorgeous 19th century setting, with balconies all around. Old
The hospital was eventually forced to close down. At a later date, the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of
took it over and it became the first . Hadassah
Hospital was opened, the Anglican
mission saw they might “lose customers,” and they set up a
counterbalance to the Jewish hospital — the .
It opened in 1863 (now at 82 Rechov Hanevi’im), behind the building
that is currently the Anglican English
Mission Hospital . Even though they
had verses from our Tanach imprinted on the facade, other engravings on the
building made it clear that it was a mission hospital. This hospital is but one
example of the ominous battle to draw Jews away from their Maker that can be seen
all along Rechov Hanevi’im. Prima
1862, a sanatorium operated
by the English Mission had been founded in the building that preceded the
Central Hotel. It later became part of the compound of the .
Later, the whole complex served as headquarters for the Turkish authority.
During the First World War, the Turks used it as a hospital, until finally, in
December 1917, the entire Anglican complex became the headquarters of the 60th
British Infantry Division. Anglican English
It is very probable that General Allenby left from here en route to Jaffa Gate for the official Turkish surrender ceremony of on December 11, 1917. It would also seem likely he returned here subsequently for a luncheon with various officials, including the French High Commissioner designate, Franחoise Picot, and T.E. Lawrence — of “Lawrence of Arabia” fame.