The Beit HaPecha (the Pasha’s Villa) — located between
Street and Jaffa Road, at 61 Hanevi’im Street, was formerly a superb
building. Built by the Greek Orthodox Church, it was rented out to the Turkish
governors of .
During receptions, the Turkish military orchestra played music in the
magnificent garden. Later, a wealthy Jewish merchant, Menachem Banin from Jerusalem , bought the
building. Today, though, it is hard to imagine how this dilapidated structure
could have been a governor’s mansion for
15 successive Ottoman governors of Aden . Jerusalem
The Navon Family
Street, the house of Yoseph Navon Bey features an
impressive combination of Eastern and Western
architecture. Built in the shape of a pyramid, the villa ascends from a long first-story level to a
shorter second floor and a gabled roof having a tiny rounded window and
turrets. It was surrounded by impressive gardens with flowerbeds, fruit trees
and woodlands. There was even a stable and carriage house at the back.
In the basement were batteries for creating lighting in the house. This was about 20 years before electricity was common in Eretz Yisrael. This once magnificent 19th century construction is now accessed from a scruffy parking lot. In 1917, the Navon family left the building. It has since changed hands many times. At one time, in the 1990s, it was even a stylish English tea room. But today, even the water barrels on the roof of this once-opulent construction are rusted
Yoseph Navon (1858–1934), whom the Turks honoured with the title “bey” (a title of respect for Turkish dignitaries), and his family were the first to inhabit this mansion. Navon was an entrepreneur who initiated
Israel’s first railroad, which
began running from Jaffa to in 1892. Jerusalem
Yoseph Navon the son Rabbi Eliayhu Navon was born in
In 1878, the younger Navon and his uncle, Haim Amzallag, helped purchase the
land for the construction of Petach Tikva; several years later they bought
Rishon LeTzion. They also built homes for new immigrants and the poor in Jerusalem . In 1887, together
with Johannes Frutiger and Shalom Konstrum, Navon helped establish the neighbourhood
of Machaneh Yehudah, which had 162 houses. The neighborhood was named after
Navon’s brother, Yehudah. Jerusalem
Yoseph Navon had a number of other plans in mind: a new port in
electricity- and water-supply projects in Palestine , and so on. He even
had an official firmah (permission in writing from
Turkish government) for some of his projects. However, as he was missing
financial resources, he set out for Jerusalem
to collect funds. In 1901, he met with Herzl, who was not impressed with Navon’s plans for development in Paris and discouraged
him. Navon then stopped his activity in the region. He later died in Palestine . France
Raoul Wallenberg Street
runs through where the building of the German consulate once stood. In 1933, when the German consulate flew a flag with a swastika, a bold young Jew took
this flag down and destroyed it. Later, the Jewish underground blew up the
Rechov Raoul Wallenberg was opened in 1984. It was named after the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century who, during the Nazi hell, implemented one of the most remarkable life-saving efforts recorded in history.
Stationed at the Swedish Embassy in
during World War II, Wallenberg distributed Swedish certificates of
protection to Jews and opened neutral homes flying the Swedish flag, to harbor Jews. By so doing,
he managed to save nearly 30,000 people. He even pulled Jews off trains who
were slated for deportation. He succeeded in saving 500 Jews already on a death
march. Of the 120,000 who survived the Nazi extermination in Hungry, Wallenberg
is credited with having saved 100,000! His dedication, boldness, and courage earned
him a very special place among the “Righteous Gentiles.” Budapest
There is an observation plaza bearing his name, on the Jerusalem Trail near Har Herzl. In 1982, the State of Israel issued a special stamp in recognition of the tens of thousands of Jewish lives he saved.
Raoul Wallenberg disappeared in January 1945, his whereabouts unknown.
If you turn into
from Hanevi’im Street and then
right, into the first little lane — Prag Street — and then go up a ramp on
the left, you will find yourself in a tiny park that is about eight years old
and has playground facilities for children.
Dominating this small area is a Muslim tower of prayer — Nebi Akasha. Behind some trees is another Muslim building with a dome, called Turbat Kameria. The Arabic word turbat means a burial place of respected people. This is a typical turbat, being a square-shaped structure with a domed roof. It was apparently built under the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th century.
In this structure (according to one Muslim tradition), members of a prominent Muslim family who were killed battling Crusaders in Saladin’s army were buried. The area is now used by the
to store gardening
supplies. A different Muslim tradition designates the site as the place where
Akasha, one of the disciples and friends of Muhammad, was buried. Jerusalem Municipality
Of significance is the fact that when olei regel approached Yerushalayim, this was the first high spot from which they could view Har Habayis. It is claimed to be the highest place in
. Baruch Nachshon has a beautiful
painting showing a view, through two
olive trees, from this mount all the way to Har Habayis, as the scene would have appeared before the surrounding
areas were built up. Jerusalem
recount that before the view was obstructed, Yidden came here during Chol
Hamoed. They then climbed on the roofs of the Muslim structures and recited the
part from Mussaf, saying “But because of our sins we have
been exiled from our Land …” Jerusalem
Mekubalim refer to this spot as pischa d’karta (opening to the city). According to kabbalistic calculations, Moshiach ben Yosef will arrive from here. Mekubalim among the students of the Vilna Gaon used to hold prayer sessions here called “Tzafnat Panayach” and “Od Yosef Chai,” in order to hasten the Geulah. Particularly on Leil Shabbos, they held prayers in this place to be mekarev the Geulah. There used to be fulltime learning of “sod” at this site.
At first, they rented the plot from the Arab who owned it and they set up a tent. Then about 120 years ago, the inhabitants of
were elated when they managed to purchase the area. A very large tent was
pitched, called “Ohel Moshiach ben Yosef.” This tent stood for 70
During the World War II, mekubalim came to daven here that Eretz Yisrael should be spared from the army of the German General Rommel. As soon as they completed the tefillah, a message came that Rommel had been vanquished at
El Alamein. It is also
said that the mekubal Harav Yitzhak Kadouri prayed
here during the Gulf War in 1991, with similarresults.
Old Jerusalemites claimed that tumah emanated from the black Turbat Kameria building and that therefore the Histadrut building (with all that it stood for in the 1950s and ’60s, plus its weekly Friday-night soccer game with its resultant chillul Shabbos) could be close by. Also in proximity were the B’nai Brith Library plus all the monasteries and Christian houses of worship on
Street and Ethiopia Street. These old-time
Yerushalmim said the dirt on Yaffo
Street was also influenced by the turbat.
On the other side were the
Edison theatre house and apikorsis schools. Today, with thanks
and praise to Hashem, most of these places have had a change of face and some
have disappeared completely.
The area of the park, once very overgrown with tangled vegetation, would attract unpleasant characters who used to frequent it at night. However, today it has been cleaned up and paved,
and it is an area where frum children play.
Exiting the park from the other side will bring you to
Street, opposite the store Bazaar
Strauss. The three-story building next to the shop extends to reach the corner ofEuropean — more square than rounded
Street (at No. 70). The Israel Center was once
located in this building which had formerly been the San Remo, Jerusalem’s foremost hotel, erected
in 1927. Its architectural style is slightly more modern