gap year in israel

Check out our social media to see what our students have been up to this past week!

Hidden right in the centre of Jerusalem is Yemin Moshe, one of the most beautiful and peaceful neighbourhoods in the entire city.

The neighbourhood was built in the 1890’s by Moses Montefiore and the original stone buildings are mostly still there. The first few houses to be built were called Mishkenot Sha’ananim and these have now been turned into a cultural centre including a music centre, where there are regular concerts and other shows, and a guest house. Originally the upper building was the commercial and community centre and it contained a hospital, two synagogues, workshops and a bakery. The lower building featured 28 one-and-a-half room apartments.

The neighbourhood of Yemin Moshe is actually an extension of the original Mishkenot Shaaananim. It was also built by Moses Montefiore and is named after him. By 1920 there were 900 people living in the neighbourhood and due to its position in the centre of town it has become a historically important site. It was a frontier during the War of Independence and suffered some damage, and the neighborhood was somewhat rundown in subsequent years. However, after the 1967 war during which Jerusalem was reunified, the neighbourhood was extensively restored and the properties have been bought by various artisans and individuals that are dedicated to maintaining its special character.

At the top of the neighbourhood is the iconic windmill which was originally built to give poor Jews the chance to grind their own flour and provide them with a source of income. However, due to the lack of wind this never became a reality but the windmill has remained a unique structure which can be seen from around Jerusalem. Today it is home to an exhibition on Montefiore’s philanthropic work and you can also see his carriage which is prominently on display.

The neighbourhood itself is surrounded on two sides by some of Jerusalem’s most beautiful parks while the third side features some stunning views towards the Old City. Because of this it is a hugely popular place to go for a walk or a picnic and it is not uncommon to see couples posing in the streets for their wedding photos. Furthermore, it is extremely close to The First Station and many people will combine a walk in Yemin Moshe with a trip to the historic train station.

One of our goals on Aardvark is to help you become intimately acquainted with the cities you live in. as such one of the field trips on a Tuesday afternoon, will take you to explore this unique Jerusalem Neighborhood, as well as many others. However, on Aardvark you also have free time to explore on your own and in this case, Yemin Moshe is a must return and see by yourself. The contrast between the quiet beauty of the neighbourhood and the hustle and bustle of the centre of town just a few minutes’ walk away is unbelievable. It is definitely worth taking the time to explore all the streets and alleyways, finding the large Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues and stopping somewhere for coffee. An even better thing to do is to bring a picnic and then find a spot in one of the parks to eat with friends. You can enjoy beautiful views across the city and probably more peace and quiet than anywhere else you will have been in the centre of town.