Grandeur restored on Jerusalem’s Ben Maimon boulevard, dwelling to our first PMs


So right here’s my query: If Levi Eshkol have been working in elections as we speak, would the occasion he headed have gained?

Most likely not. For Levi Eshkol, one of many founders of our first kibbutz, the Hagana Protection Forces, and the Histadrut Staff’ Union, who was the drive behind our water transportation system, launched our booming financial system, solid our “particular relationship” with America and served as prime minister through the Six-Day Struggle, wasn’t a dashing determine, a gifted public speaker or unusually charismatic. Ergo he, and his occasion, most likely wouldn’t have stood an opportunity – as a result of as we speak it’s all concerning the candidate’s picture.

However within the sixties, voters seemed past the floor. Thus Eshkol was elected in 1963 and reigned as prime minister till his dying in workplace in 1969. Throughout that point, he lived within the Prime Ministers’ Residence, a home on Ben Maimon boulevard within the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem – as we speak a outstanding Guests’ Middle referred to as Beit Levi Eshkol.

The home was in-built 1933 by Captain Julius Yehuda Jacobs, an English Jew from a Zionist household who held a excessive rating place within the British civil administration in Palestine. Russian-British architect Benjamin Chaikin deliberate the villa, and designed the open-air theater on the Hebrew College on Mount Scopus that very same yr.

Jacobs was unusually trustworthy and simple and over time discovered himself torn by conflicting loyalties. He couldn’t carry himself to disclose to the British the essential secrets and techniques he discovered from his associates who have been members of the Haganah (clandestine Jewish protection forces). And his place within the British Civil Administration made him aware about extremely confidential materials that will have been extraordinarily useful to the Haganah.

Beit Levi Eshkol was constructed by Captain Julius Yehuda Jacobs, an English Jew who was killed within the 1946 assault on the King David Lodge. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

Lastly, Jacobs requested for a much less delicate job, and commenced working for the British administration within the King David Lodge. When it was blown up by the Jewish underground on July 22, 1946, Jacobs was one of many many victims.

Jacob’s household leased – and ultimately offered – the home to the State of Israel. Thus when Israel’s brand-new authorities wanted an acceptable residence for prime minister David Ben-Gurion within the 1950’s, this two-storied edifice was chosen.

Finally the constructing deteriorated and when Yitzhak Rabin grew to become prime minister for the primary time in 1974, he and his spouse Leah moved to what they thought-about extra applicable environment close by. In 1977 it was determined to show the home right into a Guests’ Middle that will perpetuate Eshkol’s reminiscence. However for the subsequent 39 years it stood empty, lastly surrendering its grandeur to overgrown dry weeds and graffiti-covered partitions.

The inside of Beit Levi Eshkol, which was renovated and opened as a customer heart in 2016. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

Which is why we have been so delighted to seek out renovations being carried out in 2015 by the non-profit Yad Eshkol group along with the Society for the Safety of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage.

Levi Eshkol in 1963 (CC BY-SA GPO/Wikimedia Commons)

Beit (Home) Levi Eshkol opened to the general public on December 20, 2016 and is totally wheelchair accessible. Our favourite a part of the tour, which takes guests via the constructing’s restored rooms, is a movie proven in the lounge on Eshkol’s life. What makes it unusually fascinating is the way in which that it fantastically mirrors the event of the State of Israel. An ecological backyard is maintained by the SPNI, whose places of work are on the second ground.

Alongside the road

Ben Maimon boulevard, the road on which the home stands, was apparently designed by neighborhood residents Eliezer Yellin and Wilhelm Hecker. It was supposed as a European type thoroughfare, and though the atmosphere pales by comparability to Tel Aviv’s Rothschild boulevard, the trail within the center that begins at 32 Ben Maimon does have a few of the similar options together with benches and shady bushes – together with 80-year previous carobs. The early kiosk operates as we speak as a really distinctive sandwich bar.

Ben Maimon boulevard was named for the nice medieval rabbi, scholar, doctor and Talmudist Moshe Ben Maimon, also called Maimonides or the Rambam. The road may have been referred to as Ramban, however that will have been complicated, as the same sounding Ramban Avenue is only some blocks away. (Ramban is the acronym for Moses ben Nahman, one other illustrious medieval rabbi).

Evening on Ben Maimon boulevard in Jerusalem. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

Homes alongside the boulevard embody the Foner-Hyman Home at 30, in-built 1932 and designed by the identical group that designed the boulevard. Sadly, the one authentic portion that continues to be, after it was razed in 2003, is the stunning half round entrance. on the outside wall exhibits what the home seemed like in its heyday.

The constructing subsequent door replaces a two-story home erected in 1935. It’s one among a number of Jerusalem constructions that guides take vacationers on a tour of the town’s “cursed” buildings. For whereas a few of the nation’s most essential folks grew up on Ben Maimon boulevard in homes close by, residents of 32 haven’t been fairly as profitable. The proprietor was killed in a hearth in 1974, for instance, and 10 years in the past an aged neighborhood lady affected by Alzheimer illness was discovered two weeks after her disappearance on the steps in an unfinished portion of the constructing.

Ernst Akiva Simon lived at 35 Ben Maimon boulevard. Simon, a German-born non secular thinker and educator, immigrated together with his spouse in 1928. Missing monetary assets, they purchased a plot on Ben Maimon boulevard – on the time only a filth path on the periphery of Rehavia. Along with many different honors, Simon was awarded the distinguished Israeli Prize for training in 1967. The gorgeous present constructing appears to be like nothing just like the very modest construction put up by the Simons in 1930.

35 Ben Maimon boulevard, first constructed by German immigrants in 1930. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

In the present day resting on its laurels after working for over 73 years, the Nora Gallery was the primary of its variety on this nation. The gallery was initially housed on close by Agron Avenue, however has been at 9 Ben Maimon since 1954.

After the dying in 1980 of Eleonora Wilensky, who initiated the non-profit enterprise, her daughter Dina Hanoch stored the gallery going for the subsequent 35 years. It’s closed a lot of the yr, now, however the gallery, which has hosted greater than 550 completely different exhibitions, nonetheless participates within the October Manofim Cultural Competition.

Not surprisingly, the home at eight Ben Maimon appears to be like fairly a bit loads just like the constructing subsequent door (#6). That’s as a result of they have been each designed in 1934 by architects Raphael and Dan Ben Dor. The homes belonged to Nassib Abcarius, a really rich and extremely revered Greek Orthodox Egyptian lawyer who fell in love with a lady 30 years his junior. She was Lea Tannenbaum, and the daughter of a wealthy, ultra-orthodox Jerusalem service provider.

The inside of the Nora Gallery, Israel’s oldest. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

After an Alexandria wedding ceremony, the adoring husband constructed one home for himself and Lea and one other subsequent door for renters. One in every of them was Daniel Auster, Jerusalem’s first Jewish mayor (he was appointed performing mayor when the town’s Arab mayor was on trip through the British Mandate in 1937). He was additionally the primary mayor of Jerusalem after the State of Israel was established, resigning in 1951.

Villa Lea wasn’t inhabited by the brand new lovers for lengthy after going shortly going via the household funds she apparently ran off with one other man. The phrases “Villa Lea,” inscribed by her besotted husband, are nonetheless seen above the doorway.

Beit Eshkol Hours:
By advance association, Sunday-Thursday 9-17:00, and as soon as a month on Fridays. People can be part of group excursions at the moment. Telephone 02-6313091 or write to beiteshkol@spni.org.il. Price is NIS 25, seniors NIS 20 and for youngsters 6-18 NIS 18.

Data on Nora Gallery: write to this e mail: noragallery@gmail.com

Aviva Bar-Am is the writer of seven English-language guides to Israel.
Shmuel Bar-Am is a licensed tour information who offers non-public, customized tours in Israel for people, households and small teams.