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Tours Offered to Renewed 'Yemenite Village' East of Old City

On Jerusalem Day, the Ateret Kohanim organization is offering unique tours to a revitalized Jewish neighborhood east of Jerusalem's Old City.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 5/15/2007, 8:34 PM

In honor of Jerusalem Day, on Wednesday, the Ateret Kohanim organization is offering unique tours to a revitalized Jewish neighborhood east of Jerusalem's Old City.

Eight young Jewish families and several yeshiva students have moved into the area.

The Shiloach neighborhood (which later became known as Silwan in Arabic), also called the Yemenite Village, is currently overwhelmingly populated by Arabs, many of whom squatted on property that was forcibly abandoned by its Jewish owners in the 1930s. However, since 2004, eight young Jewish families and several yeshiva students have moved into the area in an effort to reclaim its Jewish past.

The Jerusalem Day tours of the area are to take place every half hour all day Wednesday. The organizers - Ateret Kohanim, the Committee for the Renewal of Jewish Settlement in the Yemenite Village, and Kollel Ometz Yishecha - said that the visits have been coordinated with, and are secured by, the armed forces and police.

Israel Elyasaf, a spokesman for the renewed Jewish community in the Shiloach area, also noted that tours and activities take place in the area all year, by advance arrangement.

Located near the City of David, below and just to the southeast of the Temple Mount, the Shiloach area was home to many Jewish families, mostly from Yemen, from the 1880s until 1938. On August 11, 1938, the British evicted the last 30 families from the neighborhood, following a long period of Arab riots, pogroms and looting. Many of the original homes, and three of the four synagogues, were destroyed over the years, but some of the buildings are still standing. The remaining synagogue has been illegally
The Shiloach area was home to many Jewish families.
occupied by an Arab family.

Earlier this year, a legal challenge against the renewed Jewish community of Shiloach was brought by Jerusalem city council members from the far-left Meretz party. In the past, various city officials have attempted to force the residents to leave by cutting off water and electricity to the building. As of now, the matter is under judicial review.

The Yemenite Village is just one of several initiatives to rebuild old Jewish neighborhoods in Israel's capital. Various grassroots organizations have re-created facts on the ground in the following Jerusalem neighborhoods:

* Shimon HaTzaddik (just to the east of Route 1 connecting the Old City with northern Jerusalem);

* Beit Orot, the first living Jewish presence in 2,000 years on the Mt. of Olives;

* Maaleh HaZeitim (just south of the Old City and the Mt. of Olives);

* the City of David (beneath and to southeast of the Old City); and

* Kidmat Tziyon, otherwise known as Abu Dis, sponsored by Ateret Kohanim.