Shop on Hagai Street
Shop on Hagai Street Ateret Cohanim

About a month ago, after the barbaric murder of Adiel Kolman that transpired on Hagai Street in Jerusalem's Old City, Ateret Kohanim and local Old City youth decided to open a shop there.

The store, which is fashioned like a kiosk, was opened permanently on Hagai Street where the clubhouse was established three-and-a-half years ago in memory of Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, murdered after he rushed to the aid of Aharon Banita-Bennett - who was also killed in that attack.

"Over the past month more than 50,000 people visited the shop, a crazy number. We didn't think we'd reach that when we opened shop," says Yossi Shlomo, an Old City resident. "The store acts as a central meeting place for visitors to the Old City and provides a tremendous sense of security to the many residents and visitors in the area. We get warm responses from tourists and everyone visiting the Western Wall and the area in general.

"People are so supportive and they say how essential and appreciated the initiative is. They especially feel a greater sense of security. One Jew told me today: 'Now that we know you're here all the time, we won't be afraid to go through Damascus Gate."

Dozens of soldiers arriving day and night marvel at its effectiveness and necessity. "More than anything, it stimulates and enlivens Jewish life on Hagai Street all hours of the day." The shop has also become an attraction for the flocks of foreign visitors, who are photographed enthusiastically with the Israeli flags.

Meir Tal of Ateret Cohanim tells of the revolution the shop has wrought: "You have to understand that every day Jewish residents are in their homes behind steel doors and heavy security, while the street itself is bereft of Jews. This move empowers us all, residents and visitors alike, and creates a permanent Jewish presence there.

"The fact that this shop is already open 24 hours a day is a great novelty for us and it's a move that buttresses the entire Old City community. I invite all visitors to the Kotel in the coming month, to make it a point to pass via Hagai Street and of course visit the new store."

Shop on Hagai Street; (credit: Ateret Cohanim)