Another outbreak in the 1860’s of typhus and other deadly diseases has left many people dead in the Old City of Ottoman Jerusalem. This is not very surprising as there is no way to escape this overcrowded and dirty place where rats and residents have an uneasy relationship. It’s the perfect setting for salmonella to hide in water and food. The main question this day is: How to escape this hazardous world behind the walls of the Jewish Quarter?
Rumor has it that some new Jewish neighborhoods outside the Old City have stayed clean during the recent outbreaks. Orthodox scholar Yosef Rivlin has a simple explanation: ‘The modern sanitation and room to breathe. Therefore I can’t understand why not more Jerusalemites leave the Old City and settle in this new spacious area’? The answer is simple: the frequent terror attacks by local Arabs make this a very dangerous place to live. Only dare devils stay there, in their courtyards with armed protection behind their own walls.
I must say Rivlin really knows how to show his courage. He just told me that he is about to make the daring step into the great, wide and rather wild open to establish a new Jewish neighborhood: Nahalat Shiva. His wife is very excited to leave the Old City as she starts packing her suitcases. Yosef ends all her illusions in a few seconds: ‘No, darling, you are not coming with me! You remain here, as it is far too dangerous over there in the open fields. We stay in touch’. In tears Mrs. Rivlin unpacks and she sees her husband wander of for a new life. Welcome to 1869.
He builds a huge wall around his house to protect himself against Arab attacks. He manages to survive. Rivlin and his beloved ten new milk cows from Amsterdam for the first dairy prove that life outside the walls is really possible. Thanks to good old Yosef more and more neighborhoods spring up like Dutch flower bulbs in this otherwise hostile dessert area with unfriendly jagged rocks. This pioneer-with-guts establishes numerous Jewish neighborhoods. Another one of them is Mea She’arim.