The first Jewish Neighborhood

Mishkenot Sha’ananim (Hebrew:משכנות שאננים) was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Mishkenot Sha’ananim derives its name from Isaiah 32:18:

“וְיָשַׁב עַמִּי, בִּנְוֵה שָׁלוֹם; וּבְמִשְׁכְּנוֹת, מִבְטַחִים, וּבִמְנוּחֹת, שַׁאֲנַנּוֹת.”


“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”


Mishkenot Sha’anim was built by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1860. Mishkenot Sha’ananim consisted of 20 residential units and two synagogues.

Lavatories were set up nearby, and there was a communal oven. To provide a living for the residents, Montefiore built a windmill next to the neighborhood. However, difficulties arose in its operation and it worked only fitfully for a brief time.

As a cultural center, Mishkenot has evolved in accordance with the nature of its foreign guests, who have the opportunity to meet, share their expertise and exchange views with their Israeli counterparts through lectures, workshops, informal encounters and small conferences, sponsored jointly by Mishkenot and other institutions. Thus, Mishkenot Sha’ananim has become a leading venue for international, interdisciplinary and intercultural activities.

Today, the neighborhood’s original buildings house a music center and a guest house for visiting artists, writers, and musicians.


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