Living in the Rova
Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter in the Old City, also known as the Rova, has embarked upon a 200 million NIS ($60 million) facelift. The initiative includes improving public spaces, renovating the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, which was destroyed in 1948, building elevators and tunnels to improve handicap accessibility to the Western Wall Plaza, and renovating the exterior of the Wohl Archaeological Museum.
Reading about these projects got me thinking about the many people who have fallen in love with the Rova. Is it any wonder? Jews have yearned to live in this area since time immemorial. The land on which the Jewish Quarter is located has been inhabited by Jews ever since King David established Jerusalem as his capital almost 3,000 years ago. After Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the Jewish residents were forced to evacuate their homes, and all of their synagogues and schools were destroyed by the Arab Legion. It took nineteen years before the Rova was liberated in the miraculous Six Day War, and our generation has witnessed its resettlement.
The Jewish Quarter is a short walk to the Kotel for prayer services and moments of personal introspection and meditation, and one can find Torah classes in the Rova conducted in many languages and on practically every level from beginner to highly advanced. The excitement of living literally in the center of the world, just steps away from where the third Temple will hopefully be rebuilt speedily, in our days, cannot be surpassed.
I have heard many stories from clients whose holiday vacations spent in the Rova were unforgettable and spiritually uplifting. The thrilling sights and activities, combined with the eclectic and colorful personalities of its permanent residents, create an atmosphere that truly captures the imagination of Jews from around the world. It therefore comes as no surprise when clients express interest in purchasing an apartment in the Jewish Quarter.
With such an extraordinary past, exciting present and promising future, what are the issues that a potential apartment buyer should consider before buying in the Jewish Quarter? Although pricing for most apartments – with the exception of the units blessed with picturesque views overlooking the Kotel Plaza – are in the same price range as units in communities such as Rechavia, one must consider that access can be challenging. Shopping within the neighborhood is limited, and if you choose to shop outside of the Rova, you will have to haul your purchases to your apartment, which can be up to a fifteen-minute walk from the parking lots. In addition, during the height of the vacation seasons, such as Sukkot and Pesach, the streets of the Rova can be very congested, making it difficult to get around. Other points to consider: The apartments tend to have narrow footprints, so the larger units are almost always on multiple levels, requiring residents to be comfortable trekking up and down the stairs many times a day. And the flip side of having a diverse population is that the Rova lacks homogeneity, which some people desire in a community they call home.
I have friends who live in the Jewish Quarter and wouldn’t trade their home for anything in the world. When they have the itch to “go out,” they often take a short stroll over to the Mamilla Mall and enjoy its myriad restaurants.
However, most of my clients who have an affinity for the Jewish Quarter end up buying outside the Rova but spending many hours visiting and enjoying this most extraordinary neighborhood.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home, a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.