Shiloach – the area of Jerusalem today known by its Arabic name, Silwan – is about to expand its return to its Jewish roots with a new acquisition in the old Yemenite Village neighborhood.
Two buildings were legally and officially purchased in the area from Arabs who received “full and more than appropriate” payment by an overseas company established by Jewish investors from Israel and abroad, according to Ateret Cohanim.
Ateret Cohanim and the “Committee for the Renewal of Jewish Life in HaShiloach” helped facilitate the acquisition for the company, Kudram.
In 2004, Jewish families began to return to Kfar HaShiloach for the first time since 1938 when they were driven out by Arabs and the British. Eight families were the first to move in, together with 12-15 Yeshiva kollel (rabbinical) students in the building called Beit Yehonatan, and one family in Beit HaDvash.
Investors now hope that eight or nine Jewish families and some yeshiva students will soon move into the two new buildings – effectively doubling the Jewish return to Jerusalem’s old Yemenite Village in HaShiloach.
“As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently said, Jews and Arabs alike, both have rights to purchase and to live in peace in any Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem,” said Daniel Luria, spokesperson for Ateret Cohanim.
“As such, it is hoped that just like Arabs acquire properties in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov, Armon HaNetziv, Ramat Eshkol and French Hill and live in peace and coexistence in these areas, so too will the new Jewish residents of Kfar HaShiloach, be able to live side by side in coexistence with their Arab neighbors.”
One building is to be called Beit Frumkin, in memory of Rabbi Israel Dov Frumkin, z’l, who helped the original Yemenite residents of the area in the late 1800s. The other is to be named Beit Ovadia, in memory of Rav Ovadia Yosef, z’l, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, and also due to the building’s proximity to the grave of the renowned rabbi, Rav Ovadia of Bartenura.
The area, known as Kfar HaShiloach, is located east of the City of David and close to the King’s Garden. Both buildings overlook the Shiloach Springs, the City of David, the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Large tracts of land in the area were once owned by Boaz HaBavli, who donated part of his land to “Eztra Nidachim,” a society that helped settle poor and destitute Jews from Yemen who had made aliyah in the 1880s and 1890s.
A thiriving Yemenite village existed in the area today known as Silwan from 1882, at a time when there were very few Arab homes.
At its peak, the Yemenite Village – Kfar HaShiloach – numbered some 144 families. But the village was decimated by the Arab riots of the 1920s and 1930s.
The final 35 to 40 Yemenite families were expelled from their homes in Kfar HaShiloach by the British in August 1938.