Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Jerusalem is constantly growing and expanding, more and more visitors are arriving, and its stature is ever increasing. What more can Jerusalem lovers expect?

For some of them, it’s very simple: They want to shape how it will grow, what it will look like, and how far it will reach as Israel’s largest metropolitan area. To this end, philanthropist and Israel lover Kevin Bermeister has initiated the plan called Jerusalem5800, which seeks to draw the contours of Jerusalem from every standpoint 30-35 years into the future.


(Why 5800? Because the Jewish calendar will hit 5800 years only 24 years from now, in the year 2040. Still, the plan addresses itself to the year 2050 – for what’s a decade when talking about the eternal Holy City?)

To introduce Bermeister, we’ll just note that he came to the rescue of a nearly doomed Jerusalem neighborhood in 2011. Nof Tzion, near the famous Talpiyot promenade, was on the verge of being sold to an Arab developer, even after dozens of Jewish residents had moved in – but then he and supermarket chain owner Rami Levy made a purchase offer that couldn’t be refused, and the neighborhood remained in Jewish hands.

“We are in a generation that can turn Jerusalem into a city of the world,” Bermeister has said. “Our goal is to preserve Jerusalem as Jewish, united, and large.”

Along these lines, the KeepJerusalem organization sees Jerusalem5800 as a project of great historic and strategic importance: a practical and well-researched plan designed not only to preserve and increase the Jewish majority in Jerusalem, but also to develop Jerusalem as an integrated metropolis of the future – the truly undivided and eternal capital of the Jewish people.

At a Policy Paper workshop organized by KeepJerusalem last week, Jerusalem City Councilman Aryeh King presented the outline of Jerusalem5800. “It is not a political plan,” he explained, “but it certainly is dependent on, and can shape, political developments.”

It’s not a plan for amateurs. A coordinated team of experts and researchers in the fields of urban planning, tourism, economics, cultural preservation, demographics, transportation, and more have long been hard at work, planning every detail.

The main revolution spearheaded by Jerusalem5800 is that it addresses not only the city itself, but the greater metropolitan area comprising a very large surrounding expanse planned as an integral unit. Its reach is far: from the Jordan River and Dead Sea in the east, Beit Shemesh in the west, Beit El and Ofrah in the north, and Gush Etzion to the south. Jerusalem becomes the very center of a large area, encompassed by suburbs and small communities that relate to Jerusalem as their “primary city.”

The plan foresees an international airport, even larger than Ben-Gurion, in the Judean Desert southeast of Maaleh Adumim. One of the main objectives of the plan is to increase Jerusalem’s tourism from the current amount of some 2.5-3 million visitors a year to possibly 10-12 million – and a sufficiently large airport is critical to this end. (To see a simulation of the planned airport, see pages 82-83 at

“The end plan is to build a beautiful city, a Jewish city that is culturally rich, attracts more tourists, and is connected to the other cultural centers around it,” according to Bermeister.

Other elements in the plan call for stepped-up, large-scale hotel construction in and around Yerushalayim, and a sweeping transportation scheme including subways, national train routes, and new highways – some of which are already in place. Archaeological and other sites in the greater area are to be developed and highlighted.

A fascinating aspect of the plan is a program known as Gates of Jerusalem. “Why should visitors be welcomed to the city only just as they are about to enter downtown?” asks Aryeh King, referring to the impressive sign that appears just a couple of hundred meters from the central bus station. “We envision visitors receiving a grand welcome to Greater Jerusalem already upon their arrival in Gush Etzion. And the same in the Binyamin Region, and before Givat Ze’ev, near Latrun, and east of Maaleh Adumim. This will give people a sense of what Yerushalayim really is.”

Religious tourism, too, will be highlighted for the many millions of people around the world who view Israel as the Holy Land. GPS technology will enable visitors to hear accurate, pro-Israel explanations over their phones, based on their location. The plan makes no specific provisions for the growth and development of Torah study centers in the Holy City, but the assumption is that wherever there are Jews, yeshivot sprout and grow, self-powered by the very essence of the Jewish people.

The planners do not minimize the political difficulties of implementing such a plan. King said there must be vision in order to hope to effect change. The designers of this plan, he explained, “approached it from a purely professional standpoint, without politics. They realized that until now, Jerusalem has been seen as a dead-end city – but that this much change, and it must expand to the north, south, and east. This of course means that the city must not be divided.”

One major stumbling block in the way of Jewish development of Jerusalem, he said, is the slow rate of Jewish construction: “Most unfortunately, Jerusalem is the most expensive city for Jews, and the least expensive for Arabs. An Arab resident can get a four-room apartment for just $100,000, while for Jews it is several times that amount. Jews must be permitted to build at least as much as Arabs.”

Are the powers-that-be in favor, or against? According to King, government ministers have shown considerable enthusiasm, “unlike in the municipality itself, which sometimes seems to be acting as if division of the city is a foregone conclusion.”

However, the planners appear to sense that Jerusalem5800 will be around longer than the current municipal leadership, and remain confident it can be implemented as a glorious milestone on the historic timeline of Jerusalem:

832 BCE – First Temple;
70 – Destruction and exile;
135-1948– Relative desolation under Roman, Byzantine, Muslim, Crusader, Mamluk, Ottoman, and British rule;
ca. 1948 – Capital of Israel;
1967 – Reunification;
2040 – Jerusalem5800!


You can get involved by visiting Jerusalem and participating in our bus tours in strategic areas (e-mail [email protected]), and by learning to become an effective advocate for keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. Visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at


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Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel is the former senior editor of Arutz-7. For bus tours of the capital, to take part in Jerusalem advocacy efforts or to keep abreast of KeepJerusalem's activities, e-mail [email protected].