Nahalat Shiva, A Little Kingdom Outside The Walls
In the 1970’s, when the third Jewish neighborhood outside the Old City was falling apart, the city decided to tear it down. Fortunately Jerusalemites resisted.
When a cholera epidemic swept through the walled city of Jerusalem in the year 1866, much of the population was wiped out. And no wonder: Inside the walls, residents were crowded together like sardines in a can while sewage and debris flowed freely through the streets.
Like everyone else in Jerusalem, Jews suffered badly from the disease. The only group to escape its wrath had moved outside of the walls six years previously, into the little neighborhood called Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
Obviously, it was time to leave the shelter of the walls, and seven families prepared to do just that. They purchased land adjacent to the road leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem in the hopes that relatively frequent traffic would provide some measure of safety from wild animals and robbers.
Their little kingdom, the third Jewish neighborhood to be founded outside the walls of Jerusalem, was called Nahalat Shiva (Estate or Heritage of the Seven). And by 1869 the first houses were ready for occupation.
But now that the time had come, none of the families felt brave enough to move out of the security of the city walls. Finally, one of the men, Yoseph Rivlin, took the bull by the horns and began sleeping in his new home. So worried was his family that they waited at Jaffa Gate each morning to see if he were still alive.
Rivlin was eager for company. It is said that he opened a coffee shop on the roof of his dwelling, keeping guests happily enjoying the ambiance until the city gates were closed and they were forced to spend the night. Eventually, of course, his family joined him. And soon the rest of his neighbors moved in as well.