In Jerusalem’s Romema, The Turks Surrendered To A British Cook… Four Times
After that fateful day in 1917, a small, classy neighborhood sprang up near the city entrance, some of whose elegant buildings have been artfully preserved.
No doubt you have heard, perhaps more than once, how the Turks surrendered Jerusalem to a British army cook in 1917. But did you know that there were actually four surrenders?
Three of these historic events took place on more or less the exact spot, at the time an open field on the highest hill in Jerusalem. Called Allenby Square, it is situated in the heart of what would soon become Romema, established in 1921 as the first Jerusalem neighborhood founded during the British Mandate in Palestine.
Intended as a classy neighborhood of 24 houses, Romema was far from the noise of the town and situated between the Arab villages of Lifta and Sheikh Bader. Unlike many other Jerusalem neighborhoods, it was built with private funding. It also differed in a distinct dearth of planning, so it lacks parks and any kind of homogeneity. In the end and apparently for lack of money, just over a dozen grandiose buildings were constructed.
The initiator of the project was Turkish-born attorney Yom Tov Hamon, a district court judge and an expert in Ottoman law and issues concerning land ownership. He was often called in to arbitrate in disputes between Arab landowners in the region. When there was a disagreement about ownership of the land on this hill, Hamon decreed that the plot should be sold — and it was thus made available for a Jewish neighborhood.