|LIVING IN JERUSALEM|
Jerusalem is a mosaic of cultures and nationalities, of peoples and neighborhoods, of old and new. It is a union of contrasts with a unique character.
Jerusalem is the seat of the President of Israel, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), the Supreme Court, government ministries and the Chief Rabbinate. Here, too, are the Israel Museum, the National Library, and Yad Vashem – the country’s memorial to the martyrs of the Holocaust.
Modern Jerusalem has grown up around Jerusalem within the walls the city, a bustling metropolis with a population of nearly half a million, spreads over more than 42 square miles (100 sq. km.) of hills and valleys.
The history of modern Jerusalem began with the building of Mishkenot Sha’ananim (1860), the first neighborhood outside the protective but confining city walls, which was built by people seeking relief from the overcrowded conditions in the Jewish quarter. Fifty years later, twice as many people lived in 17 neighborhoods outside the Old City, as lived within its walls.
Jerusalem of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is characterized by the neighborhood concept which began with the four quarters of the Old City. In the "New City," members of ethnic communities settled together to form the first neighborhoods. Later, a common ideology brought people to live together. Still later, various waves of immigration from specific countries or regions were the major factor in determining the composition of a neighborhood’s population.
The expansion of Jerusalem, today Israel’s largest city, has blurred the traditional homogeneity of its neighborhoods. However, most of them still maintain at least some of the special characteristics which marked them at the beginning.
Because of the importance of Jerusalem to the world at large, the Jerusalem Committee was established by Mayor Teddy Kollek in 1968 to review the city’s development plans. The Committee – which consists of some 70 renowned architects, urban planners, historians and philosophers from many countries – meets in Jerusalem every two years and serves as an international advisory council concerned with the restoration and development of the city, and the preservation of Jerusalem’s special character and unique pluralistic heritage.
Jerusalem’s drive for development since reunification in 1967 has encompassed almost every sphere of urban life: several new suburbs have been built on the city’s periphery; many hotels have been erected; a number of industrial zones have been developed; neighborhoods have been ‘renewed’; dozens of public parks have been planted; synagogues, churches and mosques have been restored, and new ones have been built.
Parallel with its physical development, Jerusalem’s cultural facilities and activities have expanded. The city has become host to international cultural festivals and scientific conventions. The annual Israel Festival presenting dance, theater and music performances by both local and foreign artists and groups, the biennial Jerusalem International Book Fair, and other regular film, puppet theater and choral music festivals attract large audiences to Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem – whose name, according to tradition, is derived from the two Hebrew words "Ir" meaning city and "shalom" meaning peace – embodies the hope expressed in mankind’s noblest aspiration: peace among all men. The freedom of worship which is enjoyed by Jews, Muslims and Christians at their holy sites, just a short distance from one another, and the daily contacts among the city’s various ethnic and religious groups, each of which boasts a long-standing cultural tradition, can serve as a pattern of peace and coexistence to be emulated throughout the region.