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Mishkenot Sha'ananim guesthouse, restored historical building

Mishkenot Sha’ananim (Hebrew: משכנות שאננים‎, lit. Peaceful Habitation) was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, on a hill directly across from Mount Zion. Built in 1859–1860, it was the first area of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem outside the Old City walls,[1] and was one of the first structures to be built outside the Old City of Jerusalem, the others being Kerem Avraham, the Schneller Orphanage, Bishop Gobat school and the Russian Compound.[2]


Ottoman eraEdit

Mishkenot Sha'anim was built by British Jewish banker and philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore in 1860 as an almshouse, paid for by the estate of an American Jewish businessman from New Orleans, Judah Touro.[3] Since it was outside the walls and open to Bedouin raids, pillage and general banditry rampant in the region at the time, the Jews were reluctant to move in, even though the housing was luxurious compared to the derelict and overcrowded houses in the Old City.[4] As an incentive, people were even paid to live there, and a stone wall was built around the compound with a heavy door that was locked at night.[5] The name of the neighborhood was taken from the Book of Isaiah: "My people will abide in peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places" (Isaiah 32:18).[3]

Jordanian eraEdit

Montefiore Quarter – Mishkenot Sha'ananim 1948

After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, when the Old City was captured by the Arab Legion, Mishkenot Sha'ananim bordered on no man's land in proximity to the armistice line with the Kingdom of Jordan, and many residents left in the wake of sniper attacks by Jordanian Arab Legionnaires. Only the poorest inhabitants remained, turning the complex into a slum.[citation needed]

Restoration after 1967Edit

The no-man's-land bordering Mishkenot Sha'ananim was occupied by Israel during the 1967 War, together with the rest of Eastern and Old Jerusalem.[citation needed]

In 1973, Mishkenot Sha'ananim was turned into an upscale guesthouse for internationally acclaimed authors, artists and musicians visiting Israel.[3] Apart from guesthouse facilities, it is now a convention center and home of the Jerusalem Music Center.[1] The music center was inaugurated by Pablo Casals shortly before his death.[3]

The Jerusalem Center for Ethics was established in Mishkenot Sha'ananim in 1997. The board of directors is headed by Prof. Yitzhak Zamir, a retired justice of the Israeli Supreme Court.[6]

See alsoEdit

Mishkenot Sha'ananim writers residence

The International Writers Festival at Mishkenot Sha'ananim is an annual festival that takes place in Jerusalem, Israel. Since Mishkenot Sha'ananim opened its doors in 1974, literature has played a central role in its activities. The festival started in 2008 and was a biennial event until 2018, when it was decided to hold it on a yearly basis.[7]

Each year, it features some forty writers from Israel and other countries who take part in events on the Mishkenot campus and at other locations in the city. The festival has been organized by Moti Schwartz since 2014.


Mishkenot Sha'ananim, founded by The Jerusalem Foundation and situated across from the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, is an international cultural institution and conference center for writers, artists, scholars, and intellectuals from all over the world.

Over the years, the center has welcomed writers and hosted literary events with guests from the worlds of music, film, theater, museums, architecture, and other cultural realms. Mishkenot offers programs based on a profound commitment to dialogue, tolerance, and diversity. It provides a platform for cultural exchange in a friendly, pluralistic atmosphere.

Mishkenot's residency programs, some of which operate in the framework of the International Writers Festival, host prominent artists from a variety of spheres who spend significant periods of time at the center and draw inspiration from it. For example, in the mid-1970s, Saul Bellow visited Israel and was the guest of Mishkenot. Immersing himself in the landscape and culture of Israel, he recorded the opinions, passions, and dreams of Israelis of varying viewpoints – from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to novelist Amos Oz and others. His book To Jerusalem and Back presents his account of his time there.[8]

The International Writers Festival 2008Edit

The International Writers Festival 2010Edit

The International Writers Festival 2012Edit

The International Writers Festival 2014Edit

The International Writers Festival 2016Edit

The International Writers Festival 2018Edit

Featuring Writers: Shimon Adaf (IL), Yair  Agmon (IL), Maria  Alyokhina (RU), Nir Baram (IL), Paul  Beatty (US), Haim  Be'er (IL), Gon Ben Ari (IL), Yuval Ben-Ami (IL), Michal Ben-Naftali (IL), Sarah Blau (IL), Hila  Blum (IL), Olga Borisova (RU), Dror  Burstein (IL), Ron Dahan (IL), Galit Dahan-Carlibach (IL), Assaf Gavron (IL), Ruth Gilligan (IE), Arik Glasner (IL), Michal Govrin (IL), Gail Hareven (IL), Nathan Hill (US), Miron H. Izakson (IL), Etgar  Keret (IL), Alona Kimhi (IL), Lihi Lapid (IL), Dror  Mishani (IL), Agi Mishol (IL), Eshkol Nevo (IL), Dorit Rabinyan (IL), Yishai  Sarid (IL), Samanta Schweblin (AR), Francesca  Segal (UK), Graeme Simsion (AU), Noa Yedlin (IL).

The International Writers Festival 2019Edit

Featuring Writers: André Aciman (US), Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (NG), Yair Agmon (IL), Noga Albalach (IL), Eli Amir (IL), Nir Baram (IL), Sarah Blau (IL), Joyce Carol Oates (US), Julia Fermento (IL / US), Arik Glasner (Dr.) (IL), Michal Govrin (Prof.) (IL), Lauren Groff (US), David Grossman (IL), Ayelet Gundar-Goshen (IL), Adi Keissar (IL) , Nidaa Khoury (Prof.) (IL), Lana Lux (UA/ DE), Dory Manor (Dr.) (IL), Tamar Merin (IL), Dror Mishani (IL), Orian Morris (IL), Yael Neeman (IL), Andrés Neuman (AR/ ES), Itamar Orlev (IL / DE), Fania Oz-Salzberger (Prof.) (IL), Ahmad Danny Ramadan (SY/ CA),Meir Shalev (IL), Zeruya Shalev (IL) ,Udi Sharabani (IL), Sjón (IS), Sharlene Teo (SG / UK), Éric Vuillard (FR).


  1. ^ a b Mishkenot Sha'ananim,
  2. ^ Kark, Ruth; Oren-Nordheim, Michal (2001). Jerusalem and Its Environs: Quarters, Neighborhoods, Villages, 1800–1948. Wayne State University Press. pp. 74, table on p.82-86. ISBN 0-8143-2909-8. The beginning of construction outside the Jerusalem Old City in the mid-19th century was linked to the changing relations between the Ottoman government and the European powers. After the Crimean War, various rights and privileges were extended to non-Muslims who now enjoyed greater tolerance and more security of life and property. All of this directly influenced the expansion of Jerusalem beyond the city walls. From the mid-1850s to the early 1860s, several new buildings rose outside the walls, among them the mission house of the English consul, James Finn, in what came to be known as Abraham's Vineyard (Kerem Avraham), the Protestant school built by Bishop Samuel Gobat on Mount Zion; the Russian Compound; the Mishkenot Sha’ananim houses: and the Schneller Orphanage complex. These complexes were all built by foreigners, with funds from abroad, as semi-autonomous compounds encompassed by walls and with gates that were closed at night. Their appearance was European, and they stood out against the Middle-Eastern-style buildings of Palestine.
  3. ^ a b c d Street People, Helga Dudman, The Jerusalem Post/Carta, 1982, pp. 21–22
  4. ^ Jerusalem architectural history
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) More information about Yemin Moshe
  6. ^ Konrad Adenauer Conference Center of Mishkenot Sha'ananim Archived 21 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Steinberg, Jessica. "Bi-annual Jerusalem book fests join forces to become yearly event". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  8. ^ Howe, Irving (17 October 1976). "To Jerusalem and Back". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 March 2019.

Further readingEdit