the best way to reach the western wall is through the shopping mall

yep - that's the case. in the ten years since i last was in the old city of jerusalem, the mamilla promenade leading from west jerusalem into jaffa gate has become a shopping mall, touted by some as jerusalem's rodeo drive. it is being built using aged-looking jerusalem stone, giving it an old-looking facade.

previously, mamilla was part of the no-man's land between jordan and israel between 1948 and 1967, and then home to jewish immigrants from mostly arab countries, until they were evicted to make way for the new development.

i'm not sure why this particular mall bugs me so much. in some ways it's just a modern version of the arab shuk (market) that you have to pass through to get to the various historic and religious sites in the old city.

but instead of spices, cheap t-shirts and menorahs, in this new mall we can drink gourmet cappucinos, buy nautica shirts and castro jeans. maybe it's because it reminds me too much of the gift shops that you're forced to walk through after exiting the rides at disney world.

i also discovered that the historic hurva synagogue, which was destroyed in 1948, and then only rebuilt as one symbolic arch after 1967, is nearing complete reconstruction.

i guess the old city is where the old becomes new and the new becomes old all over and over again.

1 comment:

Moshe Eshel said...

Mamilla mall is very annoying to me, sort of like a planned tourist trap - I mean the old city Shuk is also a tourist trap, but it was there before any tourist came to shop... and just turned into one - Mamilla on the other hand - is just one big planned one, and takes out nice real estate that could be used for better things, at least it's built from Jerusalem Stone and is attractive - otherwise it would be a real eye-sore, the rails and stairs are nice as well.