The Yemenites' Vineyard
If you’ve taken a tour with me around Jaffa and Neveh Tzedek in Tel Aviv (and if you haven't, why not?) you’ve heard me mention the names Yosef Moyal, Aharon Chelouche and Haim Amzaleg. These three men were influential figures in the Jewish community of Jaffa in the 19th century and in the creation of the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood which later became part of Tel Aviv.
They were also instrumental in the creation of another Tel Aviv neighborhood – Kerem HaTeimanim, meaning the Yemenites’ Vineyard, commonly referred to by English speakers as the Yemenite Quarter. Unlike Neveh Tzedek, its neighbor to the south, the residents of this neighborhood were generally poor, and most were Yemenite Jews who originally settled in Jerusalem in the late 1800’s. In fact, even today many of the residents are the descendants of the original inhabitants.
So, what’s the deal with the “vineyard” part of the name? Well, some of the land on which the neighborhood was founded was a vineyard owned by Yosef Moyal. And what’s more, he had a Yemenite guard posted there to keep watch over things. The rest of the land had originally belonged to the other two fellows I mentioned.
The original houses were small affairs, often poorly built with one or two stories, sometimes around courtyards. Today the neighborhood still has many of the original homes, albeit fixed up a bit, as well as some gentrified homes. The atmosphere though is still “Old Tel Aviv” with its cobblestone streets, low buildings and ramshackle look.
And what does one do in Kerem HaTeimanim? Well eat of course! That’s besides just soaking in the wonderful atmosphere of neighborhood. The area is full of cheap, and not so cheap, restaurants serving delicious authentic Yemenite Jewish food. Situated between Neveh Tzedek and the Carmel Market, it’s well worth a stop.
And if you want to see and hear more about the neighborhood and the people who live here – well you’ll just have to go with me on a tour, won’t you!