The American Colony and Itzik HaGadol
One day last summer when the heat wasn't yet unbearable Avi and I were looking for a short טיול (trip, walk, outing) that wouldn't be too taxing and didn't require getting on a bus or מונית שירות (group taxi).
Avi is a historian AND a tour guide so he is the ideal companion for an outing to an unusual and often little known site that is historically important. He had been talking about the American Colony for awhile so we decided to check it out.
The American Colony, or as it is called in Hebrew המושבה האמריקאית–גרמנית (The American-German Colony) is located between our neighborhood נווה צדק (Neve Tzedek - Oasis of the Righteous) and יפו (Yafo).
The American Colony was founded in the early 19th century by Protestant Pilgrims to the Holy Land. What makes the colony so unusual is that the pilgrims brought dismantled wooden house that were built in New England and reconstructed them outside Jaffa in what was essentially a sand dune. The pilgrims did not fare well under the Ottomans and in that late 1860s the land was sold to German Protestant Templars. In 1870s the German community erected larger German style structures. Some churches and a few of the original buildings including The Jerusalem Hotel, are extant.
When the British took control during WWI the hotel was used as mililtary headquarters and a police station. This put headquarters in close proximity to the British Railway Station which today has been restored as an upscale shopping district.
But I am seriously getting into the weeds here. Back to the outing.
Avi and I walked down Shabazi Street to the the Old British Train Station and then moved inland to what looked like the ruins of a WW1 battle. Behind the broken walls were the small streets of The American Colony. It was remarkable to see wooden structures, so alien to the landscape of limestone and plaster buildings.
We spent a lot of time wandering around and then decided to looked for a cafe. We found a beautiful garden with a open restaurant. We walked in and proceeded to sit down. It wasn't long before we were approached - not by the waiter by the residents of the compound - proselytizing Messianic Jews (Jews for Jesus). We didn't stay for coffee.
On to Yafo and back. We returned down a ordinary but rundown street, דוד רזיאל (David Razi'el St). Walking along the sidewalk Avi was able to tell me what happened on these streets in the years following the first world war.
At the end of the street we saw a neon sign and a store front with aged meat in the window. Shades of Ottomanelli and Sons on Bleecker Street. We thought we'd go in and buy some steaks for dinner. We didn't even cross the threshold before we were asked what we wanted. We said we wanted to buy some meat. They laughed and said we could have some meat but we would have to sit down at a table and they would serve us.
The restaurant is called - איציק הגדולא (Itzik HaGadol). It looks like steak houses used to look in the meat market west of the village.
Tonight we are going at 21:00 to celebrate Ken's birthday. We are all looking forward to picking our steak out of the window - if they allow that. Maybe one of us will get a אנטריקוט (ribeye) so Sami can have the bone.