Gila Ansell Brauner

Age: 11 upwards. No. of participants:20-30.
Time: 2 hours preparation & presentation.


Explore and teach the nature of Jerusalem today and in recent history;
present the geography of the city; prepare a dramatic presentation;
review any posters or visual materials.


Map of Jerusalem pinned on the wall with the 4 Alef bus route marked in red; Jerusalem posters; slides of areas referred to below; music and tape recorder, sound effects; slide projector, screen; pens paper; decor; background materials.


  • The no 4A bus crosses Jerusalem from South to North. passing through a variety of famous neighbourhoods. The group will prepare a short dramatic sketch for each main "bus stop", with a typical scene (see ideas)
  • An offstage driver calls the stops and adds some guidebook comments.
  • OR - Have people get off the bus to act out the scenes, by using a forward stage.


  • Arrange the room to represent the different "bus stops" with a stop and a sign for each.
  • Use slides and music to set the mood.
  • For more elaborate presentations, make decor and rehearse well


Katamon - the War of Independence
German colony - consulates
Yemin Moshe (no bus stop) - earliest expansion of Jerusalem in the 20th century or artists today
King George St. South - Jewish Agency, hotels
King George St. North - shops, town centre, busking
Meah Shearim - Hassidim
Ramat Eshkol/Ammunition Hill - Six Day War
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Mt. Scopus campus, Hadassah Hospital.

Background materials

Neighbourhood description sketch ideas

New Katamon has a large Sephardi population; Old Katamon was the site of St. Simon battle during the difficult struggle for Jewish survival in 1948; in St. Simon, the 100-strong Har'el company fought 1,000 Jordanian troops as they waited for Jewish reinforcements to liberate the area. Guide/newscaster tells of the War of Independence. Can be done with "Chinese Shadows".
German Colony  
Built by German Templars in the 19th century, whose children left to fight in Germany in the Second World War. Extended by Jewish population since 1948 and borders Jerusalem's main theatres, concert halls. Illustrate a stage of populating the area or the decision to build the Leper Colony.
Yemin Moshe  
Situated around Montefiore's windmills, backs onto Neve Sha'anan, the first Jewish neighbourhood outside the Old City walls in the late 19th century. Opposite Liberty Bell Park. See also "Esther's story", below. Today, populated by artists, galleries, intelligentsia & foreign correspondents. * Building the windmill;
* Debate the dangers of moving outside the city walls;
* any story pre-48;
* Entertainment at the park.
* local residents meet to promote tourism;
King George St. South  
From the Kings Hotel to the former Knesset building. Rehov Agron. (opp. the hotel) has a 24 hour supermarket, the US Consulate; the Sheraton Plaza backs onto Independence Park and is opp. the Great and New Synagogue and Chief Rabbinate. Next - the Jewish Agency. * Supermarket encounter between an oleh, a sabra, a tourist;
* 2 Russian immigrants at the Jewish Agency;
* Tourists at the Great Synagogue...
King George St. North  
Shops and offices; the Ben Yehuda pedestrian walkway with artists, buskers, food stalls, street cafe seating. Street buskers, mime, sketches music and coffeehouse talk.
Meah Shearim  
Population largely from Central & Eastern Europe. A world from the past with Hassidim, yeshivot as they were 200 years ago. Yeshiva courtyard wedding as a film production set.
Ammunition Hill  
The site of the most intensive battle between Israeli and Jordanian troops in 1967 because of its strategic value in N. & E. Jerusalem. Still covered with trenches outside the memorial museum. * Journalists describe the battle scene in 1967 - use "Chinese shadows" and mime with sound effects.
* Letter home from an Israeli soldier describing his experiences and feelings at the time.
Hebrew University  
Inaugurated 1925 with faculties of philosophy, literature, law and humanities. Next to Hadassah Hospital - besieged by Jordanian Legion 1947 and illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-1967, when liberated in the Six its Day War. Now more faculties, dorms, Medical School. * Convoy story (Esther's storybelow).
* Foreign students ask driver to tell them in English about the University and 2 campuses (Scopus and Giv'at Ram).



Excerpts from "Women in Israel", Educational Centre, Youth & Hechalutz Department, WZO, 1986.

Life in Yemin Moshe was very special. People lived in little one-storey houses, next to each other. There was a small park with one tree. No one ever locked a door. Women didn't work outside the home in those days - perhaps an advantage! Neighbours talked, hung laundry outside, drank coffee together every morning. It was a real neighbourhood. Everyone knew what was cooking next door. As Pesach neared, they would clean even the courtyards, whitewashing the walls, inside and out, so everything would be clean. On Fridays, everything was also cleaned and readied for Shabbat.

We had no oven at home, but just the same, people would bake burekas, pitta, cakes, bread, in the central neighbourhood oven. My mother would prepare the dough the night before and at 6 a.m. I would go out to bake the pitta first and bring it home to make sandwiches for that day. On Friday, they would bake cakes and burekas. Before Shabbat, every family would bring its cholent pot to put in the oven. Shabbat morning, after services, the children would wait till the oven was opened in order to take home the cholent which had been cooked with the heat remaining from the previous day's baking. It was a neighbourhood endeavour and event. Before Pesach, the oven would be kashered and used for making matzah shmurah. The men would do this job - clean every crack, make the blessings and bake the matzah.

I remember that my mother gave birth in our home. Very few women went to the hospital. The midwife came with her bag and other women came to boil water. My grandmother also came to help. Then, when they announced that we had a boy, my grandmother went out to the courtyards and yelled to the neighbour across the way. "I have a grandson! Aliza had a boy!" and the neighbour would tell someone else and so on around the entire neighbourhood - our communication system.

Across and above the valley below was the Jaffa Gate to the Old City. As the first Jewish settlement outside its walls, Yemin Moshe was on the border between the old and the new - the even then mainly Arab enclave of the Old City and the later newer Jewish section. My teenage years reflect the tensions of the 1940s before the Jewish state.

In 1947, the neighbourhood was under constant attack from all sides. It was a small area in the midst of an Arab population, and the British surrounded us also. Everytime there was an Arab attack, we would try to defend ourselves by returning fire. But then the British soldiers would arrive and search for weapons, so we would remain in fear for the next few hours until a new supply of weapons arrived.

Sometimes, the Etzel or the Lehi would carry out a raid nearby and then they would flee through our neighbourhood. After they blew up the King David Hotel, we helped they boys change their clothes and they continued on to the Old City. Once, they blew up the railroad depot nearby and their wounded had to be hidden in a house in Yemin Moshe. My cousin was arrested during one of those searches, mistaken for another woman. She served two years in a prison in Bethlehem and she was never the same after that.

Partition was declared at the United Nations some months later, on November 29th, 1947. That night, all the Jews came out onto the streets to celebrate and dance. The next night was the first Arab attack against the convoy linking the Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus to the Jewish city. My father used to drive in the convoy, which was attacked in the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

My father was driving an armoured bus of nurses to relieve the night shift at the Hospital on Scopus. An Arab policeman stopped him, someone my father knew well, and asked for a ride. At Sheikh Jarrah, the man got out, took his gun and fired at the door of the vehicle. The bullet was deflected, but then the firing began and my father was inundated from all sides by gunfire and a bomb was thrown at them. My father thought that half the bus had already been badly hit and he yelled to the nurses to lie flat on the floor.

The attack was visible from the hospital, so they waited with ambulances. My father was sure that he had been hit - it was because it was so hot and he was sweating. One of the nurses crept up to thim, saw he was alright and told him to drive on. He drove fast and no one was hurt.

Later, we found out that 70 people - doctors, nurses and hospital personnel - were killed.

My father worked for the city transport company - now Egged, then Hamekasher - where he was head of motor repairs. It was one of the "essential" jobs, so he was allowed to leave the neighbourhood freely. The rest of us could only go out in armoured cars, so the children were always at home. If a child needed medicine and the mother had to go out to the Health Fund Clinic (Kupat Holim), the children were left alone. I remember one occasion when there had been a sudden Arab attack and the Jews returned fire. Shortly afterwards, British armoured trucks arrived to search for munitions which we obviously had in the neighbourhood! My mother was out, in town, and when she returned she had to lie still on the bus floor, near the Windmill, until the firing stopped, knowing her children were alone at home down the hill.

There were Arab attacks all the time. Eventually, my mother told my father she couldn't stay alone at home with us any longer: he either had to stay and take care of us, whatever happened, or we all had to move out together. So he told the transport company and we were moved out around January 1948 to a Hagana appartment in Romema, near the garage where my father worked. We lived there until 1953.

Editors & Authors: Gila Ansell Brauner, Barbara Weill. General Editor: Henrique Cymerman





Share           PRINT   
26 Apr 2007 / 8 Iyar 5767 0