The Or Hachayim Alleyway


The alleyway derives its name from the yeshivah of Rabbi Chaim ben Attar, who was known as the “Or Hachayim.” On May 13, 1948, a British officer led a column of soldiers on their way out of the Jewish Quarter of the Old Cit. The officer stopped at the house of Mordechai Weingarten, and presented him with the ceremonial key to the city. The key to the Zion Gate was rusted and a foot in length.

 “From the year 70 A.D. until today, a key to the gates of Jerusalem has never been in Jewish hands,” the British officer said.  “This is the first time in eighteen centuries that your people have been so privileged.” Weingarten held out his trembling hand, mumbled the blessing of “She’hechiyanu” and added, “I accept the key on behalf of my nation.”

 The British officer handed Weingarten a Sten gun and a clip of ammo, and wished him all the best in the looming war, which was bound to come after the British withdrawal from the Land of Israel. He and his soldiers hurried along the alleyway on their way to the Jaffa Gate.