Abbi Adest January 2015
‘So basically, for the last 30 years, I must have passed this museum dozens of times on my way in and out of the old city. I assumed it was a museum about the LAW court in the old yishuv. What could be more boring then that? Friends, I was super wrong- this is a really fascinating museum and if you have a good guide to give you the history of what life was like in Jerusalem before the Jewish state, it’s even better. Definitely worth the trip.(Unfortunately, the name of the museum is translated not quite accurately- they translated “חצר” as “court” instead of “courtyard”. Which doesn’t even really need to be in the name at all. Oy).’
English-speaking families can now enjoy an interactive self-guided tour at the Yitzhak Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum that takes them back in time to discover life in the Old City of Jerusalem over a hundred years ago.
The museum is situated in a 500-year-old house in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and provides a rare peek into the life of the people of the Old Yishuv (Jewish settlement) of Jerusalem.
We spent a day in the old city and had a great time at this small museum. We called up and found out the guided tour times. You could go without the guide but she told stories and took us through which definitely enhanced the visit.
Tug of war
Firstly, the admission cost for this museum is very symbolic – only 40 shekel for our family of 7 (or for any family, with single tickets at under 10 shekel) which is great. Secondly around the museum are hi-tech screens and headphones so if you aren’t with a guide you can learn about the rooms in the museum by yourself. While we waited for the tour to start we were able to read some information and walk around, learning about the way people used to live in the Old City through the ages. Amazingly we thought the museum consisted of only 2 rooms but there are a few rooms and even an old Shul there and each room was full of genuine pieces of furniture and clothing that were donated to the museum and really helped picture life in those days.
Our older children – age 9,10,12 really got a lot out of it and the 4 and 6 year olds also enjoyed but obviously at a different level. There were a few interactive things for the kids – in the old ‘chatzer’ – ‘courtyard’ the children of those days would make up games (they couldn’t play outside because they were afraid of the Arabs) so they played tug of war, sack races, and other games which they let the kids play with (briefly during the tour and then at their leisure afterwards). There was also an area with all sorts of dressing up for the kids and even an old style desk where our 4 year old sat and colored.
It was a really interesting museum and includes a section about how young girls were married off, and how wedding customs evolved and the influences of the Europeans and sephardi/ashenazi customs etc. There is also a great story about a model of the churva which eventually helped in the restoration of the Hurva as it stands today.
Highly recommended museum!