Arnona has recently been the focus of my attention as I am working with many clients who are buying apartments in a new residential project being developed in this charming neighborhood.
The project – along with other new Arnona developments – has generated tremendous interest due to its relatively affordable prices, high construction standards and excellent access. It is located just steps from Talpiot, within a short walk to Baka, the German Colony and Old Katamon, and under three miles to the Old City – and you are only a 10-minute bus ride from the city center.
Established in 1931, Arnona is a pretty tree-lined neighborhood located in the southeastern corner of Jerusalem, nestled between Talpiot to the west, Northern Talpiot to the north, Armon Hanatziv to the east, and Kibbutz Ramat Rachel to the south.
At 800 meters above sea level, Arnona is one of the highest neighborhoods in Jerusalem and offers panoramic views of the Judean Hills. On a clear day one can see as far away as the Arnon River in Jordan which runs into the Dead Sea. And now you know the source of the community’s name.
In pre-state Palestine, Arnona and neighboring communities Talpiot and Mekor Chaim were considered suburbs of Jerusalem. They were not contiguous with central Jerusalem neighborhoods due to the intervening communities of Baka, Talbieh and the German Colony which were then in Arab hands. During Israel’s War of Independence, members of the nascent Israeli army were stationed in Arnona, Ramat Rachel and Talpiot and defended the city against Arab forces from Bethlehem. The 1949 cease fire line sliced off part of Arnona and handed it over to the Jordanians, but in 1967 Arnona regained its original borders and underwent tremendous development as many dilapidated old houses were torn down and modern apartment buildings were constructed in their place.
Many of Israel’s fascinating personalities lived in Arnona, including Israel’s first Nobel Prize laureate S.Y. Agnon. Agnon, whose face adorns the purple fifty shekel bill, was religious and the community’s shul was named after him. One of Agnon’s many famous neighbors was the historian Joseph Klausner, uncle of modern day author Amos Oz. Agnon and Klausner did not see eye to eye on many issues and made it their business to keep their distance from each other. Interestingly, when Klausner passed away, the city renamed the street on which Agnon’s home was located in memory of Klausner. When asked how he felt about living on Klausner Street, Agnon famously replied, “I would rather live on a street called Klausner than have Klausner live on a street called Agnon.” Agnon’s Bauhaus-style home is now a museum which houses collections of his works, his original library, and films about his life.
One of Arnona’s famous educational institutions is Midreshet Lindenbaum, an advanced institute for women’s Jewish studies, which provides post-high school programs for both Israelis and overseas students and also houses Darkaynu, an innovative program developed for young women with special needs.
Arnona has historically been inhabited by primarily secular and some religious Jews. Over the past ten years, however, many young dati leumi (religious nationalist) families have moved into the community and today half the neighborhood is religious. Over the same period of time, many English speakers have moved into the community and they currently comprise 25% of the population.
When Americans who are adhering to a budget ask me about the “up and coming” Jerusalem communities, Arnona tops the list.