Heddy Abramowitz
Artist Living in the Eye of the Storm
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Yerushalmi café culture

A treasure on Agron St., where iced coffee, muffins, and daily items re-purposed as art are welcome refreshment

It’s hot, it’s August. Taking it easy.

A delight of warm weather is popping into places otherwise seen from the window of a vehicle. We are less rushed, the days are longer, and  serendipity takes over.

So it was recently when I stuck my head into a coffee shop named Agronsky after the owner Sonia Agronsky and fortuitously located on — wait for it — Agron Street. An immigrant from Moscow, Sonia started this place three years ago — its neighbors include the US Consulate for Commercial Affairs, a monastery, a bicycle repair shop, and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Lacking an exterior sign, this odd hidden gem is in plain view. Does it get any better?

In style, this is as low key as its neighbor a few steps east, the Waldorf, is HIGH. Where the Waldorf plays to the pretentious, Agronsky plays to the casual. Where the Waldorf caters to the highest standards of religious pedigrees, Agronsky posts a wall-size cartoon answering any kashrut questions with: we observe tradition. ‘Nuff said.

I don’t usually engage in reporting on food establishments, there are blogs aplenty that do. No, this is about art.

I was immediately charmed. The high bar stools have foot rests that are bicycle pedals, in a nod to its most immediate neighbor, the repair shop that goes back at least 4 decades.

bar stools with pedals
Bar Stools with Pedals Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

The wall clock ticks the day away in a mélange of re-purposed objects that are design museum-worthy.

Clock Café Agronsky
Clock Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

The iced coffee was fine and made by Sonia on the spot. I perused the muffin-type cakes made in-house. But that was the end of my menu exploration. The high-ceilinged coffee shop has a bar for indoor seating and a couple of small tables in and outside.

Muffin cakes
Muffin Cakes, Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

With a view of Independence Park and a newly-opened coffee franchise done in the latest of restaurant fashions, this is an off-the-beaten-track find smack in the middle of the beaten track. Its across-the-street competitor will surely soon be packed, but if I were a visitor to Jerusalem (or the local that I am), I would turn my back on the latest version of fungible establishments on Agron and in the close-by Mamilla Mall and choose instead Agronsky for its unique vibe.

mural detail
Mural detail by Daniella Schnitzer, Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

The entire left wall of the café is dedicated to the unfolding of a whimsical collage of hand-drawn illustrations by artist Daniella Schnitzer. This work-in-progress is meant to be a mural of Jerusalem, with an eye to the mundane and the miraculous. Her keen observations zero in on many different aspects of daily life in Jerusalem and visitors will enjoy watching it grow.

Coffee, a quiet corner, and a philosophical/humorous art work in progress. A bit like having a front row seat for a mini-Sistine Chapel. Without the neck strain.

Details: sonia.agronsky@gmail.com

About the Author
Heddy Abramowitz is a Jerusalem artist. Born in Brooklyn, NY to Holocaust survivors, raised in the southern Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., she shelved her career as an Israeli lawyer in favor of her first love, painting, and exhibits her art in Israel and abroad. Some say she is a lawyer in recovery, others just shake their heads. Believing that art communicates when words fail, she reviews Jerusalem art exhibits in English to broaden audiences for art made in this unique city. She also occasionally weighs in on current events. Living many years in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City significantly affected her outlook on living here, a work in progress. Good dark chocolate is her one true vice.
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