Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Purim tour of Talpiot

Green Talpiot (Courtesy)
Green Talpiot (Courtesy)

Greetings ladies and gentlemen, step right up!  Welcome to your personal tour of historic New/Old Talpiot, Jerusalem. As many of you might know, our neighborhood was home to several famous writers. We are proud of that fact, as well as the quiet and intimate nature of our village.  To read about our illustrious history you may first peruse here.

Since the time of the legendary writers Shumuel Yosef Agnon and Josef Klausner, and even since the Ramat Rachel orchards bloomed in all their amazing colors, there have been many aesthetic changes to the neighborhood.  It’s with great pride that we show you some of Talpiot’s new and exciting additions.

1) Our first stop is a new four story high-rise with unusual concrete paneling and a green crane for easy access to the roof.  The crane will help facilitate bird-watching and spectacular views of Jerusalem, including the local markets and, if one is lucky, the new shopping center a few blocks away.  Please notice the balance of heights between the historic Talpiot house to the left and this new iconic building.  To achieve this balance, the architect has used Le Corbusier’s Modular 1 & 2, a manual for structural proportions based on the human body.  The result is the epitome of Jerusalem’s new architectural philosophy: harmonization of the new with the old.  The spikes emanating from the the rooftop and side panels have been designed to prevent invaders from violating this new scenic structure; the architect has recognized his addictive viewing of Game of Thrones (including all ancient weaponry) as his inspiration for this innovation.   The clouds in the background belong to nature.

Use of Medieval Style (Courtesy)

2) The second addition to the neighborhood is a gigantic swimming pool designed especially for Navy divers’ training.  In the evenings it will be used for recreational swimmers who have been trained to use 30 meter snorkels.  In the earliest morning hours it will serve as a mikvah for those who want to be blessed en masse.  Several neighbors had complained about the site’s safety, but after builders sprayed a half a meter of liquid foam on the pit’s bottom surface, even the most stubborn of skeptics were convinced that everything was A.O.K.

Bore (Courtesy)

3) The third addition to our neighborhood are the “twin towers”, a memorial to the same which were destroyed years ago in New York.  The architect also has used medieval techniques to build threatening wood poles which are tipped with poison to repel would-be invaders.  Though the original plan called for a green garden between the buildings, it was “scratched” in favor of a gigantic billiard table, where residents can gamble what little cash they still have after buying their new “twin tower” apartments.  The white metal fence is temporary; the builder has promised to remove it within three years.  As the sign in the lower right hand corner reveals, the apartment complex is now “Open”. The clouds in the background belong to nature.

Twin Towers (Courtesy)

4) The fourth picture shows an example of the neighborhood’s new street pavement.  These special materials are meant to quiet all traveling vehicles, while maintaining the local safety standards.  It is also designed to reduce the speed of oncoming cars. The materials were originally designed to include sound-muffling soft rubber (as in the streets of Bern, Switzerland) , but this ingredient was canceled due to issues of Kashrut.  The split rock pieces have come in handy during local demonstrations, especially on Yom Kippur when neighborhood youth stone passing cars.

The Streets of Old Talpiot (Courtesy)

5) We are proud that our neighborhood is expanding UPWARD, now to the height of nine and ten floors.  We are also happy not to be able to see the storm clouds in the background. We are lucky that all views and fresh air are blocked, knowing full well that breathing in concrete dust helps prepare us for Middle Earth and the trend toward prehistoric rock climbing days.  Again, the technique of poisoned wooden spears has been used, mainly to protect the population from unwanted and dangerous yellow dragons who still roam our streets.  Most of these units have been sold by people bequeathing them to their great-grandchildren, knowing full well that high-quality construction takes a long time to build.


Meanwhile some us neighborhood Luddites have only our memories to soothe our frustrations.  We share them with each other on special occasions.  Our nostalgia is sometimes necessary to survive the onslaught of progress.   We live two worlds: past and present. During our last retreat, amidst prayer chants, veteran Talpiot residents sadly remembered and shared the following fond memories:

The Ramat Rachel Orchards


Traditional Talpiot of the 1920’s


Local Festivities, Tree Planting in Talpiot


Children, children…

Embed from Getty Images

S.Y. Agnon

Embed from Getty Images

P.S. Happy Purim!!!!

A Prehistoric Monster (courtesy)
About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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