Abu Tor

Abu Tor

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Abu Tor (lit. "Father of the Bull") is a mixed Jewish and Arab neighborhood in central Jerusalem, Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, south of the Old City. Abu Tor is bounded by the Valley of Hinnom on the north, Hebron Road and the old Jerusalem Railway Station
Jerusalem Railway Station
The Jerusalem Railway Station is a former railway station located in the area between Hebron Road and Bethlehem Road, near the German Colony of Jerusalem, Israel. It was part of the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway until its closure in 1998...

 to the west, and the Sherover Promenade, Armon HaNetziv and Peace Forest
Peace Forest
Peace forest is a forest in South - Southeast Jerusalem, Israel, between the Abu Tor neighbourhood and the Sherover Promenade. It was a location of the biblical Etsel river mentioned in the book of Zechariah .There is a number of graves of the Second Temple era found in the Peace Forest, some of...

 to the south. The official Hebrew name of the neighborhood is Givat Hananya ("Hananya's Hill").


During the Ayyubid period
Ayyubid dynasty
The Ayyubid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they...

, the area of Abu Tor was assigned to an officer in Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

's army. His name was Sheikh Shehab ed Din el Mukaddasi but he was called "Sheikh Ahmed et Toreh" (Sheikh Ahmed of the bull) or "Abu Tor" (the man with the bull, or the father of the bull) as he was said to have accompanied Saladin riding on a bull.

The hill on which Abu Tor stands was called "Jebel Deir Abu Tor" (mountain of the monastery of Abu Tor), or the "Hill of Evil Council", referring to a legend that it was the site of the house of Caiaphas
Joseph, son of Caiaphas, Hebrew יוסף בַּר קַיָּפָא or Yosef Bar Kayafa, commonly known simply as Caiaphas in the New Testament, was the Roman-appointed Jewish high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus...

, where Judas
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.-Etymology:...

 plotted to betray Jesus. A monastery or convent dedicated to St. Mark (whose emblem was an ox) may have once been there.

Abu Tor was developed as a residential quarter in the late 19th century by Muslim and Christian Arabs from Jerusalem. A Jewish neighborhood called Beit Yosef was established in 1888.

Abu Tor was incorporated into the Jerusalem municipal district during the Mandate period.

From the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 until 1967, the border between Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 ran through Abu Tor. The first four roads beyond Hebron Road were Israeli and the remaining roads were Jordanian. In January 1949, Israel and Jordan, represented by Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military leader and politician. The fourth Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces , he became a fighting symbol to the world of the new State of Israel...

 and Abdullah el Tell
Abdullah el Tell
Abdullah el-Tell, served in the Transjordanian Arab Legion during the 1948 war in Palestine rising from the rank of company commander to become Military Governor of the Old City of Jerusalem...

, held talks on the status of Jerusalem. Dayan presented the partition of Jerusalem as a common interest, and offered an exchange of territories that included the military post in Abu Tor, but his offer was turned down.


Abu Tor is one of the few Jerusalem neighborhoods with a mixed Arab and Jewish population. Many journalists and United Nations employees live there. While the Jewish section of Abu Tor is predominantly secular, the neighborhood has two synagogues - Har Refaim Synagogue for Ashkenazi Jews on Nachshon Street, and Shalom V'Achva Synagogue for Sephardi Jews.