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Traditions of Russian patronage and hospitality are being revived in Jerusalem

Now all those who come to Jerusalem from Russia tend to visit the Sergievsky farmstead. This amazing place, a corner of Russia in the heart of the Holy Land, gives a sense of home to both Russians and local residents who have long considered it their own.

Sergius metochion
The courtyard of the courtyard with a beautiful Park and towers that look like chess rooks is known to all Jerusalem residents. They come here to sit in the shade of trees, enjoy the smell of flowers, the quiet noise of water in the fountain. When the state of Israel returned St. Sergius ‘ compound to Russian ownership in 2008, and the historic building was handed over to the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (ippo), some worried that access would be closed, but this did not happen.In the summer of 2017, a long-term restoration was completed, and the Director of the ippo in Israel, Igor ashurbeyli, promised that these doors would always be open to everyone. He keeps his word. And the new life of the farmstead exceeded the expectations of all who were so impatiently waiting for its opening.

The courtyard is still a place of rest and meetings, children are brought here for lessons and master classes in the fresh air. Only now Russian speech is also heard here, as it was a hundred years ago, when Orthodox pilgrims who came to worship the Holy Sepulchre were received in the courtyard.

Now the hotel is working here again, but not only pilgrims can stay there, but anyone who wants to.

Igor Ashurbeyli
– We accept guests from America, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and other countries. The entire geography of the world has already been here, ” says Igor ashurbeyli.

There is a restaurant, a Museum, and a library. And all the guests already know that the Russian compound is not only cozy, but also very interesting thanks to regular exhibitions, lectures, festivals, conferences, monthly concerts of classical music and all possible components of international and inter-ethnic cultural life, concentrated in a place that the residents of old Jerusalem call simply and affectionately “Sergey”. Perhaps this is the best commemoration for the uncle of the last Russian Emperor, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov, who built the sergievskoye farmstead at his own expense.

For two and a half years, the farmstead has developed its own glorious traditions. This year, on may 9, the new state holiday of Israel and one of the main state holidays of Russia – Victory Day-was celebrated here for the second time. And in November, it was sergievskoe farmstead that was chosen for a special meeting of world war II veterans. Residents of besieged Leningrad and front-line soldiers living in Israel met with the Governor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Knyaginin.

In addition, thanks to the courtyard, Jerusalem is slowly becoming not only a cultural and public, but also a diplomatic center of Russia in Israel. The atmosphere of the courtyard and the building itself is very conducive to the success of official receptions and negotiations.

Diplomats, scientists, war veterans, artists and musicians, Russians and Israelis, Orthodox clergy and representatives of other religious denominations have chosen this place and consider it their own. However, it does not serve as an Apple of discord, but, on the contrary, is a symbol of unity. And how does it work?

– Thank you for returning the farmstead to us, and for the efforts spent on bringing it to its present form. Grace just doesn’t show up, ” said the famous hockey player, Russian state Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Fetisov, who visited the farmstead in November 2019.

Sergievskoe farmstead has always been secular. Unlike other farmsteads built by the Russian Empire in Jerusalem around the same time, in the second half of the 19th century, there was never even a temple on its territory. And grace was formed here by the traditions of patronage, toleration, and Russian hospitality that the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian society brought to the Holy Land. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, monasteries operated throughout the Middle East, as well as schools, hospitals, and hospices built with donations from members of the Royal family and the ippo.

St. Sergius farmstead in Jerusalem
Of the dozens of objects now returned to the property of Russia only three: the building of the Russian Spiritual Mission, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and the Sergievsky farmstead. These three buildings were not included in the so-called “orange deal”, which we owe to the unforgettable Nikita Khrushchev. In 1964, the Soviet leader sold most of the historical wealth of Russian Palestine to Israel, or rather, exchanged it for textiles and two barges of oranges.

So, the St Sergius metochion was lucky: he was able to return its historical function. But the Elizabethan compound in Jerusalem, for example, is surrounded by barbed wire, since it “sheltered” a police station and a detention center under its roof.
Negotiations on the return of objects have been underway for decades. It is planned that the next round will resume in January 2020, during Vladimir Putin’s official visit to the state of Israel.


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