The Yellin Estate
Historic Building Sites
BackgroundMotza is first mentioned in the Talmud (Tractate Succah) as the place where residents of Jerusalem used to cut their willow branches as one of the four species of fruits and plants required for the Festival of Sukkot.
Motza was rediscovered in 1860, when Shlomo Yecheskel and Yehoshua Yellin, residents of the Old City of Jerusalem, jointly acquired a plot of land in order to initiate and develop agriculture outside the walls of the Old City. Vineyards and trees were planted while using the local spring and well.
On top of the remains of an ancient Roman fortress, the Yellins built the Khan (a way station), on the main Jaffa-Jerusalem highway, which later converted by the first residents of Motza (at the end of the 19th century) to a school and synagogue. The Motza Synagogue has been functioning during the last 120 years and today daily prayer services, religious ceremonies and cultural events are held.
Motza played an important role in the renewal of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz-Yisrael. It was recognized as such by Theodore Zeev Herzl, who planted a tree there during his one and only visit to Eretz-Yisrael, in 1898. This tree is affectionately referred to as the Motza Cedar Tree.
The Site Plan
The Yellin House on the Yellin Estate is comprised of three rooms with a large basement. SPIHS, together with the Yellin Family, is preserving the building and the surrounding area.
The courtyard is being cleaned and an attempt be made to reconstruct the water systems and connect them to the wells of the estate. Crusader remains have been discovered in the courtyard and they will be excavated and protected as antiquities. These archaeological finds will serve as an additional attraction.
SPIHS intends to open the Estate to local residents and visitors and give access to its orchards, courtyard and surrounding wells, that collectively will serve as the entrance to a large metropolitan park, which is in its planning stages, following the projected change at the route of Highway-One.
The building will house an exhibition of the history of Motza, a convention center and a Lecture Hall for the local community.
SPIHS is placing maximum importance to the Yellin Estate as the foundation stone for Jewish settlement in the modern era, a model to be followed 10 years later by Carl Neter in Mikve Israel. With the generous contribution of the Yellin Family especially by waiving their ownership rights in the house and in its surrounding land and park SPIHS initiated the process to save the deteriorated building for further generations.