Traditions of Russian philanthropy and hospitality revive in Jerusalem
Now everyone who comes to Jerusalem from Russia is eager to visit the Sergievsky Compound. 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 theirs.
The courtyard of the courtyard with a beautiful park and towers similar to chess rooks is known to all Jerusalemites. They come here to sit in the shade of trees, enjoy the smell of flowers, the quiet sound of water in the fountain. When in 2008, the State of Israel returned the Sergievsky Compound to the ownership of Russia, and the historic building was transferred to the administration of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (IPPO), some were worried that access would be closed here, but this did not happen. In the summer of 2017, a lengthy restoration was completed, and the director of 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 so eagerly awaited its discovery.
The courtyard is still a place of rest and meetings, children are brought here for lessons and workshops in the fresh air. Only now Russian language is being heard here, as it was a hundred years ago, when Orthodox pilgrims who arrived to bow to the Holy Sepulcher were received at the courtyard.
Now the hotel is working here again, but not only pilgrims, but anyone who wishes can stay in it.
– We host guests from America, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and other countries. The whole geography of the world has already been here, ”says Igor Ashurbeyli.
There is a restaurant, museum, library. And all the guests already know: the Russian courtyard is not only cozy, but also very interesting thanks to regular exhibitions, lectures, festivals, conferences, monthly concerts of classical music and all the possible components of international and international cultural life, concentrated in a place that is inhabited by old Jerusalem simply and affectionately called “Sergey.” Perhaps this is the best commemoration for the uncle of the last Russian emperor, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov, who built the St. Sergius Compound at his own expense.
For two and a half years, the courtyard has developed its glorious traditions. This year, on May 9, a new state holiday of Israel and one of the main state holidays of Russia, Victory Day, were celebrated here for the second time. And in November, it was the Sergievsky Compound that was chosen for a special meeting of WWII veterans. Residents of besieged Leningrad and war veterans living in Israel met with the governor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Knyaginin.
In addition, thanks to the courtyard, Jerusalem is slowly becoming not only the cultural and social, but also the diplomatic center of Russia in Israel. The atmosphere of the courtyard and the building itself contributes to the success of official receptions and negotiations.
Diplomats, scientists, war veterans, artists and musicians, Russians and Israelis, the Orthodox clergy and representatives of other religious denominations have chosen this place and consider it theirs. Moreover, it serves not as an apple of discord, but, on the contrary, is a symbol of unity. And how does this work out?
– Thank you for returning the courtyard to us, and for the efforts spent on bringing it into its present form. Grace just doesn’t show up, – said the famous hockey player, State Duma deputy Vyacheslav Fetisov, who visited the courtyard in November 2019.
Sergievsky Compound has always been secular. Unlike other farmsteads built by the Russian Empire in Jerusalem at about the same time, in the second half of the 19th century, there was never even a temple on its territory. And grace here was formed by the traditions of philanthropy, religious tolerance and Russian hospitality, which 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, schools, hospitals and strange houses were built, erected by donations from members of the royal family and IOPS.