by Simone Cohen Scott, May 20th, 2019
Canada House, a social and cultural gathering place, is in the neighbourhood called Musrara, also known as Morasha (meaning heritage), an area that is being revitalized. Tucked in behind City Hall, primarily populated by descendants of Jewish refugees from Arabia and North Africa, until the Six Day War it bordered the Jordanian occupation.
Musrara is now becoming an artsy neighbourhood, with outstanding museums and schools of photography, film, and music taking shape amongst renovated and refurbished mansions. Canada House, recently renovated, is holding its own in this exciting atmosphere, due mainly to groups of Canadian Christian and Jewish donors. Inside, the innovative use of spaces offers enrichment activities to every conceivable niche of Musrara’s population.
CEO Eldad Weill has formed a bond with both staff and participants, and makes a point of seeing that no corner of the building, and no time slot of the day or evening, is left vacant. Where there is a morning drop-in centre for seniors, in the afternoon the same space is filled with youth. Computer rooms are manned by volunteers to help anyone who wishes. There is space for meditation, another for mini massages, a gym and theatre combination where dance classes are held. Simultaneously in action are art classes, game activities, and more, plus counseling for gap year students soon entering the IDF. Something is always going on because effort is made to fill every need. A small cafe is run by a family who lived for generations just down the street.
A new program has begun recently, open to young adults throughout Jerusalem, including new olim. There are 42,000 students in Jerusalem; the concern is to get these vibrant young people engaged in their city. Varieties of social activities are arranged. Discussions of personal concerns and general issues are facilitated both singly and in small groups. Besides in depth individual career counseling and training, there is an emergency call centre. To date, 3,000 individuals have come through for personal attention. Without a doubt Canada House forms a large component of the mandate of the Jerusalem Foundation, to enhance and integrate the day-to-day lives of the city’s inhabitants.