We visited a small museum in an old house in the Old City built 500 years ago and typical of architecture in the Mediterranean with an internal courtyard, small and cramped rooms, with the courtyard serving as the center for family activities. Cooking was not done in the house because of ventilation problems, and each family had their own corner in the courtyard for that purpose. Although living conditions in Jerusalem remained unchanged for generation, and the Old City was quite inhospitable, at the turn of the century progress had been made for affluent residents though not for the majority. During the British Mandate (1917-1948) electricity came to Jerusalem and wealthier families could hook up to the grid.
The museum is set up to simulate one of these buildings. One unique thing is that the room that simulates the synagogue is the room where the Ari was born. The “Ari” which means lion is the name given to Isaac Luria, a famous rabbi and mystic, considered the father of Kabbalah. While he may have been born here his main following and attention (including a famous synagogue with his name and location of his burial) are in Safed in the north of Israel.