On various local Facebook groups where parents gather, seeking ideas for day trips and destinations during school vacations, one suggestion mentioned frequently is Jerusalem’s Teddy Park, the new public space just across from Mamilla, featuring a water-and-light fountain at its center.
With the water going off for ten minutes at a time, on the hour, starting at 8:00 am each day, as well as a free light-water-and-sound show each night, at 8 pm and 9 pm, the concept behind the fountain was to create something that would draw all residents of the city.
The park is named for Teddy Kollek, the city’s longtime mayor and founder of the Jerusalem Foundation, which spearheaded the project. Kollek spent years dealing with the then-derelict Mamilla neighborhood, now remade into one of the city’s most visited locations.
As such, it was hoped that the park would be “a crossroads between East and West, for secular and ultra-Orthodox, Jews and Arabs, Christians, Muslim and Jews,” said Sallai Meridor, the foundation’s chairman at the opening event, “that it be a meeting place for everybody, for peace and hope.”
That, it is. Each day, certainly during the summer days and evenings, and into the warm days of early fall, parents and kids of all stripes have gathered in the park, many dressed in bathing suits, waiting impatiently in the hot sun for those magical ten minutes when the rows of jets begin spurting water, offering some cooling respite.
“It’s the best playground we have,” said one mother on a recent morning, during the 11:00 am splash session.
It’s clear the Jerusalem Foundation built the fountain as a gathering place for visitors and tourists to the city, akin to similar, elegant fountains in Europe and the US.
But it’s also become something of a Jerusalem “beach” for its landlocked city dwellers. Except for this week, when sewage problems shut the water jets for the duration of Sukkot.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do today,” said one disappointed father Tuesday morning. “I guess we’ll head to the fountain in Bloomfield Gardens [in nearby Yemin Moshe],” he added, leading his brood down the street.