Cafés are an important part of assimilating into a city. By trying out different spots, it can be a great way of exploring new neighborhoods while also getting your work done too. However, the prices or comfortability of places can make this a challenge. By searching online, I have found plenty of lists with good options, but each seem to have certain issues I believe can be addressed here.
First, many of the options are only found in one side of the city, completely ignoring the Arab East Jerusalem. As nearly 400,000 Jerusalemites live in this area, its dynamic and vibrant streets should not be left out. Secondly, though most of these cafés are wonderful, many do not catered towards students or foster a comfortable working atmosphere. A lack of seating and noisy room can quickly damper your study plans. And lastly, some are just unaffordable for the average student.
Nordic Café: A popular East Jerusalem spot, Nordic Cafe is trendy cafe is a great gateway to Palestinian culture for any curious onlooker. Located in the Yabloos Cultural Center, the almost nightly concerts, movie screenings, and more make for a great after-studying activity. With international students and Arab residents working side by side, it’s a great place to meet locals as well.
Educational Bookshop: A small, two-story book and coffeeshop, The Educational Bookshop has been a student favorite since we first arrived. Nestled among East Jerusalem’s buzzing Salah Eddin street, it is certainly an easy find. Though the prices can run a bit high for student standards, the atmosphere, friendly staff, and interesting selection of reads makes this place more than worth it.
Café Bezalel: A standout hideaway for a meal, wine, coffee or work, Cafe Bezalel is somewhat off the main commercial corridor. As one of many cafés in an artsy neighborhood, Bezalel stands above the rest. Both picturesque and convenient, it is one of the few Jewish cafés that remains open on Shabbat.
Nadi Café: A slicker, more spacious café, Nadi offers a great location. Near much of Jerusalem’s commercial activity, it provides a peaceful view of perhaps the city’s most unique neighborhood. An added point for this café is it’s just next-door to the best book shop in the city, The Book Gallery .
Café Yehoshua: Though this place can get busy at times, it is popular for a reason. A millennial American Diner with an Israeli
twist, Café Yehoshua boasts potentially the best food on the list. In addition to its delicious meals, getting to Yehoushua is a great way to see a usually unexplored area by students. Found off the light rail path and tucked among a residential neighborhood, Yehoshua is one of several restaurants in an area that truly is a hidden gem. But beware, the cafe quickly transforms into a teeming bar once the night falls.
Tmol Shilsom: The second bookstore/café on the list, this buried venue is the most central café out of the six. You have to navigate a back alley off Jerusalem’s famous umbrella avenue, Yoel Moshe Solomon Street. With indoor and outdoor seating, Tmol Shilsom allows for a laid back atmosphere to get your work done next to Manila Mall and the city’s nightlife.
Culture Through Studying
One semester may seem like a long time, but if class hours and studying are taken into account, you are not always left with as much freedom to explore as you might want. That is why being strategic with your studying can be so pertinent. Studying in cafés is bringing your study abroad mentality to your literal study time. It is a microcosm of a study abroad experience. It allows you learn about a new culture but study simultaneously. Mixing the two is more than possible. Just put in your headphones, order a cappuccino, and get to work. But don’t forget to look around a bit too.
Jon Stormer Pezzi is a Global Politics major with an Arabic and Poverty and Human Capability Studies Minor at Washington and Lee University. He studied abroad with IFSA at the Diversity and Coexistence program in Jerusalem, Israel in the fall of 2018. He served as an International Correspondent for IFSA through the Work-to-Study Program.