The History of the Fuchsberg Center at Rapaport House
The Rapaport building was built in 1897, and originally served as the private residence of Bernhard Heilpern, a German Jew that converted to Christianity. The architect and German Templer, Theodor Sandel designed this historic property. The building sits on a site known as the ex-territorial plots of the Agron and King George Streets of Jerusalem. This area was given by the Turkish Government to various churches and international bodies, including; Ratisbonne, Terra Sancta, Isaiah House and the Mission to the Holy Land from St. Louis (located at Agron 2 & 4).
This building has had a variety of uses over the years. In 1939, it was the home of ‘The Blind Girls School’. The ruling British then confiscated the building, as well as other German properties. It was subsequently sold in 1945, to cover war costs, to the architect Reuven Avram [Abramowitz] (1892-1978). Avram was also known for building the first high-rise in Jerusalem on Ben Yehuda Street, above the Migdal Hair building. Its’ distinctive feature is its triangular front. In addition, Avram built the famous Frumin building at 24 King George St., which is known as the ‘Old Knesset’. It served as the first Parliamentary Knesset of Israel from 1950-1966.
In 1948 the Rapaport House served as headquarters to one of Jerusalem’s regiments. During the War of Independence in 1948, the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus was under siege and parts of the University were then moved to Terra Sancta (located across from us, on the corner of Keren HaYesod).
The basement of this building was then rented to the Hebrew University and served as a ‘temporary’ book storage facility for its library.
The main and upper floors of this building then served as the headquarters of the Israel Jordanian Armistice Committee. Officially, the bi-weekly convoys to Mt. Scopus left from here. (In reality, they left from Schneller camp, at 34 Malkhei Yisrael Street in Mea Shaarim).
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, these floors were rented out as private residences. Some of its more well-known residents included the world renowned architect, Moshe Safdie. In the late 1970s and early 1980s it housed the fledgling ‘High School for Arts of Jerusalem’. It subsequently served as the ‘Alliance Francais’ – the French Cultural Center that was established to revive the French cultural presence in Israel which had been dormant due to the Six-Day War.
Through a generous donation by Mr. Bob Rapaport, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism was able to purchase this building in 2001. At that time, the Hebrew University removed the books (stored since 1948) and Alliance Francais vacated the premises.
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) has renovated and modernized the building, while respecting and preserving its unique history and old glory. Today, it houses the offices of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Project Oded and the Monday Evening Forum, the NATIV College Leadership Program, USY Israel Pilgrimage, and the Beit Midrash of the Conservative Yeshiva.