Pisgat Ze’ev is the largest residential neighborhood in Jerusalem with a population of over 50,000. Pisgat Ze’ev was established in 1982, on land annexed to Israel after the Six Day War, as one of the city’s five ring neighborhoods. It was intended to create a contiguous Jewish link with Neve Yaakov in the North, which had been isolated from other Jewish areas. The original name proposal was “Pisgat Tal,” based on the Arabic name of the hilltop where construction was to begin, but the final choice was Pisgat Ze’ev, after the Revisionist Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Archaeological evidence shows that in the biblical period, the site encompassed small agricultural villages along routes north from Jerusalem to Nablus and the Galilee. The villages made use of varied water-catchment strategies and served the needs of Israelite Jerusalem, including as a major producer of wine and oil for use in the Temple in Jerusalem. Three ritual baths from the Second Temple period have been excavated in Pisgat Ze’ev.
The Byzantine period saw the villages’ primary use shift from agriculture to service of religious functions, such as churches and monasteries. A large monastery from the period was located at the site’s highest point, Ras at-Tawill. The monastery was likely active from the end of the 5th century to the close of the 8th century, and included a mosaic-floored chapel above a burial cave, as well as an oil press and a cloth bag of 200 coins. An oven and pots from the Iron Age were also found nearby.
An archaeological site known as Deir Ghazali (the Deer Monastery) was also excavated in eastern Pisgat Ze’ev.
Overlooking the neighborhood is Tell el-Ful, believed to be the capital of the Tribe of Judah and site of the Israelite King Saul’s palace. King Hussein of Jordan also began constructing a palace there.
In the 1930’s, plots of land were purchased near Hizme by European Jews for the establishment of a Jewish farming cooperative, Havatzelet Binyamin. Most of the landowners died in the Holocaust. The land was later expropriated along with Palestinian land to build Pisgat Ze’ev.
Many residents of Pisgat Ze’ev are Jerusalem families that left the city center in search of more affordable housing. Pisgat Ze’ev has a mixed population of religious and secular Jews. With 40 percent of the residents under the age of 21, Pisgat Ze’ev has 58 kindergartens, 9 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 3 high schools. There are also 22 synagogues and 2 libraries.
According to RE/MAX Vision real estate agents Lynn Lifshitz & Sahar Asayag, who specialize in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood, “Although prices are still high throughout most of the Jerusalem area, Pisgat Ze’ev is very affordable and therefore it is attracting many young families. When first established there were very few services or conveniences in the neighborhood. The area now boasts a full service mall, all the kupot cholim services and even a large and active community center. The light rail is also a huge asset that has eliminated much of the traffic problems that had once faced the community.”
Moshe Dayan Boulevard, beginning at Highway 1 (Israel) in the south and ending in Neve Yaakov in the north, is named after the famed Israeli Army general. It is Pisgat Ze’ev’s major commercial thoroughfare, including many shops, eateries and the Pisga Mall. Many of the street names in Pisgat Ze’ev commemorate leading Israeli personalities such as Simcha Holtzberg, Moshe Rachmilewitz, Eliyahu Meridor and Meir Gershon. In the center of Pisgat Ze’ev, many streets are named for Israel Defense Forces units that fought in the country’s wars such as Sayeret Duchifat Blvd., HaSayeret HaYerushalmit St., Sayeret Golani St. and Hel HaAvir St. A memorial for fallen soldiers is located in an archaeological park in central Pisgat Ze’ev.
With the help of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), the residents of Pisgat Ze’ev transformed a 5-acre (20,000 sqm) site used as an illegal dumping ground into a wildflower sanctuary with over 55 species of trees and plants.
In 2011, an innovative water-recycling project was introduced at the ritual bath in Pisgat Ze’ev which will make it unnecessary to change the water every day. In 2011, rainwater collection tanks were installed at the Pisgat Ze’ev (West) school in a project designed to conserve water organized by the Green Network, which specializes in educational programming in ecology and the environment.