You ready for a creepy story for today's That's My World tour?
I had always wondered about this secretive historic building on Jaffa Street in central Jerusalem.
Thinking to get a photo from the back I walked into the parking lot.
A guard came running, asking me "What's this?!" and sent me and my camera away.
Next I peered through the locked front gate in the old embellished stone arch marked District Health Office.
From these signs I assumed this was the location of the travelers clinic where you can get immunizations for southeast Asia, India, Nepal, etc.
These are the destinations favored by our young men and women for a year of freedom following their long compulsory army service.
As I was leaning on the locked gate and peering into the dimness, a buzzer buzzed and I just about fell inside.
An armed guard searched my bag and questioned me.
He said I could take a few pictures but NOT to enter the building.
What is IN there, I started wondering.
Sorry for the blurriness. I must have been shaking by then from the creepiness of the place and my desire to get out quickly.
What you are supposed to be seeing and being duly impressed by is the emblem of the Ottoman Empire on top of the building.
Only later, safely back home, did I learn the truth about this building!
Here it is, as told in the Yad Ben-Zvi guidebook, Jerusalem, a walk through time:
"In 1882 a Christian Arab youth, the only child of a wealthy family, was about to marry. His delighted parents built for the couple a magnificent house where the wedding would be held, decorated it for the happy event, and invited all their friends and acquaintances.
But a terrible blow descended on the family: the groom died on the eve of his nuptials.
The parents, who were unable to come to terms with the enormity of the disaster, decided to hold the ceremony, no matter what.
They dressed the dead groom in his festive garb and seated him on a chair in the hall next to the bride who was wearing her wedding gown.
The guest and the mother circled around the couple and danced.
At the end of the dance, a terrible cry issued from the mother's thoat, she tore her clothes and fainted.
That very day the groom was buried.
The house remained empty for a long time, since the rumors of evil spirits and curses drove away potential purchasers.
Only at the end of the nineteenth century did the Ottoman Jerusalem Municipality decide to buy the building and turn it into a city hospital [called 'Baladiyeh']. "
The British used the building, which had since been given a second storey, for their District Health Office from 1918 to 1948.
And since '48 Israel has done the same.
Apparently the Ministry of Health has offices and labs inside "the dead groom's house." Although we will never know . . .