When the Bukharian Quarter was founded in Jerusalem, the citizens of the city were initially shocked. After being accustomed to low houses and crowded streets, the wealthy newcomers who emigrated from Bukhara built them a luxurious neighborhood with wide streets, large houses and spacious courtyards. This created a unique neighborhood called ‘Rechovot’ or ‘Rechovot HaBukharim’ which was inspired by the verse: “And he called the name of it Rechovot; and he said; for now Hashem has made room for us…”
But the structure that stood out the most in its beauty, was the mansion built for Elisha Yehudayev and his family; one of the great philanthropists of Bukhara. The person who supervised its construction was his son-in-law, Yisrael Hefetz who hired an Italian engineer to design a palace that Jerusalem had never seen before. It included: An elegant entrance, ornate columns and cornices, beautiful moldings, rounded windows and stylish bars. The walls of the house were decorated with spectacular landscapes, and textured wall art adorned the hallway.
The corridor ceiling and the upper part of the walls were decorated with paintings of nature – birds, deer, flowers and trees. It had a picturesque view of the tombs of Avshalom and Zechariah in the Kidron Valley, snow-capped European-like mountains and streams, paintings of Jewish motifs such as the Star of David and the symbols of the twelve tribes. All of the paintings were painted by the artist, Samuel Melnick. A large synagogue was also built inside the house with large, round columns made of pink Italian marble. The roof was flat and was surrounded by metal railings designed with large stone goblets. The structure is European in its style and is reminiscent of the construction of the castles of Europe.
But a year after the Yehudayev family immigrated to Israel, and settled in their fancy home, they were forced to leave with great sorrow because of a deportation order that was given to Russian citizens, as Russia joined the First World War and was now the enemy of the Ottoman Empire which ruled Israel. The Turks invaded the abandoned home and turned the magnificent structure into the Turkish army headquarters in Jerusalem. After the war, the family returned to Jerusalem stripped of their wealth due to the Bolshevik Revolution that had taken place in the previous year. Their property was nationalized and they never had the opportunity to live there again.
But the people of Jerusalem claim that the family never grieved over this because they never actually built the palace for themselves – its extravagant beauty was constructed with the intention of housing our righteous Messiah, and since then, it became known as: The House of the Messiah.