So many married and long-term couples have visited the cozy Tmol Shilshom cafe while they were dating that the cafe published a book about some of those who met their life-partners here. That book, Stories of Love, features ten couples, and is just a glimpse of the important role this place has played in the lives of so many people in Jerusalem. “I feel grateful about being a meaningful part of the lives of people of the network of this city,” said David Ehrlich, the founder and owner of Tmol Shilshom, who sadly passed away in 2020. Inspired by the bookstore-cafes he visited while traveling in Europe and the United States, Ehrlich, a former journalist and author of four fictional books, wanted to bring the concept to Jerusalem.
In 1994, he opened Tmol Shilshom in a small space overlooking Jerusalem’s Nahalat Shiva neighborhood, an area of winding streets and stone buildings in the city center. Over the years it has expanded, and now consists of two large rooms with stone floors and high arched windows. There is also a courtyard filled with tables. In addition to books, the cafe is filled with old typewriters, clocks and other unique items, which all contribute to the cozy and comfortable atmosphere.
Tables tucked next to the stone walls and windows offer ample quiet and privacy for conversations among couples or friends. The same coziness of the place that makes it an ideal date spot, has also attracted writers. The poet Yehuda Amichai spoke and read some of his poetry at the opening. Esteemed Israeli writers Amos Oz and David Grossman have also read their work here. And American writer Nathan Englander wrote his first book here. “A lot of writers have made this their home,” said Ehrlich, who, shortly before he passed away, published a set of interconnected short stories partly inspired by people he met at the cafe .
To encourage love of books and culture, and to honor his memory, the cafe still regularly hosts speakers and events, and many of its plates contain quotes from Hebrew literature. Ehrlich had also set up children’s corner in the cafe in 2019, filled with comfortable pillows as well as stacks of books and magazines.
Such a corner also makes this a great place for those couples with children to perhaps enjoy a few quiet moments together while their children are busy checking out the books, magazines and games. Ehrlich is remembered with deep admiration and respect, and it is clear that he fulfilled what he once said was his goal in life: “I really feel like this is my mission, to encourage love of culture,” he said in a 2019 interview.