Last week, the consulate packed up and moved from its office on South 15th Street -- where it's been located since 1996 -- and settled into temporary space in Center City, according to Leo Vinovezky, vice consul general. For now, the consulate is not releasing its address to the public, largely for security reasons, although at least one pro-Israel demonstration has apparently already been staged outside the new site.
And, for as long as the consulate remains in a temporary setting, its consular department will remain closed, said Vinovezky. That means that any Israeli citizens living or temporarily residing in the area who require assistance with passports, visas or army exemption papers will have to go through the consulate in New York.
Plans to relocate have been in the works for several months, ever since the building's owners told consular officials of their plans to convert the building at 230 S. 15th St., said Nancy Goldfarb, a consulate spokesperson.
The Philadelphia office represents the State of Israel in Pennsylvania, as well as in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Delaware and Southern New Jersey.
As recently as 2002, that same office -- one of nine regional Israeli consulates in the United States -- was on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' short list for closure, but eventually wound up off the chopping block.
For years, the stretch of 15th Street between Walnut and Locust streets has played host to both pro-Israel and anti-occupation demonstrations, held virtually every Friday. Adhering to that trend, on March 21, members of the Zionist Association of America positioned themselves in front of both the old and new consulate locations.
Steve Feldman, director of the Greater Philadelphia Disrict of ZOA, surmised that, as of last Friday, the opposition group, Bubbes and Zaydes for Peace in the Middle East, only protested outside the former address.
To reach the consulate, call 215-977-7600.