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Jerusalem

King David (907-837 BCE) conquered the city from the Jebusites in the eighth year of his reign (861 BCE) when the 400- year peace pact between Abraham and the Jebusite forebear King Avimelech expired. The Midrash relates that the name Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) is a composite of “Yireh:” “[G-d] will see,” and “Shalem:” “perfect.”

When King Solomon (849-797 BCE) built the Holy Temple (in 833 BCE) on the site of the binding of Isaac (1677 BCE), Jerusalem became the spiritual epicenter of the world; G-d’s blessing emanates to the entire world from Jerusalem.

Ammunition Hill

Ammunition Hill (Givat Hatachmoshet), situated between the modern neighborhoods of Ramat Eshkol and French Hill, was the site of one of the 1967 Six-Day War’s bloodiest and most important battles. A contingent of Israeli paratroopers vied to oust entrenched Jordanian legionnaires who were preventing Israeli access to Mount Scopus and the Jerusalem-Ramallah road. Thirty-seven Israeli troops lost their lives.

Today, Ammunition Hill houses the main Jerusalem induction center for new IDF recruits, an extensive museum, and the trenches and fortifications from the battle. The museum covers the events surrounding the battle in depth, including a rousing documentary film offered in both Hebrew and English. It it also includes exhibits on armed Jewish resistance to Nazi oppression in Europe. There are several memorials to the young men who died during the campaign for Jerusalem in 1967.

City of David

The tour of the City of David begins with a breathtaking observation point overlooking biblical Jerusalem which sends visitors 3,800 years back in time to the days of Abraham, when the first foundations of the city were laid.

Underground are recently excavated fortresses and passageways where visitors relive King David’s conquest of the Jebusite city in 861 BCE as described in the Second book of Samuel.

The tour ends at the Gihon Spring, the major water source of Jerusalem for over 1,000 years and where, according to the Book of Kings, Solomon (849-797 BCE) was anointed king.

The spring channels through King Hezekiah’s (587-533 BCE) 2,700- year-old water tunnel, one of the wonders of early engineering.

Herodian Mansions

The homes in this museum were uncovered after 1967, before Yeshivat HaKotel was built, unearthing a neighborhood of priests from the time of the second Temple (349 BCE-69 CE).

The numerous mikvaot were necessary, for the kohanim (priests)—as well as all who ate sanctified foods from the Temple within the walls of the city—had to be in a constant state of ritual purity.

The museum also has a fascinating exhibit on vessels from the second Temple and a fallen beam, now a pile of ashes from the building’s fall on Tisha B’Av, together with the Holy Temple’s fall.

Jewish Quarter

The Old City is divided into four neighborhoods: the Jewish Quarter in the southeast, and the Muslim, Christian, and Armenian quarters.

Remains of almost every era of Jewish civilization, from the time Joshua entered the Land of Israel, can be found in the quarter and its environs.

Menachem Tzion Synagogue

The Menachem Tzion Synagogue was originally built in the Middle Ages.

Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Hurwitz (the SheLaH HaKadosh, 1565-1630) officiated here.

This congregation was one of the first to be reestablished in the community after 1967, when there were still gaping holes from the wars in the front of the entrance. The beautiful eighteenth century ark was brought from Italy and the furnishing in the men’s section came from the synagogue of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) in Germany.

Or HaChaim Synagogue

Rabbi Chaim Ben Atar, the Or HaChaim HaKadosh (1696-1743), famed for his groundbreaking commentary on the Torah, arrived in Jerusalem in 1742 and made his study hall in this building.

The mikveh where he immersed himself was uncovered ten years ago, exactly where long-standing tradition recorded it ought to be. It can be seen to the left of the stairs leading to the women’s section.

There is another room at the back of the men’s section where the Or HaChaim studied in sanctity and learned with Elijah the Prophet. Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Ari Zal, was born in 1534 in another part of the building.

Southern Wall Excavations

One of the most important archeological projects in recent history, these excavations began in 1968, continuing until 1978, and then were resumed in the 1990s.

During the Second Temple era (349 BCE–69 CE) a wide colonnade was here and remains of a foot bridge and an archway leading to it were uncovered.

Also seen here are remnants of water channels, mikvaot (ritual pools), and buildings where moneychanging services and livestock were available to the Holy Temple pilgrims who wished to offer sacrifices.

These excavations are most important to understanding the Temple Mount, the site of the Holy Temples, because of the impossibility of excavating on the Mount itself.

Temple Mount Western Wall

The First Holy Temple was constructed by King Solomon, who hired tens of thousands of craftsman and used the choicest materials including stone, cedar wood, bronze, silver, and gold imported from the east and west.

Solomon’s Temple stood 410 years, from 833 until 423 BCE, when it was destroyed by the Babylonians.

As Jeremiah prophesied, exactly seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple, the building of the Second Temple commenced. The Second Temple was dedicated four years later in 349 BCE and stood until its destruction by the Romans in 69 CE.

The Temples served as the point of contact between heaven and earth, as the physical expression of G-d’s presence. Of the 613 mitzvot (commandments), 180 are Temple-related, and the thrice-yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem was the heart of the Jewish people’s service to G-d.

The Temple’s destruction is mourned as the greatest tragedy of our history, and its rebuilding will mark the ultimate redemption— the restoration of harmony between G-d and His creation.

As the Temple Mount is the holiest place on earth, Jewish people refrain from entering it.

The Western Wall has been revered throughout the ages as a remnant of the wall surrounding the perimeter of the Temple Mount. It is the wall closest in proximity to the Holy of Holies (Kodesh HaKodashim).

Our rabbis teach that the Western Wall of the Temple Mount remained standing because it was built by the poor.

Temple Treasures Institute

The Institute was founded by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel who, as a paratrooper in 1967, found himself on the Temple Mount guarding the mosque as Jerusalem’s Old City returned to Jewish control.

Told by General Moshe Dayan that he was giving the Temple Mount back to the hands of the Wakf, the young idealist was quite shocked that the government wasn’t planning to rebuild the third Holy Temple.

A few years later, Rabbi Ariel decided to help move things along in a peaceful and educational manner, by teaching about the Holy Temple’s heritage through recreating the Temple vessels according to the traditional sources, with real gold, silver, and bronze.

Aside from the vessels, the Institute has a model of the second Temple, an audio-visual presentation, and a gallery of oil paintings depicting the daily service in the Temple.

The Broadwall

Take a turn from HaYehudim Street towards Plugat HaKotel Street and you will be looking down upon a wall from either the late first Temple period, when King Hezekiah (587-533 BCE) strengthened the fortifications of Jerusalem, or, according to others, from the early second Temple period. The maps on the wall explain it all.

The Burnt House

The burnt House is also known as Beit Katros, the House of Katros, after the insignia of this priestly family was found in the remains.

The Burnt House reopened in September 2002, after extensive renovations, with a dramatic film, using the latest technology to recreate the events leading up to the fire that devastated it just after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

The Cardo

Ancient columns of the main north-south artery of Roman-Byzantine Jerusalem (146 BCE–1453 CE), which served as a market place, have been unearthed. Each civilization that came to Jerusalem reused the remains and ruins of their predecessors. In the covered section, a wall comprised of many different levels of stones from different periods can be seen.

The excavated eastern section shows the broad wall from the Temple period and arches from the Cardo, buried under Crusader and Mameluke foundation and buildings.

The Chush

Number 36 Chabad Street contains a compound of courtyards populated by the Jewish community starting in the early 1800s, and over the years housed several synagogues: Sukkat Shalom, founded in 1836 by the Perushim of Kollel Hod (HollandDeutschland); Ahavat Zion, founded in 1855; Yeshivat Chesed El, founded by Rabbi Shlomo Yechezkel Yehuda who immigrated from Baghdad; and Beit Hillel, founded in 1862, which was built on as a second story of Ahavat Zion.

The courtyard was restored in 1978 and today houses ten families.

The Four Sephardic Synagogues

These synagogues were founded 400 years ago, after the forced closing of the Ramban Synagogue led to separate Sephardic and Ashkenazic institutions.

The complex was used as a shelter for the community of the Jewish Quarter in 1948, when the Arab legions broke through the defensive lines. Though many of the synagogue’s furnishings disappeared during the nineteen-year Jordanian occupation, the buildings themselves remained intact and were renovated by the Sephardic community after 1967.

The Hurva

The Hurva (Churvah: “Ruin”) was originally built by a community of 300 Polish families who arrived in Jerusalem in 1700.

They borrowed vast sums of money from their Arab neighbors in order to build the once magnificent edifice. Shortly after its construction, the community was devastated by an epidemic that also took the life of their leader Rabbi Yehudah HaChasid.

The Arabs, who had loaned the money 73 and were never repaid, destroyed the building by setting it on fire in 1721, and the ruins (churvah) became a fixture in the neighborhood for more than a century. Rebuilt in the late 1830s by chasidim who moved to Jerusalem from Safed after the great earthquake, it was again destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948.

A modern arch, built after 1967 to commemorate the synagogue that had been one of the two tallest buildings in the neighborhood, was one of the identifying landmarks of the Jewish Quarter for more than three decades.

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