Sunday, April 06, 2008

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The Ruin

The Hurva Synagogue of the Old City of Jerusalem, 1900's
Credit: Wikipedia, user Chesdovi

Interior of the Hurva, 1935
Credit: Wikipedia user Chesdovi

Hurva site, Commemorative Arch, 2003
Credit: AkivaM

Hurva site, Rebuilding begins, 2006
Credit: AkivaM

Hurva Rebuilding, Almost Complete, Dec 2007
Credit: Wikipedia user Chesdovi
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

HaHurva, the ruin, is a synagogue in the old city that has undergone multiple rounds of destruction and rebuilding.

In the year 1700, Rabbi Yehuda HaChossid, zt"l and his students (around 500) arrived in Jerusalem from Poland. They bought the courtyard next to the Ramban Synagogue, which had been closed by the Ottomans in 1589 due to Muslim incitement. On this site they began building a synagogue.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Yehuda HaChossid, zt"l passed away and the students were unable to finish construction or pay their debts. In 1721, the unfinished structure was burned together with the 40 Sifrei Torah it contained by the Arab creditors.

The site was desolate for 140 years, when in 1816 efforts from talmidim of the Vilna Gaon began the process of trying to build again. It took until 1856 for permission to build a synagogue in Jerusalem to be granted! Funds were raised and work continued till 1864.

The synagogue contained 42-foot-high window arches and a domed ceiling that rose 82 feet above the ground. It was the tallest structure in the Old City and was visible for miles. The Holy Ark together with its gates were brought to Jerusalem from the Nikolaijewsky synagogue located in Kherson, Russia. The Nikolaijewsky synagogue had been used by Russian Jewish conscripts who had been forced to spend twenty-five years in the Tsarist army. The Ark consisted of four Corinthian columns and was decorated with baroque carvings.

In 1948, after capturing the old city, the Jordanian Legion blew up the synagogue. The commander stated, "For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews' return here impossible."

After recapturing the Old City in 1967, a commemorative floor was built on the site. In 1978, a commemorative arch was build which has been a stark reminder ever since.

Surprising many, in 2003 the Antiquities Authority undertook to excavate the site, finding remains from the 1st Temple, 2nd Temple, Roman and Ottoman times.

Then the real surprise occurred, after almost 40 years after recapturing Jerusalem, funding and permission to rebuild the Hurva was given!

So what's significant about this that I post it today? According to a tradition handed down from the Gaon of Vilna's talmidim, the Gaon had said that the Churvah would be built and destroyed twice and when rebuilt a third time, it would be a sign of the coming of Moshiach. The Hurvah Synagogue will be be getting its keystone of the dome in 2 weeks. (Right before Pesach?)

(Credits, Wikipedia, Yeranen Yaakov)

HELP THE POOR THIS PASSOVER! - Posted at Mystical Paths,


muse said...

Your post reminds me that I must get to the Old City.
ps I've been trying to bring more to Shiloh.

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