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September 22, 1995 - Image 204

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-09-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Jerusalem's
Jewish Quarter

MICHELLE MAZEL SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

I

OF FARMINGTON HILLS

24355 Haggerty Road • South of Grand River

(810) 471-2220

Best Wishes
To All Our Customers & Friends,
For A
Healthy, Happy
New Year

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The Doll Hospital

presents a

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DAY

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10am-2pm

,

m D e OLL

OSPITAL

"ke

204

haidishp:

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On Steiff Bear Day Only!
• Steiff Silent Auction
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(conveniently located near 1 696) • Drawing • Refreshments
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• Private Collection on Display

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Eat less
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fats.

WERE FIGHTING FOR
YOUR LIFE

American Heart
Association

t is a pleasant neighborhood

with shady courtyards and
spacious squares. Small build-
ings of mellow Jerusalem
stone, latticed windows and
wrought-iron doors; here and
there a carefully tended plant
provides a welcome splash of col-
or. Elegant art galleries, small
studios and sidewalk cafes cre-
ate a carefree atmosphere
On a sunny day, the place is a
babel of tongues as scores of
tourists crisscross the main
square in the wake of their tour
guides. Sometimes there is a lull
and one can hear voices raised in
prayer: 12 yeshivas are scattered
over the relatively small area.
This could be almost anywhere
in Israel. In Safed, perhaps. But
around the corner of yet another
winding street, one is brought
short by the sight of the Temple
Mount sitting atop the vast es-
planade of the Western Wall.
This is Jerusalem's Jewish Quar-
ter, whose bitter and brutal his-
tory is buried beneath its cobbled
stones.
Here a series of disastrous
events turned the Jews from a
proud people, secure in their
land, into a barely tolerated mi-
nority made to pay dearly for the
privilege of living in the shadow
of the Temple Mount — until the
State of Israel was born.
With the destruction of the
Second Temple and Jerusalem
by the armies of Titus in 70 CE,
those Jews fortunate enough not
to have been made slaves or de-
ported to Europe were expelled
from the city, a city the Romans
then tried to wipe off the face of
the earth. Monument after mon-
ument, house after house was re-
duced to rubble in an attempt to
obliterate all traces of its glori-
ous past. But to no avail. The
name Jerusalem remained alive
in the hearts and minds of the
Jews.
Within less than a century,
those who remained in the Holy
Land returned to settle near the
twin centers of their hopes: the
Western wall, which was all that
remained of the works of Herod,
and the Mount of Olives, where
Divine Providence was supposed
to have taken refuge and whence
the Messiah would come forth on
Judgment Day.
Periodically, the Jews were
driven away, but by the time the
Crusaders took the city in 1089,
some 1,000 lived there, taking
refuge in their synagogue. For
the greater glory of their god, the
Crusaders set fire to the build-
ing.

With the fall of the Crusader
kingdom a century later, Jews
came back to live in Jerusalem
once more. But their fate was not
a happy one. They were subject- .
ed to restrictions and persecu-
tions, could not own land or
buildings and were forbidden on
pain of death to set foot on the
Temple Mount, where the Mus-
lim rulers had set up their own
sanctuaries.
And yet they remained.
By the 16th century, the Ot-
tomans, who now ruled
Jerusalem and the Holy Land,
relaxed their grip on the Jews
and although they still enjoyed
no civil rights, life became a lit-
tle easier. More and more Jews
came to live in Jerusalem; some
came from Russia, others from
eastern Europe, driven by harsh
conditions and by the lure of Zion.
By the middle of the 19th cen-
tury, Jews were by far the largest
religious group in Jerusalem. In
1900, 30,000 Jews lived in
Jerusalem, more than the corn-
bined number of Muslims and
Christians. In fact, the Jewish
Quarter was so overcrowded that
the more adventurous among the
Jews began to leave the safety of
the walled city to build new
neighborhoods beyond the walls
in Mishkenot Shaanamim — the
beginning of the modern city of
Jerusalem.

The destruction
led to
excavations.

The 1948 War of Indepen-
dence saw the rebirth of the State
of Israel. The Old City, however,
was taken by the army of Tran-
sjordan. For the next 19 years,
Jews could only see the Wall and
the Temple Mount from afar.
Then with Israel's victory in the
1967 Six-Day War, the walls di-
viding the city came tumbling
down. As Jews made their way
to the Old City and the Jewish
Quarter, they met scenes of de-
struction and desolation — an-
cient buildings deliberately blown
up and reduced to rubble, goats
and sheep wandering in and out
of once hallowed synagogues,
squalid slums encroaching ever
closer to the Western Wall.
Paradoxically, the extent of the
destruction made it possible to
undertake extensive archeologi-
cal excavations while rebuilding
the quarter from scratch. The

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