“On the top of one of the mountains around Jerusalem, the dome of the synagogue will be seen between the domes of each house, as large as the moon among the stars.” This is how Rabbi Yosha Yossef Rivlin expresses his excitement at the dedication of the synagogue.
Few buildings are so emblematic of the city, let alone a city so full of symbols like Jerusalem. Over the years, the Hurva Synagogue has been recognized as a unique and distinctive synagogue, and the surroundings of the synagogue became one of the most prominent sites of the Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, especially after the construction of the Beit Yaakov (the Hurva) synagogue in 1864.
Around the synagogue, some of the most important institutions of the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem were: Yeshivat Etz Chaim, the Beit Din, charitable institutions and batei midrash – institutions that symbolized the characteristics of Jewish life in Jerusalem in the nineteenth century until the modern era. The visit to the newly rebuilt synagogue allows visitors to appreciate the unique beauty of the synagogue’s space.
Hear the story of the place from the highest Torah ark in the world.
See the history on the archeological level / basement of the synagogue.
Above all, admire the magnificent 360° view from the balcony of the dome of the synagogue of built-up Jerusalem.
The Hurva Synagogue was re-inaugurated on March 15, 2010, 62 years after its destruction, which began with the demolition of the synagogue by Jordanian Legion forces during the fall of the Quarter in 1948 during the War of Independence.
The decision to plan and rebuild the synagogue, was accompanied by a wide public debate, was the end of a long and winding process that began with the liberation of the Jewish Quarter in the 1967 Six Day War.
For generations, a rich Jewish life permeated the walls of Jerusalem. Glorious chapters in the history of the nation, its religious heritage and its cultural treasures were sealed between its beloved alleyways.
In the midst of this magnificent tractate stands one unique synagogue, which despite its history (“Beit Ya’akov” or “Beit Ya’akov in the destroyed courtyard of Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid”, “the Great Synagogue”) is still called by all the Hurva.
It has a special religious, national and state significance, since the time of its construction in the 19th century to its destruction in the middle of the 20th century, it reflects the standing of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and the beginning of its awaking from the Diaspora through the strengthening of the Torah of Israel.
The Hurva Synagogue was the center of religious and national revival and symbolized the idea of the national home and the return of the Jewish people to its land. It is not surprising, then, that there were important and significant Jewish gatherings in the history of the settlement, such as; the visit of the first British High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, the coronation of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis of the Land of Israel, and the prayer and cry rally of the Jewish settlers in the land of Israel upon the knowledge of the terrible Holocaust that was taking place on European Jewry.
At the end of the 19th century, Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl visited the Land of Israel and did not skip the Hurva.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky visited the synagogue, the standards of the “Hebrew Legions” from World War I were deposited there for safekeeping.
Our story begins in the 15th century when a group of Ashkenazic Jews, succeed via a difficult path overcoming explicit prohibitions from the Muslim rule on Jews and non-Jews alike, to purchase land in Jerusalem. The courtyard of the Ashkenazim was the name to be given to the land that the Jews would buy.
Loyalty to Jerusalem Despite all the difficulties, this is the name of the story. Time after time the community is able to rebuild itself, even though the environment does everything to sabotage the dream. The community loses the most important thing for it, the synagogue that was destroyed several times and despite the recurrence of the incident numerous times, the synagogue was rebuilt.
The synagogue, which was first built in 1864, was to be call by the descendants of the Vilna Gaon’s students, “Beit Ya’akov in the ruined courtyard of Rabbi Yehudah the Chassid.”
In 1948, during the War of Independence, Jordanian Legion soldiers blew up the synagogue, the day after the Jewish Quarter fell. After the Six-Day War, upon the return of the Jews to the Jewish Quarter, it was decided to rebuild the synagogue and the Ashkenazi courtyard but for many reasons the synagogue was not built immediately. In the meantime, the arch was built by as remember by many from the ruins of the Hurva. The arch was built as a symbol in place of the synagogue.
In the early 2000s, the government decided to build the synagogue and indeed the synagogue was re-inaugurated on March 15, 2010.
The synagogue contains many secrets; The appearance of the synagogue, archeology beneath the synagogue and more.
The second part of the story took place about a century later, when the Vilna Gaon (the foremost leader of Ashkenazi Jews opposed the Hasidic movement, known as mitnagdim) instructed his disciples to return to the Land of Israel in order to set the process of Redemption in motion. The Vilna Gaon’s disciples who left Lithuania arrived in the beginning of the 19th century, and spent many years in the effort to redeem the “Ashkenazi Courtyard” in which Rabbi Yehuda HaHasid’s community’s half-built synagogue had stood. Finally, after meetings with the Ottoman sultan and repaying the debt with the help of Jewish donors from around the world, in 1864 the Vilna Gaon’s disciples built a synagogue in the Ashkenazi Courtyard. They named it “Beit Ya’akov (House of Jacob, after Baron James Jacob de Rothschild whose family supported the Jewish community in the Land of Israel) in the Courtyard of the Ruin of Rabbi Yehuda HaHasid”. The synagogue was a tall and prominent building, and it became a symbol of the Jewish Quarter.
Over the years, rulers, rabbis and other important visitors came to the synagogue and important historical events took place under its roof. This went on until 1948. During Israel’s War of Independence, two weeks after the State of Israel was born and following day after day of bloody battle, the Jordanian soldiers of the Arab Legion blew up the entire synagogue. For the second time in its history, the Hurva Synagogue was reduced to a pile of rubble. The Jordanian’s were fully aware of the synagogue’s symbolic importance and its destruction was intended as a demonstration of victory, meant to show that the Jewish presence in the Old City had reached a permanent end. In fact, the Jewish presence in the Jewish Quarter was interrupted for 19 years.
Following the Six-Day War of 1967, in which eastern Jerusalem was retaken by Israel and the city was reunited, the Jews returned and rebuilt the Jewish Quarter. It was also decided to rebuild the Hurva Synagogue, and in the interim one of the four arches that had supported its famous dome was recreated. This commemorative arch became a symbol of the Hurva Synagogue, of the renewed Jewish presence in the Jewish Quarter, and of the Old City in general. Three decades later, in the early 2000s, the Government of Israel announced the decision to rebuild the Hurva in its original 19th century style. With the assistance of funds given by generous donors, in addition to funds allocated by Israel’s government, work on the reconstruction was completed in 2010.
The reconstructed Hurva Synagogue was officially rededicated in March 2010 as an active synagogue and center of study in a gala ceremony attended by Israeli politicians and the chief rabbis.