Sunday, January 27, 2019

Jerusalem To Rebuild The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue In The Old City

Can't see images? Click here...

Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

"Master of the world, Who reigned before anything was created" (Siddur).

 The prayer Adon Olam is the opening prayer of the morning service; some congregations also recite it at the close of the evening service. It is also included in the extended version of the prayer upon retiring.

Adon Olam's being both the opening and closing prayer is similar to the practice of beginning the reading of Genesis on Simchas Torah immediately after concluding the last chapter of Deuteronomy. There, we indicate that Torah is infinite; like a circle, it has no beginning or end. So it is with prayer, which represents our relationship with God. Since God is infinite, we never reach a finite goal in relating to Him.

Indeed, the cyclical natures of prayer and Torah not only indicate that there is no end, but also that there is no beginning. Secular studies have levels of graduation which indicate that one has completed a certain level. In Torah studies, we do not complete anything. Indeed, each volume of the Talmud begins with page two rather than page one, to teach us that we have not even begun, let alone ever finish.

Growth in spirituality has no limits. The symbolism in the cyclical format of Torah and prayer is that we cannot say that we have even reached the halfway mark in spiritual growth, much less the end. This realization should excite us, not depress us, because our potential is infinite.

Today I shall ...
... try to understand that regardless of how much I think I may have advanced in spirituality, I have hardly even made a beginning.

Love Yehuda Lave

Jerusalem To Rebuild The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue In The Old City

The 144-year-old Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City withstood bloody battles in the War of Independence until an Arab bomb brought it down • Now the government has approved funds to restore it to its former splendor.


Nadav Shragai

 144-year-old Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City withstood bloody battles in the War of Independence until an Arab bomb brought it down. Now the government has approved funds to restore it to its former splendor.

The planner believes that construction will take three to four years. The government has allocated a budget of 36 million shekels ($9.5 million) to the project, but another 12 million shekels ($3.2 million) in donations is required, money the corporation is busy raising now so that the construction can be completed on schedule.

From ruins to glory


Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue once soared over the other buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem | Photo: Ben Zvi Institute<< 1 2 >>



Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue was the last post of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem to fall before it was overtaken in the War of Independence. The synagogue was notable for its splendor. Its great height, which reached up and overshadowed the mosques on the Temple Mount was an eyesore to the Muslims. Perhaps that's why it came under direct fire from the holy Mount and Al-Aqsa mosque. When Tiferet Yisrael was first built, 144 years ago, its famous dome was painted light green, but in the face of the fury of the Muslims, who had claimed that color as their own and associate it with strength, growth and renewal, the synagogue's wise founder Nissan Beck was quick to repaint it white.


Beck tried to be considerate of the Muslims, but his gesture did nothing for the Jews over the course of 76 years. When the Jewish Quarter was lost in 1948, the Jordanians shelled the white dome of Tiferet Yisrael, along with its "twin" -- the Hurva Synagogue. The two monuments that appeared in all the historical panoramas of the Old City and were captured in paintings, etchings, and decorative objects, were turned into piles of rubble.


Now, six years after the government resurrected the Hurva Synagogue, despite the ongoing protests of Muslim extremists and riots in Jerusalem, it is reconstructing Tiferet Yisrael. Al-Aqsa mosque cleric and Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein might describe the plan as "a scheme to wipe out any trace of Islam and Arabs from Jerusalem," and Al-Aqsa Institute might lie and say the synagogue is on "Islamic waqf land," but the wheels are already in motion.


The plan to reconstruct Tiferet Yisrael is currently being launched, and more historic justice is being done in the form of a new book, "High Upon High," which relates the history of this venerable Jerusalem institution through the work of 12 contemporary researchers on Jerusalem and its history, who traced the synagogue's history from the day it was founded until it was brought down in the last battle for the Jewish Quarter in the War of Independence. The book is published by the Ben-Zvi Institute and the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem Ltd., which is also in charge of rebuilding the synagogue.


The Hassidim beat the czar


Tiferet Yisrael is named after Rabbi Yisrael Friedman of Ruzhin. It took 14 years to construct and was dedicated in 1872. News reports from the time describe how the event brought local residents out into the street, rejoicing.


Tiferet Yisrael was a grand structure that was even higher than its more famous neighbor, the Hurva Synagogue. While Hurva was a center for the "mitnagdim," the Ashkenazi stream of scholarly Judaism that disassociated itself from the hassidic movement, Tiferet was the beating heart of the Jerusalem hassidic community and was built by the Ruzhin Hassidim.


The driving force behind the establishment of the synagogue was Beck, who served as the gabbai (synagogue manager) until he died. Beck's near-total identification with the synagogue led it to be known for years as "Nish's schul" (Nissan's synagogue.) Beck, who was a pillar of the Jewish community in Jerusalem, also built the Kirya Neemana homes north of the Old City wall, across from Damascus Gate, which locals called "the Nissan Beck houses." He also helped build the Yemenite neighborhood in Kfar Shiloah (today the Silwan neighborhood.) Our generation learned about him when, some 20 years ago, Jews began to return to the Nissan Beck houses, and when Jews began to resettle Kfar Shiloach about a decade ago.


Beck built the Hassids' prayer hall on an abandoned lot that was for sale in the eastern part of the Jewish Quarter. Czar Nicholas I of Russia and his ecclesiastical representatives were also keen on the site, but after a bitter battle the Hassidim won out. Their victory prevented the Russians from building a Russian Orthodox church on the site, thus blocking access to the Western Wall. When the czar heard that the Jews had beat him to it, he was furious and retaliated by acquiring a large plot of land outside the Old City walls. We still call the land Nicholas purchased "the Russian Compound," and Israel's Supreme Court used to stand there.


Dr. Eyal Davidson discovered that the Turks granted the Hassidim a permit to build Tiferet Yisrael four years after they approved the construction of Hurva. But only five years on, when sufficient funds had been raised, did construction get under way, with the aid of Russian architect Martin Eppinger. In a twist of fate, Eppinger was also the one who planned the buildings that were erected on the Russian Compound, the czar's consolation prize.


But the most famous story about Tiferet Yisrael relates to a meeting Beck held in 1867 with Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. Many writers, both of their time and those who came later, wrote about the meeting at length and described it differently. The main point was Beck's flattering response to Franz Josef, who asked him, "Why hasn't the dome of the synagogue been finished?"


Author Yehuda Haezrahi describes it in his memoir of his childhood years in Jerusalem: "And so we heard a lot about Rabbi Nissan Beck, the very son of Rabbi Yisrael Beck, who went up to Jerusalem from Safed and founded the first Hebrew press in the city, and everything he went through to build Tiferet Ysrael, but for many years he didn't have enough money to build the dome of the synagogue, and the building remained naked and unadorned, and Austrian Emperor Franz Josef asked [Beck] about it.


"And Beck answered, 'Your royal highness. The synagogue removed its dome in honor of your royal majesty ...' and his royal highness the emperor understood the subtle hint in his reply and offered 1,000 franks to build a beautiful dome." Other writers, including Haim Beer in "Feathers" and renowned Hebrew educator Yitzhak Yaakov Yellin also included the anecdote in their literary descriptions of life in Jerusalem.


Dr. Reuven Gafni of the Ben-Zvi Institute, one of the editors of "High Upon High" and a researcher of the Jewish community of Jerusalem in the modern period, notes the literary use author Shai Agnon made of the synagogue. Agnon himself participated in the special blessing that took place on the synagogue roof on the eve of Passover in 1925.


'The sadness of separation'


The experiences of one ?Lag Ba'omer night on the roof of the synagogue left a deep impression on Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi, while Haezrahi, who was of the generation that founded the state of Israel, retained the impression of his personal separation from Tiferet: "The bitter day arrived. New defenders, burdened with packs, were brought to the Jewish Quarter of the Old city and we were ordered to return to the new city. Before we left, we climbed onto the roof of Nissan Beck's synagogue, which was higher than everything else, and there was the sadness of separation, and a feeling that it was not a separation: we were torn from it, but it was staying in its place, always looking for us to return."


The moment of separation from Tiferet Yisrael was drawn out and turned into a bloody battle, in which Haezrahi was not present. Historian Dr. Moshe Ehrenwald reports that even in the 1920s, Tiferet served as a meeting point for Haganah members who came to the Old City to protect the residents. On Dec. 2, 1947, when hostilities broke out following the U.N. approval of the Partition Plan, a group of Arabs tried to break down the concrete wall on Hamadregot Street north of the synagogue to penetrate the Jewish Quarter, but were run off by pistol fire.


When the British took up some of the positions around Tiferet, Haganah members were forced to turn their lookout posts on the synagogue's balconies into fighting positions. The entry of "free" fighters, especially female fighters, into the synagogue originally created conflict with the Hassidim who prayed there, but they eventually realized that the need to defend the Jewish Quarter came first.


The fierce battle for Tiferet began after the British left the Jewish Quarter on May 13, 1948. Two days later, the Arab Legion invaded, and on the night between May 18th and 19th reached the Old City and joined the battle for Jerusalem. Abdullah A-Tul, commander of the Legion's 6th Battalion, was put in charge of the unorganized fighters who were attacking the Jewish Quarter and added artillery, mortars, and cannon fire from armored vehicles that were brought into the Old City.


On May 20, Arabs attacked the synagogue, took control of it, desecrated it and its Torah scrolls, and raised their flag. Ehrenwald describes how commander of the Jewish Quarter for Israel, Moshe Rusnak, put together a counter-attack and led a force that attacked the synagogue from the west. Avraham Bornstein commanded another force that was attacking from the south. The fighters burst into the synagogue and purified it, fighting face-to-face.


In his memoirs, Bornstein writes: "A bloody battle raged in the synagogue's great hall, with the defenders hiding behind every pillar. It was an especially brutal face-to-face battle ... against the Legion division that was armed with Thompson machine guns, hand grenades, and three Bren guns, stood six defenders holding Sten guns and two hand grenades each."


"Two [of the defenders] fell at the start of the battle, and four continued to resist and threw all the grenades they had at the enemy, who was coming in waves. The battle only lasted 15 minutes. The enemy had about 15 casualties and decided to retreat, leaving behind crates of explosives, which they had apparently intended to use to blow the building up."


But the success of the Jewish fighters in defending the synagogue was only temporary. A short while later, the Legion once again had the upper hand. On Friday, the twelfth day of the Jewish month of Iyar (May 21) 1948, mere hours before the Sabbath began, the Nissan Beck -- Tiferet Yisrael -- Synagogue came crashing down, and its splendid dome was destroyed. Columns of fire and black smoke rose from the ruins. The Arabs had managed to plant a large bomb underneath the synagogue and detonate it.


Before the tearful eyes of young fighter Esther Cailingold and a small group of her comrades who were defending the Jewish Quarter, one of the outstanding symbols of old Jewish Jerusalem collapsed. Cailingold was seriously wounded in the battles for Tiferet. She was transferred to the Armenian Monastery and, while still on a stretcher, wrote these last words to her parents, who were in England: "Please don't be too sad. I know that God is with us in his holy city, and I am proud to pay the price of redeeming the city. Very soon, I hope, you will come and enjoy the fruits of the fulfillment of what we are fighting for."


Children also took part in the final battles for Tiferet Yisrael. Some of them, aged 9 or 10, were put to work building defenses. The "older" ones -- 12 or so -- carried messages, food, and even weapons and ammunition. Some of them were killed, including Grazia (Yaffa) Haroush, 16, and Nissim Gini, aged 9?½?, who was the youngest fallen Israeli fighter in the War of Independence.


In addition to being outnumbered, the Jewish fighters had few weapons and their stores of food were running out, and defense of the Jewish Quarter and Tiferet Yisrael was limited because of the fire from the Temple Mount. After the Jewish Quarter was lost, Jerusalem District commander Avraham Bergman (later Biran) testified that Nissan Beck's synagogue had come under artillery fire and machine gun fire from the Temple Mount. But the Jews were forbidden to fire back. In a conference of Labor Party representatives, member of the National Committee Meir Grabovsky (later Argov) noted that "A special situation had been created in Jerusalem in which shots are fired from the Omar Mosque and we cannot retaliate."


In January 1948, David Ben-Gurion praised the Haganah members who were "not returning fire at the Temple Mount," thereby preventing the entire Muslim world from becoming inflamed and [providing] legitimization for them to intervene.


A Second Temple-era mikveh


For the 19 years between the War of Independence and the 1967 Six-Day War, Jews were barred from entering the Old City or the Jewish Quarter, and when they returned after the city was reunited, they encountered difficult sights. Haezrahi, who returned to the Old City, described a "gray hill of rubble and ash ... that testified to the location of Nissan Beck's synagogue."


In contrast to the great arc of memory that kept the memory of the Hurva Synagogue alive, Tiferet Yisrael remained in ruins. Its story had a hard time competing with that of Hurva. Bracha Slae, who researches the history of the Jewish Quarter, details the attempts to reconstruct and reopen Tiferet Israel.


Slae notes that the discussion of the fate of the Hurva Synagogue, which was conducted under metaphorical klieg lights, decided to a large extent the fate of Tiferet. Only when the dispute over the reconstruction of Hurva Synagogue came to an end, just as it was about to be rededicated, did an internal meeting of the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem decide that Tiferet Yisrael, too, would be resurrected. Only then, admits company deputy director Daniel Shukrun, was the open wound over what happened to the synagogue exposed.


From November 2013 to April 2014, the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted an excavation at the site of the ruined synagogue. The dig was directed by Oren Gottfeld from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with the help of Hillel Geva from the Israel Exploration Society. Beneath the ruins of Tiferet Yisrael, the archaeologists discovered a thick layer of burned material, testimony to the sacking of the city at the end of the Second Temple era. In the burnt layer, they discovered sections of burnt wood, smashed pottery vessels, coins, glass shards, stone tools, and fish bones.


One of the finds from the Second Temple era layer was a round stone weight inscribed with two lines in Aramaic. The bottom line contained the name of the priestly family -- Katros. The Katros family home itself was located some 25 meters (80 feet) northeast of the site where Tiferet Yisrael stood. It is better known to the general public as the Burnt House.


The Jewish Quarter Development Corporation has for years run an audiovisual presentation about the last days of the family that was believed to have lived in the house. The Katros family was a family of senior priests. The men of the family served in the Temple, but they were held in contempt by later sages for being corrupt.


In the northeast corner of the excavation a plastered mikveh (ritual bath) dating back to the days of the Second Temple was uncovered, and the western part of the excavation turned up a few sections of wall that dated back as far the First Temple era. But Jerusalem planning entities didn't necessarily need these finds to decide to rebuild Tiferet Yisrael, including a full and accurate reconstruction of the original synagogue and the preservation of parts of the foundation wall that remained from the original building.


The new building is planned to serve as both a synagogue and a tourist site. To avoid repeating the mistakes of the rebuilt Hurva Synagogue, which is closed to the public for the several hours a day it is in use for prayer and study, the district planning office in the Interior Ministry made a number of decisions.


For example, the ancient mikveh that will be reconstructed at the site will not be a working mikveh and the building will be barred for use by specific institutions or groups. The reconstruction will be overseen by a restoration architect from the IAA, and the lower levels will be open for public use, for everyone, and made to fit the existing context of the city.


Shukrun says that the stunning murals of the original synagogue will also be recreated to the greatest extent possible by being redrawn on fabric and then affixed to the building's walls. "We will attempt an exact recreation of the Holy Ark, the bimah [elevated platform], and the cantor's stand," he says. Shukrun believes that construction will take three to four years. The government has allocated a budget of 36 million shekels ($9.5 million) to the project, but another 12 million shekels ($3.2 million) in donations is required, money the corporation is busy raising now so that the construction can be completed on schedule.

Saartje Engel - deported from Westerbork to Sobibor on 06/04/1943

Excerpt from the testimony of Saartje Engel, describing her deportation from Westerbork, the conditions during the trainride and the arrival to Sobibor in April 1943. Interview conducted by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. To know more:

This is note from my friends in Holland who were born in her town

Dear friend, We say a documentary and thought that you might like to see it too.  Saartje was born and raised in our town and she was transported to Sobibor from where she and her husband Chaim Engel escaped and were hidden till the end of the war.Her parents had a hotel in our town called Hotel Weinberg, opposite the cattlemarket. It was the only kosher hotel in Zwolle, so all the Jewish cattle traders lodged there. Zwolle had nearly the largest cattlemarket in Holland before the war. After the war they came back but were treated very badly by the council - terrible! Because her husband was Polish they said he had to go back to Poland, but the Polish government did not take any person back because of the big problems there. So they went to Israel and later to the US.When watching the documentary I felt really ashamed that they were treated so bad by our citycouncil. After they suffered so much in the camp they could not even go back to her own house, the hotel. Of course it was confiscated by the Germans, but not given back after they went.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego
United States


You received this email because you signed up on our website or made purchase from us.