Breaking news: Israel bans non-citizens, sends Israelis to quarantine hotels instead of their homes in bid to block mutated virus Crowns, crusaders and murder: On Jerusalem’s ramparts, tales of love and lust and The First Agudat Yisrael Knessiah Gedolah And The Introduction Of The Daf Yomi By Saul Jay Singer and Google Censors only Republicans and not Democrats
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.
Israel bans non-citizens, sends Israelis to quarantine hotels instead of their own homes in a bid to block mutated virus
Starting Wednesday, Israelis returning from abroad must stay at a state-run quarantine hotel for 14 days.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Israel on Monday decided to ban the entry of all non-citizens into the country for the next 10 days in a bid to keep a new mutated version of the coronavirus from reaching the country. It also decided to send citizens to coronavirus hotels to quarantine.
"We have, at the moment, a new pandemic that is spreading, with a virus which we do not yet know about. This mutation could also be coronavirus 2," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
"Therefore, I decided last night – and we implemented today – to close the skies of the State of Israel. Foreign nationals will not enter the country, other than exceptions such as diplomats. Israelis, who return from abroad, starting in another 48 hours, will be quarantined at designated hotels. If they return in the next 48 hours, they will be able to quarantine at home," Netanyahu added.
"I know that this is a difficult decision but we have no choice. I understand the difficulty that is also being caused to families, travelers, to everybody. Nevertheless, this decision is critical because we must safeguard your health and your lives. This decision is valid, as of now, for 10 days with the possibility of being extended," the the prime minister said after the cabinet decision.
Netanyahu again urges 'close the skies as quickly as possible' as virus mutation fears grow
Israelis returning from abroad beginning on Wednesday will be taken directly from the airport to a state-run quarantine hotel for 14 days, a the decision apparently made after health officials discovered that many returning passengers were simply not self-quarantining on their return to the country and had been spreading the virus.
Under the rules, those in hotel quarantine could be released early after 10 days if they test negative twice for the virus with at least 24 hours between the first test result and the second test.
With Israel's travel industry paralyzed by the pandemic, the the government decided during the first wave of infections earlier this year to rent empty hotels and use them as quarantine centers. The move provided an economic lifeline to some hotels while allowing those infected to recover from the disease without infecting others in their household.
However, the head of the IDF Homefront Command, Major General Uri Gordin, said that when he heard the proposal to confine all returnees from abroad in the hotels, he felt compelled to announce that one person had committed suicide in a hotel Monday morning, the news website Kikar Shabbat reported.
The dead person appeared to be a traveler who came from Russia and was sent to solitary confinement in a hotel, the report said.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Google's YouTube to Censor All Claims of Election Fraud by Republicans, Not Democrats Wed Dec 9, 2020 Daniel Greenfield
By "all", we obviously mean all claims coming from Republicans. Media and their Democrats are still free to upload videos alleging that President Trump is a Russian agent and that Russian bots tilted the election for him in 2016. Should they try to make similar claims about President Trump winning Texas due to foreign election interference, voter suppression, or the galactic federation, you can bet that the illegal Big Tech monopoly known as Google or Alphabet won't interfere.
It will only censor conservatives calling out election fraud. Just like a component of the Democrat oligarchy should.
Under the Orwellian title of "Supporting the 2020 U.S. election" (what the hell does supporting an election mean?) YouTube announced that as part of its job of "connecting people with authoritative information" (technically the role of a propaganda system, not a platform that makes its money from people uploading stolen content, abusing children, or humiliating themselves on camera in the hopes of making a few bucks), the Google platform will now ban allegations of fraud.
"We also disallow content alleging widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of a historical U.S. Presidential election," YouTube falsely claims.
In fact, YouTube has not censored any claims about the 2016 election. Nor is it about to start removing material from Democrats about the 2000 election. The only election it plans to censor fraud claims about is the one handed to the party and ideology it supports.
Sorry George Orwell, don't bother with any YouTube uploads.
"As always, news coverage and commentary on these issues can remain on our site if there's sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artistic context," YouTube argues
In other words, the media's content and other lefty content alleging fraud in 2000 and 2016 will be allowed to remain.
"Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections," YouTube warns.
The obvious question is why. If the election is over, as YouTube claims, and there's nothing more to discuss, then what's the harm in discussing it? If discussion won't change the outcome of the election, then why censor it?
Previous Big Tech censorship arguments had been built around the impact of "misinformation" on the election. Since the election is over, the impact will no longer be on the election.
It'll be on the government.
What YouTube is really doing is saying that it's banning content that will undermine Biden and the Democrats.
Shouldn't all of YouTube's revenues be treated as an in-kind contribution to the Democrats?
LOVE: We show love by being interested in others' thoughts and feelings and accepting them as they are, without criticizing or trying to change them.
The First Agudat Yisrael Knessiah Gedolah And The Introduction Of The Daf Yomi
Not long after its founding, Agudat Yisrael came to be a metaphor for charedi Jewry's confrontation with modernity in general and with religious Zionism in particular.
Essentially born of anti-Zionism, Agudah maintained as one of its principal guiding ideas that Zionism is incompatible with Torah Judaism. As such, although it developed an active presence in Eretz Yisrael, its focus was on dwelling in the land – which is a Torah commandment – rather than establishing Jewish sovereignty there. Accordingly, while it sought recognition and status for the charedi community in Eretz Yisrael, it refused to be included in the political bodies of the Yishuv.
The origins of Agudah lay in the Tenth Zionist Congress – held at Basel, Switzerland in August 1911 – at which the Zionist movement suppressed the political aspect of Zionism in favor of cultural and economic policy, marking the end of the friction between the practical Zionists and the political Zionists.
Though ironically dubbed the "Peace Conference," there wasn't much peace with – or within – the Orthodox Mizrachi camp, which was bitter due to the adoption by the Congress of the cultural program, pursuant to which the Zionist Actions Committee was charged with carrying out educational activities in Eretz Yisrael and Eastern Europe. This program was an anathema to many of the charedi leaders, who believed that religious Judaism could not coexist with a secular Jewish culture.
Charedi leaders were actually less worried about the threat presented by Herzl's secular Zionism, which it saw as drawing much of its support from already assimilated Jews, than it was about the Mizrachi movement, a Torah-true organization with an appeal to Agudah's base and which therefore presented an unacceptable challenge to both Agudah's theological approach and to its general hegemony.
Seeing the writing on the wall – i.e., that the cultural Zionists were about to take command of the Zionist movement – the charedim held a meeting prior to the commencement of the Tenth Congress, which resulted in the drafting of a resolution that "nothing that is contrary to the Jewish religion should be undertaken by any institution for cultural activity by the World Zionist Organization."
When the Congress defeated the proposal and adopted the cultural program, many delegates and leaders withdrew from the WZO and, a year later, joined German Orthodox separatist leaders and Eastern European traditionalist opponents of Zionism to form Agudat Yisrael.
The founding conference of the World Agudat Yisrael was held in Kattowitz, Upper Silesia in May 1912, with some 300 delegates in attendance, who began the difficult task of uniting the disparate views of Orthodox communities across Europe under the Agudah flag. The conference appointed a temporary council charged with founding Orthodox organizations across Europe and established the first Moetset Gedolei HaTorah (the "Council of Torah Sages") as a rabbinical body charged with passing on the propriety of all the Agudah's major actions.
The aim of World Agudat Yisrael became to strengthen Orthodox institutions independent of the Zionist movement and Mizrachi. Due primarily to the efforts of Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Reines, head of the Mizrachi movement, most Mizrachi members remained with the WZO. (The Agudah would not drop its anti-Zionist position until after the Holocaust.)
Although the Agudah launched branches throughout Lithuania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, it proved most successful in Poland and, by the early 1920s, it became perhaps the most influential political Jewish party in Poland. Agudah members held themselves out as good citizens – indeed, as patriots – of the Polish fatherland, thereby earning the goodwill of the Polish people and facilitating the promotion of Jewish civil rights within the existing political structure.
During World War I, German Rabbis Pinchas Kohn and Dr. Emmanuel Carlebach – as the rabbinical advisors to the German occupation forces in Poland – worked together with R. Avraham Mordechai Alter, the Gerrer Rebbe, to unify much of Eastern European and Western European Orthodox Judaism under the Agudah umbrella.
The movement, which quickly gained important support, particularly from chassidic and charedi Jews, ran a slate of nominees in post-World War I Polish elections and obtained great electoral achievements, including the election of Alexander Zusia Friedman, R. Meir Shapiro, R. Yosef Nechemya Kornitzer, and R. Aharon Lewin of Reysha to the Polish Sejm (parliament).
In August 1914, Agudah commenced preparations for convening a worldwide Knessiah Gedolah ("Great Congress") as a counter to the Zionist Congresses, but the start of World War I made such a plan unworkable. The First Knessiah Gedolah, which was held in September 1923 (from the 4th to the 11th of Elul) at the elegant Opera House in Vienna, Austria, was a seminal event in the modern history of Jewish Orthodoxy. Chaired by Rav Yehuda Leib Zirelsohn, it was attended by many of the world's greatest leaders, including R. Yisrael Meir Kagan, the legendary Chofetz Chaim.
Other attendees included thousands of Jews seeking to join their revered leaders in standing up for the ideals and goals of Agudat Yisrael. One segment conspicuously missing, however, were religious Zionists, whom the Agudah rabbis viewed as a danger on par with assimilationism.
The Chofetz Chaim offered a beautiful parable to explain the purpose of the Knessiah Gedolah as part of his address at the gathering:
Various medical professionals surrounded the bed of a critically ill patient. In accordance with his medical specialty, each of them paid close attention to a particular organ or body part and proposed various treatment regimens.
Suddenly, one of the physicians approached the patient and listened to the beat of his heart. "Wait," he announced to his fellow doctors, "listen to his heart. The heartbeat is very feeble. First, let us get his heart to beat normally again, and then we can consider other medical issues."
My dear brothers, the heartbeat of the Jewish people is the Torah, and the slowed beat of its heart is manifest. We have come here to save the very heart of the Jewish people.
The "slowed beat of its heart" was the result of the new freedom Jews gained with emancipation, which flowed from the modern "Enlightenment" and led to materialism, socialism, and the abandonment of the Torah by many Jews and Jewish communities. The Knessiah represented the first 20th century gathering of world Torah leaders to unite in the struggle against secular and assimilationist movements that were threatening the survival of Torah Jewry.
Exhibited here is a rare and beautiful Knessiah Gedolah card mailed from Vienna on September 23, 1923. It depicts a globe inscribed "Agudat Yisrael" atop the three pillars of Agudah, based upon Pirkei Avot 1:2: Torah, the Temple service, and practicing acts of piety. Also shown is a Delegate's Card for attendance at the Knessiah.
The Knessiah passed a resolution conveying its blessings and hopes for a successful term to President Calvin Coolidge and, while expressing gratitude that America served as a refuge for large numbers of Jews, it asked the president to use his influence to liberalize the immigration laws. To the great disappointment of the American Jewish community, Coolidge was unaffected by the Knessiah resolution and, worse, he signed the Johnson-Reed Act, an immigration bill that restricted Jewish immigration to the United States.
One of the major topics of discussion at the conference – which caused great disagreement – was Agudat Yisrael's relationship toward organized Zionism in general and toward the Mizrachi in particular. The principal accomplishment of the Knessiah, however, was the remarkable ability of the various factions and interests to unify for a single directed purpose and to promote a feeling among world religious Jewry – again, except for the Zionists – that they were a single community united in its commitment to fight assimilation and non-Torah values.
Protesting the persecution of Jews in Russia, the Assembly also adopted separate resolutions urging the Soviets to modify their attitude on the subject; upholding schechita (ritual slaughter); and promoting increased religious observance, particularly greater Shabbat observance worldwide.
It also determined to send a prestigious group to America, including the Chofetz Chaim and the Gerrer Rebbe, to recruit followers for the Agudah. The mission (which ultimately did not include these two personalities) proved highly successful and led to the establishment of the Agudat Yisrael of America.
The Knessiah was further notable for challenging long-established Eastern European Orthodox practice by promoting Jewish education for girls. Although the idea to found yeshivot for girls had been initiated by Sarah Schenirer a few years earlier when she opened the first Bais Yaakov school, the Knessiah championed the establishment of Bais Yaakovs across Europe and allocated significant funds for their support.
However, the most historically significant event at the Knessiah – an episode with repercussions that reverberate to this day – was undoubtedly a proposal presented by a 36-year-old rabbi, who captivated everyone with his eloquence and brilliance. Rav Meir Shapiro, then rav of Sanok, Poland and future rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, was selected to present to the plenum the suggestions and decisions of the Vaad LeInyonei Chinuch (Committee on Matters of Education).
On August 16, 1923, after enumerating the plans to strengthen Jewish education and practice, he sought permission to present a personal proposal, which shook the very foundations of Torah study: that Jews in all parts of the world should study the same daf (page of Talmud) each day, with the goal of completing the entire Talmud in about seven and a half years. As Rav Shapiro himself beautifully explained it to the delegates at the Knessiah:
What a great thing! A Jew travels by boat and takes Gemara Berachot under his arm. He travels for 15 days from Eretz Yisrael to America, and each day he learns the daf. When he arrives in America, he enters a beismedrash in New York and finds Jews learning the very same daf that he studied on that day, and he gladly joins them. Another Jew leaves the States and travels to Brazil or Japan, and he first goes to the beis medrash, where he finds everyone learning the same daf that he himself learned that day. Could there be greater unity of hearts than this?
In those years, only some of the 63 tractates of the Talmud were being studied regularly, while others, such as Zevachim and Temurah – which focus on topics that relate to the Temple ritual – were hardly studied at all. Originally, Rav Shapiro saw Daf Yomi as an appropriate program only for the religious youth of Poland, but his idea was greeted so enthusiastically by the nearly 600 delegates at the Congress, including many Torah leaders from Europe and America, that the program was accepted by practically all religious Jews worldwide.
The first cycle of Daf Yomi commenced a few weeks later on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5684, September 11, 1923. To show support for the new program, the Gerrer Rebbe learned the first daf of Berachot in public. On November 12, 1924, when Tractate Berachot was completed, Rav Shapiro published a calendar for the entire cycle of DafYomi study.
Exhibited here is a very rare correspondence handwritten by Rav Shapiro on his personal letterhead and dated "Sanhedrin 40" (it was his practice to use the Daf Yomi to date his correspondence). He sends blessings for the New Year to the rav of Sekowil and closes with a statement about saying the Shehecheyanu blessing on the second night of Rosh Hashanah.
Rav Shapiro (1887-1933), who earned broad recognition as a great illui and gaon at a very young age, received semicha from a number of the greatest rabbanim of the time, including the Maharsham. He went on to serve as rav in Galina (1910-1920), Sanok (1920-1924), Petrakov, and, finally and most famously, in Lublin, where he established the world-renowned Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, which trained many hundreds of rabbanim who went on to serve as leaders of Polish Jewry.
The cornerstone of the yeshiva was laid in 1924, but it would not be able to open its doors until six years later at the culmination of R. Shapiro's fundraising efforts throughout Poland and the United States. With R. Shapiro simultaneously serving as rav of Lublin and as rosh yeshiva, Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin became one of the most venerated yeshivot of its time.
In 1914, R. Shapiro was appointed head of the Education Department of Agudat Yisrael in East Galicia; went on to become president of Agudah in Poland (1922); and became an honored member of the Moetset Gedolei HaTorah. He became the first Orthodox Jew to become a member of the Polish Sejm, serving from 1922-1927; although his lack of proficiency in Polish limited his effectiveness, having a leading rabbi in the Parliament constituted an important symbolic encouragement to the Jews of Poland.
Sadly, he died of typhus at the very young age of 46.
Crowns, crusaders and murder: On Jerusalem's ramparts, tales of love and lust
A walk atop the Old City's walls gives visitors a glimpse into the passions of past rulers, including a Christian king, a Turkish sultan, an Armenian princess, and King Herod
Part of the Armenian compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Armenia was the first nation to officially accept Christianity, in the year 301, and Armenians have been in Jerusalem since. (Shmuel Bar-Am)Part of the Armenian compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Armenia was the first nation to officially accept Christianity, in the year 301, and Armenians have been in Jerusalem since. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
The end of Jerusalem's ramparts walk, near the Old City's Zion Gate. (Shmuel Bar-Am)The end of Jerusalem's ramparts walk, near the Old City's Zion Gate. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Dormition Abbey, seen from Jerusalem's Old City ramparts. The abbey was inaugurated in 1910 over an early church that was believed to contain the biblical Mary's crypt. (Shmuel Bar-Am)Dormition Abbey, seen from Jerusalem's Old City ramparts. The abbey was inaugurated in 1910 over an early church that was believed to contain the biblical Mary's crypt. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Archaeological excavations under a Turkish-built military structure called the kishle in Jerusalem. Researchers have uncovered ruins at the site dating back to King Hezekiah's reign in the 8th-century BCE. (Shmuel Bar-Am)Archaeological excavations under a Turkish-built military structure called the kishle in Jerusalem. Researchers have uncovered ruins at the site dating back to King Hezekiah's reign in the 8th-century BCE. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
A view of the Mishkenot Sha'anamim neighborhood of Jerusalem seen from the Old City ramparts. The neighborhood dates back to 1857 and was the first housing project outside of the Old City. (Shmuel Bar-Am)A view of the Mishkenot Sha'anamim neighborhood of Jerusalem seen from the Old City ramparts. The neighborhood dates back to 1857 and was the first housing project outside of the Old City. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Visitors look at a model of the Old City's citadel at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem. (Shmuel Bar-Am)Visitors look at a model of the Old City's citadel at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
The roof of the Turkish-built kishle structure, a historical site that is part of the Old City's ramparts walkway. (Shmuel Bar-Am)The roof of the Turkish-built kishle structure, a historical site that is part of the Old City's ramparts walkway. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Visitors tour the Jerusalem Ramparts Walk on Jerusalem's Old City walls, on December 17, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)Visitors tour the Jerusalem Ramparts Walk on Jerusalem's Old City walls, on December 17, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The entrace to a cemetery in the Old City of Jerusalem, seen from its ramparts. (Shmuel Bar-Am)The entrace to a cemetery in the Old City of Jerusalem, seen from its ramparts. (Shmuel Bar-Am
Two thousand years ago or so, an impoverished shepherd fell in love with the daughter of a rich aristocratic Jewish family. His name was Akiva; hers was Rachel. And although her family disowned her, Rachel refused to abandon Akiva.
So poor were the two young lovers that Rachel sold her beautiful hair to keep them from starving. Saddened, Akiva promised that one day he would buy her a "golden Jerusalem."
Rachel sent her then illiterate husband off to school, from which he returned many years later as a renowned scholar. Somewhere along the line, he carried out his promise and bought her a tiara that featured miniature walls of a golden city. It was so dazzling that the wife of the head of the Sanhedrin (Jewish court) at the time complained bitterly to her husband because she didn't have a crown like Rachel's Golden Jerusalem.
Over time the story was forgotten and perhaps dismissed as a Talmudic legend. Then, during excavations of ancient Beit Shean, archeologists uncovered a Byzantine mosaic depicting a wealthy woman wearing a headdress made of golden city walls.
A mosaic uncovered in Beit Shean depicting a woman wearing a headdress reminiscent of Jerusalem's city walls. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
We can't know what the walls around Jerusalem looked like in Akiva's time, but surrounding the Old City today are walls that were restored by Turkish sultan Suleiman the Great in 1538. Over four kilometers in length and 12-25 meters (yards) high, they are topped by ramparts (fortified walkways) that offer wonderful views both into the Old City and outside it as well.
Suleiman possessed a large harem. But one day he got a glimpse of a Ukrainian woman who had been captured in a raid and was on sale at a Turkish slave market. It was love at first sight, the rest of the harem was dismissed, and the woman, Roskelana, became the Imperial consort.
Suleiman was so smitten that he wrote touching love letters, saying that Roskelana was the essence of his existence, his lover, his rose, his confidante, and even his "Constantinople" – the highest compliment of all.
Last week we took a walk on Suleiman's southern ramparts. A popular Jerusalem attraction, they had been closed for months because of the pandemic and had just reopened. Accompanying us was Gura Berger, spokesperson for the East Jerusalem Development Company (PAMI) that is responsible for the ramparts. And while she could have talked about the endless wars and devastation that are an integral part of Jerusalem history, she regaled us, instead, with tales of love and passion that are related to sights along the way.
The southern portion of Jerusalem's Old City ramparts are open to the public seven days a week. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Our jaunt began at the massive Jerusalem fortress, or citadel, that we know today as the Tower of David Museum. For the next year or so, while the museum is undergoing renovations, its entrance is through part of the dry Crusader moat that once surrounded the 2,000-year-old citadel. And, yes, dry, for while the moats in Crusader Europe were filled with water, Jerusalem sadly lacked that precious commodity.
King Herod built a fortress 2,000 years ago on Hasmonean (Maccabee) ruins. Located at the highest point in the city, it boasted three heavily fortified protective towers. One remaining base was incorporated into the Tower of David Museum — perhaps the tower he named for Mariamne.
The most beloved of his wives, Mariamne was the granddaughter of a High Priest and one of the last of the royal Hasmonean line. A very smart woman, she was very possibly also the most beautiful woman of her time. And Herod was obsessed with Mariamne — totally, absolutely, head over heels in love, but his love was unrequited. Mariamne despised her husband, who had murdered her little brother, her grandfather (and who would later kill off several of their sons).
A view of central Jerusalem, seen from the Old City ramparts. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Herod loved Mariamne so much that he couldn't bear the idea of her being with any other man, and before he left the country for Rome and Egypt he made arrangements for her to be killed if he couldn't return. Later, Herod heard a rumor that his wife had had an affair. Mad with jealousy, he murdered her, and then went crazy with remorse, constantly crying out for her and looking for her everywhere. The Talmud relates that he kept Mariamne preserved for seven years by covering her corpse with honey.
Besides a model of the citadel as it looks today, our walk featured two quarries, monumental steps down to a mikveh, or Jewish ritual bath, and two stone bases, the bottoms of tall pillars that had formed part of a colonnade. The colonnade surrounded a royal pool, and stood inside the spectacular palace that Herod constructed next to the citadel. It stretched from this area next to the citadel all the way to somewhere near today's Zion gate.
Steps leading to a walkway on Jerusalem's Old City ramparts. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
You need to be in pretty good shape to climb the metal steps up to the ramparts, where you come to the first of the walls' several dozen fortified towers. Below your feet is the Turkish-built kishle, or barracks, first for a military base, then a British prison that confined members of the pre-state Jewish underground.
Many years ago, the museum carried out extensive excavations in a portion of the kishle. Beneath immense masses of dirt, and to everyone's delight, archeologists headed by Amit Re'em of the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered thousands of years of history — from arches dating back to the Crusaders, pools left by two or three Jewish dyers in the 12th-century, and remains from Herod's palace, to part of the city wall built by King Hezekiah in the late 8th-century BCE.
Archaeological excavations under a Turkish-built military structure called the kishle in Jerusalem. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
From the ramparts, you can see right into the Armenian Quarter — a walled compound within the walled city. Armenia was the first nation in the world to officially accept Christianity in the year 301 and there have been Armenians in Jerusalem ever since.
Some years ago, renovations in the compound revealed a mosaic from an early church named after the Jewish high priest Caiaphas. The New Testament relates that Jesus was held captive at Caiaphas's house on Mount Zion the night before the crucifixion and, according to Armenian tradition, this was that very site.
At the very beginning of the 12th-century, Armenian princess Morphia married Baldwin II, a crusader who was heir to the Jerusalem throne. Because the couple had four daughters and no sons, Baldwin was repeatedly advised to divorce his wife — counsel that he vehemently refused. Indeed, Baldwin was so devoted to Morphia that he postponed his coronation in 1119 until Morphia, who was out of the country, could reach Jerusalem to be crowned alongside him.
The Armenian compound in Jerusalem's Old City, seen from its ramparts walkway. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Their oldest daughter Melisende, who would later rule alone as queen of Jerusalem, was wed to the wealthy Templar crusader Count Fulk V of Anjou. Here was another man besotted by his wife, and also intensely jealous. After he accused Melisende of infidelity, she became furious and refused to speak to him. As a peace offering he had a book of psalms and New Testament scenes created just for her: an exquisite, illuminated manuscript called the Melisende Psalter.
On the opposite side of the ramparts, there is an excellent view of Mishkenot Sha'anamim, the first housing project to go up outside the Old City Walls and initiated by English philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore. Montefiore laid the cornerstone in 1857 — probably on his wedding anniversary.
A photograph of Sir Moses Montefiore circa 1870s, taken by photographers Elliott & Fry. (Public domain)
For Montefiore and his wife Judith had the perfect marriage. In his diary he sings Judith's praises and blesses the day of their union. From that time on, he did everything of real importance on the anniversary of his wedding day.
Many Christian traditions arose during the Byzantine era in the 4th to 7th centuries, among them the belief that Mary fell into eternal sleep on Mount Zion. Imposing Dormition Abbey, to the right of the ramparts, was inaugurated in 1910 over an early church that contained Mary's crypt.
When seen from afar, it often appears as if the bell tower at Dormition Abbey is adjacent to the church. From the ramparts, however, it becomes clear that they are not. That's because the Turks ordered that the tower be constructed at a distance from the church, in order not to block the way to David's Tomb, traditionally located on Mount Zion.
No matter where you stand, whether close to the Abbey or at a distance, the bell tower is reminiscent of the German emperor wearing the characteristic Prussian helmet: an upside-down bowl with a bell-bottomed spike. Perhaps the architect wanted to immortalize the emperor's face — or maybe it is all in the mind of the beholder.
Instead of continuing another 10 minutes or so to the end of the ramparts walk, we descended at Zion Gate. In the olden days, matchmakers sent young men and women to an area nearby for their first (and sometimes only) meeting before their wedding. And who knows? At least one of these lucky couples may have experienced the greatest love story of all time.
The southern ramparts are open:
Sunday-Thursday and Saturday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: NIS 20 for a regular ticket, NIS 10 for a senior, child or soldier