THE LAST WORD
YESTERDAY WAS "YOM YERUSHALA'YIM," the day when, in 1967, Israel reunited David's Capital. Next year will mark the 3,000 anniversary of that event, the making of Jerusalem the eternal Capital of the Jewish Commonwealth. Recently, I saw an interview on CNN with a Palestinian who explained that the "peace accord" was really more of a "peace process." "Don't be quick to judge us," he said, "it takes time to establish peace, just like it did for America and Japan or France and Germany." He did not seem to give any consideration to the fact that at the end of the war between Japan and the U.S., and the war between Germany and France, there was an end to hostilities. Which brings up this question:
What peace accord? What peace process?
The Palestinians signed a DOP with Israel -- which is a Document Of Principles. This document contained a set of mutually agreed upon programs regarding a five years period that leading to a negotiation for a permanent settlement. WHAT settlement is not spelled out. However, just looking at the DOP and its aftermath, one is struck by the fact that the PLO and the Palestinians have RECEIVED much and GAVE AWAY nothing! There is no peace, nor a process of peace -- in fact, there is more death, more violence, more distrust and more misery both between Jews and Arabs and between Arabs and Arabs than there has been since the creation of the state (with the possible exception of times of actual shooting war). I don't know who the "prominent Palestinian" on CNN was, but I am willing to bet that HE was thinking that the "peace" we are processing is a piecemeal dismemberment of what they call the "Zionist entity." He must have been having a good laugh over how gullible the people of the world's democracies are, to believe the foolishness he was articulating -- for foreign consumption only, to be sure!
The Arabs have come to realize that their goal is not possible to arrive at except in a "process." They envision a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Does anyone propose that we compromise with them on THIS issue? Maybe we should have called that agreement signed at the White House Document of Principles Yisrael will swallow (acronym DOPY!)
Sure, we HOPE for peace. No doubt, we must seek peace. However, we must also warn and announce that "Shalom shalom ve'eyn shalom" -- people shout `peace peace' from one end of the world to another, but there is no peace, and the blood of the innocents is still spilled. Lets pray for peace, "leshanah Haba'ah byrushala'yim" -- next year in Jerusalem -- and throughout the world!
City of God, Cityof David -- Heart of Judaism
The following is an excerpt from my book about my grandfather, Eliezer, who came to Jerusalem and was reborn there, calling himself a "Jerusalemite" and forgetting all his personal history from before his arrival. Please note: This story is my property, the spiritual 'house' I have built. The entire content is copy-righted by me. You may printout a copy of any file, to read and study the material, making sure to give me "credit" for authorship. You MAY NOT make multiple copies nor sell such copies for profit. Thanks for your cooperation.
God chose Abraham, and his seed after him, to be His messengers. He wanted them to be a living example of His power and glory from that least likely place of enterprise the "Promised Land" which the Torah described as "the land of milk and honey," but anyone who had ever visited it knows it to be more the land of sand and scorching sun, pebble and thistle, scrub brush and scorpion. It is only by the grace of God, and the devotion of His people Israel, that this most unlikely piece of real estate becomes a blooming garden. Because the Jews did not follow Gods teachings, and because they have failed in Gods purpose to teach His message of brotherhood and peace, they have been exiled and persecuted. Many of their kin were butchered, slaughtered and massacred and many more chose extinction by assimilation and conversion. To the eternity of Israel and to the Jewish people today, they are lost, even though they, or their progeny may still be alive just as the people who, having lost their memory, become nothing more than empty shells. The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Khasidic movement, said, "forgetfulness leads to exile, while remembrance is the secret of redemption."
When the Jews were first exiled from Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah uttered the famous vow, "Im eshkekhekh Yerushalayim tishakakh yemini If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy." [Psalm 137:5,6] The memory of the Promised Land, and of Jewish sovereignty, is distilled and focused on Davids Capital, the city where the Temple once stood, the place where, tradition tells us, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Abraham said of Jerusalem, "This is the place where God is seen." The Talmud says that Jerusalem was named by God. The name has two parts: Yira, which means "to see," and shalem, which means "complete," or "shalom" which means "peace." Jerusalem, according to our tradition, has seventy names, each one more beautiful than the previous. "There are ten measures of beauty," says the Talmud, "nine were given to Jerusalem and one to the rest of the world." "Jerusalem is the umbilicus of the world," says another passage.
Somehow, Jerusalem is linked to our current vigor as a people. Who does not remember the reverberating current of excitement that swept through the Jewish world on hearing, in June of 1967, the fateful words, "Jerusalem is ours, Temple Mount is in our hands." One of the mountains of Jerusalem, Mount Zion, became a synonym for "the land of Israel," and lent its name to our national movement of renewal and redemption Zionism.
But what is the mystical draw of this town? What is in the memory of Jerusalem that makes it so important to us and to our detractors and foes? What does this city contribute to our personal memory, to our understanding of whom we are? Surely it is not merely the "historical" aspect of our connection it is not David, or Solomon, or the Maccabees. If it were, would we not feel a similar connection to Bethlehem, Davids birth place, to Hebron, the Patriarchs burial place, or Modiin, Yehuda haMaccabees hometown?
I would like to suggest to you that Yerushalayim is connected to the very essence of Jewish being which is to say to our memory. It is connected to our roots, which are with God. Elsewhere, God is a theory, but in Jerusalem, God is seen, and felt He is a tangible presence. In Jerusalem we reach beyond the frailty and vulnerability of our lives, and we sense and strive for transcendence. Elsewhere we grope for insight. Here we tread a path traveled by prophets and seers. In Jerusalem we anticipate clarity. London has its fog, its famous bridge and Parliament. New York is home to the United Nations. Paris, with its Rive Gauche, may be the place for lovers our capital, Jerusalem, is a place for dreamers and visionaries. The Talmud says that creation began in Jerusalem, and that the whole world was spun, as it were, outwardly from this place, like a huge crochet. Medieval maps show Jerusalem at the very center of Asia, Europe, and Africa. The world flows in and out of this spot, and all of lifes forces radiate from it. From this place, the whole world was cast into its proper place in the scheme of things.
Jerusalem, the center, the core, the heart, gives perspective to the rest of the world even to the eternity of God Himself. This town is where God starts the day. Jerusalem the complete, the completing. Humanity has long understood that he who controls Jerusalem controls the worlds memory: he controls the way God is perceived, the way He is announced. He controls the way lifes forces are cast into perspective. He controls the way we, individually and collectively, see ourselves, our history and our future.
Though some claim that Jerusalem was a great city even before the days of Abraham, there is absolutely no proof that this is so. The first people to inhabit the area, it would seem, were the Jebusites, a small and rather insignificant tribe. The Israelites who came to inherit the land with Joshua did not bother conquering this site, possibly feeling that the effort necessary to capture it was greater than the value of the ownership of the location. After David, the shepherd boy from Bethlehem, became king in Hebron, he perceived a need for a capital city in a "new" town that was never associated with any one tribe and that would serve as a focal point to unite and bring together the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel. These tribes were rather disunited and lacking cohesion, without a universally accepted national central seat of government. Thus, Jerusalem was conquered by King David from the Jebusites and made the kings city and capital.
David, and his son, Solomon, after him, made Jerusalem the crowning glory of their reign and their achievement. David expanded it, built it up, enlarged and fortified its walls and parapets. Solomon built palaces and the great Temple, where the Name of Gods glory dwelt. It became the center of commerce and government, and a site of pilgrimage and adoration for Jews and non-Jews alike. It was a place envied and vied for by many nations. It was attacked by Egypt, Sumer and Babylon, who, after five hundred years as Judaisms capital, about 2,600 years ago, put it to the torch and razed it for the first time. The Jews returned some seventy-five years later, in the days of Ezra and Nekhemiah, a mere seventy four years after their exile. They began to rebuild the city while waging battle against the Samaritans, and later against the Greeks and Romans. Alexander the Great, world conqueror, came to Jerusalem to pay homage as a pilgrim. Antiochus sacked and desecrated the Temple, and the Romans burned the city to the ground in the year 70, at the end of what became known as the great revolt. Once the Temple Mount was the highest point in the city of Jerusalem, but after the Bar Kokhba revolt, in the year 135, Roman slaves carried away the very earth of this mountain, and turned it into the valley we now look down on from the Mount Olives. The Romans also expelled Jews from Jerusalem and barred them from ever reentering, on pain of death. They renamed the city Alea Capitolina, a name that is long relegated to dust gathering history books. Jewish life, they proclaimed, was now at an end.
Christianity was born of Judaism, and part of its drama was played out in Jerusalem. However, it grew and matured in Rome and Byzantium. The Crusaders rewrote Jerusalems importance, turning it from the center of Jewish national memory to the site of the passion and death of Jesus, equal in importance to Rome. Like the Romans before them, they massacred the Jews, destroyed synagogues and homes, and forbade them to return. Then came the Moslems, and as those before them rewrote the memory of Jerusalem, expelling the Christians, claiming its centrality to their faith, and allowing Jews to come and observe the abject desolation and ignominy of the relic of their once holy Temple. They systematically built mosques on Jewish holy sites. In rewriting their own history and connectivity to Jerusalem, each of these cultures rewrote our place, the Jewish place, in history. They consigned the Jews, so it seemed to them, to the dust bin of history a once great people, now abandoned by God, bypassed by time a post script to their history.
The Jews, however, preserved and perpetuated Jerusalem as a memory. To them, "Yerushalayim" was real and tangible, always. They remembered it though they had not seen it in tens of generations. When they built homes they left an eastern wall unplastered, "zekher lakhurban" in remembrance of the destruction; at the happiest moment, at weddings, they broke a glass "in memory of Jerusalem." From all over the world they turned and prayed toward Jerusalem, and because the memory was kept alive, the Jewish people lived. Jerusalem is a metaphor for a perfected world, and it gives all of us a perspective on our lives. Aldous Huxley, son of T.H. Huxley, who actually wrote the text of Darwins of the Theory of Evolution, said, "we have, each of us, our Jerusalem." He meant much more than a temporal city of towers and taxi cabs, minarets and music shops, churches, temples and traffic jams. He meant roots, and a vision of what life might, and ought to, be. Huxley also said, "From their experience or from the recorded experience of others, which is history, men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn." Maybe that is why the Moslems and the Christians could not recognize Jerusalems centrality to Jewish existence and continuity.
The vision of lifes promise is a memory of things yet to come, an eye fixed on the promise of tomorrow, giving us the energy and the will to live. In exile for two thousand years, Jews recited and repeated daily, "next year in Jerusalem!" In poverty and persecution they never lost their hope they preserved the lofty ideal of a world in which love and justice, not politics, power and self-interest, would be the currency men live by.
Yerushalayim, Shalem, Ir Shalem these are all Hebrew names from the Scriptures for Jerusalem. These names have one thing in common: the root peace, or shalom. "Seek the peace of Jerusalem, Shaalu shlom Yerushalayim," [Psalm 122:6] the prophet implored us. No people other than the Jews made Jerusalem the center of their nation or religion. In the second half of the nineteenth century, when our story began, Jerusalem was an insignificant little storybook town, a walled city lost in time, in the far reaches of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, with a population of some eighteen thousand. However, with the reawakening of Jewish fervor there was a beginning of immigration to Zion from all over the world, mostly of Jews, but also of various other peoples.
The first great benefactor of the Jews was Sir Moses Montefiore, who visited Jerusalem in 1855 and 1857, and contributed more than any other single man of his generation to changing the citys face in general. In 1855 he used funds from the legacy of the American Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro to acquire a plot of land west of the walled city, to house Jews who were living in dark cellars in the Old City because of the lack of living space. On the plot which he had bought, he also built a windmill, which became one of the land marks of the city and was its first "industrial" structure. Building this quarter raised difficulties, since it was supposedly too close to the Citadel, and Montefiore was only permitted to continue building after the Russians had begun building their compound outside the city.
The citys population, in 1856, was estimated at 18,000. With the construction of Mishkenot Shaananim, to which the Yemin Moshe quarter was added in 1894, the first Jewish quarter outside the walls was built by Moses Montefiore. Jerusalem began to emerge from behind the walls of the Old City, and construction started on an impressive series of buildings in what became known to the present-day as the Russian Compound. At the same time, further to the northwest, the German Protestant priest Ludwig Schneller built the Syrian orphanage for young boys and girls who survived alone from the massacres of Christians in Syria. This institution expanded and became the pride of the German residents of Palestine; It burnt down in 1910 but was rebuilt. More Jewish quarters were founded: Mahaneh Yisrael, built by oriental Jews in 1868 and Nahalat Shivah (1869) on the main road to Jaffa added to the new settlement outside the wall. Travel between the new quarters and the Old City was by paths through stony fields, which soon became roads. Some of them, starting with Jaffa Road, were even paved streets but that did not happen until after Eliezer and Dvorah had been living in Jerusalem for a number of years. Even without paved streets, horse or donkey drawn cabs and carts began to make their appearance on the streets of new Jerusalem. On his last visit in 1875 Montefiore was driven from Jaffa to Mishkenot Shaananim in his own carriage.
The water supply to the city was very poor, despite several attempts by the Ottoman administration to repair the ancient conduit from Ayn Arrub and Solomons Pools. It seems that the stone pipes were regularly sabotaged by the Arab farmers who earned a nice living selling water which they brought in filthy animal-skin bags on animals and carriers from Ayn Roggel, Bir Ayyub in the Arabic, and from the Gikhon Spring, Umm al-Daraj in the Arabic, through the Dung Gate. Water sold at a high price, especially for a liquid that was evil tasting, foul smelling and dangerous to consume without first boiling. This water supply depended mainly on the cisterns dug near or even under the houses in which rainwater collected. In the 1860s there were almost a thousand of them. This water was only fit for drinking as long as it was not contaminated by sewage water. There was no sewage system in Jerusalem at the time, and sewage often ran in the street, seeping into the wells. The pollution of the drinking water brought about a severe plague in 1864, which claimed hundreds of victims, and led to the city being placed under quarantine for four months. Sir Moses Montefiore came again in 1866 to help the inhabitants, both Jews and non-Jews, contributing money for improving the water supply.
In 1868 a Jew opened the first modern bakery -- a small but notable improvement in a city where the inhabitants had to bake their own bread up to that point. By 1865 the city was linked to the Coastal Plain by the Turkish telegraph, which contributed to security, trade, and convenience. In 1866, negotiations began for the paving of a "carriage route" to Jaffa, which was completed in 1868. Repairs were made in preparation for a visit from the Austrian emperor Franz Josef, who was on his way back to Europe, after attending the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal. Also, in 1868, the Germans built the Talita Kumi school for Arab girls on a prominent site outside the city, which is now King George Avenue just where it meets Ben-Yehuda Street. There was already a school for Jewish girls in Jerusalem. In that same year, the magnificent building of the Latin patriarchate was built within the walls northwest of the Jaffa Gate. The French Soeurs de Sion convent was built on the Via Dolorosa. The Jews completed the magnificent Beit Yaakov Ashkenazic synagogue in the courtyard of the Hurvah of Rabbi Judah he-Khasid. It had taken seven years to build, and shortly after its dedication, construction began on the Tiferet Yisrael, Nisan Bak synagogue, which was completed in 1872.
In the 1870s the development of Jerusalem continued, as testified by the establishment of a municipal council in 1877. The German Quarter was founded by the Templars in 1873, and a road was built to reach it, which also served the Mishkenot Shaananim quarter and the eye hospital built by the Order of St. John in 1876. From this road developed the paved road to Bethlehem and Hebron. There were already two hotels in the city: 0ne near the Damascus Gate and the other in the Christian Quarter near the Pool of Hezekiah. However, the pilgrims preferred the inns of their communities, and wealthy tourists still set up encampments outside the walls. Near the road to Bethlehem, the Arab Abu Tor quarter began to develop, apparently in the 1870s. Unlike the Jewish quarters, which were built as uniform blocks, usually with closed courtyards (for security reasons), the Arab and Christian quarters grew organically and slowly. Among them was Katamon which gradually grew near Saint Simon, the summer residence of the Greek patriarch. In north Jerusalem there were also signs of settlement and Arab houses were built in Karm alSheikh (near the present-day Rockefeller Museum), west of it (near the present-day Herods Gate, or Bab alZahra), and to the north in Wadi Joz. Due to this expansion, Herods Gate was opened in 1875. Near the Damascus Gate, apparently at that time, the Musrarah quarter was built. A first scientific demographic survey at that time counted 20,500 inhabitants in Jerusalem, including 10,500 Jews.
In 1871, the mosque of the Mughrabis was built in the old City. In the Via Dolorosa the rebuilding of the Church of St. John was completed (1874), followed two years later by the monastery of the White Fathers. Many archaeological remains were discovered in the course of the work. Other excavations resulted in the discovery of Bethesda. Outside the city, French Jewish apostates built the Ratisbonne monastery in 1874. The citys expansion toward the northwest and the north was entirely due to the activities of the Jews. The Meah Shearim quarter was established in 1874; Even Yisrael in 1875. Shortly after that, in 1877, the Beit Yaakov quarter, which was assimilated into the neighboring Makhaneh Yehudah in 1887. In 1876 the traditional tomb of Simeon the Just near the road to Nablus was bought, one of the few holy sites to come into the possession of the Jews. The Tombs of the Kings located nearby were acquired in 1878 by French Jews, who transferred their title of ownership to the French government several years later, in 1885. Knesset Eliyahu, The Khabad synagogue, was dedicated in 1879.
In 1881, when Eliezer arrived at its gates, Jerusalem had a population of about 25,000 more than half of whom were Jews. While there were a few settlements outside the walled city, most of the inhabitants still lived within the walls, much in the same way and, in fact, in the same homes that had been there for over four hundred years. The gates of the city were closed at night, and reopened at sunrise. The trip to Jerusalem was started from Jaffa a few hours before sunset, to avoid the heat of the day, in a coach pulled by two horses. After a short ride through the coastal plain the horses began to pull the travelers up the incline of the Hills of Judea, rising from sea level to Jerusalems 2,500 feet elevation. Soon after dark, a little way up the Hills of Judea, they would stop for the night in a place called "shaar hagay" or "Bab el Wad" in Arabic the gate of the valley. There was a simple inn there, where the travelers passed the night. The ride would resume in the early morning, if possible before sunrise. The road stretched up and down over and between ever rising hills. As the incline became more steep, the driver would ask his passengers to step out of the coach and walk alongside. On the steepest hills, the driver would ask the male passengers to help push the coach from behind while the horses pulled. The coach would arrive at the gates of the city sometime between noon and sunset closer to noon, if the passengers were lucky. Sometimes the horses were slow, and the coach would arrive after the gates had closed. A coach-ride to Jerusalem was a novel experience for European visitors, one that they did not soon forget, nor wished to repeat.