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The Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of old City Jerusalem





The Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter of old city Jerusalem



 Around 1400, a courtyard was purchased in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem with the donation of the Jews of Nuremberg, Germany. This courtyard is intended for the needy, that is the poor, widows, and guests of the small Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem. This courtyard was called the Ashkenazi courtyard "Ashkenazi House". In 1488, R. Ovadia from Bartenora came to Jerusalem, and in a letter, he sent to Italy he wrote: "And the courtyard which has a very large synagogue and many houses in it, and all of them are consecrated from Ashkenazim, and Ashkenazi widows will live in it."






Visit The Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter of old city Jerusalem



The synagogue he wrote about is probably the synagogue known as the "Ramban", which was probably the only synagogue in Jerusalem at the time. In 1700, Rabbi Yehuda the Chassid immigrated to Jerusalem at the head of a convoy that carried on waves of Messianic enthusiasm that was pulsating in many Jewish communities at that time.


The people of this convoy sat in the courtyard of the Ashkenazim. One of the members of the convoy was R. Gedaliah of Simiatitz, and his descriptions are quoted in Avraham Yaari's book "Journeys of Israel", and so he wrote: "And our aforesaid Rabbi (R. Yehuda the Chassid) immediately bought a house in the Holy Courtyard, that is, a courtyard of a synagogue of the Ashkenazi congregation, and also engaged in renting housing for the whole society." And on Shabbat evening our Rabbi went for a baptism in the mikvah that is in the courtyard of the above congregation, and immediately fell into our many iniquities…. Our Rabbi got up, bathed, and prayed in the morning, and apologized to the people for mourning them at night, and did not know what he had yesterday, and he thought he had already been healed. And about half an hour he fell asleep for the first time, but the speech was taken away from him. No one spoke and no will. " The community was left without a shepherd for several days after coming to Jerusalem, but with many debts that were borrowed from the Arabs to renovate the yard and prepare it for the absorption of the group.


And let us return to the descriptions of R. Gedaliah of Simiatitz: "And a few weeks before we came to the holy city, the above synagogue was built with the holy courtyard, and many houses inside the courtyard - about 40 houses, and also a very magnificent Beit midrash full of books, and four whitewashed cisterns… to suffice water. And also a mikveh of water for baptism, and also a house for the poor which Corinth consecrated. And the synagogue with the holy court and all the dwelling in it, they spent a lot of money on them, and a lot of bribes spent in it, to give to the chiefs with Ishmael… and also the expenses of the holy community were very many…. And the burden of the debt upon our necks was intertwined until they could not be you, and they would catch us (stop) for the debts, and until we came out of the grasp of one debtor, another debtor came to grasp for his debt.


" The courtyard of the ruin in the 19th century before its construction - according to the "crops of the land" - Joseph Schwartz Epidemics, accessibility and decrees depleted the Ashkenazi population, and as the community dwindled, the many debts fell on a lesser population. Eventually, the Ashkenazis could not even afford to pay the interest, and the Muslim creditors despaired of getting their money back. On the eighth of Cheshvan 1720, the Muslims stormed the synagogue, looted it, and set it on fire, and the Ashkenazim fled for their lives or disguised themselves as Sephardim to escape their lives from the angry mob. Will one day repay her debts? Joseph Schwartz in his book "The Grains of the Land" describes what happened: And it came to pass on the sabbath day of the month, that the children of Israel dwelt in the house of the Ashkenazites, and burned all the books, and all the wood thereof, and the forty books. And if the synagogue building was made of ashlars, the whole synagogue would have burned down. And all the elders and leaders of the congregation shall be taken and comforted in the guard, and afterward shall possess all the houses of the house (court), and the Ashkenazim shall be expelled thence and shall flee from the holy city, and from that day forth the Ashkenazim yeshiva shall be shut up from Jerusalem.


From then, they fled to Safed, from then Hebron, and from then, they went abroad. And from that day Ashkenazi will not be able to show inside the city. And the Ishmaelites sat in all the courtyards and in all the houses that the Ashkenazim had around the courtyard of the synagogue. And they will build eleven stores from the aid of the great courtyard in which the synagogue is, and they are there to this day. And the courtyard of the synagogue in our many iniquities became a place for garbage and garbage that the Ishmaelites threw there until it became a mountain, and all the lower houses are pictured in the garbage and are not visible. " The ruins of the Ashkenazi courtyard were called from that day "the ruin of R. Yehuda the Chassid" to this day.






tour The Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter wit a private tour guide



The Ashkenazi courtyard in Jerusalem became the ruin of Rabbi Yehuda the Chassid, due to non-payment of debts, and riots committed as a result by the Arab debtors. Ashkenazim has been present in Jerusalem for almost a century. The Ashkenazi settlement was renewed in Jerusalem by the students of the Grain in 1812. The first immigrants prayed in the small Beit midrash of the Or HaChaim yeshiva they rented, and when they had no minyan, they attached a Sephardic Jew or a child with a Torah scroll in his hand.


One of the leaders of the young Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem was Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Zoref, the father of the well-known Salomon family. In the 1930s, Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt, ruled the Land of Israel, rebelling against the central government in Istanbul. Muhammad Ali fought with the help of his son, Ibrahim Pasha, in the corruption that spread in the land, and especially fought against the discrimination of the various communities that inhabited the Land of Israel. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Zoref decided to take advantage of the liberal government, travel to Egypt, and seek to re-establish the ruin of Rabbi Yehuda the Chassid.


He took with him the recommendations of the consuls of Russia and Austria, which most of the Ashkenazis were under their auspices, and in 1836 left Egypt. His mission succeeded beyond expectation. He received permission to own the ruin, to build houses, churches, and seminaries in it, without anyone being able to protest, and it was also determined that the old debtors were not allowed to sue him. When Rabbi Shlomo Zalman returned to Jerusalem, there was great joy, and the whole community mobilized for the rehabilitation mission when the first thing to do was to clear the piles of garbage that were there.


The ruin above the houses of the quarter Collected Bulletin Number: "Many volunteered to clear the mounds of dirt from there, and with diligent hands, they did their work faithfully until they managed to revive the place. "Menachem Zion", to say: "It will comfort us from our toil and the sadness of our spirit." In most joys, the house was educated, and it will be a Beit midrash for the Ashkenazi people to this day. " And according to the written word - you can still walk today and see the Beit Midrash "Menachem Zion" in the north of the ruin. But apparently, there is great joy in Israel, and even this joy was overshadowed by a bitter debate: Rabbi Yeshayahu Bardaki, leader of the Ashkenazi community, and son-in-law of Rabbi Israel Mishkalov feared that despite the confirmation To establish a center for the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem elsewhere, and even after the ruin was cleared, Rabbi Yeshayahu Bardaki did not repeat this intention.


Although he agreed to build residential houses in the ruin area, a Beit midrash will be built elsewhere. Some helped him, including his father-in-law - Rabbi Yisrael of Shklov. Rabbi Yeshayahu Bardaki did not content himself with only passive opposition, he turned to the chief Sephardic rabbi, Rabbi Yonah Moshe Navon, and asked him to prevent the introduction of a Torah scroll by order of the new Beit Midrash. He also sought to prevent Mr. Shlomo P.H., who owned the Or HaChaim yeshiva, from donating a Torah scroll. But at a court meeting called to discuss the issue, the ruin leaders won, and the Beit Midrash was inaugurated with great joy and by a large crowd. Rabbi Yeshayahu Bardaki did not give up, and established another competing Beit midrash, with the money of the Eran brothers from Amsterdam, who purchased a yard for him near the Or HaChaim yeshiva.


The Pharisaic Ashkenazi community was divided into two factions, with each faction having its own Beit Midrash. The factions were called: the Horba faction with the Beit Midrash "Menachem Zion", and the Hatzer faction when its Beit Midrash was called "Sukkat Shalom". Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Zoref paid with his life for his activities, as Pinchas Greivsky says in "Zichron Lechaim Rishonim": "He endangered himself for the benefit of the settlement, and finally fell victim to a sword blow from one of the Ishmaelites on a rainy night, who kept his footsteps as he walked from his house to the synagogue. On his head. " The killer also paid for it, adding Grajewski: "The next day, the government police found the killer drowned in the sesame oil pit in his shop, at the end of Jewish Street, and in his hand was the sword that stabbed Rabbi Zalman. It was clear from all the signs that he was the killer." On the tombstone of R. Shlomo Zalman, a goldsmith who had disappeared from the courtyard of Zechariah's tomb was engraved: Avraham Shlomo Zalman, the late Zoref, who saved the land of the Ashkenazim from the Ishmaelites and endeavored to build it, and in particular, the building of the Beit Midrash called "Menachem Zion." Taken to his world home on 19 Elul, 1851. (1851)





private guided tour to hurva synagogue in jerusalem


The "Menachem Zion" synagogue in the courtyard of the "Hurva" did not meet the needs of the developing Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem, so another synagogue called "Shaarei Zion" was established. But these were small, unsatisfactory, and located synagogues that had been renovated for their intended purpose.


On the southern side of the ruin remains a large and empty area, designated for a magnificent and large synagogue for the Ashkenazi community. To realize this plan, two things were needed: 1 - Government approval. 2 - A large amount of money. At the beginning of 1855, Lord Napier, the English delegate in Constantinople, immigrated to Jerusalem, and he was invited with the English consul to pray at the Shaare Zion Zion seminary. Knesset, but for now they do not have a building permit.


The Lord promised to bring their request before the Sultan. Mordechai Salomon, the son of Shlomo Zalman, a goldsmith, was sitting in Constantinople at the time, striving for the same goal. As for the financial problem, as early as 1847, Rabbi Ezekiel Reuven of Bombay promised to donate money for the construction of a large synagogue in the courtyard of the ruin of R. Yehuda the Chassid. In the meantime, Ezekiel Reuben died, and the leaders of the community turned to his heirs to pay his vow, and indeed they sent a considerable sum to Jerusalem. Luck also lit up the face of the community, and a Turkish architect was present in Jerusalem at the time, who was sent to repair and inspect the buildings on the Temple Mount. This architect agreed to design the new synagogue, and even oversee the construction.


The day of the laying of the cornerstone was set for the 16th of Nisan A. The week of Passover. , The laying of the cornerstone was postponed, and took place on the 17th of Nisan, 1856, on the second day of Passover. Six years have passed since then, and Lonz described the end of the work in the Israeli calendar: "And despite 1862, the entire building was finished, to the joy of all our brothers in Jerusalem. The day the summit of the dome ended was a good day for the Ashkenazi community because the construction required the summit to be completed very quickly, so in addition to the frequent workers, all the Ashkenazis who could bring lime and stones to the masons standing above participated in this work. And what a great sight it was to see the enthusiasm of the ascending and descending on the high ladders, stones and clay tablets in their hands, and exalting to verses of Psalms in their throats, that the work of the summit might be finished that day.


Rabbi Yeshayahu Bardaki, head of the Ashkenazi community, was honored to lay the cornerstone that closes the dome. Then all the people cheered with great joy, and the rabbi mentioned a heartfelt demand in honor of the day. All the crowd that stood on the dome and those around danced, rejoiced, and cried in tears of joy and emotions of the soul. And they will offer a presiding prayer there, and seeing the last lines of the sun disappearing on the western edge, they will go down to their house happy and kind-hearted. " In fact, in 1862 only the skeleton was finished, while the interior work continued for another two years, but even in those two years, people in the building prayed.


At the end of the interior work, they began to decorate the synagogue. This process lasted for several years, with the synagogue becoming more and more beautiful during these years. The synagogue itself was described by Moshe Avraham Lunz in Table EI: The building was square, with each side length being about 15 feet. The height of the building to the top of the dome was 24 meters. The synagogue had a lot of windows: around the dome, there were 12 windows, in the southern and northern walls two rows of windows were open one above the other, in the eastern wall there was a large clover window with colored glass and a similar window in the Western Wall. The sunlight illuminated the synagogue from sunrise to sunset. The floor of the building was made of large marble stones and used a wooden platform at first, and later replaced with a marble platform. The pharaoh of the synagogue was in his ark. This coffin was brought from Europe to Jaffa by ship, and from there on 15 camels to Jerusalem. It was about 12 meters high and was adorned with rich wooden openings of birds and plants. It was two stories high, and at the height of its glory, it had 50 Torah scrolls. The walls of the temple were adorned with murals with Jewish elements and animals that appear in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot, where it is said that the synagogue is called "Beit Yaakov" after Baron Rothschild.





synagogues of old city jerusalem


When the first Ashkenazis arrived in Jerusalem, they aspired not only to pray and study in the "Hurva" but also to live there. There were only damp, sloping rooms in the place, but in their minds, the Ashkenazi immigrants saw them as luxury halls. Whoever was lucky enough to find a lair in the "Hurva" already saw himself as lucky and happy. As the community grew, it was necessary to concentrate the public institutions in one place, so slowly the inhabitants of the "ruin" went outside, and their place was taken by the community institutions.


But still, stubborn ones clung to the place with their nails. Usually, these were single people, without a family, mostly women. And since every proper structure was taken for a public purpose, the same people lived in the basements until the day they died. The "Hurva" killed people all day, as it was the Ashkenazi center in the city of Jerusalem. Isaiah Peres described her and her people in his book "A Hundred Years in Jerusalem": The "Hurva" courtyard was bustling and bustling from dawn until after the first watch of the night. It housed the Ashkenazi community - R. Shmuel Salant, and next to its modest apartment was the community committee office. In the room next to the entrance of the Great Synagogue, sat In the law, on Mondays and Wednesdays of the week, the Badatz of the Pharisees' congregation.


The Great Synagogue and the old and new Beit midrash pray. From the rooms of the "Talmud Torah" and the "Tree of Life" yeshiva, the voice of learners, small and large, emerged. In the early morning hours, the sun Mandel would boil water in a large tin, and serve everyone who demanded a cup of free tea, and at night he would serve students in the Beit midrash a cup of hot coffee, to encourage and keep them alert.


The righteous woman, Reitza the Gabay, dressed naked in the yard, and Shalom "The Maggid Tehilim", a weary clothes merchant on Chabad Street, would gather, between Mincha and Maariv, infants of Beit Raban in the Great Synagogue, and read with them, verse by verse, aloud the chapter of the day in Psalms. Twice a year, before Passover and before Sukkot, the Sun of the Knesset Yisrael, the General Committee of the Knesset of Israel, R. Yehoshua Zakash, appeared in the courtyard, sitting on the marble pillar that lay in the courtyard in front of the entrance to the Great Synagogue. ", And divided from a red handkerchief the" small division "at the rate of two metals (that is, 20 pennies) per person, according to the number of persons in each household, without any overall difference.


This support comes from the Committee of Officials and Architects in Amsterdam. " The Ark and the Habima in the 1930s The Ark today (From the Pikiwiki Israel website As stated above, Rabbi Shmuel Salant - the rabbi of the Ashkenazi community - also lived in the courtyard of the ruin, and his apartment was described by Yitzhak Shirion in his book "Zichronot": "The late Rabbi R. Shmuel, lives a very simple life. He lived in the courtyard of the ruin of R. Yehuda the Chassid, in an apartment of two small rooms on a low floor, which looked like a basement.


Only in 1891, a two-room aliyah was built for him in the same courtyard, above the rooms of the Talmud Torah "Tree of Life". In his room, there were only a table, simple chairs, and bookcases. " When the Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood was built, one apartment was reserved for him, but he refused to leave the "ruin" yard. As stated above, there was a pillar in the courtyard that served as the place for the distribution of the money of the "small division." This pillar, which was probably taken from the nearby cardo ruins, serves as a tombstone on the tomb of R. Shmuel Salant on the Mount of Olives.


When Jerusalem came out of the walls in the late 19th century, the Jewish settlement in the Old City dwindled, and events in the 20th century only exacerbated the situation. The "Etz Chaim" yeshiva moved to its new home in the "Mahane Yehuda" neighborhood and even opened branches in many neighborhoods in the new city. The noise and commotion that characterized the "ruin" courtyard disappeared, and for there to be a minyan on Saturdays in the Great Synagogue, people had to be recruited, who came especially from the neighborhoods outside the wall.


The situation worsened mainly in the 1930s and 1940s. In the regulations issued by the Knesset of Israel, which united the Ashkenazi Kollel in Jerusalem, we find in sections 12 and 13 the need to preserve the minyan in the Great Synagogue. In the ruin of R. Yehuda the Chassid, and especially on Shabbat, and so it is stated in the regulations: The society will set one Shabbat a year and it is the "Nasha" affair, in which all members of the society will come to pray together in the Great Synagogue which is in the ruins of R. Yehuda the Chassid. During the War of Independence on May 27, 1948, the "ruin" was occupied by the Jordanian Legion and the dome of the Great Synagogue was blown up. After the Six-Day War, the Menachem Zion Synagogue was restored, and today it serves the residents of the district. The Great Synagogue was rebuilt and inaugurated on March 15, 2010.




The "Hurva" synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem is probably the most interesting synagogue to visit, join me for a private guided tour of old Jerusalem and the Jewish quarter to find out all about the traditions and scandals in the past 400 years.




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