Rebuilding a Jerusalem Synagogue Destroyed in 1948

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Published on 2 Jan 2019, 10:19
NEWS DESK | The Tiferet Israel synagogue in Jerusalem, used to be one of the biggest and most flamboyant synagogues in the old city, until it was deliberately destroyed by the Jordanian Arab legion in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and it's community expelled from the city. A group of activists, politicians and philanthropies dream of restoring it to its old splendor. Our Daniel Campos has the story.


Look at the skyline of Jerusalem and you will know who has ruled the city.

From 1948 to 2010, the Jews had no skyscraper presence in the skyline of the holy city. The reason? In the aftermath of the 1948 war, as a form of religious humiliation to Israel and Jews around the world.

Jordanian soldiers of the Arab Legion, blew up the two tallest synagogues in the old city of Jerusalem: the Hurva synagogue and the Tiferet Israel Synagogue, both located in the Jewish Quarter.

Ninety-year-old Simcha Mandelbaum waited seven decades for the re-construction of the Tiferet Israel synagogue to begin. On Monday afternoon, the last day of 2018, his dream came true. The corner stone was laid and he was there to recite a blessing.

'At my age to be here today, is an end of a wonderful, wonderful life that I had, and ends up here, a place where my grandfather was the president of the synagogue over here,' a member of the Tiferet Israel community Simcha Mandelbaum says. 'We, as children and my parents, came to pray here, while we were living in the old city.'

For almost two decades from 1948 to 1967, Jews did not have access to their main holy sites and synagogues in the Old city.

'We didn’t know the synagogue was destroyed; we didn’t know what was happening in the Old City — only a few months later did we find out,' Mandelbaum explains.

It wasn’t until the city was re-captured by Israeli forces in the Six Day War that he was able to find the remains of his temple.

'In 1967, I was one of the first to enter the Old City with the army. Everything was destroyed. We couldn’t recognize the buildings, the houses around here were broken — it took us months to recognize the synagogues,' Mandelbaum recalls.

The restoration project was made possible thanks to donations from the Jewish diaspora and the political lobbying of government ministers such as former Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and the newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon.

'We decided that we are going to rebuild this synagogue, because we are the ones who control have the rights in this holy city of Jerusalem,' Galant says.

'I was difficult to raise money, but it's a great piece of history, religion and geography in the world and we will get it done,' says Brian Sherr, a fundraiser for the reconstruction project.

The project is expected to stretch over years years and will include a museum in the underground floors. The height of the synagogue will be 25 meters.

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