Friday, March 12, 2010

The Temple that refused to die

Hurva Synagogue Restored in Jerusalem's Old City -Benjamin Balint

The Hurva synagogue [pictured above] in the heart of the Jewish Quarter remained in ruins for six decades, but has now been restored after eight years of construction.

The ark, which stands beneath the building's gleaming 82-foot-high dome, is a nearly exact replica of the original that stood on the spot more than 150 years earlier.

In 1701 a group of Polish immigrants to the Holy Land started to build a synagogue at the site. Two decades later, after the group had exhausted its funds, Arab creditors destroyed the building.

In the 19th century, with funds from Sir Moses Montefiore, the Rothschilds and communities as far-flung as St. Petersburg, Baghdad, Cairo and India, the Ottoman sultan's architect, Assad Effendi, was hired to erect a domed structure. The impressive result, completed in 1864, became for the next eight decades the tallest Jewish landmark in Jerusalem.

During Israel's War of Independence, on May 28, 1948, soldiers of Jordan's Arab Legion set off explosive charges and reduced the Hurva to rubble.

The reconstruction of this most storied of Jerusalem's synagogues represents a deep and irrepressible Israeli urge to rebuild.
(Wall Street Journal)

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