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My Free Night Out

It's finally my first free night to do with what I want, so after our good-bye dinner I headed to the Kotel. I realized when we go to the restaurant how close we were so I decided to head there when we were done.

I walked through the Jaffa Gate, followed my way through the alleys and all of a sudden I noticed that the Ari Synagogue was open. In my many years of coming here I never saw this place open. So I went in. It was a combination of a museum to the Jewish resistance of the Old City in 1948, a look back at Jewish life in the quarter from the 1500s-1948, and photo gallery comparing different places in the Old City from a hundred years ago to the present.

It's a small museum, but it's worth it. It's officially called The Isaac Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum. Inside there is also the Ari Synagogue. It's one room. Under the Turkish it was illegal to build a new synagogue or to fix one that needed repair. So under the Turks it was not an official sort of place to pray. But Jews did pray there. When the Turks popped their heads in to see, the Jews would pull out backgammon sets and do other things like that. It was sometime later where they were allowed to make it an official syanagogue. During the riots of 1936 the synagogue was burned and looted.

The reason why the synagogue was named for the Ari z"l is due the fact that that was where he was born. He moved around and ended up in Tzfat where he died.

I didn't realize this till I'm looking at the brochure now, but on the top floor of the museum is another synagogue - the Or Hachaim Synagogue - named for Rabbi Hayim Ben Attar's book Or Hachaim - "The Light of Life". He came from Sale, Morocco, arrived in Jerusalem in 1742, and established his study hall there.

When I finished with the museum - great photos from the fall of the city - I walked down toward the square. I had noticed in one of the photos that it looked like the Hurva Synagogue was being rebuilt. I didn't think that was the case. So when I walked down that way I took a look. It is true.

Above the Ramban synagogue is the beginnings, or really middle, of the reconstruction. This is the beautiful synagogue with a huge dome that had survived the 1948 war/seige and was deliberately destroyed by the Jordanians. When we gained back the Old City in 1967 there was an arch built as a reminder of that synagogue. So now - 40 years later - the Hurva Synagogue is being rebuilt. I had to sit down, I almost cried.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Shabbos. Take care. I love you all.


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That's awesome, Shira. I will have to check it out when I make my way back to Israel.

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