Jerusalem Synagogues Walking Tour (Self Guided), Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a city that represents the three main religions of the world, that is Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The city contains some of the oldest and most beautiful historical monuments related to these religions. This self-guided tour will lead you mainly through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and its synagogues:
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Jerusalem Synagogues Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Jerusalem Synagogues Walking Tour
Guide Location: Israel » Jerusalem (See other walking tours in Jerusalem)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 Km or 0.3 Miles
Author: vickyc
Four Sephardic Synagogues

1) Four Sephardic Synagogues

These famous houses of worship are situated throughout the Jewish Quarter. They form a complex which ties together four such houses of worship. The four sub-structures were built at different times to meet the religious needs of the Sephardic community. Each of the four congregations were practicing their faith differently enough to warrant separate locations for worship.

In 1589, the last of the Jewish synagogues in the area were closed by the ruling Ottoman sultan. As a result, there was no place for Jews to go to publically worship until the 17th Century. The Jews of the day, who were mostly exiles from Catholic Spain, were compelled to hold services in secret. At the beginning of the 17th century, the newly formed Yochanan ben Zakai Synagogue, was inaugurated.

The rebuilding of the four synagogues in 1835 was the result of the ruling by Muhammad Ali. There is a plaque located at the Istanbul prayer house that commemorates the event

After the destruction of the Jewish Quarter in 1948, almost all the prayer houses were demolished. To add further insult to injury the remaining synagogues were turned into stables. After the Six Day War was concluded, the houses of worship were meticulously restored by architect Dan Tanai.
Beit El Synagogue

2) Beit El Synagogue

The famous worship site’s name means “House of God.” It is also known as Midrash Hasidim, or the “School of the Devout.” It is also the “Yeshivat haMekubalim” a very important place to the practitioners of Kabbalah. In fact, it is the foremost center for such religious in Jerusalem for over 250 years.

The Yeshiva, which is a Kabbalistic name for the place, was founded in 1737. The founder was Rabbi Gedaliah Hayon. This famous cleric hailed from Constantinople. He specifically ventured to Jerusalem to study Kaballah . In the 1740s, Shalom Mizrachi Sharabi came to Jerusalem from a small village in the area of what is now Yemen. He became a student at Beit El, and was considered to be a gifted student. He was eventually appointed as head of the school. It flourished on and off for years.

In July of 1927, a rather catastrophic earthquake greatly damaged the structure. In fact, it was so badly destroyed that the British Municipality of the day ordered the building completely leveled. This was not to be the end of the building though. In March of the next year, plans were made to re-build.

During the Israeli War, the building was cleaned out and the facility was leveled. In 1974, the Beit El Yeshiva was re-established. Later the next year, the newly remodeled house of prayer was officially consecrated. A new name was given to the structure also. It was re-named the Yeshivat HaMekubalim Beit El.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ramban Synagogue

3) Ramban Synagogue

The Ramban Synagogue is the oldest active such house of worship in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was instituted in 1267. Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman was the first cleric, as well as the main organizer. In the present day, it is located on Ha-Yehudim Street. That location is just off the square in the JQ.

The foundation of this place rests upon the Romanesque and Byzantine capitals. There is no real Gothic or Islamic architectural to be found in the design, so this leads one to believe that the building is very old. In all probability, it was built during the time of the Crusaders. The whole thing had to be built 10 feet into the ground, to comply with a local Islamic rule that forces all such houses of prayer to be lower than the resident mosques.

Over the years, the location has been the physical and spiritual home to the Sephardi community. For a time, it was converted into a mosque after being confiscated. It also served as a mill. People used to also make cheese there for a bit. In recent times, the place is used as a prayer house for the Ashkenazi.

In 1967, the Jews regained control of this piece of ground, and rebuilt the synagogue. Intriguingly, the house of worship was re-opened 700 years after its first restoration.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hurva Synagogue

4) Hurva Synagogue (must see)

The Hurva Synagogue, also known as Hurvat Rabbi Yehudah he-Hasid, is a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was designed and constructed under the supervision of Assad Effendi, the sultan's official architect. Built in neo-Byzantine style, it was supported by four massive pilasters at each corner over which soared a large dome. The construction of only one of these towers was completed. The other three were missing the upper level and the small dome which capped it. The facade was covered in finely hewn stone and incorporated 12.5 m high window arches. The height of the synagogue to the bottom of its dome was around 16 m and to the top of the dome, it was 24 m. Twelve windows were placed around the base of the dome which was surrounded by a veranda, which offered a fine view of large parts of the Old City and the area around Jerusalem. Being one of the tallest structures in the Old City, it was visible for miles.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautifully restored and fully functional, this synagogue offers commanding views of the Old City from its observation deck.

Don't miss the entrance at the back, on HaYehudim Street, where you can enter the synagogue for an interesting tour.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 9am-6pm; Fri: 9am-1pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Menachem Zion Synagogue

5) Menachem Zion Synagogue

There are several synagogues in the Old City of Jerusalem. One of them is the Menachem Zion Synagogue built in 1837. It was dedicated to Jewish leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel.
Tzuf Dvash Synagogue

6) Tzuf Dvash Synagogue

The Tzuf Dvash Synagogue is a Sephardic house of worship and prayer which was founded in 1860. It was under Turkish rule at the time. It is located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. Its current address is 15 Plug at ha-Motel Street.

This structure is named after Rabbi David ben Shimon, who came to the country from Morocco in 1854. Shortly after, he founded one of the first communities located outside of the Old City.

During this same time period, a very large number of settlers came to Jerusalem. The newcomers did not always feel fully welcomed, so they formed their own Sephardic community in 1860. It would come to be known as the “Westerner’s Synagogue.” Later, the Talmud Torah would be instituted here. The group also built their own version of a nursing home for the Aged.

This location was made up of two synagogues, one of which was much larger. The history of the two buildings indicates that people would start worship here each day at midnight. The upper area housed the Talmud Torah, which was made up of three chambers. The lower area of the structure housed the meeting place of the community council, as well as two small spaces in which lived the widows who cleaned the place.

With the onslaught of the 1948 War for Independence, the house of worship found itself sitting in the space between the two warring factions. There was some damage to the place, but it survived overall. After the War, the building was refurbished. By the spring of 1980 it reconsecrated as a synagogue.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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