Love of the Land

For the week ending 2 August 2008 / 1 Av 5768

The Churva An Arch for Remembering

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem are always struck by the sight of a magnificent arch that marks the site upon which stood the synagogue of Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid.

This Polish-born kabbalist led a group of followers on aliya to Eretz Yisrael some 300 years ago. He bought a courtyard next to the Ramban Synagogue and initiated construction of his own synagogue. His sudden death slowed down this enterprise but work went on. However twenty years after its completion it was destroyed by Arabs and the site stood desolate for many years – hence the name Churva, which means "ruin".

In the middle of the 19th century the synagogue was rebuilt with the help of the Rothschild family and served as an Ashkenazi synagogue and as home of the Eitz Chaim Yeshiva until its destruction by Arabs in the War of Independence. After Israel regained control of the site in 1967 the famous arch which distinguished the building was restored and stood in stark contrast to the ruined walls that remained from the building. Renovation of these ruins are in the final stages of completion.

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