שבת ט' בכסלו תשפ"ג 03/12/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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Place

  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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In Jewish Sites

The Ramban Synagogue

The Ramban Synagogue is the most ancient synagogue in Jerusalem and was established by the Ramban (Nahmanides) close to the year 5027.

Mordechai Zeevi 18/05/2009 12:00
When the Ramban reached the age of seventy, he was forced to flee Spain due to a stormy argument between the local Christians and the Jews. Despite his advanced age, he chose to head for the Land of Israel, although the journey was dangerous and difficult. When he finally arrived in the Holy Land, he settled in Akko. He relocated to Jerusalem in 5027 where he lived for three years. When the Ramban first arrived in Jerusalem, all that could be seen was ruins and destruction. In a letter he wrote to his family, he describes: "Many are its forsaken places, and great is the desecration. The more sacred the place, the greater the devastation it has suffered. Jerusalem is the most desolate place of all. And there are two thousand residents here, including three hundred Christians and many refugees who escaped the Sultan, and very few Jews dwell here, since most of them were killed or fled when the Crusaders arrived."

In Jerusalem, the Ramban found two brothers who arranged minyanim for Sabbath and Holiday services. The Ramban encouraged the brothers and assisted them in establishing a synagogue. The Ramban refers to the establishment of the synagogue in one of his letters: "And we hurried in our quest and we found a deserted building with marble pillars and a beautiful cupola and we took it and made it into a synagogue. As the city is abandoned, whoever wishes to obtain a building can go out and take any deserted building he desires. And we volunteered to repair it and have already begun the renovations. And we have also sent for a Torah scroll from Shechem which originated in Jerusalem but was secretly smuggled out of the city when the Crusaders arrived. Thus, we have established a synagogue and there we have prayed. And many people come to Jerusalem from Damascus and Iraq and Egypt, to witness the ruins of the Temple and to weep over the destruction."

The identification of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem was carried out approximately eighty years ago by the renowned architect Ya'akov Finkerfeld. Although his findings initially aroused controversy and were strongly questioned, the building was eventually widely accepted as the Ramban Synagogue. From the letters of Rabbi Ovadyah Bartenura, it emerges that he had visited the Ramban Synagogue during his stay in Jerusalem, as the Ramban Synagogue was the only synagogue in Jerusalem at the time.

Other architects, however, maintain that the original Ramban Synagogue is located approximately 492.13 feet (150 meters) from where it stands today, as it was apparently relocated to its present place after a dispute over the first building erupted between the Jews and the Christians.

Next to the synagogue stands the Sidna Omar Mosque, which was, according to the testimony of Rabbi Ovadyah Bartenura, established by a Jewish woman who had converted to Islam. Out of resentment towards her former brethren, she had established the Mosque, which became the source of many troubles for the adjacent synagogue; the Muslims who came to pray at the Mosque were constantly disturbing the Jews and disrupting their prayers in the synagogue, and even succeeded in leading to its closure for a period of over one hundred years. Following that period, the Synagogue was returned to the Jews; however the Jews were forbidden to conduct services and pray within the building. After the Six Day War, the synagogue went through extensive renovations and activities within the building were renewed. As of today, the synagogue is constantly full of Jews whereas the nearby Mosque stands empty.

Presently, the Ramban Synagogue is beautifully renovated and is divided lengthwise in half by four pillars that support a beautiful, curved roof. The pillars are skillfully decorated with stone engravings, similar to those in the adjacent Cardo Street. The ceiling is low, and it is believed that the floor of the synagogue was lower in the past but as the years went by, it was filled with stones and dust, which resulted in a higher floor. As the synagogue has very few windows, its interior is dim, and on the eastern wall there are two Holy Arks containing several Torah scrolls.

During the renovations after the Six Days War, the names of the forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were found engraved in one of the pillars. While no information regarding the time of the engravings has been obtained, it is believed to have taken place approximately five hundred years ago.

On the adjacent land plot stands 'the Ruins of Rabbi Yehudah Hachassid', as well as additional synagogues.