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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  • 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 Churva Synagogue

The synagogue known as ‘the Churva of Rabbi Yehuda haChassid’ is situated in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Quarter’s main square. The synagogue has undergone many transformations, having being built, destroyed and rebuilt a number of times.

Mordechai Zeevi 01/09/2009 13:00
Rabbi Yehuda haChassid arrived in Eretz Israel from Poland at the beginning of the year 5461. He led a group of hundreds of Ashkenazi Jews, who proceeded to settle in the Old City, where they purchased a parcel of land in the ‘Ashkenazi courtyard’ for the purposes of building a synagogue there. Only a short while after their arrival, tragedy struck with the sudden death of their leader, Rabbi Yehuda haChassid.

After his passing, the group found it impossible to raise the amount of money needed to continue to finance the building of the synagogue, and also to repay the loans they had already taken out. Rav Gedalia haLevi of Semiatitz was sent abroad as an emissary to collect the sums needed, and building meanwhile came to a halt.



However, the patience of the muslim creditors ran out before Rav Gedalia’s return, and in the year 5481 arab riots broke out in the Jewish Quarter, totally destroying the ‘Ashkenazi courtyard’. All Ashkenazi Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and forbidden to return. The destruction gave rise to the new term of description for the synagogue that had yet to be completed; henceforth it was referred to as ‘the Churva of Rabbi Yehuda haChassid’, churva meaning ‘destruction’. Meanwhile, Rav Gedalia returned from Europe with the funds he had raised, which were then entrusted to Rav Shimshon Vertheimer for safekeeping, until such time as they could be utilised for their intended purpose.

After the immigration of the students of the Vilna Gaon to Eretz Israel, a number of Ashkenazi Jews did dare to come to live in Jerusalem. They then began to endeavour to have the Churva built, and on the 17th of Nissan in the year 5617 the required sum was finally raised and the necessary permits acquired; building was then resumed.

This latest development was largely due to the efforts of Moshe Montefiore and Baron Alfonse de Rothschild (a brother of Edmond). The Baron stipulated that the synagogue be named after his father Yaakov, and indeed, officially the name ‘Bais Yaakov’ was given to the building; however, in practice, the name ‘Churva’ persisted in common usage. Another respected donor who gave of his own private fortune towards the building project was a Jew from Baghdad, with the name of Yechezkel Reuven. After the building was completed, a stone plaque was placed over the entrance to the synagogue lauding Yechezkel Reuven for his philanthropy and testifying that he had donated more than half of the total building expenses.

The Churva shul was finally completed on the 24th of Ellul, 5624. Contemporary records testify that it was an exceptionally beautiful edifice, both within and without. In addition to the synagogue itself, two batei medrash were erected in the ‘Ashkenazi courtyard’, named ‘Shaarei Tzion’ and ‘Menachem Tzion’. Both of these batei medrash contained large libraries of sifrei kodesh and groups of scholars could be found studying there at all hours of the day and night. Also in the courtyard was the Eitz Chaim yeshiva and Talmud Torah, and a building for hachnosas orchim. Opposite the Eitz Chaim yeshiva lived the Rav of Jerusalem, the Gaon Rav Shmuel Salant zt’l.

The Churva synagogue remained standing until the War of Independence in the year 5708. Towards the end of the war, the Jordanians decided that the building was of strategic importance to the Hagana fighters, and they bombed it. The beautiful synagogue was almost totally destroyed; only random pillars remained as testimony to its former existence.

After the Six-Day War and the liberation of the Old City, one of the four stone arches of the synagogue was restored, whose lone arc into the sky came to represent the destruction wrought by the arabs on the synagogue in particular and the Old City in general. At the end of 5767 restoration work began on the Churva shul; today, the building has almost reached completion.

Near the site of the Churva synagogue is situated the Yeshiva of the mekubalim, ‘Beis E-l’. Reconstruction work to the building commenced in the year 5733 under the orders of the Rav of the Holy Sites, Rav Yehuda Getz zt’l. At the end of the year 5755 the renovation work was finally completed and a festive Chanukas haBayis was held. Just a short while afterwards, Rav Yehuda Getz departed this world. The rebuilt yeshiva is still at the same location, and is renowned for its decorative metal gate which is professionally and artistically engraved.