Monday, October 22, 2012

Picture of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem also Shows Grandeur of the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue -- Destroyed in 1948

Al-Aqsa colonnade and a structure on
the right
The Library of Congress archives lists this picture as "al-Aqsa," taken by the American Colony photographers sometime between 1898 and 1946. 

To be more exact it is the "Colonnade of Omar" located between the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of Rock, and it was probably taken in the early 1930s when the American Colony photographers focused their lenses on the rebuilding of the al-Aqsa after its partial destruction in the 1927 earthquake.

But we noticed something else in the picture, the prominent building on the hill to the right of the colonnade.

The building is the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, also known as the Nissan Beck Synagogue, named for its founder.  A Hassidic synagogue in the Old City, it was located near the equally prominent Hurva Synagogue founded by students of the Vilna Gaon who differed with the Hassidic movement on many issues.
Enlargement of the Tiferet Yisrael synagogue
(circa 1930)
Two domes -- The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue (left) and
the Hurva Synagogue (1900)
The same picture colorized. (George Eastman collection)

"View of the Old City from the Temple Mount
with the Jewish Quarter in distance." Note the
two synagogue domes (circa 1900)

The synagogues' size, architectural prominence and commanding view were not popular among Muslims in the Old City; even the color of domes was reportedly a target of complaints.

British (Scot) soldier guarding the Jewish Quarter
and the Tiferet Yisrael synagogue in 1948,
prior to the end of the British Mandate.
(Source: Life Magazine archives)
With the outbreak of the 1948 war, the synagogues were used as refuge for the Jewish residents of the Old City as well as military positions for the Jewish defenders.  When the Jewish Quarter surrendered to the Jordanian Legion the two synagogues were blown up.  The Jewish Quarter and its religious institutions were razed.

The destroyed Tiferet Yisrael synagogue and a Jordanian
soldier. (Source: Wikipedia, 1948)

After the Israel Defense Forces captured the Old City in 1967, the Jewish Quarter and the Hurva synagogue were rebuilt.  The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue has yet to be rebuilt.

For more information on the Old City synagogues, click here and here for earlier photo essays.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on the link below the picture to view the original.

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