$2.3 Million Grant to 'Identify' Jerusalem in Europe

Jerusalem in Europe? The Hebrew University has received a $2.3 million grant to study European structures that reflect sites in Jerusalem.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 14:43

Synagogue in Old City of Jerualem
Synagogue in Old City of Jerualem
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

A $2.3 Jerusalem Unification Day grant to the Hebrew University will enable researchers to study thousands of European structures and determine how they reflect sites in Jerusalem. The grant was issued by the European Research Council, which is similar to the United States National Science Foundation.

The 1.8 million euro grant was announced by the European Forum at the university. It noted that European communities throughout the ages sought to bring to their inhabitants a feeling of being in Jerusalem through the building of local structures that would convey the atmosphere of being in the holy city. 

However, no previous study has been conducted to research the widespread representation of Jerusalem in European buildings, according to Prof. Bianca Kuhnel, director of the European Forum and recipient of the ERC grant. She is the only Israeli researcher who has been awarded an ERC advanced grant in the humanities this year.

The study is to begin in June and will last five years, focusing primarily on architectural features found in churches, monasteries and other monumental buildings that are meant to recall the style and atmosphere of Jerusalem.

“The building of replicas of Jerusalem sites, such as the Temple, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock, is a recognized phenomenon in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim worlds,” said Prof. Kuhnel.

The Hebrew University project will map the location of the various Jerusalem-inspired sites in numerous European countries, document who built them and for what purpose, compare them and seek common elements that can be found in them. 

Prof. Kuhnel said that the identification with Israel through sites in Europe serves to strengthen Jerusalem’s image there and adds to Israel's ties with Europe.