Old City Synagogue Dedication

An ancient synagogue in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City reopened Sunday, with archaeological treasures being shared with the public.

Ernie Singer , | updated: 3:15 PM

Rendering of the ancient synagogue
Rendering of the ancient synagogue
Israel News Photo: (IAA)

Following years of archaeological digs in the area, the Ohel Yitzhak (Tent of Isaac) synagogue was rededicated on Sunday, just 80 meters from the Temple Mount in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. The synagogue was last open 72 years ago and was connected to the Temple Tunnel half a year ago.

Financed by the Moskowitz family, building and reconstruction work on Ohel Yitzchak was carefully executed by Israel's Antiquities Authority to retain the synagogue's past appearance. In recent years there have been a number of finds made in a series of spaces below the synagogue, one of the most important synagogues built in the Old City, including a steam bath from the Mameluke period of the 14th century.

The Ohel Yitzchok Synagogue walls

The property, located between the Cotton Merchants Gate and the Heavy Chain Gate – not far from the Western Wall of the Temple, was purchased by the Hungarian Jewish community in 1867. The structure was erected by the Kollel Shomrei HaHomot (Guardians of the Walls Study House) in 1917 and blown up by Jordanian shelling in 1948.

A child moves a shtender (prayer podium) in the synagogue decades ago

Aerial photographs from the War of Independence show that the building was intact until then, even though it was abandoned following the Arab riots of 1936. However, when the Old City was liberated in 1967, soldiers found only remains of the synagogue's three-story walls.

The American Friends of Everest Fund bought the grounds from the Kollel 15 years ago and started the rehabilitation of the synagogue a few years later.

Ancient fenestration restored to the synagogue

Slated to take part in the rededication ceremonies are Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, Migdal HaEmek Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman and children and grandchildren of philanthropists Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz.