Beit Orot plans
Beit Orot plans Beit Orot

The cornerstone laying ceremony for a new Jewish neighborhood on the northern slopes of Mt. of Olives was held this afternoon, in the presence of past and possibly future U.S. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Knesset Members, rabbis, and Jerusalem city council members.

The new neighborhood will not be large – only 24 units – but will mark the expansion of the Jewish residential presence to new parts of liberated Jerusalem. The site, currently home to Yeshivat Beit Orot, a hesder yeshiva, is located just off Mt. Scopus.

How Not to Divide Jerusalem
The new neighborhood is a bane for those who wish to see clearly delineated borders between Jewish and non-Jewish areas in Jerusalem, which they feel will make it easier to negotiate a settlement for the division of Jerusalem. Those who oppose such a division, therefore, welcome a Jewish return to all areas of the Holy City, as this will render more difficult its negotiated division.

Speaking at today’s ceremony, Huckabee said, “As an American, it is inconceivable that there is even a question about whether a Jew may or may not live in various parts of Jerusalem.”

Science Minister Rabbi Prof. Daniel Herskovitz, head of the Jewish Home party, said, “Jewish construction in Jerusalem does not block peace; on the contrary, it brings peace closer. The more construction there is, the more peace there will be. And therefore this neighborhood is just a cornerstone – a model for the renewal of building in Jerusalem.” He had earlier told Arutz-7 that the ceremony was being held publicly and openly, not on the sly: “The documents published by Al-Jazeera show that even the PA have accepted that we are here in Jerusalem to stay. The world knows that there is no way to stop Jewish construction in our capital.”

Deputy Mayor David Harari (National Religious Party) said, “The housing units to be built here are just the beginning. We have already been having discussions about turning it into a large neighborhood.”

Construction on the neighborhood commenced six weeks ago. It is contiguous with other Jerusalem neighborhoods, including French Hill, the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus and the Beit Orot campus.

Yeshivat Beit Orot was founded by Rabbis Benny Elon and Chanan Porat; Porat had taken part in the Six Day War battle that won the area of Beit Orot – a battle in which his beloved and much-admired commander Giora Ashkenazi gave his life. Porat later said: 

“I had always had in the back of my mind that some type of very significant monument should be erected in this area for Giora, who was not religious but was as straight as G-d can make a man… And then one day someone told me that a wealthy Arab was willing to sell his house there, and that we could purchase it and build a Yeshiva there… At the ground-breaking, Giora’s widow Era spoke and expressed her hope that the students who study there would increase knowledge and internalize her husband’s values… She said that her daughter and son-in-law live a religious lifestyle and that perhaps one day, their son – Giora’s grandson – would study there, or say Kaddish for him there, in the very place that Giora gave his life for his people. And, probably in the merit of Jerusalem, this is exactly what happened, some years later…”