Porat Yosef Destroyed
Porat Yosef DestroyedLIfe Magazine

The pIcture on the main page and to the right is of the fire set by the Jordanians 1948 that destroyed the flagship Sephardic Porat Yosef Yeshiva. It evokes more recent memories of Arabs setting fire to the Katif Bloc synagogues and yeshivas in 2006. The original caption reads The destruction of Porat Yosef Yeshiva (John Phillips, Life Magazine 1948 - click on the link for a fascinating set of pictures taken by Life Magazine, ed.)

The original caption read: "Clearing of lower end of Tyropean Valley, near Dung Gate (1935)." The photo shows the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City before its destruction in 1948. The Porat Yosef Yeshiva is in the center of the picture with the white dome. Today this area is the entrance way to the Western Wall plaza. (Library of Congress, circa 1935, captions added by Israel Daily Picture)

A puzzling picture from the Library of Congress collection showing the "Temple area. Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock and the western Temple wall." Presumably the wide white lines are photographic editor's tape. At the corner made by the tape is the Porat Yosef dome. The Library of Congress dates the picture "between 1898 and 1946," but Porat Yosef was not built until 1923. 1946 is the year the American Colony Photographic Department closed.

Several ultra-Orthodox rabbinical seminaries in Israel can claim to be the leading Ashkenazic yeshiva -- the massive Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem with its 6,000 students, Ponevezh Yeshiva in B'nai Brak, or the Hevron Yeshiva in Jerusalem, once the famous Slabodka seminary in Europe which relocated to Hebron until the 1929 massacre of Jews there. 

But there are few challengers in the haredi Sephardic community to the pre-eminence of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem.  The site for the seminary was purchased 100 years ago; the cornerstone was laid in 1914, and the building was inaugurated in 1923.  The building contained study halls, a synagogue, classrooms and apartments.

It was all destroyed by the Jordanian army in 1948, along with all of the synagogues and homes in Jewish Quarter and the graves on the Mount of Olives.  The photos of the war in the Old City and the destruction of the Jewish Quarter were taken by Life Magazine's John Phillips. 

After the 1967 war, the Porat Yosef seminary was rebuilt and overlooks the Western Wall Plaza.