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The "Ari" Synagogue
The "Ari" Synagogue inside
According to tradition, this house in Jerusalem ,is the birthplace of ARI of the greatest Kabbalists, the Holy "ARI" [acronym of his name meaning lion] -Rabbi Isaac son of Solomon Luria, in 1534.
There he lived 20 years. It is said that Eliyau HaNavi himself was the Sandak at his Brit.
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria was undisputedly the greatest practitioner and expounder of Kabbala since Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar. Rabbi Yitzchak Luria founded a new school in Kabbalistic thought, known as "the system of the Ari."(Lurianic Kabbalah)
The room of his birthplace became a Sephardic synagogue.
The Jews of the Yishuv were forbidden by Ottoman Law
to establish any new synagogues; this forced them to camouflage the
prayer halls located in homes. The Ari Synagogue itself was at first a
famiIy residence, and even after it was turned into a synagogue, it was
concealed in the guise of a residential space. At a later stage,
synagogue activities were carried out openly. ln the riots of 1936 the synagogue was looted and burned.
With the establishment of the Museum in 1976, the synagogue became part of the exhibit, and was restored according to the Sephardic tradition.
ln addition to the Holy Ark of the Torah,
the reader's platform and the benches, there are Torah scroll coverings
on display, and scribe's tools for writing the sacred and Jewish
On the walls are posters from various time periods showing the
conditions under which the Jewish Community lived.The exhibit shows the
relations between Jewish residents and local government, from the days
of Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan through the period of Mehmet 5, to thle time
of England's Queen Victoria, King George 5, and High Commissioner for
Palestine Herbert Samuel.
Now, there (st. Or Chaim ,6) situated The Isaac Kaplan "Old Yishuv Court Museum"
The entrance to "Ari" Synagogue ,Old City ,Jerusalem 2007
The Isaac Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum is located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem,
“between the walls.” The building apparently dates from the 15th or
16th century, and all signs point to it having been built over the
ruins of a previous, more ancient structure. We regret that
archaeologists have never excavated the site, nor has there been any
research study of the building.The entryway is very narrow and dark,
with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. One door leads out to the inner
courtyard, the second to an additional yard, and the third leads into a
typical room where one family used to live. Opposite the entranceway is
a stairwell to the upper floor. As soon as one enters the building, it
is possible to feel a mysterious sense of encounter with a different
The term old yishuv refers to the Jewish community that lived here
for centuries, long before the arrival of the first Zionists in the
1880's. The court is the inner courtyard around which compounds -
usually shared by several families - were built. Two small synagogues,
dating to the 16th and 18th centuries, occupy part of the compound. The
Shaar HaShamayim kabbalistic yeshiva was housed here for a time.
The museum, which opened in 1976 and contains more than 6,500
artifacts, highlights the Ginio family - Sephardi vintners who fled
Spain after the Expulsion of 1492, settled in Salonika in the Ottoman Empire (today Thessalonica, Greece) and ultimately immigrated to Jerusalem.
Old Yishuv Court Museum
The museum was created by Rivca Weingarten, daughter of Rabbi
Mordechai Weingarten, the mukhtar (community head) of the pre-State
Jewish Quarter.She returned to dwell in her family's house after the Six-Day-War (they lived in the building from 1812 until 1948)
and opened the museum to preserve a record of the lifestyle of the Old
Yishuv. The current curator of the museum is Galia Gavish who runs the
exhibit under the auspices of the Jerusalem Foundation and the Ministry
Like Tehilla's room in S.Y. Agnon's tale, Jerusalem of long ago
comes alive again in The Old Yishuv Court Museum - the story of the
Jewish community in Palestine from the period under Ottoman rule
through the final days of the British Mamdate.
Thousands of artifacts on exhibit in the Museum tell the story of the
residents of the Jewish Quarter, from the nineteenth century through
the fall of the Jewish Quarter to the Jordanians in 1948. This is the
story of a vibrant and creative life under extreme material poverty, in
a city under foreign rule. The museum itself was the home of the
Weingarten family for five generations, until 1948, when the Jewish
Quarter fell to the Arabs. In 1967,
Rivkah Weingarten, now the museum's director, returned to her old home
and began to collect furniture, china, clothing and many other items to
re-create a picture of daily life here in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The rooms in this old house have stone walls that are over three feet
thick, and high, domed ceilings. One room is furnished in the Ashkenazi
- central or eastern European -manner, another is Sephardi - Spanish.
The collection of kitchen utensils reminds one of how difficult life
must have been when bread was still baked at home in primitive ovens,
and when irons were heated by burning coals inserted under their lids.
There is also an interesting assemblage of tools used by tradesmen or
professionals, from shoemakers and tinsmiths to dentists and
physicians. And in the courtyard, the only water supply to the
inhabitants: a cistern in which rainwater was collected during the winter. A few flowerpots
in a corner, and a laundry line with old-fashioned bloomers flapping in
the breeze help evoke the feeling of a bygone way of life.
The "Or Hachaim" Synagogue
The "Or Hachaim" Synagogue inside
On the top floor of the Museum is the "Or Hachaim" Synagogue, named
for Rabbi Hayim Ben Attar's book 0r Hachaim - "The Light of Life."
Coming from Sale, Morocco, he arrived in Jerusalem in 1742,
and established his study hall there with women's section.There is
another room at the back of the men's section where he would study in
sanctity and learn with Eliyahu Ha-Navi. The synagogue served as the
synagogue for the Ashkenazi community, run by Rabbi Shlomo Rosenthal.
With the fall of the Jewish Quarter to Jordan in 1948, the synagogue was closed; it was reopened in 1967 with the liberation of the Old City/
Sephardic room of the Ottoman period
At the beginning of the nineteenth century most of the residents
were of Sephardic ethnic origin. In the room of this period, we have a
restored room according to the customs of the East: seating was on or
near the floor in cross-legged position, with few pieces of furniture.
Storage was in wooden chests the sanduk .