An official ceremony was held to inaugurate a cultural centre in a former synagogue in the Jerusalem district of Silwan, Haaretz reports. Silwan is ‘overwhelmingly Palestinian’ today only because its original Yemenite Jewish residents were driven out by Arab riots in the 1930s.
Two cabinet ministers, two candidates for Jerusalem mayor, the
Sephardi chief rabbi of the city and a right-wing US former governor on
Wednesday celebrated at a cornerstone ceremony for a heritage center in a
former Yemenite synagogue, in overwhelmingly Palestinian Silwan, near
the Temple Mount.
Also on hand was a representative of the Moskowitz family, which
supports Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhoods of the capital.
The building — once the synagogue of Kfar Hashiloah, a village built
for poor Yemenite immigrants in the early 1880s and evacuated during
Arab riots in the early 20th century — was acquired in 2015 by the
right-wing Ateret Cohanim organization, which settles Jews in East
That was after a long legal battle that culminated in 2015 with a
court ordering the Palestinian Abu Nab family living there to leave.
member of the family still has an apartment in the complex, but the
access to it is in the hands of Ateret Cohanim — an issue that is still
being contested in the courts.
The Culture Ministry is to provide NIS 3 million ($816,000) and the
Jerusalem Affairs Ministry NIS 1.5 million ($408,000) toward a $3
million project to establish the heritage center in the former synagogue
for the preservation of Yemenite immigrant culture.
A Miami Beach synagogue has pledged to raise half a million dollars,
while the US-based Rohr family has helped to fund a religious study
Paying tribute to fellow Likud lawmaker Nurit Koren, who pushed for
the project to be funded, and to Ateret Cohanim founder and chairman
Matti Dan, whom she called “the greatest of all,” Culture Minister Miri
Regev said, “Look around. We are surrounded by Jewish heritage. The
archaeologists won’t find a single Palestinian coin here! We have come
Eighty years after the British mandatory police evacuated the Jews to
protect them from Arab rioters, the Jewish community returned to the
synagogue, bringing with it “a Torah scroll, Torah learning, liturgical
songs and the cultural richness of the great, modest, Israel-loving
Yemenite people,” she said.
Ze’ev Elkin, the environmental protection minister, who also holds
the Jerusalem Affairs portfolio and has announced that he is running for
Jerusalem mayor, said, “Just as we are proud to be connected with
everything happening in the City of David [another part of Silwan, where
Jews associated with the right-wing El Ad organization are creating
tourism projects and settling Jews], we are proud to be connecting with
the history of the Yemenite immigration here.”