The History of the Yemenite Beit Knesset
Following many years of court proceedings and waiting more than a year for the Police to act on an eviction notice, the illegal Arab squatters have finally been removed from the old Yemenite Synagogue that was built in the late 19th Century.
In the pogroms of 1938, the British authorities who were both unable and unwilling to protect the Jewish residents of the Shiloach, ordered that the remaining Yemenite families (Numbering about 35 families) be taken out of the Yemenite neighbourhood in the Shiloach. The Yemenite Jews managed to transfer many of the holy books and Sifrei Torah into one of the main Yemenite Synagogues (Ohel Shlomo) in the hope that the British Authorities would be able to protect the religious possessions. The British High Commissioner also wrote to the National Council (Vaad HaLeumi), that he hoped that the "Jewish refugees" would be able to return shortly to their homes in the Village.
Unfortunately the British promise remained on paper only, they were "not good to their word", the Yemenite Jews were not allowed to return to their homes and the Arabs of the area looted and desecrated the Synagogues in the Yemenite village.
In the month of August of 1939, Shlomo Zeevi as a representative of the National Council, visited the old Yemenite Village, and was shocked and shaken to see the pure destruction and vandalism of the Synagogue. He wrote a very detailed report to Yitzchak Ben Tzvi, about the torn and burnt Torah scrolls and how the Arabs had turned the Synagogue into a public convenience.
("….The door locks were broken and I noticed the obvious breaking and entry or rioters…..torn and soiled holy books and scrolls were thrown over the floor……human faeces…food and dates were crushed over the scrolls of Torah, which was opened up to Parshat Vayeitzeh....the feelings and impression was insulting and depressing.")
Arabs simply squatted in the old Yemenite Synagogue and in many other Jewish owned buildings in the area which became an Arab neighbourhood called Silwan.
In 1967, and after the liberation of Jerusalem, the old Yemenite Village, located east of the City of David on the slopes of the Mount of Olives and just outside the Old City walls, became part of united Jerusalem.