Yemenite Beit Knesset Back In Jewish Hands After 77 Years
From Desecration in 1938 following the Arab pogroms - to Redemption in 2015
Mazal Tov, Chazak U'Baruch and huge congratulations for the recent move into part of the original Beit Knesset (Synagogue) complex in the old Yemenite village of Shiloach. In 1938, after the devastating Arab riots and pogroms, the British Authorities evicted the last remaining Jewish families from their homes in the Jewish neighbourhood of Kfar HaShiloach (Kfar HaTeimanim), that was established by Yemenite Jews in 1882.
At the same time, the British promised to protect the only remaining Synagogue and even gave written assurances that the "Jewish refugees" would be able to shortly return to their homes, in their neighbourhood.
The British reneged on their written promises, and the Yemenite Village was effectively decimated, and Arab squatters took over many Jewish owned buildings. The neighbourhood became known as Silwan - today, primarily an Arab neighbourhood, with pockets of Jewish life being reestablished and revived.
In the year 1938, following the fleeing and eviction of Yemenite Jews, the Synagogue itself (Ohel Shlomo) was desecrated, holy books were destroyed, and the place was initially turned into public conveniences for the local Arabs. This was in fact recorded and seen by Shlomo Zeevi (Rechavam Zeevi's father - see attached picture) and by British officials, who visited the site in 1939. Ever since, Arab families have illegally squatted and built illegal structures in and around the Beit Knesset.(See attached picture)
Over the years, Israeli courts have ruled that the Synagogue is 'recognized' as an official Synagogue and that it must be returned to the rightful Jewish owners - Hekdesh Benvenisti. (This ruling was in addition to previous court rulings against the Arabs for illegal building on the religious and historic site)
By the grace of G-d, Baruch Hashem, on the 17th Iyar 5775 (Wednesday 6th May 2015) Jewish life returned to the Beit Knesset, and it was returned to Hekdesh Benvenisti.
Although only part of the original Synagogue Complex has been returned (Some of the Arab families who have illegally squatted in the old Synagogue are no longer in the premises, while others remain).....it's still the amazing realization of a dream.
The Beit Knesset and its adjoining buildings is located adjacent to Beit HaDvash and in close proximity to Beit Yehonatan (named for Jonathan Pollard), both buildings with Yeshiva students, and Jewish families. It is also only a few minutes walk for the other Jewish families and Yeshiva students who are currently living in the other buildings - Beit Ovadia and Beitr Frumkin. (Also in the old Yemenite Village of Shiloach but closer to the Shiloach springs in the northern sector)
The Beit Knesset complex has returned (Partially) to its rightful heirs after 77 years !!
It has been redeemed and after some future serious restoration and renovation work, the sweet sounds of daily prayers, Jewish learning and Jewish life in general, will once again be heard from the Beit Knesset complex.
The old Yemenite Synagogue will G-d willing service the Yeshiva students in the area (Kolel Yehoshua Rohr-Ometz Yishecha) and also the Jewish families and Yeshiva students, currently living nearby, in the Shiloach neighbourhood. (Beit Yehonatan, Beit HaDvash, Beit Frumkin and Beit Ovadia).
Although Ohel Shlomo was the name of the Beit Knesset during the period of the Yemenite Village from 1885-1938, it was but one of the 4 Synagogues in the area, three of which were Yemenite and one Sefardi Synagogue. The main sanctuary is to be dedicated for Jonathan Pollard -Heichal Yonatan.
(*Note: Needy Jewish families may also move into the complex, as this is one of the aims of the original Yemenite Hekdesh -also known as Hekdesh Benvinisti )