The Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter is special because it stands on the site of the original city from the time of the 2nd temple. No other part of Jerusalem can make that claim. Looking at Jerusalem from above ground one would think that only Christians and Muslims lived there because there are churches and mosques surrounding the Jewish quarter, yet the archaeological discoveries prove otherwise. The Jews have always been the majority of the population of the Old City.

Archaeological excavations done since the 6-Day War in 1967 brought forth homes, walls, water cisterns and streets from those early days. No matter how loudly the bells ring out or the muezzin calls, nothing can change this fact.

Believe it or not, when Jews didn’t live in Jerusalem, nobody lived here.  Jerusalem lay deserted for hundreds of years before Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of Turkey, built a wall around Jerusalem, which made Jews feel that it was safe to live here. Within about 3 years after the
wall was completed in 1538, the population of the city tripled. Everyone wanted to live here because the Jews had chosen to live here.

Most of these Jews came from Spain, after the expulsion of the Jews and from Istanbul. This was not the first time the Jewish Quarter grew very swiftly. It had also grown quickly in the 13th century when Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Nachmanides) came to Jerusalem in 1265, also from Spain. That was after the Mongol invasion had destroyed the city and the Mamluk Arabs began to rebuild it and encouraged Jews to live here. That was also the time when the Jewish cemetery on the Mt. of Olives was consecrated. It is still used today by the Jewish community of Jerusalem.

Glancing at the Old City, one may assume the Jews just entered it within the past 100 years, but we know differently. Jews have thousands of years of history here, but a lot of it is hidden underground. Muslims built on top of Jewish homes and buildings in order to convince themselves and everyone else that the Jews never lived here, but there is no way to deny the archaeology from 2000 years ago.