Reuven Rivlin: My Jerusalem
Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin is President of the State of Israel
Each time I enter the Old City of Jerusalem, I feel I am making a journey to my family roots. While some fly to Krakow or Casablanca to encounter roots, I need neither airplane nor passport, for my forefathers lived and worked in Jerusalem. And there is a particularly special place in the Old City for me: The Hurva Synagogue.
In the Gates of Jerusalem: Reflections on the Eternal City for the High Holidays 5778 – A Reader
Produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Shalom Hartman Institute
On the eve of Rosh Hashana, 5625 (1864), my great-grandfather Reb Yosef Yitzhak "Yoshya" Rivlin declared in the doorway of the Hurva Synagogue as it was dedicated for the second time:
“Anyone standing on one of the hills surrounding Jerusalem will be able to see the dome of this synagogue rising among all the other buildings in the city, like the moon among the stars. . . I well remember this place nine years ago – a site of total destruction… But now there rises a majestic temple that is a pride and a glory for this generation.”
As a child I was privileged to see the full glory of the Hurva from within when I came with my father to the synagogue service, and from outside, when I looked from the New City towards the Old City. Anyone who looked could see the dome of the Hurva. But I felt a special pride.
Then, on Lag Ba’Omer, 5708 (May 27, 1948), a terrible thing happened. During fierce fighting, the Jordanian Legion conquered the Hurva and raised the Jordanian flag over it. Three hours later there was a huge explosion. We looked over towards the Old City, but the dome of the Hurva was no longer there – its stones were shattered, the splendor destroyed, its Holy Ark turned into an animal stable.
In 1967, as a soldier in the Jerusalem Brigade, I went to the Kotel at the first opportunity after liberation, and from there to the Hurva. It was difficult for me to look at the sight; nothing was left of that beautiful synagogue.
Then in 2010, after an extensive renovation, the Hurva was rededicated. A century and a half after my grandfather Reb Yoshya’s speech, I was privileged to stand where he had once stood and to again witness the renewed greatness of the Hurva, its glory rising from the ashes for a third time.
The story of the Hurva is a microcosm of our Jewish history, our nation that returned to its homeland – from destruction to splendor, then again destruction, and again splendor. We who truly love Jerusalem, who fight for her, who link our destiny to hers, who mourn her desolation and rejoice in her rebuilding, know that there can be no Zion without Jerusalem. We continue to believe that there is nothing more moral or just than our right to build and to be rebuilt within this city. The Hurva is a symbol of the reunited Jerusalem.
As we approach Rosh Hashana, I wish you all good health, joy and peace in the coming year.
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year – ???? ???? ??????