RAMALLAH, March 16 (JMCC) - Hundreds attended a joyful celebration dedicating the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem
's Old City on Monday evening, reported the Jerusalem Post
[S]peaking inside the Hurva before the ceremony, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger attempted to calm these tensions with a message of peace to the Muslim world.
“Pay no attention to malicious slander,” Metzger said. “All we are doing is resurrecting the Hurva, which was destroyed more than 60 years ago. We have no intention of rebuilding the temple, not this week – unless Almighty God sends it to us from the heavens.”
Metzger added, “All the rumors that suggest we will later march on the Temple Mount are just that – rumors; a media spin by anti-Semites who wish us harm.”
Still, the overall tone of the speakers during the ceremony was one of accomplishment and pride at the synagogue’s rebirth.
After a musical rendition of the “shehiyanu” blessing – recited in instances of renewal – by members of the IDF choir, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat addressed the crowd, saying that the destruction of a Jewish holy site by foreign powers in the heart of the Jewish Quarter was something “we will never again allow to happen.”
While Barkat also sounded a conciliatory tone toward the city’s Muslim residents, he added that “only we, the sovereign power in Jerusalem, know how to guard the city’s holy sites for all three major religions.”
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who spoke after Barkat, echoed many of the mayor’s comments, though not before reading words composed by his mother’s grandfather describing the Hurva before its destruction in 1948.
“From the hills surrounding Jerusalem, [the Hurva] rises up,” Rivlin said, visibly moved by the occasion. “And as it rises, it is reminiscent of a moon among the stars in the sky.”
Rivlin went on to speak of the Hurva’s history, beginning with its first incarnation in 1701, when it was constructed by disciples of Judah Hahasid. Its first destruction came some 20 years later, when those same disciples lacked the funds to repay local creditors, who in return burned the Hurva to the ground.
It was nearly 150 years before the Hurva stood again, but in 1864, after a massive construction project was approved by the Ottoman Turks and funds were procured from Jewish communities the world over, a neo-Byzantine Hurva was soon towering over the rest of the Jewish Quarter.
However, that Hurva, which hosted the likes of Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky before the creation of the state, also met with ruin. The Jordanian army took Jerusalem’s Old City in May of 1948, loaded the building with explosives and set off a blast whose smoke cloud could be seen miles away.
However, as Rivlin spoke to the crowd on Monday night, he vowed that such acts would never again be seen – not in Jerusalem, nor in any other part of the Jewish state.
“Here, we will continue to live, and we will continue to build,” Rivlin said, his voice trembling with emotion. “Because no power in the world can distance us from our land.”