AMERICAN FRIENDS
OF ATERET COHANIM

Making the old city young again

 
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Yemenite Synagogue History
Dedication of New Restored Synagogue

In 1882, the first Yemenite Jews (Nadaf and Al Nakash families) made the difficult trek from Senna-Yemen to Jerusalem. It was an old Yemenite traditional belief that the Mashiach was comng in that year, based on a verse in the Song of Songs.

Initially shunned by the local Ashkenazi establishment, the Yemenite Jews first lived in caves on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, in the Shiloach.

Fifteen Yemenite families followed the pioneers and as time moved on, more Yemenite families made the same trek from Yemen.

There were no Arabs living in the Shiloach at the time. 

Rav Israel Dov Frumkin came to the plight of the Yemenite Jews and helped them establish a thriving neighborhood, on land owned by a wealthy Jew-Boaz HaBavli. At its peak there were at least 144 Yemenite families living in this area, that was known as either Kfar HaTeimanim or Kfar HaShiloach.

 

The first buildings built were the Beit Knesset (later to be ravaged and ramsacked by Arab marauders) and the public buildings with rooms for the poor Yemenite Jews. All this was part of the Yemenite Community Sanctified Trust (Hekdesh)

 

Arab pogroms and riots of the 1920's and 1930's destroyed the village and drove the families from the area.

 

The last 35 Yemenite families were forcibly removed by the Briitish authorities in August of 1938, who promised that the Yemenite refugees could return shortly to their homes. 

The British also promised to protect the original Beit Knesset complex. The British never kept their promises - written word on BOTH COUNTS !!!!!

 

Important note - The known Arab neighborhood of Silwan- previously Kfar Hateimanim in the Shiloach - only came into being after the Jews arrived and built up their own neighborhood, and after the Jews were later, both driven from the area by the Arabs and removed by the British.

 

Ateret Cohanim with the help of ideological investors from Canada, America, Australia, Israel and other countries, reclaimed old Jewish property in the area and in the year 2004, moved the first Jewish families into 2 buildings -Beit Hadavsh and Beit Yehonatan. (Dedicated to Jonathan Pollard)

Notwithstanding Arab hatred, intolerance,incitement and enormous amount of violence directed towards our Jewish families, over the years (1702 attacks in the last 2 years alone), Ateret Cohanim has still managed to double the Jewish presence in the area and today there are 21 Jewish families, plus a well attended Kolel in the old Yemenite Village. (The families currently live in 6 buildings in the area.)

 

The icing on the "Yemenite cake", was the return of the old Yemenite Beit Knesset complex to Jewish hands after many pain staking attempts to purchase sections of the Beit Knesset (Hidden behind illegal Arab building) and after many years in court.

The Supreme court of Israel, ultimately ruled, that the Beit Knesset did exist, that it did belong to the old Yemenite Hekdesh and that the Arabs were nothing more, than illegal squatters.They were taken out of the premises by the Israeli authorities, and now there is an important project to restore the old Beit Knesset complex, to its previous glory.