Torah Learning Center-Otzmat Yerushalayim
The Jerusalem Mechina (HaMechina HaYerushalmi-Otzmat Yerushalaim-Strength to Jerusalem) is alive, functioning and very well.
Mechina boys from the Pre Army Academy of Otzem in Cholot Chalutza (also known as the Mechina from Atzmona in Gush Katif - once under the leadership of HaRav Rafi Peretz) are the first group of boys who have come to the newly renovated premises in the massive building complex on the main intersection near the Flowers Gate (Also known as Herod's Gate) of the Old City. The current dynamic Rosh Mechina is HaRav Chaim Baruch - who himself has a rich and colourful background in both Torah studies and Tzahal army service. Because the Mechina at Otzem-Atzmona is one of the largest in the country, with close to 300 students, the mechina of Otzem will be sending groups of 30 students to this new Ateret Cohanim Jerusalem Torah Learning Centre -The Jerusalem Mechina, over the coming months. Other Mechinot are expected to follow and have already shown interest.
Ateret Cohanim has been quietly working on the renovation project for a few months, and is more than happy to have the Pre-Army students attend this flagship educational Torah Learning Centre in the heart of Jerusalem.
Yeshiva students enrolled in Pre Army Academies from around the country will have the opportunity to come to "The Jerusalem Mechina" for a 7-14 day Torah Learning experience in Jerusalem. Ateret Cohanim, with the help of generous donors from Israel and abroad have established this beautiful centre that will have all facilities on-site, including a Beit Midrash, dining room, kitchen and dormitory, which can hold around 30 students from the various Mechinot.
In addition to learning, the Pre Army Academt students will also participate in educational tours in and around the Old City.
The new Mechina facility is in the massive building complex of the Israel Post and Bezeq, on Sultan Suleiman Street, in very close proximity to the Rockeffelor Israel Museum. The post office is one of the busiest postal offices in the country. The Israel Police and the Israel Border Patrol Police both have offices and stations in the building complex, which will now also have a different "Jewish flavour and atmosphere" with Pre-Army Yeshiva students learning and living in the building complex.
Ateret Cohanim welcomes Mechinat Otzem- Atzmona to THE NEW JERUSALEM MECHINA FACILITY OF ATERET COHANIM - the one and only true Pre-Army Torah Learning experience in Jerusalem for all Mechinot (HaMechina HaYerushalmi -Otzmat Yerushalayim)
Like all Israeli Governments, since 1967, Ateret Cohanim firmly believes that Jerusalem was , is and will always remain the united capital of the State of Israel. Jerusalem is the "pumping station of the Jewish world" and in 1967, the Jewish people finally returned "home" to "her Jerusalem". It was the welcome end to a very long period, that saw many illegal occupiers and conquerors, from the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, to the modern day Arab occupiers and former British Imperialists, trample the holy grounds, and limit Jewish access to our Jerusalem and to our Jewish homeland in general.
- Today - thank G-d, there is a singular united Jerusalem entity under Jewish sovereignty.Today, there are over 215,000 Jews living in an area, that is sometimes referred to as "East Jerusalem". (Eg/ Ramot, Pisgat Zeev, French Hill, Har Choma....etc)
- Today there is a Jewish neighbourhood, including a Yeshiva on the Mount of Olives...there are Yeshiva boys studying and families living in the old Yemenite Village of Shiloach, there are Jewish families in Kidmat Zion and there are close to a thousand Jewish residents of the old Jewish Quarter of the Old City. (Moslem Quarter) This includes 4 Yeshivot and hundreds of Yeshiva students.
- Today, Arabs and Jews live together, side-by-side in and around the Old City, and generally in the 'most basic' coexistance.(Shiloach-Silwan is the exception to the rule, with very hostile and aggressive Arabs in the area, who have daily attacks on the Jewish residents)
Arabs from the neighbourhoods of Shiloach-Silwan and from Sheich Jarrah (as examples), work, travel, eat and shop in Mamilla, Emek Refaim or along Jaffa Road (Once called West Jerusalem) and there is no shortage of Arabs who have bought and now live in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods of Ramat Eshkol, Armon Hanetziv or Neve Yaakov.
As such, there is definately nothing sinister or problematic if Jews shop, work, study Torah and walk around Sultan Suleiman Street. There is nothing more natural for Am Yisrael - the rightful heirs of this G-d given Land, to be able to live anywhere in Jerusalem, especially close to the Temple Mount, the City of David and the Old City itself.
Ateret Cohanim in many ways is simply fulfilling a centuries old dream of returning Jewish life centred around educational institutes to the heart of Jerusalem.
This Jerusalem Mechina-Torah Learning Centre is that dream being realized, with the sweet sounds of Torah being heard and with Torah being studied by boys who have enlisted in a pre-army academy before officially joining the ranks of IDF.
- There were dark times in our illustrious Jewish history, when we were forbidden to study Torah.
- There were times when Jews were forbidden to live and work in certain towns and places.
- There were also periods in our history when it was fashionable and "ok" to have areas - Judenrein. (Free of Jews)
BUT- Thank G-d, those days are "nearly" gone and Jews are now generally free to live and learn Torah anywhere in Jerusalem.
This area is symbolic.: In July 1099, the Crusaders broke thru the walls of Jerusalem - at this spot, near the Herods/Flowers gate, in the north west section of the city, in close proximity to the new acquisition. The Crusaders massacred the Jewish community in this area as they proceeded to trample Jerusalem. A historian wrote that "Jewish blood flowed in the streets of Jerusalem, reaching the knees of the horses" . In that same area, we have now Pre Army Yeshiva boys living and learning Torah.
We believe that we can achieve the most basic peace and live in the most basic coexistence with the Arabs - only if we stand up for our Jewish rights, if we show solid and unwavering strength of conviction, that we don't compromise on the "wonderful gift" that G-d gave the Jewish People (Jerusalem and Israel) and only if we live side by side with all our non-Jewish neighbours (Not separation) in a united Jerusalem under Jewish (Israeli) sovereignty.
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