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ABC Mini-Encyclopedia

Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the capital and largest city of Israel, with a population of 732,000 residents, covering an area of over 125 square km.   It is located in the Judean Mountains halfway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Northern end of the Dead Sea.

 

King David (1004 to 970 BCE) united the Jewish nation and chose Jerusalem's site to build the administrative capital of the whole nation (btwn cca 990 to 970 BCE) http://jeru.huji.ac.il/eb31l.htm , in place of the previously unimportant town of the small people of Jebusites. The name ‘Jerusalem' - in Hebrew ‘Yerushalayim' - means ‘He shall demonstrate completeness'.  David initiated and King Solomon built The Temple, the house of worship of Judaism, the first monotheistic faith of mankind. Since then Jews have lived in Jerusalem as a majority continuously for three millennia.

 

The (second) destruction of The Temple came In 71 A.D. at the hand of the Romans (Titus) who seized and destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple, the Jewish revolt for religious freedom and the thousand years old Jewish statehood; renamed Judea as ‘Palestina' and expelled and dispersed most of the Jewish people across the vast Roman Empire. However, Jerusalem has remained, for 3000 years, the centre of Jewish life, alive in the hearts of Jews as the focal point of Jewish nationhood also in exile.  Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jews have prayed 'To Jerusalem Thy city, shall we return with joy'

 

Today the 3000 years old Jerusalem is a vibrant thriving modern city, seat of Israel's government, Parliament (Knesset) and High Court; with universities, wonderful museums, antiquities, modern and ancient buildings, freedom of movement and worship, world class hospitals open to all. Truly ‘A CITY OF GOLD' - as a very popular song quotes a prophet.

 

  • Census in the mid 19th century shows that even after all persecution Jews constituted the largest single group of inhabitants (60-70%) - http://www.israelipalestinianprocon.org/populationpalestine.html#graph2
  • Jerusalem contains Judaism's holiest sites, the Temple Mount (site of the first and second Temples) and the remaining Western Wall of the Temple Mount.
  • For Jews the city is sacred, Jews pray facing in the direction of Jerusalem (whereas Muslims pray facing towards Mecca) . However, Jews - and Israel today - respects the Holy places and religious freedom of all
  • Jerusalem is mentioned 622 times in the Torah (the five books of Moses) and is referred to thousands of times by other names. Jerusalem is holy for Christianity too, one of the three cities in the life of Jesus, the place of his death. Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran.
  • These are the reasons why Jerusalem is frequently called "Israel's eternal capital city"
  • The walled area of Jerusalem, an area of 0.9 sqkm, known now as the Old City, was allocated from the early 19th century to 4 areas, the Jewish, Muslim, Armenian and Christian quarters.
  • In May 1948, Jordan invaded and occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history and driving many thousands of Jews - whose families had lived in the city for centuries - into exile. Under Jordanian rule 58 ancient synagogues were destroyed, libraries and centers of Jewish religious education and the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives were desecrated, tombstones being used as construction materials.  Parking lots, a filling station and more were built over the holy ground and the top of the Mount.
  • Throughout the Jordanian occupation, attempts were made to expunge records of Jewish existence in the city, and rights to visit Jewish Holy places, were totally denied to Israeli Jews.  During this period Christians were also subjected to severe religious restrictions, which resulted, by 1967, in the halving of the Christian population http://www.jcpa.org/jl/jerusalem-gms.htm
  • Israel re-united the city in 1967, giving freedom of worship and access to all the Holy sites of all religions.
  • Since 1967 Arab population of the city has increased from 27% to 32% and new Arab construction has outpaced Jewish construction  http://www.jcpa.org/jlmbldg.htm
  • However, Palestinian political aspirations seek division of Arab, mostly Muslim populated areas of eastern Jerusalem, as their future capital, in addition to the capitals of Samaria/Shomron (Hebron), of Judea (Nablus), and of Gaza (Gaza City). 
  • Paradoxically, Jerusalem knows also poverty; particularly among ultra-orthodox Jews, poor Jewish new immigrants and part of the Arab population.

As a Summary; 3000 years old Jerusalem today is a vibrant thriving city, seat of Israel's government, Parliament (Knesset) and High Court; with wonderful museums, antiquities, modern and ancient buildings, freedom of movement and worship, world class hospitals open to all. Truly ‘A CITY OF GOLD' - as a most popular song quotes.


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