Glimpses of Israel - The Jewish Quarter

by Joseph Hunting

I wonder how King David would have reacted had he been denied access to the old walled city of Jerusalem when it was under Jordanian control, as I was during my first visit to Israel in 1960. As a Gentile, I had ISRAEL stamped on my visa and that was enough for the Jordanian authorities to deny me access.

But not long after the June war of 1967 I joined the crowds of Jews, Arabs and Gentiles who entered the Holy City without hindrance of any kind. However, there was one section of Jerusalem that was strewn with rubble and rubbish. It was where the Jewish sector had been located south of the Western Wall. Of the thirty-five synagogues that existed prior to the Jordanian occupation, thirty-four were reduced to rubble and had been used as rubbish dumps and latrines. This vandalism and desecration was not the result of shelling in the fighting that surrounded Jerusalem in 1948. It was deliberate desecration of Jewish places of worship.

During the years that followed the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 thousands of tons of rubble and debris were removed from the Old City and gradually a new Jewish sector began to emerge. The ruins of a once-beautiful synagogue were tastefully preserved as new residential buildings blended aesthetically with the uniqueness that typifies the architecture of the Old City.

Attractive plazas blend with reminders of Jerusalem's past. Nearby a portion of Jerusalem's wall that existed in the reign of King Hezekiah has been excavated. Even underfoot are paving stones that were part of the Jerusalem of Herod's reign. A restored Roman street called the Cardo is much the same as it was nearly two thousand years ago. King David would feel very much at home in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem as it is today.