Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue

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Coordinates: 31°46′31″N35°13′56″E / 31.775369°N 35.232339°E / 31.775369; 35.232339

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Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue
בית הכנסת תפארת ישראל
Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue.jpg
The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, before 1948
Affiliation Judaism
Rite Nusach Sefard
PatronRabbi Yisrael Friedman of Ruzhin
Location Jewish Quarter of the Old City
Municipality Jerusalem
State Israel
Architect(s) Nisan Bak
Destroyed21 May 1948

Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue (Hebrew : בית הכנסת תפארת ישראל; Ashkenazi Hebrew: Tiferes Yisroel), most often spelled Tiferet Israel, also known as the Nisan Bak Shul, (Yiddish : ניסן ב"ק שול), after its co-founder, Nisan Bak. [1] was a prominent synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 19th and 20th centuries. The synagogue was established by the Ruzhin Hasidim among the members of the Old Yishuv [ citation needed ] and was destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion on 21 May 1948, during the Battle for Jerusalem of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. [2] [3]

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel. Modern Hebrew was spoken by over nine million people worldwide in 2013. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name "Hebrew" in the Tanakh itself. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only Canaanite language still spoken, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Ashkenazi Hebrew is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for liturgical use and study by Ashkenazi Jewish practice. It survives today as a separate religious dialect within some parts of the Haredi community, even alongside Modern Hebrew in Israel, although its use amongst non-Israeli Ashkenazi Jews has greatly diminished.

Nisan Bak was a leader of the Hasidic Jewish community of the Old Yishuv in Ottoman Palestine. He was the founder of two Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Kirya Ne'emana and a Yemenite neighborhood, and builder of the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, also known as the Nisan Bak Shul.

The synagogue was left as ruins after the recapture of the Old City in the Six-Day War. In November 2012 the Jerusalem municipality announced its approval for plans to rebuild the synagogue. [3] The cornerstone was laid on May 27, 2014. [4]

Six-Day War 1967 war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria

The Six-Day War, also known as the June War, 1967 Arab–Israeli War, or Third Arab–Israeli War, was fought between 5 and 10 June 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

Origins and name

Acquisition Scroll, 1872 Sefer Hamakneh.jpg
Acquisition Scroll, 1872

The synagogue was built in the 1860s by the followers of Rabbi Yisrael Friedman of Ruzhin [2] and his son Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov of Sadigura, [5] and was named "Tiferet Yisrael" after Reb Yisrael [2] - tiferet means "glory" or "splendour" in Hebrew, [6] and Rabbi Yisrael was famous for conducting his court with a regal display of gold and wealth. [7] Nevertheless, the strong involvement of Nissan Bak, led to the widespread use of the name "Nissan Bak synagogue". [8]

Yisrael Friedman of Ruzhin rabbi

Israel Friedman of Ruzhyn, also called Israel Ruzhin, was a Hasidic rebbe in 19th-century Ukraine and Austria. Known as Der Heiliger Ruzhiner, he conducted his court with regal pomp and splendor. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, who was said to be jealous of the Rebbe's wealth and influence, had the Rebbe imprisoned for nearly two years on an unsubstantiated murder charge. After his release, the Rebbe fled to Austria, where he re-established his court in Sadigura, Bukovina, attracted thousands of Hasidim, provided for the Hasidic community in Israel, and inaugurated the construction of the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Avrohom Yaakov Friedman (first Sadigura rebbe) First Sadigura Rebbe

Avrohom Yaakov Friedman was the first Rebbe of the Sadigura Hasidic dynasty. He lived in the palatial home constructed by his father, Rabbi Yisrael Friedman of Ruzhyn, who fled to the Austrian town of Sadhora due to persecution by the Russian Tsar. He maintained his father's extravagant lifestyle while immersing himself in Torah study and mysticism. He was considered the greatest Rebbe of his era, attracting hundreds of thousands of Jews as well as prominent Christian leaders to his court.

Another tradition, published by a relative of the Bak family, holds that it was named after Yisrael Bak, who had a decisive role in the construction of the synagogue. [8]

Although Hasidim had arrived in Jerusalem by 1747, it was only in 1839 that Nissan Bak began plans for a Hasidic synagogue. Until then they had prayed in small, private locations like Yisrael Bak's house.

Synagogue Jewish or Samaritan house of prayer

A synagogue is a Jewish or Samaritan house of worship.

In 1843 Yisrael Bak travelled from Jerusalem to visit the Ruzhiner Rebbe in Sadigura. He informed him that Czar Nikolai I intended to buy a plot of land near the Western Wall with the intention of building a church and monastery there. The Ruzhiner Rebbe, who was very involved in assisting the yishuv, gave Bak the task to thwart the Czar's attempt. Bak managed to buy the land from its Arab owners for an exorbitant sum mere days before the Czar ordered the Russian counsul in Jerusalem to make the purchase for him. The Czar was forced to buy a different plot of land for a church, which is known today as the Russian Compound. [9] When Rabbi Friedman died in 1851, his son, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman, the first Rebbe of Sadigura, continued the task of raising the necessary funds for the project. [10]


Preparing for prayer, c.1940 Tiferet shvisi.jpg
Preparing for prayer, c.1940

Nisan Bak was the architect and contractor of the project. [11] Initially the Ottoman authorities refused to grant permission to dig the foundations, and when permission was eventually granted, the crew discovered a Muslim sheik's grave on the site. Eventually the Muslim religious judge agreed for the tomb to be moved outside the city walls. After the foundations had been dug, another setback cropped up. It became apparent that it was necessary to obtain a building permit from the officials in Turkey who were not keen to grant the request. Bak, an Austrian national, convinced Franz Joseph I of Austria to intercede, and in 1858 a firman was granted. Over ten years were spent raising funds as the building slowly took shape. [10]

Official stamp, 1872 Tiferes Yisrael Stamp.jpg
Official stamp, 1872

There is a legend, proven by researcher Tamar Hayardeni to be non-factual and to have emerged a good 30 years after the end of the synagogue's construction, [12] that in November 1869 Franz Joseph, en route to the inauguration of the Suez Canal, made a visit to Jerusalem. Included in his itinerary was a tour of the Jewish institutions of the city. When he toured the Old City with Bak[ which? ] and others, he asked why the synagogue was standing without a roof. Bak quipped, "Why, the synagogue took off its hat in honour of Your Majesty!" The Kaiser smiled and replied, "I hope the roof will be built soon", and left the Austrian counsel with 1,000 French francs [13] for the dome's construction. From then on, the dome was referred to by locals as "Franz Joseph's cap". [14]

The three-story synagogue was inaugurated on 19 August 1872, 29 years after the land had been purchased. For the next 75 years, it served as the centre for the Hasidic community in the city. It was considered one of the most beautiful synagogues of Jerusalem, with a commanding view of the Temple Mount, ornate decorations, and beautiful silver objects donated by Hasidim. [15]


The synagogue in a state of advanced destruction, missing its dome and suffering a large gaping hole to one of its exterior walls, May 1948 Tiferet HS-1.jpg
The synagogue in a state of advanced destruction, missing its dome and suffering a large gaping hole to one of its exterior walls, May 1948

During the Israel War of Independence, the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue was used as a post by the Haganah in the defense of the Old City. During the Jordanian Legion's campaign to capture the Old City, it blew up the synagogue an hour after midnight on the night of May 20–21, 1948.

Modern-day ruin and reconstruction plans

Following the Six-Day War, the decision was made to leave the ruins of the synagogue as they were. Only its western wall remains. In 2010, at the dedication of the reconstructed Hurva Synagogue, also destroyed in 1948, plans were announced by the same donors who sponsored the Hurva rebuilding, to rebuild the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue as well.[ citation needed ]

In November 2012, the Jerusalem municipality approved a plan to rebuild the synagogue. Funding would come from an anonymous donor. [3] In 2014, the synagogue is being rebuilt.

Tiferes Yisroel yeshiva and synagogue

Tiferes Yisroel yeshiva (left) and synagogue (right) in West Jerusalem (New City) Ruzhiner yeshiva, Jerusalem.jpg
Tiferes Yisroel yeshiva (left) and synagogue (right) in West Jerusalem (New City)

In 1953 Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Friedman, the Boyaner Rebbe of New York, laid foundations for a new Ruzhiner Torah centre in the New City of Jerusalem to replace the destroyed Ruzhiner synagogue. In 1957 the Ruzhiner yeshiva, called Mesivta Tiferes Yisroel, was inaugurated with the support of all of the Rebbes of the Ruzhiner dynasty. [17] A large synagogue was built adjacent to it, also bearing the name Tiferes Yisroel; the current Boyaner Rebbe, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer, leads his Hasidut from here. The design of the synagogue, located on the western end of Malkhei Yisrael Street close to the Central Bus Station, includes a large white dome, reminiscent of the domed Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue that was destroyed in the Old City.

See also

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  4. Yossi Aloni (29 May 2014). "Jerusalem Synagogue Destroyed in 1948 to be Rebuilt". Israel Today .
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  6. Tehillim 89:17-19, Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB), BibleGateway.com, accessed 30 July 2019
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  11. Brayer, The House of Rizhin, p. 261.
  12. Tamar Hayardeni (16 September 2013). "The Kaiser's Cap". Segula Magazine. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
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  15. Brayer, The House of Rizhin, p. 263.
  16. Collins, Larry; Dominique Lapierre (1973). "Ticket to a Promised Land". O Jerusalem! . London: Pan Books. pp. 465–466. ISBN   0-330-23514-1. LCCN   97224015.
  17. Brayer, The House of Ruzhin, p. 459.