A dramatic sight meets your eyes, as you walk though what is known as the Renewed Jewish Quarter of the Old City, formerly known as the Muslim Quarter. A balcony over the busy Arab thoroughfare flies Israeli flags. This is Yeshivas Ateres Yerusalayim, housed in the historic century old building of Toras Chaim Yeshiva. Generations of Torah greats such as HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rav Aryeh Levin, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, Rav Yitzchok HaLevy Herzog and yibodel le chaim, Maran Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv have studied here. The building was built in 1886 by Rav Yitzchok Winongrad of
. At its peek the yeshiva had three hundred students from all over the world. Poland
With the liberation of
in 1967, a platoon of Israeli soldiers passed alongside the yeshiva building. Their commander was Zerach Epstein the grandson of one of the former roshei yeshiva of Toras Chaim whose name was also Zerach Epstein. An Arab man came out of the building and approached young Zerach, handing him the key to the beis midrash. Jerusalem
On entering the building, Commander Zerach Epstein found everything intact. This righteous gentile had faithfully guarded the sanctuary throughout the nineteen years of the Jordanian occupation of the
. He had built a false wall to hide the location of the yeshiva. He claimed that more than he had taken care of the holy place, the holy place had taken care of him. It had been his good luck charm. Till today, this man and his family still live in apartments beneath the yeshiva. Old City
In 1948, when the Jordanians drove the Jews out of the
, they wanted to eradicate all reminders of a previous Jewish presence. To this end, they destroyed all of approximately, 80 synagogues and yeshivas in their wrath. Only two escaped the rampage: the Toras Chaim Yeshiva and the Tzemach Tzedek Chadad shul. In contrast to the complete preservation of Toras Chaim, Tzemach Tzedek was desecrated by first being used as an ammunition depot, and later as stables and shops. Old City
A letter was written by Jordanian General Abdallah Tell after he and his hordes had destroyed the places of Jewish worship and learning. In this letter he boasts: " No Jewish foot will ever step in theWalking though the Rova and even the Muslim Quarter we can see how wrong this man was.
again. We have eradicated every one of their holy places and houses of prayer. They have nothing to do here anymore." Old City
Published in the "English Update"