Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Coordinates: 31°46′25.82″N 35°14′35.05″E / 31.7738389°N 35.2430694°E / 31.7738389; 35.2430694

The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, 155 years apart. The map, from 1858, considered the most accurate in existence at the time, marks the Jewish graves clearly on the bottom left.The aerial photo, from 2013, is taken from the south.

The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, including the Silwan necropolis, is the most ancient and most important Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem. Burial on the Mount of Olives started some 3,000 years ago in the days of the First Temple, and continues to this day.[1] The cemetery contains anywhere between 70,000 and 150,000 tombs from various periods, including the tombs of famous figures in Jewish history.


In the 19th century special significance was attached to Jewish cemeteries in Jerusalem, since they were the last meeting place not only of Jerusalemites but also of Jews from all over the world. Over the years, many Jews in their old age came to Jerusalem in order to live out the rest of their lives there and to be buried in its holy soil.[2] The desire to be buried on the Mount of Olives stemmed in part from the Segulaic advantages attributed to the burial, according to various sources.

During the First and Second Temple Periods the Jews of Jerusalem were buried in burial caves scattered on the slopes of the Mount, and from the 16th century the cemetery began to take its present shape.[1]

The old Jewish cemetery sprawled over the slopes of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat), radiating out from the lower, ancient part, which preserved Jewish graves from the Second Temple period; here there had been a tradition of burial uninterrupted for thousands of years. The cemetery was quite close to the Old City, its chief merit being that it lay just across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount: according to the midrash[3], it is here that the Resurrection of the Dead would begin.[2] The Messiah will appear on the Mount of Olives, and head toward the Temple Mount. As the sages say: "In the days to come, the righteous will appear and rise in Jerusalem, as it is said, "And they will sprout out of the city like the grass of the field" - and there is no city but Jerusalem".[4]

Rule of Jordan[edit]

During the Jordanian rule, the Jewish cemetery suffered systematic damage to gravestones and tombs. As early as the end of 1949, Israeli viewers stationed on Mount Zion reported that Arab residents began uprooting tombstones. In 1954, the Israeli government filed a formal complaint with the UN General Assembly regarding the further destruction of graves and plowing in the area. In the late 1950s, the Jordanian army used tombstones to build military camps. Dozens of tombstones were completely transferred to the tomb camp, a military camp established in nearby al-Eizariya, where they were used to floor tents and toilets.[5]

The Hotel Inter-Continental Jerusalem ("Seven Arches") was built on top of the Mount of Olives, and the access road to it was paved on graves, while the tombstones were shredded to gravel for use as raw material. When the Jordanians extended the road to Jericho, they demolished six rows of graves and threw the bones with the ground towards the lower Sephardic section. Even after sorting out some of the bones, a large pile of earth remained.[6] In addition, ancient tombstones that stood around the tomb of Zechariah were removed from the area of the tomb in order to expand the access road to the village of Silwan. In his book 'Against the Closed Wall', Meron Benvenisti writes that tombstones were also transferred to the courtyard of the Citadel of David, where they were smashed and fragments of which were used as markers for the parade ground.[7]

The cemetery today[edit]

Jerusalem Mount of Olives BW 2010-09-20 07-57-31.JPG
JERUSALEM Mount of Olives Cemetery.JPG

As early as 1968, the Arabs began stoning the mourners on their way to the cemetery, through the Arab village. In 1992, with the burial of Prime Minister Menachem Begin on the Mount of Olives, it was decided to establish a dedicated security company for the cemetery, and to increase the protection of visitors to the site. In 2005, acts of harassment against Jews intensified, and it was decided to set up a guard unit for personal or group escort to those who came to the cemetery. In 2009, cars were attacked and many visitors were injured on the way to the cemetery. The "Jerusalem for generations" association turned to public figures, followed by a debate in the Knesset.[8] In 2011, the chairman of the Almagor organization (terror victims association) was attacked and injured on his way to the graves of his Holocaust survivor parents. As a result, an attempt was made to increase public awareness of this attack and to mobilize the authorities and voluntary organizations against it.[9] As of 2010, the security and personal escort service is free of charge, financed by the Ministry of Housing.[10] Till today burial plots and tombs remain in a state of neglect. The plots of the graves suffer from vandalism, including the desecration of gravestones[11] and the destruction of graves.[12] A series of government decisions to rehabilitate parts of the mountain, as well as funds allocated for maintenance and renovation, have not yet succeeded in changing the situation.

Notable graves[edit]

Many famous names are buried in the cemetery such as Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, known as the Ohr ha-Chaim, and Rabbi Yehuda Alcalay who were among the heralds of Zionism; Hasidic rebbes of various dynasties and Rabbis of "Yishuv haYashan" (the old – pre-Zionist - Jewish settlement) together with Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, and his circle; Henrietta Szold, the founder of the Hadassah organization; the poet Else Lasker-Schüler, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of Modern Hebrew, Shmuel Yosef Agnon, the Nobel Laureate for Literature, and Boris Schatz, the founder of the Bezalel School of Art; Israel's sixth Prime Minister Menachem Begin; the victims of the 1929 Arab riots and 1936–39 Arab revolt, the fallen from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, together with Jews of many generations in their diversity.[1]

Rabbis and religious scholars[edit]


Hasidic Rebbes[edit]

Chief Rabbis[edit]


Cultural figures[edit]

Political figures[edit]

Terror victims[edit]



  1. ^ a b c har hazetim – The Jewish Cemetery
  2. ^ a b Ben-Arieh, Yehoshua. (1986). Jerusalem in the 19th century: Emergence of The new city, pages 24-25
  3. ^ Pesikta D'Rav Kahane[citation needed], Targum of Song of Songs[citation needed]
  4. ^ Bavli, Tractate Ketubot 111,b / Tehillim 72:16.
  5. ^ Motke Sofer, "A Tour of the Mount of Olives," in Eli Schiller (ed., With Sefi Ben Yosef, Nathan Shor, Mordechai Sofer). "The Mount of Olives", Ariel Press, Jerusalem, 1978, p. 46.
  6. ^ Menucha Toker, the Jordanians destroyed, Rabbi Levi Meshakam, from the weekly "Mishpacha" on the Shturem website
  7. ^ Meron Benvenisti, opposite the closed wall - divided and united Jerusalem. Weinfeld and Nicholson 1973.
  8. ^ "Significant increase in violence on the way to the Mount of Olives", Minister of Internal Security Avi Dichter's reply to Eli Yishai's. Arab rioters destroy gravestones (including pictures). Two cars were attacked and turned over by rioters on the way to the Mount of Olives (Yesha News Website). Gur Hasidim were attacked on the Mount of Olives (2011). A discussion in the Knesset on the Mount of Olives following the request of Chaim Miller.
  9. ^ Hodaya Shark-Hazony, the hand that directs the stone-throwers, on the News1 website, October 22, 2010
  10. ^ Yitzhak Tessler, to die in peace: security service on the Mount of Olives, NRG360 site, October 17, 2010
  11. ^ Again desecration of graves in the Mount of Olives, Arutz Sheva, February 25, 2010
  12. ^ Dozens of gravestones were vandalized on the eve of Jerusalem Day - an article from the Nana site
  13. ^ "Obadia Bartenura".
  14. ^ "Or Hachaim".
  15. ^ "Rabbi Shalom Sharabi — The Rashash". Har HaZeitim Preservation.
  16. ^ "Slain Beersheba rabbi laid to rest". Ynetnews. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  17. ^ Aaron Sorsky (1977). Marbitzai Torah Umusar. 4. New York: Sentry Press. pp. 147–170. OCLC 233313098.
  18. ^ Grave Information for Yaakov Mutzafi, Hebrew
  19. ^ Rossoff, Dovid (2005). קדושים אשר בארץ: קברי צדיקים בירושלים ובני ברק [The Holy Ones in the Earth: Graves of Tzaddikim in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak] (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Machon Otzar HaTorah.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  20. ^ Bostoner Rebbe Levi Yitzhak Horowitz dies at 88. Jerusalem Post, December 6, 2009.
  21. ^ Meir Halachmi, Toldot Hachasidut b'Erets Yisrael, vol.2, pp. 73-83, Beit Biala
  22. ^ Collins, Liat (8 September 2016) "My Word: Rabbi, Fighter and Peacemaker", The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  23. ^ Gradstein, Linda (November 1, 1988) "Israel Buries Victims Of Firebombing", Sun Sentinel

External links[edit]