Aish HaTorah Dedicates $20 Million Building Near Kosel


aish-hatorahAish HaTorah, the institution known for its programs that bring unaffiliated Jews closer to Yiddishkeit, last week dedicated the building overlooking the Kosel that holds its new world headquarters.

About $20 million was raised from various donors.

 The building has a long history.

During the Second Bais Hamikdosh era, an 81 kilometer-long aqueduct which descended one centimeter per kilometer ran through the building, bringing water from Chevron to the Har Habayis.

The building was purchased by a wealthy Bulgarian tobacco merchant by the name of Shmuel Bechar-Yeshaya, who moved to Israel from Salonika, Greece in 1880. Rabbi Bechar-Yeshaya refurbished the building, adding a shul and yeshiva, and the building became a center for Jews throughout the Old City.

In the 1948 War of Independence, the building, deemed indefensible by the Hagana, was abandoned. Arab forces quickly took control of it, making it one of the few buildings that was not destroyed by the Arabs during that campaign.

Another $20 million will be invested in the building to create a “museum for the Jewish idea.”

“Basically, what we are planning to create is an ‘exploratorium of Jewish history’,” said Ephraim Shore, executive director of Aish HaTorah Yerushalayim.

“The main focus is going to be using the museum as a springboard for expressing the principles and values that we as Jews stand for, our national mission and how we have made an impact on the world.”

Shore said that many visitors to the Kosel come away with a memorable feeling.

“But this feeling lacks depth and they do not understand how the Bais Hamikdosh fits in to 3,800 years of Jewish history. We want to change that,” he said.

Presently, Aish HaTorah’s seven-story building provides a view of the entire Har Habayis as well as a model of the Second Bais Hamikdosh.

{Yair Israel/JPost}