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Mount of Olives Trees Are World’s Oldest

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Tests conducted on olive trees on Jerusalem’s historic Mount of Olives are the oldest known trees in the world, according to a study released on Friday conducted by the National Research Council of Italy Trees and Timber Institute.

Trees from the Garden of Gethsemane, in an area taken over by a triumvirate of Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches, were dated back to the years 1092, 1166, and 1198, according to the study which was done with the participation of 5 Italian universities.

Chief Researcher Professor Antonio Cimato said at a presentation of the results in Rome that there are no plants of greater age cited in scientific literature.

Analysis of DNA from the trees indicated that they came from the same parent plant.

The study was publicized – seemingly unintentionally – at the same time as Jewish people around the world studied and read the weekly Torah portion which corresponded this week to Parshat Noah, in which the story of the flooding of the world, and its redemption through the biblical figure Noah is told.  In the story, Noah released a dove to bring back signs of life after the flood.  The dove returned with an olive branch in its beak – which Jewish tradition teaches was plucked from a tree on the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives is the location of the world’s largest and most ancient Jewish cemetery.  It sits just above the site of King David’s capital city, and was a location of significance for work pertaining to service in the Holy Temples.  According to biblical prophecy in the Book of Zechariah, the Messiah will arrive on the Mount of Olives, before descending to redeem Jerusalem.

The Mount of Olives Declaration

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

A thousand years ago, during the Gaonic period, the Tishrei holiday period, culminating with Sukkot, was the highlight of the year.  Pilgrims would flock to Israel to spend the holidays in Jerusalem.

In those days Israel was ruled by the Fatimids, whose empire stretched from the Levant to Northern  Africa.  The Fatimids recognized the Israeli Gaon as the leader of all Jews in their empire.

The Gaon was the head of the Israeli yeshiva, known as the Gaon Yaakov Yeshiva or the Eretz Ha-Zvi Yeshiva – the last remnant of the Sanhedrin.

The main holiday events took place on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Raba.  The Gaon would lead the people around the Temple Mount, and then the crowd made its way to the Mount of Olives.  After they climbed the mountain, they circled it seven times.

According to tradition, during the last three and a half years before the destruction of the Temple, the Shechina, the divine presence of God, moved to the Mount of Olives.  There, God called on the people of Israel to repent.  But the people did not repent, the Temple was destroyed, and the divine presence left Jerusalem.

A monumental stone marked the spot where God looked over the Temple Mount. The Gaon would sit on this stone as he spoke to the assembled crowd.

After a holiday sermon, he blessed the Jewish communities of the Diaspora, mentioning each by name, and those Jews who donated to the local community.  He announced new appointments (semicha) in the yeshiva and throughout the areas under his jurisdiction.

This was also the time when the Gaon pronounced a ‘Herem’ (excommunication) against those who strayed from the path.  Specifically against the Karaites, for not following the Rabbinic Kashrut laws on eating milk and meat.  In those days the Rabbinic Jews lived in the area south of the Temple Mount, while the Karaite Jews lived across the valley, in Silwan, on the south-western slope of the Mount of Olives.

In what became known as the “Mount of Olives Declaration,” the Gaon announced the dates of the holidays in the upcoming year.  This Declaration emphasized the centrality of Israel for Jews everywhere.  Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer talks about this issue at length (ch. 8) and establishes that the calendar must be set by the Jews of Israel, regardless of their position.  “Even if there are prophets abroad and laymen in Israel, the calendar must be set by the laymen in Israel.”

Though sometimes marred by conflict, strife and hardships, the Mount of Olives celebrations were a memorable and uplifting national event.  It was a rare opportunity for Jews celebrate as a nation in their ancient capital. As one pilgrim witnessing the celebrations wrote his friend: “The congregation had the most beautiful holidays, like we’ve never seen before.”

The picture above has more information on this year’s Hoshana Raba events on the Mount of Olives.

Visit the Muqata blog.

National Union MKs Demand Defense of Jews on Mount of Olives

Monday, June 11th, 2012

National Union MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari toured eastern Jerusalem’s A-Tur neighborhood on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to highlight the need for security in the area, famous for housing the millennia-old Mount of Olives cemetery.

Ben Ari and Eldad called on police to provide better protection for Jews in the area, which is part of the municipality of Israel’s capital.

The Mount of Olives has been the site of several recent rock attacks against Jews by Arab residents.  Attacks have been launched against young children, as well as US congressmen in the area on tour.

No violence was reported during the National Union MKs’ tour.  However, 50 police officers were positioned along their travel route, to thwart attacks.

Mount of Olives Community Suffers Big Jerusalem Day Attack

Monday, May 21st, 2012

A Jerusalem Day attack on Jews near the community of Maale HaZeitim in the Arab Ras al Amoud  neighborhood has increased tension between Jews and Muslims in the region, amid intensified demands from Jewish residents that Jerusalem police forces crack down on threats to security.

At approximately 10pm on Wednesday night, as the music of the celebrated flag-dancing “Rikudegalim” festivities in Jerusalem’s Old City reverberated on the Mount of Olives, a family returning from Jerusalem Day celebrations was brutally attacked in their car by 5-7 Arab men throwing large pieces of stone and firing firecrackers at the vehicle from the traffic circle preceding the entrance to Maale HaZeitim.  Most of the men wore kefiyyehs and other face coverings.

The traffic circle at the top of Ras al-Amoud, lined with an Arab restaurant, billiard hall, hair salon, produce store, mini-market, and taxi company dispatch center, has become a haven for terrorist activity against Jewish families, with Arab attackers hiding out behind a large green dumpster located at the far end of the circle.  Despite statements by store owners that they are not involved in the attacks, periodic assaults have reached a new level recently, with little children and other pedestrians being targeted by the terrorists.

The traffic circle is the only way to reach the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood from western Jerusalem, and despite the vulnerability of families there and their repeated reports to police of problems in their neighborhood, the Jerusalem municipality has not stationed a regular police presence on the site.  And despite occasional visits by border police and city police to Maale HaZeitim, the traffic circle 30-40 yards away from the neighborhood has remained dangerous, as security forces cannot see the circle from the neighborhood, nor reach it in time to stop an ongoing attack.

According to reports by the attacked family, the car ahead of them, driven by an Arab, slowed down during the duration of the attack, in order to prevent them from getting away. While the family suffered no physical injuries, their car suffered serious damage.

Border police were called in, arriving approximately 15-20 minutes later.  When they arrived, residents reported that they remained at the entrance of the community, until a few insistent residents urged them to go out to secure the circle on behalf of the many children and teenagers who would be returning by foot from Jerusalem Day celebrations in the Old City, just a 20 minute walk away.

Despite no emergency warning system in the community, news of the attack quickly spread between neighbors.  Approximately 20 minutes after the attack took place, some 15 to 20 men from the community walked to the circle and remained there for an undetermined amount of time.  No violence was reported.

Residents expressed outrage that guards stationed at the entrance to the neighborhood were aware of the masked men, but did nothing to either warn residents of the danger of travelling at the circle, or to remove the threat from the area.

“Instead of installing two or three cameras that will protect the people that are visiting the graves on the Mount of Olives, the government wired the mount of olives with hundreds of cameras protecting the dead, but where are the cameras protecting the living people?  It’s insane that after tens of cars and pedestrians in the last few months have ben stoned from the same place and from the same street, the police are not stopping it,”  Aryeh King, veteran resident of Maale HaZeitim and CEO of the Israel Land Fund told the Jewish Press.   “There’s no question that if the police and the authorities responsible for the security of the Mount of Olives really wanted, they could have stopped it a long time ago.”

“What happened last night, that on the day of the liberation and the unification of Jerusalem, it took more than 20 minutes for police to get to the place where Jews were being stoned, when at the same time there were thousands of police securing this special day in other parts of the city, is something that is unacceptable,” King said.  “Whoever cares about the Mount of Olives and for the people that are visiting the Mount of Olives, their voices need to be heard.”

Shani Hikind, the executive vice president of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, and the honoree of Monday night’s 3rd annual Ateret Cohanim Yom Yerushalayim Dinner, told the Jewish Press that the Jews of New York and across the world “cannot abide” attacks against Jews in Jerusalem.  “On behalf of Jews throughout the world, we deplore any acts of violence directed toward any citizen in Jerusalem. Nothing will be accomplished by efforts to intimidate and physically harm people in the capital of Israel,” Hikind said.  “Jerusalem will always be the united capital of our beloved Israel, and we are happy to celebrate Yom Yerushalyaim in New York City this evening.”  Her organization would respond to the attacks by “strengthening Jewish communities and neighborhoods throughout the capital – building more houses, bringing in more families.”

Jerusalem Firebomber Nabbed, Jewish Mount of Olives Residents Relieved

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhood of Maale HaZeitim is resting easier, following the apprehension and arrest of a serial firebomb attacker.

Just after midnight on Monday morning, jubilant residents of Maale HaZeitim, the Jewish neighborhood situated in the Ras al-Amoud Arab neighborhood on the Mount of Olives, gathered near the entrance to their gated community to celebrate the arrest of a man in his 20s, caught throwing firebombs across the wall, into the backyards of residents.

In a mission coordinated between Jerusalem Police, Border Police, and the Maale HaZeitim guard team, forces waited until the attacker turned up for a repeat firebombing.  When the man, believed to be in his mid-20s – lit and threw a homemade firebomb toward the Jewish homes, forces leapt out, grabbing the man and arresting him.  After being interrogated at a local police station, the man admitted to the previous firebomb attacks.  Residents who witnessed the arrests heaped praise on security personnel for protecting them and their families.  News soon spread throughout the community, despite the late hour.

Residents had been terrorized for several nights by Molotov cocktails thrown at their neighborhood.  Property damage was reported, though there were no injuries.  Neighborhood children who witnessed one of the attacks were frightened, with others concerned about what future nights would bring.

Resident and tour guide specializing in the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs, Meir Eisenman, praised local law enforcement for doing its duty to protect the residents of Jerusalem.

He also noted the significance of the Jewish community on the Mount of Olives and the importance of visiting the area.

“As a tour guide, it upsets me when people are hesitant about visiting the Maale HaZeitim, or the Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery – unfortunately, the area has seen a lot of bad press,” he said.  “However, with the new police and security presence in the area, most of the time the area is totally safe.”

“I call on everyone coming to Jerusalem to come visit this beautiful and historic area,” Eisenman said.  “The more people that come, the safer it will get and the more pleasant it will feel.  It’s important that we continue showing our support for this area.”

More Molotov Cocktails Thrown at Jerusalem Jews by Arab Neighbors

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The community of Maale HaZeitim in Jerusalem was again targeted with Molotov cocktails in the early hours of Tuesday morning.  Two homemade firebombs were hurled at the homes of residents in the community, just a 15 minute walk from the Kotel in Jerusalem’s Old City.  Damage was reported to property.  There were no injuries.

On April 16, the community was attacked in a barrage of between 7 -10 firebombs.  Guards on the site shot in the air, after which the single attacker fled on foot.  When police came to investigate, they spent a significant portion of their time interrogating the guards as to why they fired their weapons, according to reports by residents at the scene.

No injuries were reported in that attack, though residents reported that children witnessing the attack became hysterical.  Damage to property resulted from fires lit by the bombs.

On February 24, two United States Congressman on tour in the area were targeted in a rock throwing attack a few feet away from the entrance to the neighborhood.

Maale HaZeitim is located on the Mount of Olives, next to the historic Mount of Olives cemetery, containing the graves of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, the Ohr HaChaim, Henrietta Szold, Eliezer Ben Yehuda and other notable Jewish figures.

Jews Attacked in Jerusalem Firebomb Barrage

Monday, April 16th, 2012

On Sunday evening, Jewish homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Maale HaZeitim were attacked with a barrage of Molotov cocktails, causing damage to property.

Miraculously, no injuries were reported, though some neighborhood children who were nearby the attack reported being traumatized by the event.  The attacker managed to throw approximately 10 homemade bombs at apartment buildings belonging to the Jewish neighborhood, before being scared off by a guard who fired his weapon in the air.

Maale HaZeitim is situated on the historic Mount of Olives, just south of the ancient Jewish cemetery containing 150,000 graves, including that of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, the Ohr HaChaim, the prophetess Hulda, Hebrew language luminary Eliezer Ben Yehuda, and Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold.  It is also nestled in the Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud, and has been the site of previous attacks.

Between the buildings of Maale HaZeitim there is a courtyard which is detached from the street. Here children and residents are secure. But the back of the neighborhood is vulnerable to attack.

The six apartment buildings of Maale HaZeitim contain 100 apartments, many of which feature views on the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.  Residents frequently walk to and from the Old City, which is just 15 minutes away by foot, and a few minutes ride on the Egged bus which makes stops at the community throughout the day.

“I was sitting in our living room watching a television show and I saw something I thought was fireworks, but they were so close to our apartment,” Miriam, a 10 year resident of Maale HaZeitim, told the Jewish Press.  “I called the police…. There was a fire below our garden.”  Though Miriam and her family have experienced numerous attacks since moving to the new neighborhood a decade ago – including the throwing of large rocks at her car by neighborhood Arabs as she drove with her children – “I don’t know if you can ever get used to it,” she said.

While attempted violence against Jews in Maale HaZeitim has increased since Operation Cast Lead in late 2008, according to Miriam, she says police vigilance in the area has also risen.  “We’ve had other attacks were I’ve called the police and they didn’t even send a car. Last night, they sent lots of Jerusalem police and border police,” she said.  “But as long as there’s an Arab population next to us and they feel like they’re the bosses… as long as there is growing extremism, we’ll continue to face these things.”

A plaque in the neighborhood reads: "The Maale HaZeitim neighborhood was liberated by Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz with the help of Matityahu Dan of Ateret Kohanim and was built by the Kedumim 3000 company - Mr. Nisan Chakshuri, Yitchak Adiv, and Nachman Zoldan, Eve of Rosh HaShanna 5771

Aryeh King, eastern Jerusalem activist and Director of the Israel Land Fund, decried the attack as the fault of local Israeli authorities.  “The decline in security throughout Jerusalem has not spared Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Shmuel HaNavi and yesterday, a targeted terror attack took place on the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood,” King told the Jewish Press.  “This is the result of the lack of decisiveness and will to come in contact with the terrorists.  This policy is directed by the police chief of Jerusalem.  This policy causes the decline of Israeli sovereignty in the various Jerusalem neighborhoods, and the increase in the last months of attacks against Jews.”

MK Dr. Aryeh Eldad told the Jewish Press: “In the last few months we are seeing a total degradation of the security situation in the Mount of Olives region. There was a case recently of an almost-lynch, where 15 youths ambushed a car by throwing paint on the windows and pelting the car with rocks. In Beit HaChoshen, one resident has had his car burned 4 times. Every day tombs are desecrated at the cemetary. Even in French Hill students are afraid to leave their dorms at night. Last night, an Arab came to the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood with 10 Molotive cocktails in a bag, then he lit a fire so that he could easily ignite his weapons. He then threw 7 cocktails.  The security saw him and shot in the air, but when the police came, and the only thing that bothered the cops is why the security fired! Nisso Shacham, the Jerusalem police chief is afraid of bad media. He wants to be national Police chief one day so he keeps a low profile, although he knows how to deal with the problem.”

Prior to the recent Passover holiday, a new police station was inaugurated on the Mount of Olives.  Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Our Home party) emphasized that the establishment of the station on the Mount of Olives is strategically important, and that it will serve to increase the security of residents and those visiting the area.

Despite the complicated nature of life in eastern Jerusalem, Miriam and her family have never questioned staying on in their neighborhood.  “Nobody ever talks about leaving.  I think the kids feel like they are living in a unique place with a purpose,” Miriam said.  “I see us as a microcosm of Israel – there are people all around us who don’t want us to be here.  We are not talking about leaving.”

 

Yishai Fleisher contributed to this article

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jews-attacked-in-jerusalem-firebomb-barrage/2012/04/16/

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