Jewish families and yeshiva students moved into a large complex in the old Yemenite community in the Silwan Valley in the pre-dawn hours Thursday morning, reclining another Jewish-owned property that was abandoned when the British expelled Jews in the 1930s.
The move, backed by the court that ordered eviction notices to Arab squatters, was made during the middle of the night in order not provoke friction with Arab neighbors.
The building, near the City of David across the street from the Western Wall plaza and located near other structures that have been bought by Jews in the old Yemenite Village, now is called Beit Rachel. It is a few minutes by foot from the recently redeemed sections of the original Yemenite Beit Knesset- Ohel Shlomo-Heichal Yonatan, named for Jonathan Pollard.
The original synagogue is one of the few buildings that remains in its entirety. It was one of the first buildings established in the Village by Yemenite Jews in 1885, who arrived in Jerusalem three years earlier before nay Arabs were living in the Silwan neighborhood.
Following Arab pogroms of 1936-37, the synagogue was defiled, desecrated and many holy books were burnt despite British promises to protect the holy Jewish site.
Arabs squatted in the old synagogue and in other buildings, including privately owned Yemenite homes.
In August 1938, the British Authorities removed the last remaining 35-40 Yemenite Jewish families who had managed to survive many years of attacks by Arabs in riots and pogroms.
The British High Commissioner on behalf of the British Government gave written assurances that the Jews would be able to return “shortly” to their homes but by the early 1940s, Arabs had literally taken apart buildings and had stolen floor tiles, roof tiles, taps, building stones, window and door frames.