The History of the Hurva Synagogue – Part II
Arab Legion soldier stands amidst destroyed Hurva - 1948
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948. Under the resolution, the area of religious significance surrounding Jerusalem would remain under international control administered by the United Nations. The Palestinian Arabs refused to recognize this arrangement. Fighting began with attacks by irregular bands of Palestinian Arabs attached to local units of the Arab Liberation Army composed of volunteers from Palestine and neighboring Arab countries. These groups launched their attacks against Jewish cities, settlements, and armed forces. The Jewish forces were composed of the Haganah, the underground militia of the Jewish community in Palestine, and two small irregular groups, the Irgun, and LEHI. The goal of the Arabs was initially to block the Partition Resolution and to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state. The Jews, on the other hand, hoped to gain control over the territory allotted to them under the Partition Plan.
After Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, the fighting intensified with other Arab forces joining the Palestinian Arabs in attacking territory in the former Palestinian mandate. On the eve of May 14, the Arabs launched an air attack on Tel Aviv, which the Israelis resisted. This action was followed by the invasion of the former Palestinian mandate by Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. Saudi Arabia sent a formation that fought under the Egyptian command.
During the nearly ten months of fighting between Israeli and Arab forces, the Hurva became a central point of the conflict. Israeli troops took control of the Hurva and used it as a near-impregnable fortress but, during a fierce two-day battle, forces of the Jordanian Arab Legion drove the Israelis from the Hurva. In the aftermath of the battle, Jordanian soldiers ignited nearly five hundred pounds of high explosives inside the synagogue, turning it into rubble.
After the Six Day War of 1967, in which East Jerusalem was taken by Israel and the city was reunited, the Jews returned and rebuilt the Jewish Quarter. It was also decided to rebuild the ruined synagogue. But it would take more than three decades of bickering and indecision before the Israeli government announced the decision to rebuild the ruin in its original 19th-century style. In the meantime, one of the four arches that supported its famous dome was been restored and became known as the Arch of Remembrance. In 2006 the arch was removed for construction.
The Hurva's Memorial Arch - prior to second reconstruction.
One more note about the Vilna Gaon. The prophesy revealed by the Gaon’s great-great grandson in 2014 (that was the real one; not my made-up one) was not the only prophesy authored by the Gaon. Not long before he died, the Gaon prophesied that when the Hurva synagogue was completed for the third time, construction of the Jewish religion’s Third Temple would begin. Construction of the Third Temple of God has not yet begun, but many believe completion of the Third Temple will be an imminent harbinger of “The Last Days.”