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What are some holy cities for Jews?

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January 06, 2016 6:35PM

Jerusalem, Israel.

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December 14, 2015 7:38PM

The holy land for Judaism is Israel, and the holy city is Jerusalem.


Jerusalem is the center of Judaism. It is important to Jews because it was chosen by God (Zechariah 3:2). It was the site of the Akeidah (Binding of Isaac, in Genesis ch.22) and was later the seat of the Davidic Kings, when King David, Israel's greatest king, founded the dynasty that ruled Judah for much of its history, making Jerusalem the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel during his reign and that of his son, King Solomon.

(See: Jewish history timeline)
Most importantly, it was the location of the First and Second Temples, where offerings were made to God and where His presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings ch.8) and was manifested in a number of miracles (Mishna, Avot ch.5).
Jerusalem is called the holy city by the prophets (Isaiah 52:1). It was where Jews would go three times a year to celebrate the holiest festivals (Deuteronomy ch.16). Even after the destruction of the Temple, the Temple Mount and adjacent Western ("Wailing") Wall, which still stands, is the holiest site in Judaism. It is hoped and prophesied (Ezekiel ch.40-44) that one day a third temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem and that the Messiah will come to it.

Jerusalem has become representative of the connection with the Divine. Jerusalem is also seen as the source of Divine Law, as demonstrated in many Jewish prayers: "Ki miTziyon tetze Torah udvar Hashem miYerushalayim - From Zion comes the Torah and the Word of God from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

Jerusalem is also representative of the Redemption of the Jewish people from their physical and spiritual exile, because this exile causes the melancholy that the Jewish people experience by being apart from God's presence. The Redemption, which Jews believe will be brought by the Messiah, will result in the Jewish people returning to Jerusalem.

According to ancient Hebrew tradition, Jerusalem is the site where God took the very earth from which Adam, the first man, was formed (midrash Rabbah 14:8). Read Genesis carefully; Adam was not created in the garden of Eden; he was taken there. Jerusalem, because it is the first place on Earth where the spirit of God dwelt, is considered a direct link to God.

Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion and Jerusalem has been its only holy site for over 3000 years. King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by invading Babylonians, and rebuilt at the same site (known as the Temple Mount) about 2500 years ago. It was then destroyed again when the Romans conquered Judea about 2000 years ago, killing a million Jews. All Jews who value their heritage feel ties to Jerusalem and the holy land, where so many of their people struggled for the freedom to practice Judaism. At the same time, Jews believe that all people should be welcome there, regardless of faith.

Jerusalem is the eternal Jewish city, and a symbol of a future time of peace. Jerusalem is also the focal point of prayer of the Jews. When they pray, wherever they are, they face towards Jerusalem (Talmud, Berakhot 30a), with love and longing. The sentiment is aptly expressed in Psalm 137: "By the waters of Babylon, there we sat and wept as we remembered Zion....If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its wisdom."

For thousands of years we remembered our exile and prayed for its end. Now at least we can do so from "up close."

See also:

Destruction and Diaspora

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December 14, 2015 3:46AM

General Information
Jews consider all of Israel to be holy land, but there are also specific places that they believe are additionally holy. There are four holy cities in the Land of Israel: Jerusalem, Hebron (in the Palestinian Territories), Safed, and Tiberius.

Western Wall and Temple Mount Complex
In Jerusalem is the holiest site of all: the Western Wall, or Kotel: the western retaining wall of the Second Temple. The Holy Temple itself (1 Kings ch.6-8), which stood in Jerusalem, was destroyed in the year 68 CE. However, contrary to popular perception, the Western (Wailing) Wall is not the most holy site in-and-of-itself. It is only part of the entire Temple Mount which is the actual most holy site in Judaism. Judaism anticipates a future rebuilding of a Third Temple as per the book of Ezekiel. As it is considered the interface between the spiritual and physical worlds, all Jewish prayers are directed there (Talmud, Berakhot 30a). If a Jew lives West of the Temple Mount, they face East when in prayer. If a Jew lives South of the Temple Mount, they face North when they pray. People come to the site to pray as well and it is an amazing experience to be there.

Four Main Holy Cities
In addition to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount Complex, there are numerous other Jewish holy sites in the four holy cities, listed below by city:

Jerusalem (Israel/Palestine):

  • The entire Old City -- It was the holy city of David and the location of the Foundation Stone (Temple Mount).
  • The Cave of the Ramban and the Temple of Ramban
  • The "City of David -- referring to the archaeological area just southeast of the current Old City where David's Jerusalem is.
  • David's Burial Ground at Mount Zion
  • The Tomb of Samuel -- just north of Jerusalem

Hebron (Palestine):
  • The entire Old City -- It was the first capital of the United Kingdom of Israel and is where all of the Patriarchs are buried.
  • Tomb of the Patriarchs, also called the Cave of Machpelah

Safed (Israel):
  • The entire Old City -- It is the place where Kabbalah or Jewish Mysticism was founded.
  • Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue

Tiberias (Israel):
  • The entire Old City -- It is where the Jerusalem Talmud was written

Additional Sites
There are also other Rabbis' and Prophets' Tombs throughout the Middle East, and several other minor markers, including, but not limited to:

Netivot (Israel):
  • Tomb of Babi Sali

Meron (Israel):
  • Tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Nablus (Palestine):
  • Joseph's Tomb

Awarta (Palestine):
  • The Tombs of Pinehas and the Elders of the Great Assembly

Bethlehem (Palestine):
  • Rachel's Tomb

Damanhur (Egypt):
  • Tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira

Djerba (Tunisia):
  • El-Ghriba Synagogue

al-Kifl (Iraq):
  • Tomb of Ezekiel

al-Uzair (Iraq):
  • Tomb of Ezra

Lezhensk (Poland):
  • Tomb of Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum

Ouazzane (Morocco):
  • Tomb of Rabbi Amram ben Diwan

Silistra (Bulgaria):
  • Tomb of Eliezer Papo
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December 13, 2015 6:18AM

The holy land for Judaism is Israel, and the holy city is Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the center of Judaism. It is important to Jews because it was chosen by God (Zechariah 3:2). It was the site of the Akeidah (Binding of Isaac, in Genesis ch.22) and was later the seat of the Davidic Kings, when King David, Israel's greatest king, founded the dynasty that ruled Judah for much of its history, making Jerusalem the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel during his reign and that of his son, King Solomon.

(See: Jewish history timeline)
Most importantly, it was the location of the First and Second Temples, where offerings were made to God and where His presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings ch.8) and was manifested in a number of miracles (Mishna, Avot ch.5).
Jerusalem is called the holy city by the prophets (Isaiah 52:1). It was where Jews would go three times a year to celebrate the holiest festivals (Deuteronomy ch.16). Even after the destruction of the Temple, the Temple Mount and adjacent Western ("Wailing") Wall, which still stands, is the holiest site in Judaism. It is hoped and prophesied (Ezekiel ch.40-44) that one day a third temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem and that the Messiah will come to it.

Jerusalem has become representative of the connection with the Divine. Jerusalem is also seen as the source of Divine Law, as demonstrated in many Jewish prayers: "Ki miTziyon tetze Torah udvar Hashem miYerushalayim - From Zion comes the Torah and the Word of God from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

Jerusalem is also representative of the Redemption of the Jewish people from their physical and spiritual exile, because this exile causes the melancholy that the Jewish people experience by being apart from God's presence. The Redemption, which Jews believe will be brought by the Messiah, will result in the Jewish people returning to Jerusalem.

According to ancient Hebrew tradition, Jerusalem is the site where God took the very earth from which Adam, the first man, was formed (midrash Rabbah 14:8). Read Genesis carefully; Adam was not created in the garden of Eden; he was taken there. Jerusalem, because it is the first place on Earth where the spirit of God dwelt, is considered a direct link to God.

Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion and Jerusalem has been its only holy site for over 3000 years. King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by invading Babylonians, and rebuilt at the same site (known as the Temple Mount) about 2500 years ago. It was then destroyed again when the Romans conquered Judea about 2000 years ago, killing a million Jews. All Jews who value their heritage feel ties to Jerusalem and the holy land, where so many of their people struggled for the freedom to practice Judaism. At the same time, Jews believe that all people should be welcome there, regardless of faith.

Jerusalem is the eternal Jewish city, and a symbol of a future time of peace. Jerusalem is also the focal point of prayer of the Jews. When they pray, wherever they are, they face towards Jerusalem (Talmud, Berakhot 30a), with love and longing. The sentiment is aptly expressed in Psalm 137: "By the waters of Babylon, there we sat and wept as we remembered Zion....If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its wisdom."

For thousands of years we remembered our exile and prayed for its end. Now at least we can do so from "up close."

See also:

Destruction and Diaspora

User Avatar
Wiki User
December 13, 2015 6:18AM