Jerusalem stone

Jerusalem stone

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Jerusalem stone is a name applied to various types of pale limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, dolomite and dolomitic limestone
Dolostone
Dolostone or dolomite rock is a sedimentary carbonate rock that contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite. In old U.S.G.S. publications it was referred to as magnesian limestone. Most dolostone formed as a magnesium replacement of limestone or lime mud prior to lithification. It is...

, common in and around Jerusalem that have been used in building since ancient times. One of these limestones, meleke
Meleke
Meleke — also transliterated melekeh or malaki — is a lithologic type of white, coarsely crystalline, thickly bedded limestone found in the Judean Hills in Israel and the West Bank. It has been used in the traditional architecture of Jerusalem since ancient times, especially in Herodian...

, has been used in many of the region's most celebrated structures, including the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

.

Jerusalem stone continues to be used in construction and incorporated in Jewish ceremonial art
Jewish ceremonial art
Jewish ceremonial art, also known as Judaica refers to an array of objects used by Jews for ritual purposes. Because enhancing a mitzvah by performing it with an especially beautiful object is considered a praiseworthy way of honoring God's commandments, Judaism has a long tradition of...

 such as menorahs and seder
Passover Seder
The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in...

 plates. In 2000, there were 650 stone-cutting enterprises run by Palestinians in the West Bank
Judea and Samaria
Judea and Samaria Area is the official Israeli term roughly corresponding to the territory usually known outside Israel as the West Bank and to the Israeli settlements there that are not governed as part of Jerusalem.-Terminology:...

, producing a rich range of pink, sand, golden, and off-white bricks and tiles.

Geology



The highlands of Judea and Samaria
Judea and Samaria
Judea and Samaria Area is the official Israeli term roughly corresponding to the territory usually known outside Israel as the West Bank and to the Israeli settlements there that are not governed as part of Jerusalem.-Terminology:...

 are primarily underlain by sedimentary limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, dolomite
Dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

 and dolomitic limestone
Dolostone
Dolostone or dolomite rock is a sedimentary carbonate rock that contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite. In old U.S.G.S. publications it was referred to as magnesian limestone. Most dolostone formed as a magnesium replacement of limestone or lime mud prior to lithification. It is...

. The stone quarried for building purposes, ranging in color from white to pink, yellow and tawny, is known collectively as Jerusalem stone.
  • Soft Senonian limestone is found to the east of Jerusalem, and has long been used as an inexpensive building material.

  • Stone of the Cenomanian
    Cenomanian
    The Cenomanian is, in the ICS' geological timescale the oldest or earliest age of the Late Cretaceous epoch or the lowest stage of the Upper Cretaceous series. An age is a unit of geochronology: it is a unit of time; the stage is a unit in the stratigraphic column deposited during the corresponding...

     layers, known in Arabic as mizzi ahmar and mizzi yahudz, is far more durable than Senonian limestone, but is very hard and was expensive to quarry using pre-modern methods.

  • Turonian
    Turonian
    The Turonian is, in the ICS' geologic timescale, the second age in the Late Cretaceous epoch, or a stage in the Upper Cretaceous series. It spans the time between 93.5 ± 0.8 Ma and 89.3 ± 1 Ma...

     layers yield mizze helu and meleke, the most prized building stones. The thin layered mizze helu is easily quarried and worked. Meleke is soft and easy to chisel, yet hardens with exposure to the atmosphere and becomes highly durable. It was used for the great public buildings of antiquity, and for the construction of the Islamic period city walls and buildings.


The remains of ancient quarries can be seen near Yemin Moshe
Yemin Moshe
Yemin Moshe " or "Moses' Memorial") is an old neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel, overlooking the Old City.-History:Yemin Moshe was established in 1891 by Moses Montefiore outside Jerusalem's Old City as a solution to the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions inside the walls, and eventually named...

, in the Sanhedria
Sanhedria
Sanhedria is a Haredi neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, Israel. It lies east of Golda Meir Street and adjacent to Ramat Eshkol, Shmuel HaNavi, Maalot Dafna and the Sanhedria cemetery....

 neighborhood, and elsewhere.

Use in building



Municipal laws in Jerusalem require that all buildings be faced with local Jerusalem stone. The ordinance dates back to the British Mandate and the governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs and was part of a master plan for the city drawn up in 1918 by Sir William McLean
William McLean (disambiguation)
William McLean may refer to:*Bill McLean , Australian soldier and rugby player*William B. McLean ), U.S. Navy physicist and ordnance expert*William Findlay Maclean , Canadian politician...

, then city engineer of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

.

According to a report by the Geological Survey of Israel:
The various rock types in the area were exploited for different purposes.The variety of lithologic types used in building are:

1. White, coarse crystalline limestone originally referred to as "Meleke", the stone of Kings.

2. Cream-colored micritic limestone known locally as "Mizzi Hilu" (sweet rock).

3. Red-colored limestone known as "Mizzi Ahmar" (red rock).

4. Gray crystalline dolomite known as “Mizzi Yehudi” (Jewish rock – modern times).

5. Flagstone
Flagstone
Flagstone, is a generic flat stone, usually used for paving slabs or walkways, patios, fences and roofing. It may be used for memorials, headstones, facades and other constructions. The name derives from Middle English flagge meaning turf, perhaps from Old Norse flaga meaning slab.Flagstone is a...

 of thin-layered limestone.

These rock types were quarried from the Judean limestone and dolomite in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. This variety of stone gives Jerusalem its unique character. The setting sun reflected on the cream-colored limestone facade of both ancient and modern structures gives them a golden hue, giving rise to the term "Jerusalem of Gold".

Symbolic use


The various "Jerusalem stones" are employed worldwide in Jewish buildings as a symbol of Jewish identity. It has been used this way in many Jewish community centers, including the one in San Jose, Costa Rica
San José, Costa Rica
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation.Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León, San...

, in Hillel buildings such as the Columbia/Barnard Hillel
Columbia/Barnard Hillel
Columbia/Barnard Hillel is, by far, the largest student activities group at Columbia University. It caters to the Jewish population at the undergraduate and graduate schools of Columbia University, Barnard College, and the Jewish Theological Seminary...

 building, in Jewish memorials including the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach
Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach
The Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is a Holocaust memorial at 1933-1945 Meridian Avenue, in Miami Beach, Florida. It was conceived by a committee of Holocaust survivors in 1984, formally established in 1985 as the Holocaust Memorial Committee, a non-profit organization...

, in many Jewish schools including the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, often referred to as CESJDS or JDS, is a private, pluralistic Jewish K-12 school in Rockville, Maryland....

 in Rockville, Maryland
Rockville, Maryland
Rockville is the county seat of Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It is a major incorporated city in the central part of Montgomery County and forms part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. The 2010 U.S...

 and in numerous synagogues, including the 1901 Ades Synagogue
Ades Synagogue
The Ades Synagogue, , also known as the Great Synagogue Ades of the Glorious Aleppo Community, located in Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood, was established by Syrian immigrants in 1901...

 in Aleppo, Syria, the Village Shul in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 and the new Jewish Chapel at the United States Naval Academy
United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Maryland, United States...

, in Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Maryland, as well as the county seat of Anne Arundel County. It had a population of 38,394 at the 2010 census and is situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, south of Baltimore and about east of Washington, D.C. Annapolis is...

.

Other buildings use Jerusalem stone in a symbolic manner. Thus the 1855 building of Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes in Brooklyn, New York has elements painted in a trompe-l'œil manner to look like Jerusalem stone, and Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

 has walls of Texas limestone designed to evoke Jerusalem stone. Some Christian institutions, including the Upper Room Prayer and Worship Center
Upper Room Prayer and Worship Center
The Upper Room Prayer and Worship Center is a Christian worship center specifically for prayer and worship. It is an extension of Word of Life Church, in Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA...

 in Saint Joseph, Missouri
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Saint Joseph is the second largest city in northwest Missouri, only second to Kansas City in size, serving as the county seat for Buchanan County. As of the 2010 census, Saint Joseph had a total population of 76,780, making it the eighth largest city in the state. The St...

 use Jerusalem stone to evoke Jerusalem.

Churches have used Jerusalem stone in a similar manner. A Pentecostal church in São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

, Brazil recently ordered $8 million worth of Jerusalem stone to construct a Replica of the Temple of Solomon
Replicas of the Jewish Temple
Replicas of the Jewish Temple are scale models or authentic buildings that attempt to replicate the Temple of Solomon, Second Temple and Herod's Temple in Jerusalem.-Scale models:...

, or Templo de Salomão
Templo de Salomão
The Templo de Salomão is a Replica of the Temple of Solomon under construction by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in São Paulo.According to Brazilian press reports, the new Templo will be an "exact replica" of the ancient Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem...

 that will stand 180 feet tall.

Suppliers


In 1923, Aharon Grebelsky established the country's first Jewish-owned marble quarry in Jerusalem. Grebelsky's son Yechiel expanded the business, employing over 100 workers, including quarriers, stonemasons, fabricators and installers. Today, the company is a major exporter of Jerusalem stone and a leading supplier to the North American market. It inaugurated a new, state-of-the-art factory in Mitzpe Ramon
Mitzpe Ramon
Mitzpe Ramon is a town in the Negev desert of southern Israel. It is situated on the northern ridge at an elevation of 860 meters overlooking a sizable erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater.-History:...

in January 2000.