Judah he-Hasid (Jerusalem)

Judah he-Hasid (Jerusalem)

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Judah he-Hasid Segal ha-Levi ( Yehudah he-Hasid, "Judah the Pious"; ca. 1660, Siedlce
Siedlce ) is a city in eastern Poland with 77,392 inhabitants . Situated in the Masovian Voivodeship , previously the city was the capital of a separate Siedlce Voivodeship ....

 - October 17, 1700, Jerusalem) was a Jewish preacher
Maggid , sometimes spelled as magid, is a traditional Eastern European Jewish religious itinerant preacher, skilled as a narrator of Torah and religious stories. A preacher of the more scholarly sort was called a "darshan", and usually occupied the official position of rabbi...

 who led the largest organized group of Jewish immigrants to the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

 in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Departure from Europe

Judah traveled from one Jewish community to another throughout his native Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, urging repentance
Repentance in Judaism
Repentance in Judaism known as teshuva , is the way of atoning for sin in Judaism.According to Gates of Repentance, a standard work of Jewish ethics written by Rabbenu Yonah of Gerona, if someone commits a sin, a forbidden act, he can be forgiven for that sin if he performs teshuva, which...

, ascetism, physical mortifications, and calling for aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...


In 1697, he and 31 families of his followers left for Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

 and made a stop at Nikolsburg
Mikulov is a town in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic with a population of 7,608 . It is located directly on the border with Lower Austria. Mikulov is located at the edge of a hilly area and the three Nové Mlýny reservoirs...

. Judah spent a year traveling throughout Germany and Moravia gaining followers. Many joined the group, influenced by his fervor. By the time the whole group gathered in Italy, they numbered about 1,500.

Almost a third of the pilgrims died of hardships and illnesses during the trip. On the way, they contracted debts, and in exchange for permission to enter the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 they were forced to give the Turkish authorities financial guarantees in the name of Jerusalem's Jewish community.

Arrival in Jerusalem

The group arrived in Jerusalem on October 14, 1700. At that time, about 200 Ashkenazi and about 1,000 Sephardi Jews lived in the city, mostly on charities from the Jewish diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

. The sudden influx of between 500 to 1,000 Ashkenazim produced a crisis: the local community was unable to help such a large group. In addition, some of the newcomers were suspected to be Sabbateans, whom the local Jews viewed with hostility. The situation grew worse when Judah He-Hasid died within days of his arrival to Jerusalem.

Emissaries were sent to the Council of the Four Lands for aid, but it didn't arrive.

Ban on Ashkenazim

The newcomers went deeper into debt to build a small synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

. In 1720, Arab creditors broke into the synagogue, set it on fire, and took over the area.

The Turkish authorities blamed all Ashkenazi Jews for the mess, refused to make a distinction between the old Jerusalem community and the newcomers, held them collectively responsible for the debts, and banned all Ashkenazim from the area.


Some of the Ashkenazi Jews moved to other cities (mainly Jewish holy cities other than Jerusalem: Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

, Tiberias, and Safed
Safed , is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of , Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters...

). Others started to dress like Sephardi Jews.

The synagogue, called Hurvat Yehudah He-Hasid
Hurva Synagogue
The Hurva Synagogue, , also known as Hurvat Rabbi Yehudah he-Hasid , is a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem....

 (Destroyed Place of Judah He-Hasid), was rebuilt in 1810 by the Perushim
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, then under Ottoman rule...

, becoming the chief Ashkenazi synagogue in Jerusalem. The building was destroyed by the Arab Legion
Arab Legion
The Arab Legion was the regular army of Transjordan and then Jordan in the early part of the 20th century.-Creation:...

 in 1948. It was then rebuilt and rededicated in 2010.

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