My Right Word
04 October '10
On September 8, 2010, the newspaper Makor Rishon weekend issue contained an article by Dothan Goren on the history of the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood.
A summary follows:
The Tomb of Shimon HaTzaddik (Simon the Pious) was well-visited during the 19th century, known as El-Yehuddiyah. Candles were lit at the tomb on Shabbat eve, on the New Month and on the anniversary of the death of Shimon HaTzaddik which is 29 Tishrei. Prayers for rain and prenuptial ceremonies were also conducted there. Sefaradim held ceremonies there on the day following Shavuot and it became a alternative location for the festivities of Lag B'Omer. Not only Jews but Muslims and Christians would attend the Lag B'Omer happening. This is found in the writings of Avraham Shmuel Hirschberg, Following the 1903 pogroms in Kiev, a special prayer day was conducted there for the victims and the remnants who needed help. Rachal Yanait visited the 1909 Lag B'Omer festivity and distributed a booklet on Bar Kochba. During the years 1912-1914, the sports club, HaMaccabi, conducted a march to the site for Lag B'Omer with sports exercises and speeches against Christian proselytizing and in favor of the Hebrew language.
In the years after mid-19th century, an Arab neighbor took advantage of a lessening of interest in the site and muscled in, charging a fee for entrance to the prayer sites. In 1872, Rabbi Yakir Giron came to Jerusalem from Turkey and was approached by Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer to serve as the head of property purchasing in the city. On 17 Shvat 1873, Giron reported on the possibility of buying the section of land where the tomb is located. A down payment was sent and a plea was published in European Jewish press to collect further funds. In the meantime, Rav Kalischer thought to send the 100 families of Jewish community of Nicrest (?), Romania then under stress, to the neighborhood. In HaMaggid of 24 Iyar 1873, a report was published on the matter. The plan collapsed when Rav Giron died in February 1874 and Rav Kalischer lost money in a Jaffa real estate project.
(Read full story)
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