An underground passage is being planned in Jerusalem’s Old City to link the reconstructed Ohel Yitzhak synagogue in the Muslim Quarter with the Western Wall tunnels in the Jewish Quarter.
The passageway, which is being planned by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, will utilize existing spaces created by archaeological excavations beneath the Muslim Quarter. This would minimize the need for new digging, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz told Haaretz.
The idea still needs approval from the government, security services and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, said the foundation signed an agreement a few days ago with Cherna Moskowitz, who owns the Ohel Yitzhak complex. Moskowitz is the wife of American Jewish tycoon Irving Moskowitz, who has been active in settling Jews in Muslim areas of Jerusalem.
According to the agreement, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation will manage and maintain both Ohel Yitzhak and the areas beneath it that the IAA has excavated. The foundation plans to open an educational institute and museum at the site, which will preserve the antiquities unearthed by the excavations….
Ohel Yitzhak was built in 1917 but was abandoned during the Arab riots of 1936. It was then blown up by the Jordanians, along with every other synagogue in the Old City, after they captured the area in 1948.
About 15 years ago, the Moskowitzes bought the site. They then financed the synagogue’s reconstruction, based on old photographs plus remnants of the destroyed building found at the site.
In 2004, the IAA began excavating under Ohel Yitzhak. The principal find was a giant public bathhouse from the Mameluke period (the 14th century), which occupies the entire site.
Its cloakroom was completely intact, and archaeologists also found remnants of the ovens that produced the steam and the vents that carried the warm air into the baths. According to IAA archaeologist Yuval Baruch, this is the most complete relic of the Mameluke period ever discovered in Jerusalem.
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