"What Rulerships did Jerusalem pass through, and how did each one affect the Jews?"


We chose to research the impact that different empires and rulers have had on Jerusalem so that we would better understand our strong connection to the city. It is crucial for us to be able to connect to our ancestors who were exiled from Jerusalem countless times, always yearning and longing to return to the holy city. When looking at Jerusalem through history, it helps us put things into perspective and realize that we are not living in this incredible land by our own merit. Rather, we are living here in the merit of all of those who never gave up hope of returning to the city of their dreams. It was not us who settled or developed the land, and it was not us who fought on the battlefields to fight and protect her. Yet, it is our responsibility to contribute and devote ourselves to the land to the best of our ability.

For thousands of years, Jerusalem was under foreign control. It was destroyed, desecrated, and even turned into a place of foreign worship. We wanted to understand all of what Jerusalem has been through, and how it is possible that we are able to travel there today without even thinking twice. Learning the history will strengthen our awe and feeling of responsibility to this land that has miraculously been given to us.
Identifying with the land’s history can explain of why so many peoples fight over Jerusalem. The number of countries that want Jerusalem in their control is not logical. After all, why would an empire as strong as Rome care about an insignificant speck on the map? Why is Jerusalem more important than anywhere else? All of these questions will help us comprehend and appreciate Jerusalem and our responsibility to her.


Throughout hundreds of generations, Jerusalem has been passed from ruler to ruler. Whether intending to rule the city as a colony, religious site, center of trade, or homeland, the conquerors greatly affected and impacted the Jews of Jerusalem. This myriad of cultures and empires shaped and developed what Jerusalem is today.

Both Rome and Byzantine, two ancient empires, colonized Jerusalem. During their respective reigns, they directly affected the Jews of Judea and their holy city, Jerusalem. Titus, the Roman general, besieged Jerusalem and was eventually victorious in razing the city and destroying the Second Temple on Tisha B’Av in the year 70 BCE. Josephus Flavious, a contemporary historian of the time, noted that hundreds of thousands of Jews, maybe as many as one million, were killed during the siege of Jerusalem because of the lack of food and supplies. The shortage of food could be attributed to the Zealots. These were extreme Jews who compromised nothing to defeat the Romans, and burnt the Jewish food supplies to motivate the Jews to continue fighting. After a long struggle that lasted for three years, the Jews of Masada committed suicide, thus surrendering the last Jewish outpost to the Romans. When Jews had nearly lost all hope of ever recapturing the holy land, a revolt, led by Simeon Bar Kokhba, broke out in the year 132 CE. The Jews miraculously regained Jerusalem and Judea from the Romans. Rebel refugees, hiding in the hills during the revolt, minted Roman coins with an imprint of the Holy Temple and the word “Jerusalem” across it.
Emperor Hadrian[2] crushed the Bar Kokhba revolt and forced Roman culture and ideals on the Jews of Judea. By the end of the revolt, almost six hundred thousand Jews were killed, and Judea was completely destroyed. Hadrian renamed Judea “Paleastina” and Jerusalem, “Aelia Capitolina.” He turned Jerusalem into a pagan city full of temples and statues. Hadrian built a temple dedicated to Jupiter on the Temple Mount, the most sacred place of worship for the Jews. As a result of the decree forbidding Jews to enter the city, all traces of Jewish life in Jerusalem were erased. As the persecution spread, the center of Jewish life and learning was relocated from Jerusalem to Yavneh.
One hundred and ninety years later, the Byzantine Empire captured Rome and its colonies, one of which being Jerusalem. Like the Romans, the Byzantine Rulers, led by Emperor Constantine, denied the Jews the right to hold any public positions or to enter the Jerusalem. However on Tisha B’Av, the day that the Romans had destroyed the Second Temple, the Byzantines allowed Jews to enter the city so that they could entertain themselves by watching the Jews mourn their loss.[3]

Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, visited Jerusalem and marked the locations in which important events occurred during the last days of Jesus’ life. She identified the sites of both Jesus’ crucifixion and burial and ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to be built.[4] With the city’s new religious significance to Christianity, Christian pilgrims paraded through Jerusalem’s largest churches. Some of these churches included the Nea Church, Mount Zion, and The Holy Sepulcher.[5]

In the year 361 CE, a pagan emperor by the name of Julian The Apostate, was tolerant of other faiths and allowed the Jews to return to “Holy Jerusalem which you have for many years longed to be rebuilt.”[6] Unfortunately, this only lasted for two years.
With the Persians invasion of 614, General Shahrbaraz conquered Jerusalem with much help from the Jews. In appreciation for the Jews effort, the general granted them permission to enter ‘the city. “The Jews resumed worship on the (Temple Mount) Platform.”[7] This peace and freedom lasted for three years, until the Jews were exiled once again. This example of Jews being exiled and returning for short periods of time characterizes the Jews’ existence in Jerusalem.

Prominent Empires were not the only powers interested in beings sole keepers of Jerusalem. Christian and Muslim rulers had a long struggle to claim religious authority over the city. In 638 CE, Muslims and Jews fought side by side to ensure a peaceful surrender of the enemy. The Caliph Omar became the ruler of Jerusalem and Jews were again allowed to enter Jerusalem under “Protection.” This was a term used for anyone that was not Muslim, yet chose to live under Islamic rule. There were special payments of poll and land tax that was paid by these individuals in return for their safeguarded lives, property and freedom of religion. Jerusalem became the third holiest city for the Islamic religion, the center of which was the Dome of the Rock Mosque, erected by Caliph al-Malik in 691.[8]
Restrictions against non-Muslims were introduced affecting Jew’s legal status, religious observances and public conduct. Heavy farming taxes encouraged many to move from rural areas to towns and cities.

Discrimination against Jews grew rapidly. This forced many to flee Jerusalem. By the end of the eleventh century, the Jewish community in Palestine had diminished in numbers and in religious strength. At the height of the discrimination in 1010 CE, Caliph al-Hakim ordered the destruction of all Jewish temples and Christian churches.

In 1096, Christians from The First Crusade journeyed from Europe to reconquer Jerusalem from the infidel Muslims who were running it. On July 15, 1099, after a five-week siege by twelve thousand Christian civilians, the knights of the first crusade captured Jerusalem. They celebrated this event by forcing a large percentage of the Jews of the city into Synagogues and burning them alive. The remaining Jews were sold into slavery. Subsequently, all Non-Christians were banned from the city. Jerusalem was declared, "Kingdom of Jerusalem" and any religious building was turned into a church. During this period of Christian rule in Palestine, Yehuda HaLevi, Maimonides, and Benjamin of Tudela, all visited Jerusalem.

After nearly 200 years of Christian power, a Muslim army under Saladin overthrew the Crusaders and once again awarded Jews the privilege of living within the confines of Jerusalem.
A couple of years later, three prominent figures in Christianity joined together in an effort to recapture the city for which they pined. Although they did not achieve this goal and recapture the city, they did make a treaty with Saladin which stated that Christians were to be granted access to Jerusalem.

In the years to follow, three hundred Rabbi's from England and France arrived and settled in the city, just in time to witness Sultan Malik-Muattam razing the city's walls and eventually Khawarizminian Turks capturing the city. Crusader Authority in Jerusalem came to a final defeat in 1291 CE by the Mamluk's, a Muslim military from Egypt. The rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire turned Jerusalem into a center of business and trade. The city became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517 CE when Sultan Selim captured it peacefully. Jerusalem was ruled from Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish population in Palestine during this period is estimated to be around one thousand, the majority of which resided in Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community of the time consisted of Jews that had never left the country and immigrants from Europe and North Africa.

As a result of the Ottoman conquest, Jerusalem's walls lay in a state of disrepair until 1535 CE when Sultan "The Magnificent" Suleiman ordered the erecting of new walls. This was a form of defense against any future intruders or threats to the city. Suleiman died some thirty years later and with him left the improvements and stimulation of immigration to Jerusalem. It was during this period that the "Shulhan Aruch" and the study of kabala began to flourish throughout the land. It was also the interlude in which the Muslims learnt of the Jewish belief that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem, in the final redemption, through The Golden Gate. In response to this new knowledge, Muslims sealed off the Golden Gate to prevent this occurrence.

During the Eighteenth Century, Ottoman rule began to diminish. By the end of the century, the empire was almost entirely neglected. Most of the farming land in the country was owned by people that did not use it. These lands were leased to poor lower class farmers.
The Nineteenth Century proved to be somewhat of a resonance period for Jerusalem as a result of many countries increased involvement in the city. Russia, France, Austria, Britain, and The United States of America, all opened consulates. A few countries began educating their scholars in the archeology and biblical geography found in Palestine. In addition to this, the opening of the Suez Canal brought steamships that made regular stops in Jaffa. Subsequently, the first road connecting Jaffa to Jerusalem was built to embrace this new opportunity for trade. During this time period, Palestine grew and embraced communication between other countries.

During this stretch of time, the first census in Jerusalem was conducted. There were "seven-thousand one-hundred and twenty Jews, fine-thousand seven-hundred and sixty Muslims, and three-thousand three-hundred and ninety Christians"[9]The walled old city of Jerusalem became overwhelmingly crowded. The first neighborhood outside the city walls to be built was Mishkenot Sha'ananim. Over the next quarter of a century, seven more neighborhoods would be built and the city would continue to grow and mature.

After thousands of years of foreign rule, Jews began the battle to control their homeland. They wanted to be the biggest factor of influence on the city of their dreams. In 1917 CE, the British Army, led by General Allenby captured Jerusalem. As a result of this, the League of Nations gave the British a mandate allowing them to rule over Palestine. Forty years later, the United Nations came out with the “Partition Plan”[10] in
which Jerusalem would remain an international city, not belonging to the Jews or the Arabs.

Jews for the most part accepted this plan, but Arabs, on the other hand, could not consider it. In their minds, considering this plan would imply that they had agreed to a Jewish state, something unheard of and sinful in their religion and culture.
On the day of the vote for the partition plan, Arabs went out to the streets and attacked, shot, and killed seven Jews and wounded many more.
They stormed into Jewish businesses in Jerusalem and robbed them.

In 1948, after David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, read the declaration of independence, the Arabs attacked the Jews ferociously. Thus began the war of Independence.
As a result of the war, Jerusalem was split between Jordanian and Jewish control. The Jordanian section of Jerusalem included The Old City, controlling the Temple Mount. The Jordanians forced all Jews living in their newly conquered territory out of Jerusalem once again.
No Jew was permitted to enter Jordanian Jerusalem, even if it was only to visit the holy cites which had been destroyed and desecrated by the Arabs.

On June 7, 1967 CE, after nearly twenty years of having a Jewish State with no control over Jerusalem, the Israeli Defense Forces broke through the walls of the old city and recaptured it.
Since Israel's miraculous victory, Jews have developed the city in many aspects. Although there are still acts of terror and violence, Jews continue to journey from near and far to visit holy sites, to tour, and to pray.

Creative Piece

Six tear-filled eyes peered through the hospital window.
Four black monitors beeped rhythmically.
Two nurses dressed in white questioned his survival.
One young soldier laid motionless, a prisoner to his own body.

His appearance was disheveled and his doctors were notably negative regarding his recovery. No one would have guessed that his mind was actually an active whirlwind of quick flashbacks, unanswered questions and whole hearted wishes.
As Eitan's eyes adjusted to the dim, sulfurous light of his hospital room, he found himself wishing he could run his eyes, in an attempt to wipe away the last traces of lethargy. But, no part of his hand, arm, or shoulder responded. After further examination of this revelation, Eitan realized that bellow his neck, no part of his body would or could respond to any commandment, regardless of how hard he pleaded or wished it would. He was confused, frightened and above all, he was parched, but he had no way of relaying that message to anyone. He might've been laying awake for a couple of hours or just for a few minutes, before he fell back into a state of semi-consciousness, there was no way for him to tell.

As the lights faded, Eitan began to see a smoldering red glow in front of him. Explosions could be heard from all around him and the red haze began to grow closer and higher, almost entirely encircling him. His lungs became penetrated with thick, black smoke and a metallic taste filled his mouth. The heat became unbearable, his cheeks became flushed and he broke out into a heavy sweat. It soaked his crisp olive green uniform and he felt himself bolt, out of pure fear. As Eitan ran, his tears began to fall, tears of embarrassment, frustration and sadness. They shook his whole body. He continued to run, he ran and he ran until he began to wake up.
The sterile hospital room came back into the soldier’s focus and he imagined himself letting out a long dramatic sigh. Eitan didn’t understand what had happened per sé, but he knew that whatever it had been wasn’t good. He knew that it was for the most part over, or whatever part he had been involved in was, anyway. But that left so many open-ended questions, all of them unanswered. He ignored the excruciating pain he felt and thought deeply within himself. Where had he been? What had happened? Why was he here now? How did he get here? Where was “here?” He tired himself out thinking of all the possibilities and analyzing each on of them until he’s eyes began to close and he fell into a deep sleep.

From the darkness that seemed to surround Eitan, he began to see white lights slowly rise from the horizon. They rose painfully slowly, each one a slightly different size and luster than the previous. Some seemed to dance across the thick night sky while several went straight up. Others appeared to twinkle while some shinned consistently. The number of lights decreased and increased with no apparent pattern. At some moments it looked as if everything in the near vicinity was on fire, while at others times it seemed as if there was nothing close, nothing at all. Eitan watched the lights until he himself began to see light between the cracks of his eyelids.
As Eitan began opening his eyes, he saw a mass of doctors clad in white. They were all murmuring but Eitan couldn’t concentrate on anything they were saying. He was too caught up trying to understand the dream he had just had. What had it meant? Where the lights coming to symbolize people? But, why were they floating? Had they died? Why had they died? Where had they died? What was going on? He must’ve looked terribly distressed because the last thing he remembered before falling back asleep was a doctor injecting something into his arm, and then it went black.

Eitan fell into a deep drug induced sleep. He must’ve been out for a really long while because in that time he made sense of a lot of the things that had happened. After what seemed like hours of struggling to define a line between his imagination and the reality of what had actually happened, Eitan came to the conclusion that he was a member of the Hagana, a militant organization, for the establishment of a Jewish state. He began to see the accident, his first dream, the fire. It had consumed everything within its grasp. Eitan didn’t know where it had come from exactly but he felt connected to the fire, its heat, flames, smoke and its destruction. He began to believe that maybe he, Eitan, was responsible for the fire. But, how could that be? Didn’t he want a Jewish state? How could he screw up so badly? He so much wanted to just climb out of his body and run away, run away as fast as he could but this time there was no escape from his dream, no way to just decide to wake up.
Eitan continued dreaming, he watched his fellow soldiers help the wounded, some of which included army personal. How could they deal with such immense pain? How could they stand to see they’re brothers in such agony? It was then that Eitan saw himself running, he couldn’t deal with it, any of it, anymore. But was he running away from something or towards something? Was he letting everyone down again or acting heroically? Eitan passionately wanted a Jewhadrianos1.jpegish State to call his own, a place for his future children to grow up, a place for him to grow old. But, more than that he wanted Eretz Yisrael to be a place all Jews could call “home.” There was so much history there, so many stories he wished he could share, and so many laughs he wished he could hear. But, it wasn’t just that there was history within the land for almost every religion or that it contained a magical kind of holiness for him, there was so much that had been sacrificed for this land, always. The Jewish people had always been fighting for this land and so many of them had lost their lives because of it. All throughout the ages, Jerusalem had been the place people sacrificed for. Eitan had, had enough, he wanted out of this dream, he needed out of this dream, but there was no way, he was stuck inside his own thoughts with no way out.

Guilt rushed over him like the sea comes with the tide. Was this all his fault because he had run away? Of all the floating light, souls newly evicted from they’re bodies, could he have saved any of them? Could he have saved all of them? Would he ever know? It was only then, that he began to stir. Eitan didn’t totally wake up this time, he was still pretty groggy. But, at least his dream was over.
Eitan must’ve been in that hospital for a couple more days, his condition only worsened with time. Everyday he pondered “what if…” questions, but he came to no conclusions. No one knew if he felt guilty anymore or if he just wished whole heartedly that even with his mistakes, the establishment of a Jewish State would be possible.

All Eitan wanted was a Jewish State, it was his highest priority in life. He wanted a place for Jews to call home, a place for Jews to feel safe and a place for Jews to pray. He thought about that day after day, beep after beep, until the machine beeped no more and Eitan had no more days. The date he passed away was May 14, 1948, that night Israel’s Declaration of Independence was read by David Ben-Gurion.



While researching our project we learnt about various rulers and distinct time periods that directly affected Jerusalem. We gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the city and all that she has gone through. All the people that gave up their lives yet held on to their hope, left a lasting impression on us

We began this project in hopes of finding an answer to how we could have possibly conquered this land while many of our enemy armies, much larger and greater than us, fell while attempting to do what we accomplished. Although this question has been left unanswered, one thing is clear; there is no possible way to understand a nations’ inner strength. No logical or military explanation can shed light onto this great miracle.

Some of the greatest and most powerful Empires and religious leaders greedily fought over Jerusalem with self-interest in mind. They too understood the power and holiness of the land. False hope was constantly given to the Jews by allowing them to return to their city for short amounts of time, maybe a few years at most. However, the ultimate end was always the same, exile. Now after two thousand years of waiting, our time has come. We, the Jewish nation, are finally the rulers of this country that is richly saturated in history. And, we are here to stay.



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Attached Sources

"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
Mark Twain


“1947 UN Partition Plan.” [Online] Avalible

Armstrong, Karen. Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, New York: Ballantine Books, 1997

“History of Jerusalem.” [Online] Avalible

“Jerusalem- The endless Crusade.” [Online] Available

“Permanent Exhibit.” [Online] Avalible

“Timeline of Jerusalem.” [Online] Avalible

“Yom Yerushalayim- Jerusalem Day.” [Online] Avalible