There are times when you are expecting the future to arrive at some point and there are other times when the future becomes the present, when time catches up to you. Today was one of those moments when past, present, and future combined into a unitary continuum.
Two weeks ago the rest of the Old Yemenite Synagogue the heart of the Old Yemenite Village in what is today Silwan had once again restored to its rightful owners. I merited to be one of the first people back at the newly redeemed synagogue. Despite my arrival I did not get to go inside.
Today I traveled once again into the winding streets of what the world considers Silwan to enter into the Beit Knesset. Besides Daniel Luria, the Executive Director of Ateret Cohanim, I was joined by Tommy Waller and Ken Groat of the HaYovel Organization. The four of us made our way and witnessed the beginning of the demolition of the illegal walls that hide the old walls of the synagogue. The revealed outer walls are like a time machine, drawing the viewer back to 1883 when it was built. The four of us were awestruck at the history and profound sense of redemption underway in front of our eyes.
The Yemenite Jews who came to Jerusalem believed they were coming to witness redemption, yet their redemption was cut short in the Arab riots of 1929 and 1936, with the community ultimately being abandoned in 1937. Now we have come full circle, the aborted redemption has been renewed 78 years later.
Despite the inside of the synagogue in a state of disrepair, volunteers from Ateret Cohanim seemed focused and joyful in beginning the restoration. My two friends from HaYovel, an organization founded by Tommy Waller and dedicated to bringing pro Israel Christians here to aid vineyard owners in Samaria, left renewed, with a sense of purpose and a deeper connection to the redemption and closeness to their mission.
I myself feel a sense that we as a Nation are beginning to realize that the redemption is not a fairy tale. We are living in it. With each new house we buy and property restored we are rectifying a historic wrong and coming that much closer to the day when “And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets. (Zechariah 8:5)”