The Village of Shiloach withers away 1930-1938
In the Old City of Jerusalem
With the calming of the riots across the land, some of the residents of the village of Shiloach returned to their houses, but the village never fully recovered to it’s previous glory. The relations between the Jews and Arabs became strained and never came back to its previous level of coexistence. The Hadassah clinic in the village, that was evacuated when the inhabitants left, never opened again after their return, along with the only telephone line in the village, which was in the clinic. The families that lived in the ’Hekdesh houses' did not return to them with the calming down of the riots, unlike the private houses that were re-inhabited in the summer of 1930 by 20 families, comprising 100 people altogether.
A Call for Help
The residents, loyal to their small village although it was in the heart of hostile environment, sent letters to the national institutions, asking for their involvement in saving the crumbling settlement. In a letter to the Zionist Administration, at the end of 1931 they wrote: “… You are aware of our situation… after the hardships that have found us, after the pogroms of Av 1929 and following the difficulties in convincing the community to return to the village and re-inhabit their homes… and now the time has come to pay for the phone calls… and in the situation we found ourselves today we have no possible way of paying even with the smallest coin… we turn to your honors to continue assisting the village in this matter, seeing as it is an important factor in our Yishuv, and without it - it is very difficult to inhabit this remote place”.
The population of Shiloach decreased from year to year. Several of the families living in the private homes of the village, even considered the possibility of moving to the Jewish neighborhoods in the center of Jerusalem.
On 18 Iyar, 1933, the residents of the village wrote to the JNF (Jewish National Fund): "This is a disgrace for all of Israel and all our national institutions with the JNF at their head, who had to quickly come forward with advice on how and with what to save a settlement of 48 years from falling into the hands of strangers with gaping mouths waiting to swallow it at the first chance..." In the letter, the residents of the village suggested an immediate plan of action for recovering the site and saving the neighborhood. Unfortunately, practical answers were not forthcoming.
The security situation in the village deteriorated greatly, until the village was completely cut off from the Old City and the western part of Jerusalem. The cut off residents became unemployed against their will and, fearing for their lives, held onto their land with all their might.
On the 4th of Sivan, 1936, they wrote to the Hebrew Community Council: "The continuing situation has greatly worsened and our hopes for an end remains in the air. It has been more then a month that we can not go to work and must live trapped in our houses day and night… Who knows if the situation will worsen, if we are able to continue our stay here, but for the while we do our best in attempt to continue, and what will be will be".
Leaving on Orders On the 14th of Av, 1938 (11/8/38), the British police guard departed the village of Shiloach, leaving the neighborhood abandoned and without defense. Three days later the inhabitants of the village received an order from the British government that for security reasons they should leave the neighborhood immediately. The 40 people remaining in the village were evacuated and relocated to the Old City of Jerusalem. The village of Shiloach was deserted. After 52 years of continual Jewish settlement, the Yemenite Village came to a tragic end.
The Destruction of the Village The village of Shiloach was destroyed. The British initially promised that the “Jewish refugees” would be able to return but they ultimately reneged on their promise. Notwithstanding pleas by the various Jewish governing bodies, the British weren’t even able to protect the Jewish property in the area. With the Jewish residents forced to desert it, the British would not allow them to return to their homes again, even though the situation calmed down. Their Arab neighbors looted their houses, removed the doors and windows and belongings left behind, and completely destroyed several of the houses.
On Tevet 1939, Shlomo Ya'akov Madmoni ,היד one of the residents of the village, went to check on the state of the Torah scroll he had hidden in his house. Madmoni crossed by way of the valley of Ben Hinom and was murdered by local Arabs.
In Elul 1940, the Ohel Shlomo (Tent of Solomon) synagogue was desecrated. Arabs from the village demolished the site, destroyed holy books and burned the Torah scrolls.
The residents of the village, scattered throughout Jerusalem, (in the Old City, Nachalat Achim, and other neighborhoods), preserved in their hearts the memory of the village and hoped to one day re- establish it as in days of yore.
The destruction of the village greatly depressed Mr. Yitzchak Ben Zvi, the head of the National Committee (later the second president of the State of Israel). Ben Zvi requested of the JNF to redeem the land of the village of Shiloach, and to bring about a reestablishment of the village.
He believed in the ability of the JNF to handle this strategic point, being a crucial part in the struggle over Jerusalem.
Mr. S. Ze'evi, (father of Rehavam Ze'evi ‰¢), the lawyer Mayer Ben Tov, Moshe David Gaon, (father of singer Yehoram Gaon) and many other Jerusalem people made a tremendous effort to rescue the village, but to no avail. In the War of Independence, the village of Shiloach fell, along with the heart of Jerusalem, into the hands of the Jordanians. After the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, the children and grandchildren of the first settlers and builders of the village found a desolated village.
There had been mounds of destruction, houses had been plundered and Arabs had illegally occupied, squatted and built on the Jewish land within and around the Yemenite Village.
A Village Seeking Redemption
Jerusalem is united and the State of Israel grows.
With thanks to G-d, we mark 122 years since the aliyah (immigration) of our brothers - the Yemenites, to the Land of Israel and 120 years since the first Jewish immigrants took hold of the land in the village of Shiloach.
For 52 years the holy Yemenite community lived, in joy, beauty and creativity in the flourishing Yemenite Village near the Temple Mount – in Kfar (village) HaShiloach, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.
Today the village stands desolate, full of foreign houses, illegally occupied. It has been 66 years since the Jewish residents were driven and forcibly evicted from their homes in theYemenite Village.
May we see the renewal of the village and the redemption of Jerusalem, Amen.