The Window to Mount Zion project, which we’re implementing together with the Search for Common Ground Jerusalem Office thanks to a grant from the USIP, seeks to document important events from all three monotheistic faiths.
The 7th of Adar – March 17, 2016 – Moses’ date of birth and death – was the memorial service for Jerusalem’s poor. Because Moses’ place of death is not known, this date was chosen for the memorial service at the Sambusky Cemetery on the slopes of Mount Zion. The Sambusky Cemetery contains the graves of thousands of Jerusalem’s poor, who have been buried there over the past several centuries. These were Jews who could not afford to be buried at the Mount of Olives Cemetery. Thus, the poor from a variety of ethnicities were buried one alongside the other, in a place that has all but been forgotten. This is the second year in a row that the Reishit Jerusalem organization has been organizing a memorial service for Jerusalem’s poor each year on the 7th of Adar. It is also working to renew the cemetery.
This year, alongside Israel’s Chief Rabbi and Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Ya’akov Nana, the gabbai of the Sephardic synagogue on Mount Zion and a guard for the President’s Room there, also said a memorial prayer. His grandfather is buried in this cemetery, but he was there for the first time in his life in October 2015, as part of a tour of Mount Zion that the Window on Mount Zion project held as part of the Open House Jerusalem festival. Because this area was for years considered no-mans land, and in a dangerous area, his family was never able to say Kaddish, the memorial prayer. This year, Rabbi Nana was able to say Kaddish not only for his grandfather, but for all of Jerusalem’s poor.
Here’s a video of part of the tour (in Hebrew):