For thousands of years Jerusalem has been revered in Judaism as the holiest of cities. As the home of some of the most sacred biblical and historical sites, Jerusalem is Israel’s most visited city. Not only does Jerusalem have a rich and extensive history, it is also a cultural hub and spiritual center for Jews in Israel and worldwide. Undeniably no trip to Israel would be complete without a visit to Jerusalem. A visitor could spend weeks exploring and enjoying Jerusalem, but for the average traveler who only has a few days, we have compiled a list of the top 10 Jewish sites that should not be missed.

The Western Wall

The Western Wall

Also known as the Wailing Wall or the Kotel, the Western Wall is one of Israel’s most sacred sites. It is a part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount where the Temples stood for nearly 1000 years. 11 million visitors come to the Kotel each year, making it Israel’s most popular tourist attraction.

Aish HaTorah Rooftop (view of Western Wall)

Aish HaTorah Rooftop (view of Western Wall)

Founded in 1974, Aish HaTorah is an international organization dedicated to Jewish education and outreach. Translating to “Fire of Torah” in Hebrew, Aish HaTorah strives to ignite a passion within Jews to discover their heritage and instill pride in their faith. Aish HaTorah’s world headquarters are located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, directly overlooking the Kotel. Its rooftop view is the best in the city. In fact, the Aish HaTorah was named one of Israel’s 20 most beautiful sites. Anyone who has ever stood on the rooftop terrace will not be surprised by this. The rooftop offers a spectacular view of the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives that is unparalleled by any other vantage point in the city

The Western Wall Tunnels

The Western Wall Tunnels

Structures from several periods, including the Herodian, Umayyah, Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Hasmonean periods were found in the Western Wall Tunnels located beneath the Western Wall. Travelers can explore the tunnels to see these structures as well as the Western Stone, the largest stone in the Western Wall.

The Tower of David

The Tower of David

The Tower of David is a citadel near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City walls in Jerusalem. Also known as the Jerusalem Citadel, the archaeological excavations here have revealed 2,000 years of history. Today’s visitors flock to the tower in the evenings to enjoy the amazing sound and light Night Spectacular Show that is projected onto the walls of the citadel. The Tower of David Museum shows the history of Jerusalem from its ancient origins to the present day.

Jewish Quarter

 Jewish Quarter

Jerusalem’s Old City is traditionally divided into four quarters. The Jewish Quarter sits in the south east section and is the home of the Temple Mount and Western Wall as well as several significant synagogues. The Hurva Synagogue was built in the beginning of the 18th century and throughout the years has been destroyed and rebuilt several times and was most recently rebuilt in 2010. The Four Sephardic Synagogues are a complex of four connected synagogues that each practice a different rite of the Sephardic community. These Sephardic Synagogues (Yochanan be Zakai Synagogue, Istanbuli Synagogue, Eliahu Ha’navi Synagogue, and Emtsai Synangogue) were all destroyed during the Arab-Israeli War, but were then rebuilt after the 6 Day War.

City of David (Hezekiah tunnel)

City of David (Hezekiah tunnel)

The City of David is an archaeological site that is known as the birthplace of Jerusalem. This is the place where King David established his kingdom. Currently it is an archaeological park where visitors can learn the history of Jerusalem and view remnants of houses and towers as well as the tunnel of Shiloh and a water tunnel.

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem

Founded in 1953, Yah Vashem Memorial was built to further the education and commemoration of the Holocaust. A visit to the museum is one that is bound to stir emotion as it introduces the history of the Nazi party’s rise to power and the terrifying effect this had on the Jews of Europe. The exhibits include displays of the ghettoes, concentration camps, the Jewish response, and the famous Hall of Names, which serves as a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Israel Museum

Israel Museum

In 2010, the Israel Museum underwent a $100 million renovation. Since this time, it reemerged as Israel’s national museum. Most famous for its Holyland model of Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book, the museum also features four wings along with beautiful sprawling gardens. The museum also holds an impressive collection of fine art, Biblical and archaeological artifacts, and about 30 new exhibits annually.

The Knesset

The Knesset

Israel’s legislative branch of government is known as the Knesset, which translates to “the gathering”. Tours of the parliament building are operated Sundays and Thursdays and offer visitors a glimpse into the roles of the Knesset. Tours are about an hour and include visits to the Knesset Committee Rooms. Plenary Chamber, Chagall Hall, and a display of the Declaration of Independence. Along the way, visitors will also enjoy learning about the art housed within the building as well as the building’s architectural attributes.

The Hurva Synagogue

The Hurva Synagogue

Also known as the Ruin Synagogue, the Hurva Synagogue was originally built in the 18th century in the center of the Jewish quarter by followers of Rabi Yehudah he-Hasid. Shortly after its formation, the synagogue has been destroyed by Muslims in 1721 and remained in its ruins for 140 years, then rebuilt in 1864 by Lithuanian Jews.

The synagogue which served as the main Ashkenazi synagogue for a century was ruined again in 1948 during Israel's Independence War.

In 1967, after the city of Jerusalem was recaptured by Israel in the Six-Days War, there were plans to rebuild the synagogue, but after prolonged deliberations it was decided in 1977 to build a symbolic, commemorative arch over the ruins of the synagogue.

In 2010, the Hurva Synagogue was refurbished in its 19th century original architectural style and serves as a bustling synagogue and beit medrash.

With thanks to www.americaisraeltours.com