The Jerusalem of Today

‘JE-RU’-SA-LEM OF TODAY.’ (*Published in 1922)

“Jerusalem is sacred to the adherents of three great religions—the Jews, the Christians and the Mohammedans. The Jews and Christians call the city by its old name, Jerusalem. To the Mohammedans, it is El-Kudus, “the Sanctuary;’ and on the sign above the square stone railroad station by the Jaffa Gate, one may read that name in Arabic characters. To Mohammedans, Jerusalem is one of the ten sacred cities, ranking next to Mecca and Medina. Toward it they used to face whenever they prostrated themselves in prayer, just as now they face the city of Mecca. They have called it the very center of the earth. Jerusalem is perhaps the only city on the whole earth where Jewish, Christian and Moslem pilgrims meet.

The population of Jerusalem is generally estimated at about 60,000. Of these, fully two-thirds are Jews. The Mohammedans number but about 7000, and the Christians twice as many. Perhaps no other city is so cosmopolitan, for here have come together people from almost every land in the world. Among the Jews are natives whose ancestors have never left Palestine. They are generally tall and slim and dark, suggesting the Arab with whom they have always lived. There are the Jews from Poland and Russia, wearing their furs, and with long curls of hair over their temples, and there are Spanish and German Jews in abundance.

The Mohammedans are mostly Arabs who have abandoned the country to settle in the town, and the Turks, who, until recently, were the ruling class. The native Christians are chiefly Syrians, closely resembling their Arab cousins in appearance, and speaking their language.

Jerusalem is a city of churches and synagogues, mosques and schools, hospitals and charitable institutions of every description; a complete list of them would be long indeed. Chief of all is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, (consecrated September 13, 335 A.D., demolished 1009 A.D., rebuilt 1048 A.D. Restored 1810 A.D.) not far from the Jaffa Gate. Other churches of that name have stood on the same spot, but the present great stone structure, with its huge dome and gilded cross, was built about a century ago.”–Edgar J. Banks; Historical Digest; The System Bible Study; 1922