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Mount of Olives Hebrew Cemetery

The ancient Hebrew cemetery on the Mount of Olives is one of the holiest and the oldest Jewish cemeteries. It is located on the western slope of the Mount of Olives and lies opposite the Eastern wall of the Old City. It has been in use for over 3000 years from the period of the first Temple and has been a popular final resting place for the people of the Jewish faith.

According to Jews, this site was the last place where the Divine Presence lived before the first Temple was destroyed and according to Zachariah's prophecy, the End of Days will take place on the Mount of Olives. Jews believe that when their Messiah comes through the Golden gate, the dead will be resurrected and then the people buried on the Mount of Olives will be the first ones to rise from the dead. Hence, the reason why this cemetery has been the chosen site for burial for many generations.

In 1173, famous explorer, Benjamin from Tudela arrived in Jerusalem and wrote a detailed account of his trip in which he mentioned that the Crusaders destroyed many graves on the Mount of Olives to use the stones as building material. In 1707, Rabbi M. Hages wrote that the Jews from Jerusalem had to pay a high amount of money to the Arabs so that they did not ruin the tombstones in the cemetery. But, the graves were still destroyed and it continued through the generations when Mount of Olives was under Jordanian rule. After 1967, when the war was over, many graves were restored. However, maintenance of these graves is still a problem.

Today, as space for burial in the cemetery is becoming scarce, discussions and meetings are held to plan the accommodation of more Jews in the cemetery. Some of the proposals include double-decker burials and vertical graves.

A few of the famous people buried on Mount of Olives include: Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Boris Shatz, David Yelin, Rabbi Cook, Yoel Moshe Solomon, Menachem Begin and others.

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