The City of David is the oldest part of Jerusalem. The first mention of a settlement in its location, under the name “Shalem” (Salem), in the Torah dates to the 19th/20th centuries BC.
On a recent visit to the site with a delegation from the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, I was able to experience the historical nature of this site for Jews and see areas not yet open to the public.
Excavations of this ancient city began in Jerusalem in the 19th century, but due to the complicated history of Israel, studies of it were fragmented and not always reliable.
During the 1980s, David Beeri, the commander of an elite Israeli military unit, first visited the city. An Arab settlement was located there then, and the excavation sites themselves were in a deplorable state. Inspired by the incredible archaeological significance of this place, David left his military career to establish the Ir David Foundation — the City of David.
The revival of this place as a historical and cultural site is almost the sole work of this amazing person. We were introduced to David by the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Ze’ev Elkin.
In the late 80s, David began to buy out homes in the area of the City of David from Arabs. Some of the homes was demolished in order to expand the excavations, and some were given over for use to Jewish families.
The City of David today is one of the most striking monuments in the ancient history of Jerusalem. Based on his personal enthusiasm, David was able to revive this place, reuniting Jews with their history and heritage. Tourist excursions now take place here as well as visits from delegations of students on historical trips.
David and Ze’ev led members of our delegation along the main street of the ancient city — an area which is still at the stage of archaeological excavation and is closed to the general public.
As people still reside on top of the site, archaeologists are using unique horizontal technology to accurately excavate the city while keeping the ground structure above safe. The excavations are set to be completed within the next two years.
By then, the newly expanded site will allow Jews from around the world to further experience their historical bond with the City of David.
Find out more about the City of David.
By Boris Lozhkin
Find out more about me and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine here.