Their arrival revived the presence of Ashkenazi Jewry in Jerusalem, which for over 100 years had been mainly Sephardi and had a huge impact on the customs and religious practices of the religious community in Israel.By 1880, there were about 40,000 Jews, living in the land of Israel among some 400,000 Muslims. One of the major figures of this time period was Moses Montefiore (1784 to 1887) ― the first Jew to be knighted in Britain.The land of Israel was renamed Palestine (after the extinct Philistines, some of the worst enemies of the Jews in ancient times). The Byzantine Empire (the Constantinople-based Christian version of the Roman Empire) continued the earlier policy, and Jews were not allowed into Jerusalem until the Muslims conquered the Byzantines in 638 CE.(See Part 42.) Once the Muslims took over the Land of Israel, they held onto it with the brief exception of the period of the Crusades.This community was part of what was called Old Yishuv.(Today, when in the Old City of Jerusalem, you can visit the "Old Yishuv Court Museum" and learn some fascinating facts about it.) Another very significant event in the growth of the Jewish community of Israel took place in the early 19th century.There was no attempt to make Jerusalem, which was quite run-down, an important capital city and only a few Muslim dynasties attempted to improve its infrastructure (save for Umayyads in the 7th century, the Mameluks in the 13th century the rebuilding of the walls of the city in 16th century during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.) Similarly, only limited building went on in the rest of the land, which was barren and not populated by many Arabs.
Montefiore built the first settlement outside the walls of the Old City, called "Yemin Moshe" in 1858.
With his fortune made by age 40, Montefiore embarked on a career in philanthropy, becoming a tireless worker for the Jewish community of Israel.
At that time, most of the Jews then lived in what is now called the Old City of Jerusalem, specifically in what is now called the "Moslem Quarter." The main entrance to the city for the Jews was through Damascus Gate and of the many synagogues in Jerusalem, many f them were in the "Moslem Quarter" close to the site where the Temple stood on Mount Moriah.
The re-birth of Israel is an unprecedented phenomenon in human history.
That a people should go into exile, be dispersed, and yet survive for 2,000 years, that they should be a nation without a national homeland and come back again, that they should re-establish that homeland is a miraculous, singular event. Brief Overview Before we discuss the Jews' return to their homeland, let us then look back at history and review briefly what had been happening in the Land of Israel from the time that the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, (See Parts 35 thru 37.) Subsequently, Jerusalem was leveled, rebuilt on the Roman model, and renamed Aeolia Capitolina.