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Etz Chaim Yeshiva is an orthodox yeshiva located on Jaffa Road close to the Mahane Yehuda Market in downtown Jerusalem.

History

Early 20th century photograph of teachers at the Etz Chaim Yeshiva located in the Hurva Synagogue complex

Etz Chaim Yeshiva was originally a Talmud Torah which was established in 1855 by the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shmuel Salant. For the first two years classes were held in various rooms throughout the Old City. In 1857 the yeshiva consolidated in to a group of buildings adjacent to the Hurva Synagogue, sharing the premises with the Beth Din of Jerusalem. It was at this stage that the institution was renamed “Etz Chaim Yeshiva”.

The rosh yeshiva was Rabbi Chaim Mann. His brother Yehuda Leib Mann was the sectary who also served as a teacher. They were the sons of Rabbi Yaakov Mann who was a prominent scholar who had declined the invitation of Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank to become a dayan on the Beth Din. (He went on to build the Sha'arey Tzedek Medical Center and the Lemel school). As the yeshiva expanded a plot of land on Jaffa Road was acquired in 1908 and subsequently a kollel was established catering mainly for the alumni of the yeshiva. At the time Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky, who was married to the granddaughter of Rabbi Salant, served as the rosh yeshiva.

After disputes arose between the pupils and the faculty, a permanent agreement was reached by Tzvi Pesach Frank who reallocated the positions of authority.

In 1925 Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer was appointed to lead the yeshiva and Rabbi Aryeh Levin was made the mashgiach. After the death of Rabbi Meltzer, his son-in-law Rabbi Aharon Kotler was appointed rosh yeshiva. In an unusual arrangement, he held this position while continuing to live in America, and visiting Jerusalem occasionally. During the periods when he resided in Israel he delivered fortnightly lectures. After his death Elazar Shach was chosen to head the yeshiva and he also delivered fortnightly lectures. Some time later Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Fisher took up a position at the yeshiva.

Today, Rabbi Kotler's grandson, Rabbi Zevulun Schwartzman heads a kollel located at the yeshiva.

Over time Nissan Tukichinsky, son of Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky, took over the running and ownership of the institution. A public dispute again broke out over his legitimacy. The institution’s real estate and the large funds collected from overseas donors were the main point of contention over whose authority the historical yeshiva should be under.

Threat of demolition

Although the yeshiva building on Jaffa Road is registered on Jerusalem's List of Protected Monuments, in 2007 the building was under threat of demolition to make way for shops and offices. The authorities accepted an appeal for the buildings' preservation. [1][2]

References

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