I was very disappointed that Howard Hunter was not mentioned in the article and the important part he played in acquiring the land, etc. for the center.
Thank you for the article. Jerusalem has been on my mind a lot lately, with this being the 30th anniversary of its dedication. I was among one of those students 30th years ago to be so lucky and blessed to attend. The building was not yet complete when I was there. One large room had rolls of carpet yet to be put down - and remained so while I was there. Other parts were just shells, yet most of it was complete and so beautiful. They paved the front road shortly after my arrival, so you can see how "new" the building was when my group of 160 students (Fall 1989) became one of the first groups to study and living in the Center. I would give anything to return and see the "completed" building. I feel so blessed to have had that experience. Only another student could understand what that building and program means to those who have attended. I testify there have been "many" miracles in the lives of those who have called the Jerusalem Center "home" for a time.
Wonderful article. May I mention a smaller miracle that happened in 1973. The second semester abroad to Jerusalem arrived in January under the direction of Donl Peterson. There happened to be some very musically talented students in that group. A musical variety program was put together and performed in Jerusalem just for the fun of it. By chance a member of the Israeli Tourism department attended and was so impressed that the students were invited to tour and perform at several army bases. This was similar to the USO entertainment. Much good will was accomplished. As I look back now, a foundation stone was laid for the future growth that was to come. I was honored to be one of those students but without the musical inclinations. The Jerusalem center was not even a glimmer of an idea in the early days.
Thank you for writing this story. I have read this story before, but yours has added additional details that I had previously not known.
Thank you so much for writing this. I had heard much of it before but this summary included several choice details!
Thank you so much for this wonderful article on events in modern days surrounding the building of this beautiful edifice.An additional fact, not mentioned here, and also a capital M miracle: My great grandfather, Elder Adolf August Haag, died and was buried on Mount Carmel, as was his companion Elder Clarke in 1892, of Typhus.These two graves served as the evidence of the Church's presence in Israel prior to the Partition of 1948. This was one piece of the reason that the Knesset and all Israeli officials allowed the Jerusalem Center to go forward. I am so proud of my great-grandfather's missionary service, and for my great-grandmother, Eliza Marolf Haag, who, as a result, raised two small sons to manhood as worthy members of the Church. I just wanted this fact to be included, as it is related in tours of the German Section of the cemetery on Mt. Carmel, when people tour it. If you want to read more, go to Amazon and get the book, "A Missionary's Story - The Letters and Journals of Adolf Haag, Mormon Missionary to Switzerland and Palestine," by Larry Draper and Kent P. Jackson (paperback ed. $21.99)
Great article. Our families traveled that area in 1967 right before the 6 day war. I've recently been to the Jerusalem center send it is simply magnificent. I anxiously await the next step of the Lord's plan. Maybe a temple!
Mariah, thank you so much for this article! It's shows that God is at the helm and has the power to open doors at any time He needs to.
I was with President Holland on his 1985 mission to save the Jerusalem Center in my capacity as a reporter for KSL. Here is what I later wrote about that memorable experience:As President of Brigham Young University, Jeffrey R. Holland’s assignment in the summer of 1985 from the school’s Board of Trustees (the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was to travel to Israel and essentially save the BYU Jerusalem Center. My assignment from KSL was to travel with President Holland and report on the circumstances surrounding his challenging mission.
The Brigham Young University Center for Near Eastern Studies, as it is officially called, was under construction at the time and about 25-percent complete. A crisis, though, erupted when Israel’s two chief rabbis called for a halt to the construction and thousands of ultra orthodox Jews began well-organized and very public protests against the project. The opposition movement spread beyond Israel, even to Jewish communities in places like New York City. The main objection of the protestors was their concern that the Center would become a base for Mormon missionary activity. They objected to proselytizing in their country and feared that such activity would ultimately be the Church’s intent. Since the Center was a BYU project, Church leaders sent President Holland on a very visible weeklong media blitz to try to diffuse the opposition and solidify support for the Jerusalem Center.
President Holland was met at Ben Gurion Airport by hundreds of sign carrying and chanting demonstrators. We learned most were Yeshiva students who had been bused in from their various schools to protest against the Mormons.
“Mormons Go Home,” read many of their signs. They constantly chanted the same message. For the next few days, the students were transported by bus to every place President Holland went.
“The Mormons are very dangerous,” said Rabbi Menachem Porush who was one of the voices leading the charge. “They have made it unsafe for Jews.” It also became a rallying cry for his Agudat Israel Party to try to topple the sitting Israeli government in favor of one that would be more conservative and religiously oriented.
Undaunted and like a politician on the stump, President Holland went from interview to interview and meeting to meeting. From his initial visit with reporters at the airport he moved to one-on-one visits with many of the nation’s top journalists. Like Daniel in the lion’s den, he had an intense session with the opposing Rabbis themselves on their turf, and took occasion to slip into private conferences with leaders of various influential organizations.
At every turn his message was concise and clear. Those associated with the Jerusalem Center would not proselytize. The Center, he said, would be strictly an educational institution, an extension of Brigham Young University. And he provided written and verbal assurances that missionary work would not in any way be part of the Center.
On one occasion President Holland went face to face and eyeball to eyeball with a vociferous demonstrator. It occurred just outside the Center’s construction site atop Mount Scopus. Despite the taunts of the man, who happened to be a leading Rabbi, President Holland majestically held his ground while declaring with loving clarity his respect for the Jewish people, the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. He gave repeated guarantees Latter-day Saints would honor the law of the land and that no proselytizing would take place by Mormons associated with the BYU Jerusalem Center.
Perhaps no one in Israel at the time was more supportive of the Jerusalem Center project than Jerusalem’s long-time mayor Teddy Kolleck. He welcomed President Holland warmly at City Hall, and then proceeded to let him know in no uncertain terms that BYU’s publicity blitz should have occurred much earlier. Kolleck showed President Holland a stack of mail – hundreds of letters in fact – and not one of them from a BYU supporter. It appeared to the Mayor that anti-Mormon groups in the United States had launched an organized letter-writing campaign to oppose a Mormon presence in Israel. The mayor didn’t hesitate to encourage President Holland to generate more visible support for the Jerusalem Center from BYU’s friends in the United States.
President Holland looked at me with a wink and nod of the head. Indeed, that message became the focus of my next report and within a matter of days Mayor Kolleck was receiving support letters from all over the United States, including one signed by 154 members of the Congress of the United States.
The opposition didn’t summarily end because of President Holland’s inspired mission, but he definitely succeeded in changing the tide of public opinion. In time, the demonstrations against the Center waned and construction of the facility moved full-steam ahead. A pivotal moment came in December, 1985 when Rabbi Porush’s minority party used legislative maneuvering to force members of the Knesset to take a stand on the BYU project. When the vote was tallied, BYU’s opponents claimed only five of the Knesset’s 120 votes. It was an overwhelming victory for BYU and the impressive efforts of the school’s president and future apostle Jeffrey R. Holland.From “Glimpses of Prophets, An Eyewitness Account”
By Duane Cardall
Perhaps this also applies to our lives:
“When you start building something in the name of the Lord, don’t ever stop.”
Jeffrey R. Holland
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