Jerusalem: Center of the World

Jerusalem: Center of the World. Courtesy of PBS.

Jerusalem: Center of the World takes viewers back to the beginning of Jerusalem’s history, starting with Abraham and Isaac.

By the time you read this, I’ll have made my long awaited return to the Western Wall aka the Kotel, the holiest site in all of Judaism.

Jews have gathered at the Western Wall since the fall of the Second Temple on Mount Moriah, at least during the times that we were allowed to. For instance, the Christian Roman/Byzantine Empire would only allow Jews at the Wall on Tisha B’Av. It would be completely off limits again during 1948-1967 and this also includes the Jewish Quarter. The fact that the Western Wall remains today is really a miracle in and of itself. The Roman Siege of Jerusalem led to much destruction. Only 62 feet of the Western Wall are visible above ground–another 17 layers are below ground and visible during Western Wall Tunnel Tours. What remains of the Western Wall is 1,601 feet in length. Anyway, if you’re able to get your hands on Time Scanners‘ episode about Jerusalem, I highly recommend it!

Of course, the Kotel is not the only focus. The documentary takes a look at what Jerusalem means to the three major religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Not only is religion a major focus but it explains why so many people fight battles in Jerusalem. There’s the Crusades, etc. How do all the power struggles impact the city? When one takes over, what happens to other holy sites? These are some of the things explored in the two-hour film.

Andrew Goldberg directs while Ray Suarez is front and center as the documentary’s host. They take us back to the beginning when Avraham first stepped foot on Mount Moriah for the binding of Yitzchak. It would become G-d’s dwelling place when King Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem. Of course, that came after King David bought the land. Anyway, the film does a deep dive in many events through the centuries. You name it and there is a good chance it is in the film. We even get a glimpse inside Hezekiah’s water tunnels in the City of David. The film also covers the Siloam pool, Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Dome of the Rock is said to be in the same location as the Holy of Holies. For some reason, I always imagined that it would have been a flat floor during the days of the Temple. In any event, the film takes viewers in there to get as good of a look as one will probably get in their lifetime if they do not plan on stepping foot on the Temple Mount. Personally speaking, I listen to the Chief Rabbinate when they say do not step foot or pray on the Temple Mount in fear of defiling the Holy of Holies but that’s just me.

Jerusalem: Center of the World serves as a basic introduction to Jerusalem and why so many people have fought over the city for over 2000 years.

DIRECTOR: Andrew Goldberg
SCREENWRITERS: Andrew Goldberg and Ray Suarez

Jerusalem: Center of the World premiered April 1, 2009 on PBS. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.