the Jerusalem of…

What places have been called

  • "Little Jerusalem"
  • "The Jerusalem of…"

…and based on what criteria?

  • Did the local population designate their place as such?
  • Did Jews from elsewhere identify the location in that manner?
a partial list accumulated to date (October 10, 2010)

“In the eyes of the Jerban Jews, their island within an island (more than 80,000 Muslims—Ibadis, Malikis, Hanafis—live variously around them) is a sort of dispora Holy Land, “the antechamber,” as they put it, “of Jerusalem.” The main synagogue, called “The Marvelous,” and long a major pilgrimage site for North African Jews, is considered to date from the destruction of the first Temple in 586 BC.”
Clifford Geertz, “The Ultimate Ghetto” a review of The Last Arab Jews: The Communities of Jerba, Tunisia, by Abraham L. Udovitch and Lucette Valensi, Hardwood Academic Publishers; in The New York Review of Books, February 28, 1985, p. 14. (No page reference to Udovitch and Valensi)
[emphasis mine]

Teaneck, New Jersey

Teaneck is known as the Jerusalem of New Jersey (?) ca. 1988.
Heard mentioned in town by Mark Hurvitz.

Vilna / Vilnius

Jerusalem of Lithuania, Illustrated and Documented. Collected and arranged by Leyzer Ran. 3 volumes, New York, 1974. (Vols. I and II 14,1/2 inches by 11% inches, hard bound; vol. III paperback: 11 inches by 8,1/2 inches; Library of Congress Catalog Number 73- 90918). Available from: Vilno in Pictures, Inc., 34-40 93rd Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11372.


Moises Ville, Argentina
The Jewish Monthly, January 1991.

Waco, Texas

… “sometimes known as Jerusalem on the Brazos River.” New York Times 3/2/93 page A8.

Woodville, Mississippi

Jews in Early Mississippi, Leo & Evelyn Turitz, quoted in Evens, Eli N, The Lonely Days were Sundays, page 59.

Banja Luka (Bosnia)

Mirka Mujadzic Bosnian Parliamentarian: “Banja Luka is our Jerusalem.” New York Times, October 2, 1994.

Alliance, New Jersey

“In this country, Oregon had its New Odessa (foiled by ideological rifts), Michigan its Palestine community (near Bad Axe), Kansas its Beersheba, and New Jersey’s Alliance was dubbed New Jerusalem by 1882.”
Joseph Brandes, Fair Lawn, N. J. Letter, May 2, 1996 New York Times May 7, 1996

Romeu, Portugal

As reported by Inacio Steinhardt:

In one of my trips to the Marrano belt to the north of Portugal, I found a little village, in the province of Tras-os-Montes, by the name of JERUSALEM DO ROMEU. I even had a picture of me taken near the sign with that name.
ROMEU is a larger village up-hill with an interesting local museum. There was an handwritten book where, among other things there was a phrase in Hebrew, obviously copied by somebody who did not understand the letters.

JERUSALEM DO ROMEU is located downhill on the road and is really only a few houses. It is not mentioned in the maps. I found out that, in spite of the fact that many villages and townlets have a large population of marranos, the name of Jerusalem was given in connection with a catholic image of NOSSA SENHORA DE JERUSALEM (Our Lady of Jerusalem).

Portobello, Dublin, Ireland

Leopold Bloom wandered through the area of Dublin affectionately known as “Little Jerusalem” with its Jewish-owned shops and synagogues that day of June 16, 1904, leaving, through Joyce’s pervasive symbolism, an exhaustive critique of contemporary culture.
Irish Echo
Dublin museum celebrates Jewish presence in Ireland
Reported by Suzanna Hicks

From Jim Monaghan
Subject: Death of Spanish Civil War veteran Maurice Levitas
Saturday, February 17, 2001
Maurice Levitas dies in London
By Padraig Yeates
Maurice Levitas (Moishe ben Hillel), one of the last surviving Irish veterans of the Spanish Civil War, died on Wednesday in London.
There are now only three Irish survivors from the International Brigade, which fought in Spain between 1936 and 1939 in defence of the Spanish republic.
They are Mr Michael O’Riordan, former general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, and Mr Eugene Downing, who wrote the only memoir in Irish of the war. Both men live in Dublin. Mr Bob Doyle, a former member of the Communist Party and union activist, now lives in London.
Mr Levitas was born on February 1st, 1917, in Portobello, Dublin, then known as “Little Jerusalem”.
He was the son of Harry Levitas from Lithuania and Leah Rick from Latvia. His father was active in the International Tailors’, Machinists’ and Pressers’ Trade Union, then known in Dublin as “the Jewish Union”. The family emigrated to Britain in 1927 where Maurice became a plumber and subsequently a teacher.
A lifelong communist as well as a trade unionist, he participated in the “Battle of Cable Street” in October 1936 when the British Union of Fascists was prevented from marching through the Jewish neighbourhoods of London’s East End.
In December 1937 he volunteered for the International Brigade. He fought at Teruel and Belchite on the Aragon front before being captured, together with the Irish republican Frank Ryan, near the town of Gandesa in March 1938. He was imprisoned for a year in the concentration camp of San Pedro de Cardea, before being released as part of a prisoner exchange.
The Irish unit of the International Brigade was known as the Connolly Column and, when a memorial to it was unveiled at Dublin’s Liberty Hall in May 1991, Maurice Levitas read the roll of honour of his fallen comrades.
He last visited his native city in February 1997 when, together with other surviving brigade members, he was accorded a civic reception in the Mansion House by the Lord Mayor.
Maurice Levitas is survived by his brothers, Max and Sol, his sister, Toby, and his children, Bill, Diana, Ruth, Danny, Rachel and Ben. The funeral will take place on Friday at Golders Green crematorium, London. Kaddish will be said by his brothers.

The area around Clanbrassil Street in which most Irish Jews lived in Dublin up to the 1950s and which is of course vividly described by James Joyce was often referred to as “Little Jerusalem”. Cormac O Grada recently published an interesting article on it: Cormac O Grada, “Lost in Little Jerusalem: Leopold Bloom and Irish Jewry”, Journal of Modern Literature. Volume 27, Number 4, Summer 2004, pp. 17-26.
See also Ray Rivlin, Shalom Ireland. A Social History of Jews in Modern Ireland. Dublin 2003.
reported by Dr. Maria Diemling School of Religions and Theology; Trinity College Dublin


There is a very interesting film “Rhodes Forever” made by Diane Perelsztejn about the little know story of the Jews of Rhodes. It is 49 minutes in Ladino, French, Italian and Greek with English subtitles and is available in film or video. It is the first ever documentary devoted to the Jews of Rhodes whose ancestors found refuge after their expulsion from Spain in the 15th century. The community became known as “Chica Yerushalayim-Little Jerusalem”, numbered 5,000 at its peak – one third of the population of the island – living predominantly in the Jewish Quarter….What happened to this vibrant community during the Holocaust is chronicled in this program as well as some of the rich customs of Sephardic culture.
Sharon Pucker Rivo
National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University

Toledo, Spain

From Itinerary of the Jerri-Ann & Gary Jacobs International Teel Leadership Institute (july 2000):
Explore Toledo, the ancient Christian capital of Spain, also known as the “Jerusalem” of Spain.
Toledo, the “Second Jerusalem”
in Frank A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe” ? edition page 232.

United States of America

Myer Moses, a leader of Congregation Beth Elohim of Charleston, in a published lecture delivered in 1806 to raise funds for the city’s Hebrew Orphan Society, described “free and independent” America as a “second Jerusalem” and a “promised land.” Quoted in Sarna, Jonathan, American Judaism, pg 51f

Oudtshoorn (or Udtshorn), South Africa

Udtshorn: Yerushalayim d’Afrike (Oudtshoorn: the Jerusalem of Afrika)
A chronicle of a commune of Yiddish speaking ostrich farmers who, before styles changed, supplied the lucrative market of feathers for women’s hats.
Mentioned in Lansky, Aaron. Outwitting History, p. 220.

Montreal, Canada

Subject: LOOKING FOR: Judaica scholars from Montreal, Canada
Date: May 2nd, 2003
I am working on a project that requires a comprehensive listing of academics in all areas of Jewish Studies, who are originally from Montreal — the Jerusalem of the North.
Allan Nadler, Department of Religious Studies, Drew University, Madison, NJ, 07940

Zadnie, Carpatarus (today part of the Ukraine)

My father, the late Haim M. I. Gevaryahu, reported in the introduction to a paperback book about his birth place village called Zadni (collated and edited by Faitel Yosovitch, Jerusalem ~1980) in Carpatarus (today part of the Ukraine) as follows:

From 92 of the family heads [in the village Zadnie] almost every one knew how to learn Talmud independently, and the rest knew how to learn Chumash with Rashi, Mishnayot and Agadot. Such a concentration of [Jewish/Hebraic] knowledge was so unusual in those days, that the district rabbi of the area, Rabbi Asher Zelig Grunzweig crowned Zadnie as ‘Little Jerusalem.”

This is included in the History of the Gevaryahu-Gottesman Family.
reported by Gilad J. Gevaryahu Sat, 10 Dec 2005.

Nehardea, Babylon

Some cities, such as Nehardea—known as the “Jerusalem of Babylon”—were entirely Jewish.
Eban, Abba, My People (new edition), © 1968 Behrman House, Inc. New York. p. 116

Amsterdam, Holland The Netherlands

“Little Jerusalem”
Frank, Ben G., A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, 2nd Edition, Pelican Publishing Co., Gretna 1996 p. 295
It was referred to as “The Dutch Jerusalem”
Scheindlin, Raymond P., A Short History of the Jewish People, Oxford University Press, © 1998 p. 160

Pyongyang, North Korea

Though it is difficult to recognize after fifty years of anti-religious policy, the present capital of North Korea, Pyongyang, was once known as the “Jerusalem of the East” for its concentration of churches and the fervor of its converts.
Writers From the Other Asia
reported by Jay

Sarcelles (neighborhood) Paris, France

film 2005 La Petite Jéursalem
Religion, philosophy,romantic love and sensual desire all vie for the heart and mind of a smart, serious teenage girl in this skillfully balanced debut feature from writer-director Karin Albou. Set in the suburban Paris neighborhood of Sarcelles, known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ due to its large Jewish population, the film focuses on 18-year-old student Laura (Fanny Valette) as she tries to reconcile all the conflicting influences and feelings to which study and experience have introduced her. Living with her extended family – which includes widowed mother (Sonia Tahar), sister (Elsa Zylberstein) and brother-in-law (Bruno Todeschini) – means she’s unable to escape her Orthodox upbringing, although her own immersion in Western philosophy has helped her form a strong personal view of the world, to engage contradictory dreams and lifestyles, turbulent intimate relationships…

Lawrence, New York

“With love from the Jerusalem of NY.”
self identified by Rabbi Paula Jayne Winnig, Temple Sinai of Long Island, Lawrence, NY 11559

Ilynka, Daghestan

In Frédéric Brenner; Diaspora: Homelands in Exile, New York : HarperCollins, c2003.

Little Jerusalem, Logan County, Kansas

In Guidebook—Geology and Paleontology of Northwestern Kansas.

After crossing Chalk Creek, we pass a cluster of chalk monuments known as the Little Pyramids. After turning west and again north, we will see a large area of chalk badlands called Little Jerusalem. This is the largest exposure of Niobrara Chalk in the state.

Pitigliano, Tuscany, Italy

Pitigliano sits in the southern limit of the beautiful Tuscany “La Piccola Gerusalemme” got his name both from the ancient medieval landscape of the village (that remembers the beloved Jerusalem) and the wisdom of this Jewish community, that once brought to the area many cultural and social advances (including the Jewish University of Pitigliano, which was founded in the community’s flourishing days).

If you know of another place that belongs on this list, or if you have an explanation for why one or another of these locations is so identified with Jerusalem, please contact me.