The Model of Second Temple Jerusalem, one of the capital’s best-loved visitor sites, first opened in 1966 on the grounds of a Jerusalem hotel. It was built at the behest of the hotel’s owner, Hans Kroch, in memory of his son Jacob who fell in Israel's War of Independence. But when construction activities around the hotel necessitated the model’s move, the Israel Museum welcomed it, and it was reopened in 2006. The 1:50 model now occupies 21,500 square feet next to the landmark Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found, are displayed. Ancient Jerusalem’s palaces, homes, courtyards, gardens, theater and markets are all there in intricate detail, crowned by the Temple, the spiritual center of the Jewish People and the largest building project in the world of its day.
A short film, screened in the new auditorium of the museum’s Dorot Foundation Information and Study Center, highlights the complexities of life in those days and is a companion piece to the Shrine of the Book and the model. The plot follows two fictional friends: one an acolyte of the sect that lived at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the other a young Jerusalem priest, as each seeks his spiritual path in troubled times.
The model’s new setting allows visitors both to circumnavigate it and to view it from above, getting a glimmer of the grandeur of this city, about which the sages said “ten measures of beauty were given to the world; nine were taken by Jerusalem.”