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      Blessings from Hebron
      by David Wilder
      Personal Reflections on Hebron, Eretz Yisrael, Friends, Family and anything else that comes to mind.
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      David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.

      For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.

      David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.

      Links to sites David recommends:
      www.davidwilder.net
      www.hebron.com (English)
      www.hebron.org.il (Hebrew)
      www.machpela.com
      www.ohrshlomo.org (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshalom.net (Hebrew)
      www.womeningreen.org
      www.zoa.org
      (others to be added)

      Kislev 20, 5773, 12/4/2012

      Get out the candles!


      The cards seem to be falling, almost as planned. Our Arab neighbors asked the international anti-Israel organization, otherwise known as the United Nations, for recognition in their efforts to delete Israel from the world map. They approached the number one warrior, General Assembly, who consulted with his Defense cabinet, the Security council, which vetoed the idea, realizing the negative consequences. So the General decided to go it alone.  As such, palestine was created by General Assembly and his friends.

      The key word in that last sentence is, of course, created. From scratch. Because it never really existed. At least, not as an Arab entity.  So, we’re going back to the days of ‘Creation’ when G-d created the heavens, the earth, and of course, now, palestine.

      Israel did as expected. The UN’s greatest nemesis declared parts of ‘palestine’ to actually be part of Israel.

      Actually, everyone already knew that the four and a half mile area labeled E1 is as much of Israel as is Tel Aviv. The land, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, extending to Ma’aleh Adumim, is as Jewish as Rye bread.  Well, almost everyone. Jodi Rudoren, in the NY Times, labels the area ‘contentious.’  Others call this ‘illegal Israeli settlement.’

      Then again, what is considered ‘Israeli settlement’ in ‘conquered’ ‘palestinian’ land? Again, Ms. Rudoren serves as a faithful messenger of world opinion. Writing about ‘East Jerusalem,’ she mentions neighborhoods such as French Hill, Ramot. Also, Har Homa, Givat HaMatos, and Pisgat Zeev.  

      Not too long ago, when VP Biden visited Israel, the White House flipped over when it was announced that some 1,500 new apartments would be built in Ramat Shlomo, also classified a ‘settlement.’ The plan was quickly scrapped. Until yesterday.

      Of course, anyone who has ever visited Jerusalem knows that these are all normal neighborhoods in Israel’s capitol city. Any thought of ‘withdrawal’ from Ramot or French Hill or Ramat Shlomo is about as far-fetched as whatever your head can come with.

      The resulting uproar, from Israel’s front and backyard, was expected. After all, who cares that just north of us, a desperate Arab mass murderer is arming chemical weapons for use on ‘rebels.’  If the wind’s blowing in the right direction, maybe some of the gas will float over (G-d forbid) into ‘enemy territory.’

      But that takes back seat to Jewish imperialism and expansionism. Ambassadors are being recalled. Israeli envoys are being scolded. And Israeli political leftists are decrying Netanyahu’s outrageous move. Ha’aretz newspaper: “Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he was dismayed by Israel’s “offending” response to the “extraordinary courage” shown by President Obama’s Administration in their defense of Israel at the United Nations. “I was utterly surprised,” he said.”

      Ok, so what’s next? It seems that the whole world is against us. Again. There are those who suggest that Obama and the Europeans will ‘use this’ against our attempts to end Iran’s nuclear threat.

      What should Israel do next? Buckle under to world pressure or tell them all to jump in the lake?

      In a few days we begin celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights.  During the days of the Maccabees, there was tremendous pressure on the Jews to fold to Greek pressure, and assimilate into Hellenistic culture. The Maccabees refused, declaring war on this attempt to spiritually destroy Judaism.  Then too, the few fought the many. And they won. As such, we celebrate Hanukkah, marking eight days with candles lit every evening.  There were many miracles. A tiny drop of pure olive oil lasted for eight days. And the military victory was no less a Divine phenomenon.

      As we approach these festive days of wonder, again finding ourselves being oppressed by the ‘Greeks’ of today, once more, we should show our independence.  Every day during Hanukkah, another seed should be planted. For example, the first night, we should be given permits allowing us to move back into Beit HaMachpela in Hebron. The second night, permits should be issued returning the ‘Shalhevet neighborhood’ – the area of the old Arab market, to Hebron’s Jewish community. Etc. Etc.

      Not only in Hebron, but throughout Judea and Samaria. And in Jerusalem. Three thousand new apartments should be transformed into 30,000 new apartment buildings. And let’s not forget: Netanyahu should announce plans to rebuild Gush Katif, thereby ending, once and for all, rocket attacks into Israel.

      This will put an end to the figment of world imagination, called ‘palestine.’

      Everyone will get upset? So what! Almost 2,200 years ago many were upset at Judah Maccabee, his father and brothers. Yet they did what they did. Thank G-d.

      And if anyone has any doubts about our Creator’s tangible presence today, as in the days of the Maccabees, just remember that a couple of weeks ago, a ‘giant hand’ was swooping rockets, launched at Israel, out of the sky. What more could we ask for?

      Therefore, the present issues are easily solved: do what you’ve gotta do and then just get out the candles!







      Kislev 13, 5773, 11/27/2012

      Thank you, Moshe Feiglin


      Exactly four years ago, a few days prior to the Likud primaries I posted a blog called:  The Time is Now! - Moshe Feiglin & Manhigut Yehudit, I wrote: "…It is quite clear: should Netanyahu be again elected Prime Minister with a parve Likud list, he will continue in the footsteps of one of his predecessors, namely one Bibi Netanyahu, who signed away 80% of Hebron to Arafat terrorists, and continued by agreeing to the infamous Wye Accords…Moshe Feiglin represents the paradigm Jewish leader: a man of faith and conviction, with a proven track record…this man, together with others, will be a true Kiddush HaShem, bringing to Israeli leadership what has long been so lacking:  a belief and understanding of the ‘holy triangle’ of Am Yisrael – the Jewish people, Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel, and Torah…and will be living proof that it is possible to utilize the existing framework of the State of Israel within the boundaries of Kedusha – holiness, thereby bringing about a major ‘tikkun’ – rectification of the current failings of leaderless leadership."

      After years of struggle and hard work, it seems that Moshe will finally speak for Am Yisrael from within the walls of the Israeli parliament. But that is not why I believe we must express a debt of gratitude to Moshe. His presence as an Israeli lawmaker is important, but I, personally, don't think this is his most important contribution to Israeli society.

      Four years ago I used the words, 'should Netanyahu be elected with a parve Likud list…" – parve meaning, a weak group of centrists, sometimes leaning right, sometimes leaning left, who are more afraid of Obama, Abu Mazen and the EU than anything else, excepting perhaps their own shadows.

      In yesterday's Likud primary, a large, or better put, huge group of strong, idealistic, right-wing political activists with proven track-records were elected to represent Israel's ruling party in the next Knesset. I can happily say that all of the twelve people I voted for are in the top twenty, all of whom have an extremely good chance to be in the Knesset.

      Ah, you ask, why would I vote in the Likud primaries?! What's with a Hebronite and the Likud?

      The answer: Moshe Feiglin.

      Moshe Feiglin is, I believe, directly responsible for the list elected yesterday. Almost all of those elected, with very few exceptions, are right-wing superstars, who fully back Hebron, and all other Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, who oppose any type of withdrawal from anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, and who will combat, with all their hearts and souls, creation of a so-called palestinian state.

      The reason that these people were elected is because of Feiglin. He enlisted the electorate who voted overwhelmingly for them in the Likud primaries.  

      I won't try to explain the all the conceptual ideas behind Feiglin's ideology. He can do that much better than me. But simply put, his original initiative, challenging Netanyahu for the Likud premiership, while attracting a massive ideological political power base into the Likud, was a brilliant stroke of genius which began paying off four years ago, and has presently culminated with the current excellent Likud list.

      The Psalmist writes: (34:15), "Depart from evil, and do good."  

      These politicians can put the brakes on Bibi, preventing him from pulling left,  and doing 'evil,' while at the same time, they will  'do much good.' Gideon Saar is sending Israeli school kids to Hebron. Yisrael Katz renovated and modernized miles and miles of roads in Judea and Samaria. Zeev Elkin co-chaired the Eretz Yisrael lobby in the Knesset, etc. etc. etc.  Many of them can attribute their victory to Moshe Feiglin's army of people, who, like me, joined the Likud to ensure, not only Feiglin's place in the Knesset, but also to guarantee a list such as was elected yesterday. And their triumph is our triumph.

      The above-quoted verse in Psalm concludes: "seek peace, and pursue it." The peace sought and pursued by these words' author, relates not to Camp David, Oslo, or any other future farce. Rather, to real peace, the fulfillment of a Divine promise which includes the right and obligation of the Jewish people to live in their land, all their land, Israel. Only then will the entire world reap the rewards of tranquility and serenity, for ever after.

      We cannot live under an illusion that all will proceed exactly as we would desire, that we are 'home free.' Not yet. But we're on the way. Each step in the right direction is a sign from Above that we've done something right. And in this case, we must give thanks where thanks are deserved. That's why we must thank Moshe Feiglin.







      Kislev 5, 5773, 11/19/2012

      Jeremiah Prophesized Iron Dome Defense


       

      
      Jeremiah Prophesized Iron Dome Defense

      Friday night, Sabbath eve. I was sitting with my son-in-law at the Tapuach
      community synagogue, in the Shomron, north Samaria. We were just about
      to begin the beautiful Shabbat service, when suddenly, sirens started
      whining and blasting.

      The sound wasn’t really strange to me. I hear it, not first-hand in Beer Sheva,
      Ashkelon, Ashdod, or other places. Rather sitting, staring at my computer
      screen in Hebron. I have a program which notifies me whenever sirens start
      sounding. It too is a siren. The only difference is, that in Hebron, I don’t have
      to run for shelter.  Anywhere else you hear it, you have to scurry pretty fast
      to avoid the possibility of being hit by one of the Hamas rockets.

      But, I must admit, hearing a siren in a Samaria synagogue, well, it sort of makes
      your hair stand up. After all, we are quite a ways away from Gaza. They do have
      long-range missiles, but still…

      We all looked at each other, trying to figure out what to do, where to go.
      The shelters there weren’t really ready for a public stampede. After a
      few minutes someone came in and exclaimed that sirens were sounded
      throughout all of Israel. “I guess that means war,” I remarked, “all-out war.”

      But a few minutes later we were informed that a rocket had been shot towards Jerusalem,
      and, ‘just in case,’ sirens were sounded over much of Judea and Samaria. We
      later heard that the missile had fallen in an Arab village near Gush Etzion, halfway
      between Hebron and Jerusalem.

      So much for sirens.

      Actually as I’m writing this, listening to the radio in the background, I can’t even begin
      to count the virtual sirens warnings I’ve been alerted to over the past 10 minutes.
      Basically, that’s the way it is all day.

      Here in Hebron, many reservists have replaced the regular IDF brigades usually here.
      Older men, from around Israel, are standing guard and patrolling.  Yesterday I met
      a man from Netivot, near Beer Sheva in the south, one of the cities being bombarded
      day and night. “Ah,” I told him, “here you’re safer here than in Netivot. Here there aren’t
      any missiles or rockets, just rocks and firebombs.”

       

      Actually, that’s really what we are facing here, over the past few days. Hebron
      Arabs, supporting Hamas terrorists, are hurling massive amounts of rocks and
      firebombs, on the roads and within the city. A firebomb hit a pizza truck near
      Beit Hadassah Saturday night, and a little while ago another fire-bomber was
      shot in the leg by an IDF officer, caught in the act of trying to kill Jews with his
      Molotov cocktail.  Rocks are flying all over, but thank G-d, without too many injuries.

      For the time being we are all sitting, watching, and waiting: what will be next?
      Will Israel commence with a ground war? We all have friends and relatives
      who’ve been called-up in the emergency draft. One of my sons and a son-in-law
      were swooped out of civilian life to take part in the defense of Israel.  My son-in-law,
      a Rabbi, living in a mostly secular town not far from Beer Sheva was notified on
      Shabbat that he should report immediately to his unit. So he caught a ride
      with a resident from his neighborhood, even before Shabbat was over.
      (Orthodox Jews usually don’t drive on Shabbat.)

      So it goes when our country goes to war. And make no mistake: war it is!

      This is a very emotionally trying week. Current events are undoubtedly stressing.
      But I find myself dwelling on other thoughts too.

      Every week, a different member of the community writes a short Torah message,
      distributed to soldiers in Hebron on Friday, before Shabbat, with all sorts of goodies –
      cookies, cake, and the like. A few days ago, my friend Yoni Bleichbard, (himself

      also drafted and now serving – here in Hebron), who initiated the Sabbath soldier
      program, asked me to write an article for the coming Shabbat.

      Here is a brief version of part of the essay:

      “In this week’s Torah portion, we read that Ya’akov (Jacob) left Beer Sheva, fleeing
      from his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him. The primary commentator on the Torah,
      Rashi, writes: The departure of a righteous man from a place makes an impression,
      for while the righteous man  is in the city, he is its beauty, he is its splendor, he
      is its majesty. When he departs from there, its beauty has departed, its splendor
      has departed, its majesty has departed.

       

      It was exactly ten years ago, this coming Shabbat, that 12 righteous men departed
      from our city, and that definitely left an impression. A shining light extinguished that
      Shabbat eve. Twelve men, officers, soldiers and civilians, caught in a terror ambush
      outside the south gate of Kiryat Arba, were killed on what was called ‘worshiper’s way.’
      Colonel Dror Weinberg, commander of the Hebron brigade, and Kiryat Arba security
      chief Yitzhak Boanish, were among those gunned down.

      These men, serving their people, doing their job with their amazing heroism, worked
      to protect the lives of the residents of Kiryat Arba and Hebron when three cursed terrorists
      tried to end the lives of innocent civilians. They gave their lives, they sacrificed themselves,
      for their people and their country.”

      I read an article, published last week, dealing with this horrific event, and it made me
      shiver, even after a decade. These men knowingly took part in the bloodiest battle in
      Hebron since 1929, and went to their deaths as genuine heroes.

      This is the fabric of Am Yisrael, of the Jewish people. There were days, months and
      years when Hebron was under daily attack. Israel’s north came under rocket fire for years;
      Kiryat Shemona was showered with Katusha missiles shot from South Lebanon. So
      too the brave people who lived in Gush Katif, as well as those in Sderot, and today,
      Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod.

      There isn’t anyone, anywhere in this small country, that hasn’t faced an enemy threat,
      be it in his home, on the roads, or on the battlefield.

      What keeps us going?

      Jeremiah 46:27 - Fear not, My servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel! for behold,
      I will redeem you from afar and your children from the land of their captivity, and Jacob
      shall return and be quiet and at ease, and there shall be none who disturb his rest.

      In this week’s Torah portion, G-d promises Jacob that he will come back to Eretz Yisrael,
      safe and sound. So, too, the L-rd has promised us, the children of Jacob, that He will
      protect us from afar (shades of the Iron Dome Missile system). In the end, none will
      disturb us, we will be fully redeemed. So it will be. For all the people, from Kiryat
      Shemona to Eilat, are heroes, and there are none who are afraid. And we will never be
      dismayed. And that’s what keeps us going.

      Photos: David and Raphael Wilder
      comments

       







      Cheshvan 26, 5773, 11/11/2012

      Shabbat Chaye Sarah in Hebron: A real happening!


      Shabbat Chaye Sarah in Hebron: A real happening!
      Videos: English
      Hebrew Zweibon Hall Dedication

       

      David Wilder
      November 11, 2012


      When I invite people to Hebron for Shabbat, I sometimes hear the response, “I’ve been – I was for Shabbat Chaye Sarah.” But in fact, Shabbat Chaye Sarah in Hebron isn’t a normal Shabbat. It’s an experience.

      Yesterday, according to conservative estimates, over 20,000 people visited this holy city.

      Here in our offices, this event began weeks ago; planning for the multitudes. Many man hours, and much money is invested to ensure that the day will be a success. And as much as we want, and need rain, we sort of hope that this day will remain dry.

      My Chaye Sarah began on Friday, wandering around, hoping to get some good photos. Being that the main events are on Shabbat, I have no way to photograph the occasion. (That’s really my only regret about this wonderful day.)

      Toward early mid-afternoon the tents start popping up on the lawn in the park across from Machpela. Men, women, kids of all ages, can be found camping out. I spoke to people who’d come from Netanya and Akko to sleep in a tent on the ground because ‘this is the city of the Patriarchs. It’s ours.’ On Friday night, walking back from amazing evening prayers at Machpela, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Families pitched tents on the road, between parked cars and opened up small tables from which to enjoy their Shabbat meal. Young children, swathed in winter jackets, sat around such tables, eating, singing and enjoying the festivity.

      Evening prayers are unbelievable. Various minions – prayer services – spring up on the lawn outside, in the courtyard, and inside the building. Thousands upon thousands descend on Herod’s 2,000 year old structure to offer Shabbat prayers. These worship services include song and dance, true joy. More than one group includes dozens of people who have flown into Israel from the United States and Europe, for 48 hours, to participate in this massive celebration. It is indescribable.

      During meals, huge tents were filled to capacity. People hosted, some more, some less. In my apartment, aside from filling our bedrooms (in one, three older married women slept together), our living room floor contained four guys and the couch bedded my friend Moshe Goldshmid, whose family has been coming to us for about 14 years for this Shabbat. Moshe’s grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Goldshmid, was murdered in Hebron during the 1929 riots. For meals, another visiting family joined us.

      Others hosted literally dozens, eating in shifts (and maybe sleeping in shifts too).

      After evening meals many participated in political panel discussions, including numerous Israeli MKs, ministers and Rabbis. Visitors toured all day and all night. Saturday afternoon my friend Noam Arnon led a huge tour in the Casba. Simcha Hochbaum guided a huge group throughout the Jewish neighborhoods. I had two tours of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, showing the uninitiated the wonders of ancient-new Hebron.

       

      I must also mention: Friday afternoon we dedicated a memorial room to our dear friend, Herb Zweibon, founder and director of AFSI, Americans for a Safe Israel. Herb was a genuine friend of Israel, and especially of Hebron’s Jewish community. AFSI’s executive director, Helen Freedman led a group of about 25 friends from the US for a week-long visit in Israel, and to Hebron for this Shabbat. We all gathered at the new “Zweibon Hall,” at the entrance to the ‘Hezkiah neighborhood,” here in Hebron to dedicate this room in Herb’s memory.

      Late Saturday afternoon I participated in the ‘3rd meal’ with our friends attending via Hebron’s US branch, the Hebron Fund. The fund’s new director, Rabbi Dan Rosenstein, asked me to speak with the group for a few minutes. I asked them to take their “Hebron Shabbat High’ back home, to convey it to others, and to be ambassadors for Hebron’s Jewish community, getting the word out, letting other know what Hebron is really all about. They are all, as much as we are, ‘keepers of the keys,’ insuring Hebron’s Jewish future forever.

      By the time Shabbat ended, everyone was exhausted, but the day hadn’t yet concluded. I sat with my AFSI friend in our Beit Hadassah apartment, answering questions and discussing various issues common to all of us for about an hour. Only later did I have the luxury to collapse.

      Actually there was another important event Saturday night. In Kiryat Arba, a group of people met with Education Minister Gideon Saar, expressing gratitude for the time and effort he has put in to assist the communities in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. I wanted to attend but my legs rebelled.

      How can I best sum up this day? Actually I’d prefer to quote a friend of mine, Barak Arusi, the police officer in charge of the Hebron station. Barak began his position here a number of months ago, and this was his first Shabbat Chaye Sarah in Hebron. Speaking to him, he told me, “As far as I’m concerned every Shabbat should be like this in Hebron. It’s a lot of work, but for me, it was a lot of fun, a real happening.”

      Coming from a police officer, who worked around the clock this past Shabbat, well, I couldn’t express it better. ‘A lot of fun, and a real happening.’

      Twenty thousand isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. Considering that the forecast was for rain. These 20,000, in my eyes, represent tens and hundreds of thousands who couldn’t celebrate here with us in Hebron, but did so, at their homes and in their synagogues, around the world.

      I think Abraham and Sarah would be proud.

       

       

       

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