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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)

      Elul 16, 5772, 9/3/2012

      Stop spitting in G-d's face!


      I thought about driving up to Migron, last night, this morning.

      Many years ago, after moving to Kiryat Arba, while studying in a Torah “Kollel” – study program for married men, I participated in founding the local ‘Chevra Kadisha,’ that being a volunteer organization that prepared deceased people for burial.  While looking for others to join in this holy work, one of the Rabbis told me, ‘sometimes, people with experience, won’t agree to participate. After a while, a person can reach a saturation point of dealing with death and dead people. They just don’t want to see it any more.’

      Perhaps that explains how I feel about witnessing, and filming, continued expulsions. You can reach a point of whereby you really don’t want to see it again, or be a part of it, if you really don’t have to. 

      The atmosphere at such events tends to regurgitate itself. Massive security forces, male and female, in uniform – police, border police, the riot squad, IDF, and ‘shabak’ – Israeli intelligence personnel, usually noticeable because they have small earphones tucked into their ears, whispering quietly with their hands cupped, covering their mouths, dressed in suits with a weapon hidden away behind their jackets. 

      As the troops step down the stairs from the buses that have transported them to the site, they tend to hug each other.

      Media people also mob the area, each person looking for a good picture, a unique photo representing the occasion. 

      And of course, there are the victims, the expellees, the people being thrown out of their homes, sacrifices, not on the altar of justice, rather on the altar of piece, which others, mistakenly, spell ‘peace.’ 

      Additionally, others, usually young people, arriving at the scene to participate, to protest, to be amongst those being displaced. 

      It’s a familiar scenario, that makes me sick to my stomach.

      Breaking down doors, carrying the kids out, a few others on rooftops, awaiting the moment of their eviction. 

      Families, or what’s left of them, marching as brave warriors, surrendering after a battle lost,  some with stoic expressions and, without doubt, expressing confidence that ‘we will return.’  A few crying, a few screaming, and others, shrugging their shoulders, as if saying, what’s there to say?

      At Migron the events seem to be being played out as if scripted, directed, and now in production.  Even though I’m not there, the community’s execution is being broadcast live, via internet on ynet.  

      We’ve seen it before.

      In Hebron, we’ve experienced it, many too many times.  It brings back black memories of Neve Dekalim and Kfar Darom, Homesh, and way back when, Yamit. 

      Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, what’s next, who’s next, where will this all end?

      It’s so ironic. Watching the three-ring circus live on internet, while reading articles about the Arab who poisoned a family in Ra’nana, while hearing more and more about the Iranian threat to our existence, while Obama’s United States distances itself from Israel, rockets fired from Gaza continue hitting southern Israel and we continue tearing ourselves apart.

      It makes no sense.

      Actually, I almost feel a little sorry for Netanyahu. It didn’t have to be this way. He wasn’t elected to expel Jews from their homes. Yet he is following in the footsteps of his predecessors. 

      What happened to them? Begin flipped out, Sharon is still alive, but in hell, and Olmert may soon find himself behind bars. And even if not, the disgrace of a former Prime Minister having to defend himself against major corruption charges in a court of law, that too is a live nightmare.

      One small factor Bibi hasn’t taken into consideration: Any leader, especially the Prime Minister of the state of Israel, in order to succeed, needs major ‘Sa’atya d’Shmaya’ – that is, Divine assistance.  Such help is necessary all the time, but more than ever when major decisions must be reached. And following those decisions, their implementation.  Particularly when people’s lives and the future existence of the state are at risk. And above all, when the eyes of Jews around the world, and through the centuries, past, present and future, bore down at you. 

      It really isn’t nice to spit in G-d’s face, and then turn around and ask Him to help.  Tossing Jews out of their homes in Eretz Yisrael, similar to the way people throw away disposable diapers,  is spitting in G-d’s face. It’s saying, ‘we really don’t have a claim to this land, but help us hold on to in anyhow – spit spit spit. ‘

      It’s not an omen I can pretend to be happy about.

      We are not disposables.  Our land is not disposable. Our Torah is not disposable. Neither is our G-d disposable. Our presence here is not temporary.

      Bibi, Arik, Ehuds, Shimon, they are the disposables.  They spit in G-d’s face. 

      But G-d knows how to spit back.

      The above, seemingly trite words, will come to pass.  We will return – to Migron, and to all the other holy places disposables have expelled us from. We are permanent, from time immemorial. And we will stop the spitting at our good L-rd







      Av 18, 5772, 8/6/2012

      1929 Redux?


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      1929 Redux?

      Last week a young woman from Toronto visited me at my office here in Hebron. She told that her name was Slonim, that her family was from Hebron, that her family was miraculously saved during the 1929 massacre.
       
      I told her, yes, members of the Slonim family were holed up in Rabbi Ya'akov Slonim's home. The Rabbi's Arab landlord, hearing about the impending riots, stood at the door of the house, refusing to allow the marauding Arabs to enter. They put a sword on his throat, threatening to kill him if he didn't move. He didn't budge. They drew blood. He stood his ground. Finally, they left. The building's residents survived, including her grandmother.
       
      The young woman's eyes bulged. 'That's the exact story my grandmother told me," she exclaimed.
       
       
      Not far from Rabbi Ya'akov Slonim's house is Beit Hadassah - the Hadassah House in Hebron, was built in 1893 as a medical clinic for Arabs and Jews in the city.  It served the community for 26 years.
       
      Today Beit Hadassah is home to Jewish families in Hebron. A small synagogue is located on the ground floor. The basement floor is rather unique. There is the Hebron Heritage Museum, detailing the magnificent history of Israel's first Jewish city, some 3,800 years old. Many of the groups touring Hebron visit this site. It provides, as I am wont to tell visitors, a taste of Hebron's Jewish history, over the centuries. 
       
       
      Perhaps the most difficult and emotional room in the museum is a memorial to victims of the 1929 riots and slaughter. At least 67 Jews were murdered in Hebron, with over 70 injured. A total of over 130 Jews were killed throughout pre-state Israel, in Jerusalem, Tzfat, Motza and other places.
       
      The accounts are documented and the events well-known. On Thursday, August 22, that being the 16th day of the Hebrew month of Av, a group of Jews from the Haganah, led by Mordechai Shneerson, came to Hebron and met with its Jewish leadership. 'Mufti Amin el-Husseini is inciting. There's going to be trouble. Take weapons to protect yourselves.'  Hebron's Jewish leaders refused. 'The Arabs are our friends. The protected us in the past, and will do so again now. We've already met with them. Weapons will only act as a provocation.' 
       
       
      The Haganah representatives left with the weapons they'd brought for Hebron's Jews, who remained defenseless. They paid dearly for their error in judgment. The next day rioting commenced. One Hebron Jew, a yeshiva student, Shmuel Rosenhalz, was murdered just prior to the beginning of Shabbat. British police officer, Major Raymond Cafferata, told the Jews to stay home and lock their doors. The next morning Arabs went house to house, torturing, raping, pillaging and killing.  Virtually nothing was done to help the Jews. True, there were Arabs who saved Jews. But not enough. At least 67 were killed. Three days later, the survivors were expelled. 
       
       
      Following recitation of the account, and viewing of the horrid photos in the room, I repeat, to just about anyone and everyone visiting with me, two messages: First, in 1967, when Israel liberated Hebron, it did not conquer and occupy a foreign city. It came home. Second, Israel always has to be able to protect itself. When we leave our fate in the hands of others, this is the result.
       
      In theory, the lesson need only be learned once, the hard way. Unfortunately Israel continues to make the same mistake, time and time again. Since Oslo was signed, putting much of Israel's security in the hands of our neighbors, over 1,500 Jews have been killed in cold-blooded terror attacks. Since abandonment of Gush Katif and Gaza, well over 10,000 rockets have been shot into Israel. Those attacks continue, to this very day.
       
      This is particularly significant at present: To Israel's north we are witness to a barbaric slaughter of men, women and children. I'm no great fan of Syria, or its Arab population. They have warred against Israel and killed our citizens. However, politics aside, it is difficult to watch a twenty-first century bloodbath, perpetrated by one man trying to hold on to power, with virtually nothing being done to stop him and the carnage. World powerstis and hiss, but that's about it.
       
      North east of Damascus, less than a thousand miles away, sits another Bashar Assad, this one going by the name of Ahmadinejad. He doesn't care a whole lot more about his hometown folks in Teheran than does the butcher in Damascus. But his target is different. About 590 miles away, (that being some 1,500 kilometers) is Tel Aviv.
       
      So what's the lesson to be learned? Crystal clear. If we – if Israel waits for someone else to protect us, to ensure our security, the loss is liable to be much greater that the Jews massacred in 1929. The world watches as Syria burns; why should they act different while, G-d forbid, Israel burns? Hebron's 1929 Jewish population was decimated, while others watched from the sidelines. Would world leaders act any differently from Raymond Cafferata?
       
      Why were Hebron's 1929 survivors expelled, following the riots? Years ago I was told, by a man whose family survived, that his father wrote to the British high commissioner, asking that very question. The answer was short and to the point. 'There were more Arabs than Jews in Hebron and you couldn't continue living together. It was easier to expel the Jews than the Arabs.'
       
      What might today's international 'high commissioner' declare, following an Iranian attack on Israel? Might not the state of Israel face the fate of Hebron's 1929 Jewish survivors?

      1929 Redux?

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      All photos: David Wilder







      Av 3, 5772, 7/22/2012

      The Spring of Creation


      Wednesday’s terror attack on Ron, from Kiryat Arba, was an example of a true miracle. The boulder hurled at his head, as he prepared to bathe in the Abraham Spring, here in Hebron, was intended to crush his skull. It did leave him with a serious injury, but he is still alive. Only inches from the water, had he fallen in, unconscious, the results would most likely have been tragic.

      Since that near-deadly assault, the site of the attack has become a focal point of attention. In truth, the spring is much more important than publicly known.
      Researchers, attempting to document ancient communities, can frequently locate such sites via wells, or springs. Or inversely, discovering what might be a tel, one of the ways to identify the area is to locate its water source. For people cannot exist without water. That being the case, where there is water, there may very well have been an early population. And wherever there were people, there had to be a water source.

      Tel Hebron, site of the Biblical home of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebeccahand Leah was no different. So it is that a short distance, north-east of the walled city, is that very water source. Due to its proximity to the tel, (today known as Tel Rumeida – or Admot Yishai) the spring is known as Abraham’s Spring. Legend speaks of Abraham and Sarah purifying themselves here, almost 4,000 years ago.

      According to Hebron resident and researcher, Aryeh Klein, this spring is referred to in the Bible, at 2 Samuel 4. Here the scripture tells how King David, then ruling in Hebron, hanged two men ‘at the pool in Hebron.’ It is also written about by Mujar a’ Din, in 1496, calling it “Ayn Jadida” – the ‘new spring.’ This name resulted from renovations done, at that time, at the spring. According to several examinations, the spring is 3.7 meters (12 feet) deep . 

      Archeologist Avi Ofer, who also investigated this site, reported that a massive thick wall, inside the spring, may have closed off an underground aqueducts, leading from the pit to the upper level of Tel Hebron.


      In recent years, since renewal of the Jewish community in Hebron, this spring is frequently visited. On hot, summer days, such as we’ve experienced this week, Hebron’s children play and swim in its cold waters. Other visitors, from around Israel, bathe and purify themselves in the spring, utilizing it as a “mikva,” a ritual purifying bath. So it was that our friend Ron happened to be there on Wednesday afternoon. That day, and the days preceding, witnessed dozens of people arriving at the spring.


      For several days, Hebron youth, working under the supervision of adults, and with permission from Israeli security forces, worked in the area around the spring, trying to clean up the rubbish and renew the area, making it a bit more attractive for people frequenting the place.


      Perhaps, as a result of their work, an Arab terrorist decided to ‘take revenge’ for this Jewish chutzpah, - cleaning up an ancient spring – and tried to kill a Jewish man there.
      Actually, however, this site is much more significant than has been yet mentioned. Almost one thousand years ago, a Jewish traveler named Rabbi Ya’akov benNetanel HaCohen, visited the Holy Land and wrote about his experiences. Amongst other places visited was Hebron. One of Israel’s greatest historical researchers, Prof. Ze’ev Vilnai, published Rabbi Ya’akov’s account: “And there (adjacent to the spring) is the place where G-d created the first man, and for that reason people take earth, to use for building or for medicine…”. This place is called ‘the Field of Adam HaRishon,’ – ‘the field of the first man.’

      This beautiful legend is quite fitting, as according to very holy Jewish literature, Adam and Eve when trying to discover the way back to the Garden of Eden, dug a cave within a cave, until a voice from the heavens commanded them to stop, saying that they’d dug far enough. Known as the entrance to paradise, or the entrance to the Garden of Eden, this is where the first man and woman were later buried. That site remained hidden until the days of Abraham, who discovered this sacred cave-tomb. That site is today known as Ma’arat HaMachpela – the ‘double cave of Machpela, where later, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs were buried.


      Therefore, it seems that not only was the first man buried in Hebron. Here too, he was created, not more than two kilometers from Machpela. I’m sure, if the first man really was created at this spot, he undoubtedly bathed in the waters of the nearby spring.

      That being the case, these waters, which purified Adam, and maybe too Eve, as well as Abraham and Sarah, and most likely King David also, are a direct link from the beginning of time, through this very day. Water symbolizes life, for without water there is no life. This spring represents our life, as a people, as a nation, continuing to flow, without stopping, for thousands of years. That is our essence: life, purity and an uninterrupted flow of holiness. This is Hebron, from the Hebrew root ‘lechaber’ – to join together, to unify – bonding us from conception of our world, to the present.


      As such, it’s no wonder that Ron’s life was saved by a miracle at this wondrous place: the spring of Creation.

      Photos and video: David Wilder

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      Tammuz 14, 5772, 7/4/2012

      The Authentic G-d Particle


      The Authentic G-d Particle

      This morning we were greeted with headlines explaining discovery of what is called the 'God particle.' Decades of research and millions of dollars were invested in this project, which according to an article in Fox explains that this particle 'gives things mass.'  As elucidated, ""all elementary particles get their masses from their interactions with the [Higgs] field, kind of like being 'slowed down' by passing through a thick syrup,""

      In other words, if I understand correctly, this syrup-particle is sort of like the glue of existence.

      Interesting, significant and amusing. Why amusing? Because even a simpleton as myself, with almost no scientific background at all, could have come to the same conclusion and revealed it to the world without spending all that money. The glue of humanity, the precursor of the world as we know it, came into existence over 5772 years ago. As our Sages have taught, G-d looked into the Torah, and then created the world. The Bible, the word of G-d, is the syrup that all creation must pass through in order to have any kind of mass. For without the Torah, as is written in the above-mentioned article, "Without it, they — we — would zip around frantically at the speed of light, too foot-loose to form atoms." In other words, humanity would be lost, running around, chasing its shadow, so to speak, without being able to take any real, relevant, substantial form. That is what Torah, the Bible, the word of G-d, gives us.

      But of course, that's not enough. The now discovered particle, in order to be discerned, needed, in the words of the Fox article, a 'playing field' where it could be visualized. Here too, the Good L-rd, preceded Prof. Higgs, who hypothesized existence of this particle over 50 years ago. About 3,800 years ago, the Creator set out the field, by which His particle could be distinguished. He called that field by the name Abraham, who, over the centuries, developed from a family field to a national field, by way of the Jewish people. That's our role in the world: to be a 'thick syrupy mass,' which when interacted with other, fast-flying objects, will give them form and purpose, and ultimately, bring them closer to their Maker.

      But it doesn't end there. Again referring back to Fox, ""You have to get enough energy to excite the field so that it looks like a particle to us. Otherwise we don't know the field is there."

      Here too, we arrived before the good professor.  In order for us, the Jewish people, together with our Torah, to be 'seen,' in order to know that the 'field is there,' the Diety provided us with a place to put it all together. That being, of course, Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.  As the article concluded, "But because the Higgs particle is extremely high-energy (or, equivalently, very heavy), it's tough to excite the Higgs field enough to create one. That's where the Large Hadron Collider comes in: by smashing together high-speed protons, it generates enough juice to slosh the syrupy Higgs field around now and again, producing Higgs bosons."

      So too with us Jews. We also were processed via a Collider. But back then it had different names: the exile in Egypt, ten plagues, the exodus, the parting of the Sea, receiving the Torah, the dwelling of G-d in the 'tent of meeting' in the desert, entering into the land of Israel, leading to revelation, the Temple, in Jerusalem.

      That collider hasn't stopped working. Again we experienced exile, again we experienced aches and pains, the inquisition, the holocaust, again we came back to our land. And the particles keep flying around.

      There are such specks that might prefer not to take form, to be 'free,' without any purpose for being.  They would hope, and even work, to keep the G-d particle from doing its job. But they cannot succeed.

      Today we are witness to an additional G-d particle disclosure. That being, for anyone who still didn't know, that Jews really can live in their land, in Eretz Yisrael, the third leg of the G-d particle. We have permission, not only from G-d, but also according to international law. For years, we, those of us living in Judea and Samaria, individually and collectively, have been accused of 'occupying conquered land,' and thereby being in violation of international law. Today the Israeli press published the findings of an 'official committee,' headed up by former Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy which concludes " that there is no “occupation” and international law allows Jews to live in Judea and Samaria." They concluded that from a historical and legal prospective, and considering agreements with the Palestinian Authority, the international law against ”occupation" does not apply to Judea and Samaria.

      Holy Cow!  No, holy G-d particle!  Finally, 3,500 years after the Israelites entered the Land of Israel, we have an official OK to live here…..anywhere. Not just in Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and Beersheva. But also in Hebron, Jerusalem, and Shilo.

      Actually, Hebron, Jerusalem, and Shilo, with the rest of Judea and Samaria, are the glue which gives Tel-Aviv and Haifa their form, their existence. Hebron and Jerusalem are the syrupy G-d particle via which the others received their mass, their being.

      Several articles, dealing with today's news, point out that this discovery and announcement may lead to Dr Higgs receiving the Nobel Prize in physics. We'd be happy to bypass the Nobel Prize in anything. But it would be nice if the peoples of the world would finally recognize, after all these years and all those colliders, that we, the Jewish people, really do have a legitimate right to live in our land, in all of it, as Jews, the way were created, thousands of years ago.  For this is the authentic G-d particle.