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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.hebron.com (English)
      www.hebron.org.il (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshlomo.org (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshalom.net (Hebrew)
      (others to be added)

      Nisan 18, 5770, 4/2/2010

      Pesach in Hebron-2010: Tens of thousands visit Machpela

      Jewish Hebron is not expendable!
      Pesach in Hebron, 5770 - 2010
      Over 30,000 people visit Hebron on Wednesday and Thursday of Chol HaMoed Pesach

      The massive turnout of people to Hebron in the past few days is more than encouraging. It is a specific sign pointing to the healthy state of of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, in the State of Israel. There would be those who would seek our expulsion from our homes in the first Jewish city in Israel. However, this is a small minority. An overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel understand the importance and significance of Hebron and Ma'arat HaMachpela to Jewish culture and tradition. Ma'arat HaMachpela did not need 'approval'  as a site of national heritage, being that this place is the very roots of all Jewish heritage in Israel. But it is heartwarming to again witness the tremendous love of Am Yisrael to Hebron and Hebron's Jewish community. These events spoke loudly and clearly to all Israel and the entire world:Hebron, Meaz u'leTamid - Hebron, past, present and forever.

      We call on people from Israel and around the world to to continue visiting Hebron this summer, ensuring  that it will never be forgotten: Jewish Hebron is not expendable!


      More photos on the Hebron Web site: www.hebron.com

      Bid on a Hebron Post-Pesach Pizza Today!


      Yonatan and Aharon Razel at Ma'arat HaMachpela - MiSheAmdah


      Nisan 14, 5770, 3/29/2010

      Next Week in Eretz Yisrael

      Please accept best holiday wishes from the entire Jewish Community of Hebron, including our Executive Director, Menachem Livni, Hebron Fund Director Yossi Baumol, Simcha Hochbaum, Noam Arnon, Avraham Ben Yosef, myself, and all the community.


      Tonight we will begin celebration of one of the most important events in the history of the Jewish people, and in the history of the world.

      This is why, on the actual eve of that earth-shattering event, year after year, we remind ourselves of our true identity, of our true purpose, of the true reason cause of our liberation. Not to live like Egyptians, rather to live as the opposite, as a People of G-d. This is the definition of Jewish education.

      Perhaps the quintessential element of Pesach is the traditional 'Seder,' reading the Passover 'Hagada,' repeating the ago-old story of the Israelite's exodus from slavery in Egypt.


      Many Jews, be they secular or religious, know this story almost by heart. Kids learn about it in all Jewish religious school regardless of denomination. Observant Jews recite remembrances of the exodus in prayers, three times a day. So why must we again repeat the identical story, year after year?


      The answer to this question can be expressed in almost simple words: education and identity.


      The Jewish people still do not understand, as a collective, who we are, what we are, and why we were 'created' as a nation well over 3,000 years ago. We still do not comprehend the major components of Judaism: Am Yisrael – the Jewish people, Torah, and Eretz Yisrael. These can be represented as the heart, mind and soul of our existence, without which, we have no existence.


      Again, why do we lack this seemingly straightforward realization? And again, in one word: Galut – Exile – Diaspora. The past two thousand years have chipped away at our national identity, as water dripping on a stone, slowly causing disintegration, the water forcing a hole into the hard rock. So it is with our people. We have forgotten who we are. The exposure to foreign culture and more significantly, the enormous distance from our own culture has eaten away at our internal identity, boring a hole into our spiritual psyche, creating a vacuum, which in turn has been refilled with an alien ethnicity, as contradictory to our being as water is to oil.


      The present presents an additional issue. We are as teenagers, slowing coming of age, pulled by two opposite axis' – we are beginning to return to our roots, yet simultaneously still being pulled by foreign influence, stimulus affecting our lives, individually and nationally for hundreds and thousands of years. This situation creates massive confusion, which can be easily defined as psychological insanity.


      How can we regain our clarity, our peace of mind, our true national identity and with it, our true way of life?  Commencement of such a project is, again, relatively simple. The direct opposite of the cause of this cancer: Aliyah – return to Eretz Yisrael, breathing the air of Eretz Yisrael, walking the land of Eretz Yisrael. Only when one escapes the physical and spiritual impurity of Galut, can a person begin to rid himself of the poisons invading ourselves for centuries.


      And those, who for whatever cannot be here, they must immerse themselves so deeply in thought and action concerning Israel, that for all intents and purposes they are here – if not in body, in spirit. Until they can actually come home.


      Only this will allow us, as a people, to return to ourselves, and to reorganize our thoughts and activities, rearranging our priorities, recognizing the wondrous reality of our national existence, and then, finally, acting as Jews, in our land, without any questions or hesitations.


      What does this have to do with Passover?


      According to Rav Kook, the exodus from Egypt played two important roles: First, it was a goal unto itself; liberation from slavery, both a physical and spiritual emancipation from a life and ideals which are the antithesis of Judaism. However, Rav Kook continues by explaining that the Exodus was also a means to an end; that aim being reception of Torah, and finally, fulfillment of that Torah in Eretz Yisrael, in Jerusalem, at Har HaBayit, Temple Mount, at Beit HaMikdash, the Temple. That is the genuine goal aspiration of the exodus from Egypt. Because only here, in Israel, can we really be ourselves.


      This is why, on the actual eve of that earth-shattering event, year after year, we remind ourselves of our true identity, of our true purpose, of the true reason cause of our liberation. Not to live like Egyptians, rather to live as the opposite, as a People of G-d.  This is the definition of Jewish education.


      At the end of the Seder we recite, Next Year in Jerusalem, Next Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem. But remember, there's no Mitzvah, no commandment,  to wait until next Pesach Eve to come to Israel.


      It can also be "Next Week in Eretz Yisrael."


      Chag Sameach.


      Remember: Wednesday and Thursday this week all Ma'arat HaMachpela is open to Jewish visitors. Thursday afternoon the Hebron Pesach Music Festival will take place in the Ma'ara Courtyard. Details here.

      And don't forget:


      Details at www.hebronfund.com


      Nisan 10, 5770, 3/25/2010

      The Moses Files

      Look every 'world leader' in the eye, the righteous and the evil, and repeat, again and again: I will never forsake my people, I will never forsake my land, I will never forsake my G-d.
      It's well known that Jewish Torah study can be divided into several different categories, known in Hebrew by the first letter of each word, 'Pardes.' This relates to the 'simple'  most literal meaning of Torah, through the most esoteric understanding, known as Kabbalah, or popularly, Jewish mysticism. Despite the growing popularity of the latter, even amongst non-Jews, in truth, very very few people can be called authentic Kabbalists, as genuine Kabbalah demands not only knowledge, but also an extremely high spiritual level, which few people ever reach.


      For this reason, many Kabbalistic writings are extremely difficult to understand, and a massive amount of teachings are not even put down in writing; rather they are passed on from teacher to student orally, and are submitted only to those who are really deserving of this unique knowledge.


      In addition there are a select few manuscripts which have been excruciatingly guarded over the centuries, viewed by the eyes of almost no human beings.


      Being in Hebron has its advantages. I recently received one of the rarest manuscripts in existence, read it in one sitting, totally spellbound. I do not have permission to copy it for you, word for word, but I can repeat what I remember by memory.


      The document is called 'The Moses Files' and was written some 3,300 years ago. The content is as follows.


      Following Moses' first meeting with Pharaoh in Egypt, the enslaved Jewish Israelites began grumbling. Here the promised leader had arrived and guaranteed free passage from the hell they'd been suffering for over 200 years. They watched and waited impatiently, knowing that a major summit was in process, with the two leaders haggling between them.


      Then, when the meeting had concluded, not only weren't they freed, but to the contrary, their conditions worsened. The Jewish Slaves Gazette, published by the Jewish Slaves Association, headlined: FAILURE! And the sub caption: Did Moses Blow It? Did Aharon Get the Words Right or Wrong?


      An editorial demanded that Moses and Aharon be replaced with others, suggesting perhaps Datan and Aviram.


      Moses, in an exclusive interview, suggested some patience, claiming that: "G-d will come through, just wait a bit. The best it yet to come."


      The next few pages of the Files are illegible, but the next readable chapter starts with the word PLAGUES in huge letters.


      As the plagues began, an hysterical debate began between various Jewish slave factions. Some people screamed to Moses, "What are you doing?  - this is only going to make things worse! Do you have any idea what the repercussions of this terror will be?! We'll never get out of here! Not only with they throw the first-born into the river; they're going to kill all of us! Leave us alone and let us just continue to live!"

      And so it continued, plague after plague, with Moses and Aharon occasionally having to take cover from those demanding, time and time again, that they be immediately replaced with new leadership. As the plagues became harsher and harsher, so too was the opposition to the leaders. The Jewish Slaves Gazette headlined: HOW MANY PLAGUES WILL IT TAKE TIL THEY UNDERSTAND? Of course, this question was pointed not at Pharaoh, rather at Moses and Aharon.


      Moses, despondent, with little strength left, told Aharon that he was leaving for a few days to take a walk in desert and perhaps confer with the Almighty, in an attempt to decide what to do. He told Aharon to set up a meeting with the opposition that could take place upon his return. Then he took off, as fast as his feet would take him.


      Moses walked and walked, losing himself deep in the desert. The entire time he never stopped talking, praying, pleading, with G-d to help him, to show him the way. "Should I resign, should I form a coalition with them and bring a few with me to the next meeting with Pharaoh, what should I do?"


      Night fell, stars glittered and rays of moonlight shined down, illuminating the rocky, sandy terrain. And that's when it happened.


      "Moses, Moses," the Voice called, "Moses, Moses."  Moses looked up, and very nearly stopped breathing. The black sky above had opened up, and pictures started flashing before his amazed eyes.  Not being able to speak, not being able to ask, yet the questions flew through his head: what am I seeing, who are these people?


      The images were blurry yet clear at the same time. People, men, women, children, tens, hundreds, thousands of people, Moses felt like he could almost touch them, yet they flew past him so fast. And they all had one thing in common: they all stared at Moses, with a deep piercing look emanating from their eyes.


      The words exploded from his mouth: "My Dear G-d, who are they, why are they looking at me like that?"


      "Moses, Moses, look closely at these people, for they are your offspring, these are the Jewish people to be born on this earth through the generations, until the end of days. These are your children, the children of Moses, the children of Israel, My children, the children of G-d, who will fill the earth, bringing my message to all mankind."


      "Moses, Moses, they are looking at you so intently, because they know that without you, they have no future, they will never exist.


      "Moses, Moses, not only you, the physical Moses, but the spiritual Moses, who has complete trust and faith in G-d, to follow the letter and spirit of the law, to lead the Israelites out from the slavery of the wicked Pharaoh, to receive My Torah, to lead them to the promised land, to Eretz Yisrael." Because, Moses, Moses, if you don't have faith, how will they have faith, how will they survive?" You are their anchor, their roots, from you they will absorb nourishment for eternity. All future Jewish leaders will look to you, as the preeminent example of what Jewish leadership should be.

      And Moses continued peering into the hole in the sky, seeing fire and destruction, exile, return and exile, wanderings through foreign lands, inquisitions, Holocaust. And the Jews just continued staring at him. And he saw Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David and Shlomo, the Caves at Machpela, Rachel in Bethlehem, Joseph in Shechem and the Temple in Jerusalem. He saw the foreigners and the Jews, and the conflicts and the questions, the weddings and the funerals, the laughter and the tears, and the Jews kept soaring past him, eyes glaring into his eyes.


      "My Dear G-d in heaven, what must I do, what must I do?"


      "Moses, Moses, just do what is right, you know what is right, just do what is right, have faith, keep the faith, just do what is right…."


      And the voice faded away. And Moses suddenly saw all the millions and millions of souls lining up, as a huge group, one after the other, all staring at him. And Moses took a deep breath, stared back and said, "Yes My G-d, I promise, I will do what is right, I will never let my People down, I will never forsake My G-d – I believe, I believe, I believe."


      And that being said, all the millions of souls stopped staring and began smiling and cheering and reciting: We believe, we believe, we believe: we will never forsake our People, we will never forsake our G-d. Shema Yisrael, HaShem Elokaynu, HaShem Echad."


      And the great window closed, and the sky blacked again, for a moment, and then it was morning, the light of day brightened the sky, Moses returned, and, well, the rest is history.


      But it wasn't finished yet. There was one page left, I turned to the last page and could not believe my eyes: 


      "You, who are reading this today, must bring this to the attention of one Binyamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, of the Jewish people:


      Binyamin Netanyahu: do not turn your greatest victory into failure! Do not allow the Datans and Avirams of today to destroy your triumph. Stand tall, look into the eyes of your people, not only those living today, but those who have been Am Yisrael for over 3,300 years and those who will be Am Yisrael for the next thousands of years, and say to them: I will never forsake my people, I will never forsake my land, I will never forsake my G-d.


      Look every 'world leader' in the eye, the righteous and the evil, and repeat, again and again: I will never forsake my people, I will never forsake my land, I will never forsake my G-d.


      I will not forsake Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, Joseph, David and Shlomo, I will not forsake the Jews of all generations. I will not forsake Hebron, I will not forsake, Tel Aviv or Beer Sheva, I will not forsake Haifa, I will not forsake Yerushalayim, I will never forsake Eretz Yisrael.


      Binyamin Netanyahu, You will believe, the people will believe and you will all be privileged to see and witness the great Hand of G-d, as did Moses, so many years ago.


      So end The Moses Files.




      Nisan 7, 5770, 3/22/2010

      From Z Street: Jerusalem - The Time is Now!

      The only apologies should come from those attempting to bar Jews from building homes and living in any neighborhoods in Jerusalem



      It is time to speak out, for all who believe that Jews have the same political freedom, national, civil and religious liberties as every other people to live anywhere in the world, including the right to live anywhere in Jerusalem, Judaism’s eternal capital. To suggest, demand, or even submit to anything less is to support overt religious persecution.

      The outrage hurled against the Jewish State by the current US administration for (1) daring to approve the building of homes for Jews in a Jewish neighborhood, two miles from the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, and for (2) daring to do so when US Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel, is grossly misplaced and is itself an affront.  The public expression of this outrage is yet another means to pressure Israel’s government unfairly.

      Outrage should, more appropriately, be directed at those expressing the outrage. We are especially appalled at those who claim to be supporters of Israel and yet demand that this policy of religious bigotry be enforced with threats of official shunning both diplomatically and in terms of military support. 

      Let’s be clear: The only apologies should come from those attempting to bar Jews from building homes and living in any neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and from those who think that if Jews do build in Jerusalem they should do it quietly, and hope that no one notices.  We reject any such discrimination and duplicity.  We say to all those who claim to support the Jewish State, including Israeli officials, not to be afraid, to say out loud: Yes!  Jews can, do, and will build and live in Jerusalem, now and forever. We call on all those who reject this position to explain why an official policy of religious discrimination is acceptable when it is enforced against Jews. 

      It is most shocking that a US administration claiming to support a strong Israel, would allow its policies to fan the flames of Arab hatred, incitement and violence against its only free and democratic Middle Eastern ally.
      Lori Lowenthal Marcus, president, Z STREET
      Eli Hertz, Myths and Facts
      Helen Freedman, Americans for a Safe Israel
      Charles Jacobs, Americans for Peace and Tolerance
      Doris Wise Montrose, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
      Mort Klein, Zionist Organization of America    
      Cherna Moskowitz, The Moskowitz Foundation
      David Wilder, Hebron
      (See full list of hundreds of names at: http://www.zstreet.org/)

      Nisan 4, 5770, 3/19/2010

      No to Pharaoh Obama’s servitude-Yes: freedom&liberation

      The headlines read as follows:  Near Lynch in Hevron; Soldiers Blame Orders (Israelnationalnews); IDF troops assaulted after wandering into Hebron's Arab area (Haaretz); Commander's error prompts Hebron humiliation (ynetnews); Those are the Israeli headlines.    

      What happened in Hebron yesterday can surely be defined, as above, as humiliation. But it is much more than that. It is a “Chilul HaShem” or in English, a desecration of G-d’s name. A supreme goal of a Jew is “Kiddush HaShem,” meaning to sanctify G-d’s name. Yesterday’s events were the direct opposite.  

      Netanyahu’s visit in Washington next week will undoubtedly be a gruesome labyrinth-like obstacle course

      Soldiers stationed in Hebron can frequently be seen ‘running in the streets,’ i.e., keeping in shape, running, stretching and exercising. Late yesterday afternoon a group of soldiers left the ‘normal’ running area and found themselves in one of the “other” neighborhoods of the city, still occupied only by Arabs, still without any Jewish representation. One of the soldiers, not sure where they were, asked a local resident how to get back to the “Jewish area.” That ‘friendly Arab’ pointed in the opposite direction from where they needed to go, and the group found themselves lost, deep in Hebron. Due to the fact that they were exercising, only one of the soldiers was carrying a weapon.    

      Before they knew it, the group was surrounded by a large group of Arabs, who began screaming, pushing and throwing rocks. The one soldier with ammunition feared to use it; orders prevent a weapon from being used without explicit permission from higher ranking officers, unless it’s really a case of ‘do or die.’ The soldiers, after battling the Arabs in hand-to-hand combat, took off, fleeing on foot, until finding their way out, and reaching the ‘Jewish’ part of the city.    

      Three troops were hospitalized as were three Arabs.    

      This is peace, goodwill, and a desire for mutual coexistence.    

      According to information I received from two sources, one of the conclusions reached by the Hebron military commander was to forbid running exercises at night anywhere in Hebron.    

      This is farcical. Israeli soldiers ‘running away’ from a group of attacking Arabs?! Israeli soldiers attacked because they were on the ‘wrong side of the city?!’ Israeli soldiers being forbidden to exercise at night for fear of entering the ‘wrong side of the city?!’ (Soldiers frequently exercise at night when it’s cooler outside.)    

      What happens when Arabs come over to the “Jewish section’ of Hebron? They have access to about 98% of the city. In a small area closed off for security reasons, bypass routes are provided. The Arabs coming into the “Jewish area” aren’t attacked, kicked, threatened, beaten. They cross back and forth between the two sides of the city at will, without any problems. I’ve put together a short movie and photos showing Arabs coming over.


      If I were making the decisions, I would demand that daily IDF exercise runs took place in the exact same area where the soldiers were attacked yesterday, providing 'extra security,’ should it be deemed necessary. I would also make efforts to find the attackers and deal with them accordingly. It is unthinkable that Israeli soldiers are so attacked, without any IDF response.    

      Of course, the best response would be to rejoin the ‘two sides of Hebron,’ and immediately move Jews into all neighborhoods of the city, integrating Hebron and removing the humiliation of Jews being found ‘in the wrong place.’ Yet it seems such a solution will take some time to be implemented.    

      Unfortunately, such incidents are not, at present, an exception to the rule. Yesterday also, Arabs hurled rocks and bottles at Beit Hadassah. The IDF response was negligible. A neighbor of mine, who witnessed the attacks, told me that at one point soldiers in the area put their heads down and did not respond when rocks were thrown at them. The nauseating account of a soldier stationed in Hebron appeared on israelnationalnews.com earlier today, in which he describes how the IDF’s hands are literally tied – they are forbidden from taking any actions, offensive or defensive, without expressed permission from high-ranking officers, even while being attacked. In many cases patrols are told to ‘wait for reinforcements or get out of the area.’ Again, Israeli soldiers being ordered to retreat, to run away, in the face of enemy attack.    

      All this while the State of Israel is coming under international attack from all corners of the world.    

      What’s written in international press? “World powers demand Israeli settlement freeze. The Quartet of Mideast peacemakers “condemns” Israel’s East Jerusalem building plan. (MSNBC); Israeli settlements threaten world security. Israelis should work toward a government of national unity, and not one beholden to the extreme right -- whose policies threaten world security. (Christian Science Monitor).    

      These attacks, led by Obama, Biden, Hillary and Co. are aimed at forcing continued Israeli concessions. The Quartet’s goal is a Palestinian state within 2 years, thereby ending the ‘occupation…’  Netanyahu’s visit in Washington next week will undoubtedly be a gruesome labyrinth-like obstacle course, designed to squeeze him, leaving him with nothing, leaving Israel with nothing.    

      So far, even with criticism that can be leveled at the government, Netanyahu’s been holding his own better than might have been expected. He could easily have folded on Jerusalem, but is continuing to express Israel’s ancient, G-d-given rights to our eternal capital. Just as legitimate criticism is expressed when need be, I think, as the Prime Minister leaves for the United States, it is incumbent upon us to encourage and strengthen him, in an effort to prevent Israel’s position from crumbling within the walls of the White House.     

      Let’s all remind Bibi: next week, as we begin the holiday of Passover, we celebrate the liberation of our people from foreign slavery. Three thousand three hundred years later, let’s continue forward, in that same direction, and not head backwards, into Pharaoh Obama’s servitude.