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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)

      Adar 29, 5770, 3/15/2010

      Next year in…. A letter to Rahm Emanuel & David Axelrod


      Dear Rahm and David,

      I’m writing this as I sit and watch, via live internet, the ceremony marking the rededication of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem, in the area you would classify “east Jerusalem”, disputed territory, or perhaps, ‘occupied territory’ over the ‘green line’ adjacent to 'Temple Mount.'

      Isn’t it time you left the White House and came home to your real home, in Israel, in Jerusalem

      Before asking a few questions, I’d like to describe to you several men who took part in tonight’s celebration.

      First, there is Reuvan ‘Ruby’ Rivlin, presently speaker of the Knesset. A seventh generation Jerusalemite, Ruby is a ‘Rivlin’ from both his mother and father’s side, descended from both Rebbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov and the Gra, the Gaon, Rebbi Eliyahu from Vilna.

      Rivlin, a seasoned politician, had trouble controlling his voice as he spoke, his words quivering with emotion, as he repeated the words of his great-grandfather,  who spoke at the rededication of the destroyed Hurva shul a hundred and fifty years ago.

      Also speaking briefly was former  Prisoner of Zion, former minister, and present chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, who described how, in 1992, he convinced the entire Israeli government to unanimously approve reconstruction of the Hurva, destroyed by the Jordanians following their occupation of the Jerusalem in 1948.

      But the man who most impressed me was David Rabinovitch, an Israeli Russian, who contributed heavily to the renovation of the Hurva. Rubenstein spoke briefly, albeit in Russian, and announced that he and his partners, whose financial fortunes built the Hurva, would participate in rebuilding the nearby Tiferet Yisrael synagogue, also destroyed by the Arabs during the War of Independence.  These men, who grew up without any Jewish background, and who today barely speak Hebrew, are investing their life’s fortunes in synagogues, in Jerusalem.

      And you, Rahm and David, what are you investing your lives in?

      Rahm, it is said that you are the cornerstone of your boss’ policy towards Israel and the Middle East. Since this administration took office, you are quoted, time and time again, as forcing a ‘two-state solution’ on Israel. “Israel now faces a moment of truth – it can either acquiesce to international demands and in return have its most serious threats dealt with, or maintain the status quo and have those threats persist.”http://goo.gl/ntPh  In other words, Israel’s future, as a state, and in large part, the continued existence of the Jewish people, is dependent on Israel ‘towing the line,’ obeying US policy, and acquiescing to US-Arab terrorist demands.

      And David, just a few days ago you publicly turned Israel over your knee and paddled her, saying, "What happened there was an affront,…It was an insult. ... This was not the right way to behave." http://goo.gl/fana This, of course, in reference to the announcement that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem.

      Is this the behavior of two good Jewish boys, who, it is said, love Israel?

      Rahm, truthfully it’s very difficult to understand your actions. You belong to an orthodox synagogue in Chicago. You grew up in a Jewish home, with a strong affinity to Israel. Your father was born in Jerusalem and your uncle, for whom you were named, was killed by Arabs in Jerusalem. But you still support a position forbidding Jewish building in Jerusalem!?

      And David, you too are no stranger to Judaism. Born on the Lower East Side in New York, you always knew you were Jewish. Yet you see fit to push your own people into security situations which jeopardize the continued existence of the Jewish State.

      How is it that two men whose lives have always been saturated with Judaism do not comprehend simple truths understood by others who grew up in Soviet Russia, knowing almost nothing about their Jewish roots.? Even your names reflect your Jewish souls: David – dating back to King David – the eternal King of Israel; and Rahm – meaning ‘high,’ hinting at the Creator, and in your case, a form of the word Rachamim, meaning mercy. Upon who do you have mercy, Mr. Emanuel? Perhaps both of you should repudiate your names, changing them, as did Hellenistic Jews in Israel during the time of Greek occupation of Israel. How can you carry such “Jewish names’ yet, at the same time, assist in pushing your people to the brink?

      I have one other question for both of you men. Tonight marks the first day of the new month of Nisan, the month of Geula, of redemption from Egypt. In exactly two weeks we will begin the Passover holiday, commencing with the Seder, the first Pesach meal, when we relate the story of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt.

      It is said that last year, both of you were invited to the President’s Passover Seder, but skipped it, preferring to eat Matza with your families, at home.  Very touching. But why?

      What I really want to know is not how you begin your family Seder, rather, how you end it. Normally, Jews finish the night’s ceremony declaring “Next year in Jerusalem” or Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem.”

      Rahm Emanual and David Axelrod:

      DO YOU RECITE THESE WORDS  AT YOUR FAMILY TABLE;

      IF SO, DO YOU MEAN WHAT YOU SAY, OR JUST REPEAT THE WORDS FOR CUSTOM’S SAKE;

      AND WOULD YOU DARE RECITE THESE WORDS IN PUBLIC, WORDS MOUTHED BY JEWS FOR CENTURIES, AS THEY WERE TORTURED AND BURNED AT THE STAKE, OR SENT TO SIBERIA TO DIE, FOR DARING TO REPEAT THE FUNDAMENTAL TENET OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE? 

      EXACTLY HOW DO YOU SAY IT? NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM,

      OR

      NEXT YEAR IN [OCCUPIED?], [DISPUTED?], [CONQUERED?], [ARAB?] JERUSALEM?

      Isn’t it time you left the White House and came home to your real home, in Israel, in Jerusalem where you too can stand proudly at the Kotel and recite, as Jews have for eternity "Next year in [Jewish] Jerusalem"



       




       







      Adar 28, 5770, 3/14/2010

      Baruch Dayan HaEmet: Izzie Kaplan z"l



      Izzy Kaplan z"l at Kever Ishai v'Rut in Hebron
      holding Sefer Torah he dedicated in memory of
      David Rosenzweig hy"d

      Hebron's Jewish Community greatly mourns the death of Israel (Izzie) Kaplan.


      Izzie was a truly righteous Jew, who not only cared about his brethren in Eretz Yisrael, but worked tirelessly for Jews throughout Israel, be they in Gush Katif, Hebron, Sderot and other places in Judea, Samaria, and all over the country.

      His passing is very sad, and on behalf of Hebron I want to wish the entire Kaplan family sincerest condolences. 

      HaMakom Yenachem Otchem b'toch shaar avlei Tzion v'Yerushalayaim.

      According to a Toronto Web site, the funeral will take place at 12:00 noon in Canada today and in Jerusalem tomorrow (Monday, 29 Adar) at 11:30 at Shamgar, followed by burial at Har Hamenuchot.

       

      The Shiva will be at the home of David and Tiffany Kaplan: Yehuda 196, Modi'in


      May his memory be blessed.

      B'sorot tovot.







      Adar 26, 5770, 3/12/2010

      Chabad mission with 200 people visits Hebron today


      Chabad has  a very rich Hebron legacy. Today close to 200 people visited Hebron via Chabad, including many Chabad "Sluchim" based in the United States. They visited several Jewish neighborhoods, as well as Ma'arat HaMachpela. I spoke to each busload of people at Beit Hadassah for about a half hour each, photographed each of the groups, and promised them the pix would appear on my blog. So here they are!







      Adar 24, 5770, 3/10/2010

      Hebron miracles abound, even in the Shomron


      Hebron is known for its miracles. If it weren't for G-d's Divine Hand watching over us, day by day, minute by minute, well, our situation here would probably be slightly different from our present existence.

      But what also should be publicized is that these miracles don't only occur in Hebron. They also happen to Hebron residents elsewhere in Israel. I'd like to relate one of those, which took place a few days ago to a woman who grew up here in Hebron, one of 14 children.

      Now a married woman with a family of her own, Yehudit lives in the Shomron community of Yitzhar. On Monday night she was driving home when suddenly she found herself heading straight into a tractor, blocking the middle of the road. The tractor, driven by an Arab, is suspected of trying to knock cars off the road. First it came into contact with a truck, and then aimed at a car. The driver managed to escape the terrorist's vehicle, but the tractor veered, and stopped in the middle of the road. 

      That's when Yehudit came on the scene. Seeing the tractor directly in front of her, she had no choice but also to swing left, avoiding the tractor, but heading straight towards a steep valley. Her car literally jumped over a guard railing and started plummeting down, tumbling four or five times as it fell. After falling about 8 meters, the car suddenly stopped, blocked by a large boulder. This huge rock saved Yehudit's life, because a continued fall would have taken her down another 80 meters. 

      Miraculously Yehudit suffered only a few bruises, and minor aches and pains. Her car, of course, was a total loss. But she, thank G-d, after a check-up, was able to go home, healthy, in one piece. It that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. 

      May the merits of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs privilege all of us to such Divine intervention, when we should so need it, whoever we are, wherever we are!






      Adar 23, 5770, 3/9/2010

      Pastor John Hagee: The Torah Way and the Wrong Way



      Iran – Iran – Iran
      There's a very interesting phenomenon taking place throughout the world.

       

      A couple of years ago a small group of Christians from Texas toured with me in Hebron. After they left I tucked them back in my distant memory. Actually I didn't intentionally do so; my memory's like a slice of Swiss cheese, full of holes.

       

      But, I guess I didn't entirely forget them. About a half a year later I found myself in Texas with a couple of days to spare, looking for something worthwhile to do. Somehow I remembered that some people from the Lone Star State had visited with me, managed to find them, and spent a few days with them. One of that group, a fellow named Mike, has become a very close personal friend.

       

      Mike introduced me, up close, to this breathtaking trend; that, being a startling move by Christians, some of whom might be labeled 'evangelic' towards religious Judaism. 

       

      No, they're not necessarily thinking about converting, at least not all of them. And they haven't necessarily forsaken Jesus, again, at least not all of them. But, they are searching for their roots, and that pursuit leads them directly to the Bible, the 'Old Testament' otherwise known as the five books of Moses, or the Torah. Many have reached the (logical) conclusion that Judaism never 'needed' Christianity, but without Judaism there never would have been Christianity.

       

      'Torah study groups' have blossomed, not necessarily among Jews, but rather, among these gentiles. I've seen an Iphone application which can teach Jewish blessings in Hebrew; Mike has one on his phone and uses it. I spoke at such a 'Torah center' in Texas. The charismatic man running the place told me, "I don't really know what I am, but I know that my grandmother used to light candles on Friday nights and bless me." More than likely his family were among those called "Marranos," Spanish Jews forcibly converted over 500 years ago. His Jewish roots are calling from somewhere deep down inside him, and he's beginning to answer.

       

      I know people who do say that they no longer believe in Jesus and don't celebrate the Christian holidays, at least not the way they used to. Others, haven't made it that far, but I've visited Pastors who have, in their offices, Jewish prayer shawls (Tallit), a ram's horn (Shofar) and other Jewish, traditional prayer items. Some people have even taken up use of Tefillin, known as phylacteries. Once, when Mike was with me here in Hebron, he wanted to call someone back in Texas on Saturday night, but looking at his watch exclaimed, "he won't answer the phone now. There, it's still Shabbat." And the guy he wanted to call isn't Jewish.

       

      I know a couple who have an amazing television program, viewed by millions around the world, who don't produce a show on Saturday, because it's Shabbat. And they aren't Jewish.

       

      This phenomenon seems to be growing, and with it, Jewish suspicions. Not only are masses beginning to move towards Judaism. Various organizations are utilizing such practices to encourage their agenda, which is overtly missionary; converting Jews to Christianity. "Hidden missionaries" – those people who seem outwardly to be Jewish, even observant Jews, are actually attempting to 'get a foot in the door' to propagate literature and their own ideas and ideals in order to 'save' the Jews from eternal hell.

       

      In the past other types of methods were used, like burning people at the stake. Today's world would view that as barbaric so more cultural approaches are utilized.  

       

      This being the case, with such missionary types running rampant in  the US and even here in Israel, many Jews are extremely extremely suspicious of any non-Jew who tries to cozy up and get too friendly. And most especially, where money is involved. Nothing works better to convince another of genuine friendship than a few bucks, or a few tens or hundreds of thousands of them.

       

      That being the case, huge disagreements have erupted over acceptance of money from non-Jews, and most particularly, those labeled as evangelical.

       

      I've had many discussions with Mike concerning this issue; we are very open with each other. He decided to show me the 'real thing,' and last summer took me to the annual CUFI (Christians United for Israel) conference in Washington DC. There, for three days, over 4,000 people gathered in the Washington Convention Center, and participated in numerous lectures, study groups and gatherings. The entire event was initiated by one man: Pastor John Hagee.

      I'd heard about Pastor Hagee, but really didn't know a whole lot about him. Quick checks with a few people I trust, 'in the know' led me to believe that he is straight; in other words his agenda is not to convert Jews. Knowing that, I took in  a deep breath, let it out slowly, and could not believe what I was hearing or seeing.

       

      Again, with my memory not helping too much, I'm limited as to the examples I can give, but perhaps two are enough. The last day of the conference, the thousands attending, from every state in the Union, invaded Capital Hill, lobbying their representatives and Senators. Prior to leaving for Congress, the participants were briefed as to the issues to be raised.

       

      Religious Christians have many issues dear to their hearts: abortion, school prayer, and more. Pastor Hagee gave them a list of several topics to be discusses and requested/demanded that these, and only these, be brought up. The first issue, he said, is Iran. We have to prevent the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons to keep Israel safe. Two, he said, is Iran. We have to stop all investments in Iran, in an attempt to force them to stop their nuclear program, which is endangering Israel. And third, he said, is Iran. Congress must ensure that companies with previously agreements with Iran will not be penalized when they break them.

      And that's all!

      Iran – Iran – Iran.

       

      The conference was amazing; it left a real mark on me.

       

      Last night I attended a similar event: A Night to Honor Israel. But this wasn't held in Washington. It took place here, in Jerusalem.

       

      Again, amazing. A short video showed how the Hagee ministries have distributed over fifty eight million dollars to projects in Israel, including soup kitchens, children's special needs centers, Yeshivas, - the list is endless. Organizations and communities throughout Israel, Judea, Samaria, Gush Katif (and Gush Katif refugees) and all over the country.

       

      Again, the Pastor spoke of one basic issue: the need for Israel to be able to defend itself, to 'take care' of the Iranians, and castigating, in no uncertain terms, the Goldstone report and those who authored it.

      Again, I left the event thinking to myself how history has turned upside down, how these people don't 'seem to be' but are, true genuine friends of Israel and the Jewish people. I have no doubt of Pastor John Hagee's authenticity. The kinds of words and acts he espouses and accomplishes are not the work of a phony. He is the real McCoy. "Nights to Honor Israel" are happening throughout the United States, raising money for worthy Israel projects. All initiated by Pastor Hagee and his wife, Diane.

       

      Ah, I almost forgot the other 'proof' for the summer's conference.  I don't remember everything he said during his main speech, but what I think I'll never forget was one phrase that I've repeated countless times to many people: Pastor John Hagee, a Christian preacher from San Antonio Texas declared: 'There are only two ways: there's the Torah way and there's the wrong way. The Torah way, and the wrong way."

       

      I'm waiting to hear some more Jews say that: The Torah Way and the Wrong Way.

       

      Thank you very very much, Pastor John Hagee!