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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)

      Tevet 14, 5770, 12/31/2009

      Rabbi Meir Chai HY"D: A story that must be told

      A few days ago one of my sons visited the Chai family in Shavei Shomron. He lived in that community for a number of years and knowing the family wanted to pay a condolence call. At their home he heard the following story, which he later related to me. I've also seen it in print, and it's true.

      Twelve years ago a man was involved in a very serious automobile accident, and was determined by the doctors to be clinically dead. However, miracle of miracles, somehow they managed to prevent his death. He eventually woke up, and following a lengthy hospitalization, fully recovered and was sent home.

      After his recovery, this man told his family the following: In fact, I was dead, and was sent to the next world. There, I cried before the holy court, telling them that my wife had just given birth to a son, and how could I leave them now, my wife a widow and my son an orphan. I told them that I wanted to learn Torah with my new son.
      After a while they came back and notified me that my request was accepted. I would be able to return to this world, for twelve years.

      That man was Rabbi Meir Chai. Last week, today, he was killed, exactly twelve years to the day of the auto accident, over a decade ago. He was on his way home to the birthday party for the son born to him 12 years before.

      Rabbi Chai's father-in-law was in Uman, at the Tomb of Rabbi Nachman from Breslov when the murder occurred. Speaking at the funeral, he told that he'd gone to Uman to try to have the decree annulled, but that he hadn't succeeded. His son-in-law, Rabbi Meir Chai, returned to 'the next world' exactly as he'd been told he would, twelve years earlier.


      Tevet 12, 5770, 12/29/2009

      Shech Abdul Hadi Palazzi in Hebron

      Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi (Arabic: شيخ عبد الهادي بالاتسي‎), legally named Massimo Palazzi, is the leader of Italian Muslim Assembly and a co-founder and a co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, based on what Palazzi believes are the authentic teachings of Muhammad as expressed in the Qur'an and the Hadith.
      Palazzi was born in Rome, Italy to an Italian Catholic father who converted to Islam and a Muslim mother of Syrian descent.[1] [2] [3] After completing his secular and religious education in Rome and Cairo in 1987, he served as an Imam for the Italian Islamic Community. In addition to numerous Masters Degrees, Palazzi holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences from the Institute for Islamic Studies and Research in Naples.[4]
      He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of the Italian Muslim Association in 1989, and is now its Secretary General.[5] Since 1991, he was a Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, with a program based on the development of Islamic education in Italy, refutation of fundamentalism and fanaticism, and deep involvement in inter-religious dialogue, especially with Jews and Christians, but also with Buddhists and others.
      In 1997, Palazzi joined the International Council of the Root and Branch Association and his essay entitled "The Jewish-Moslem Dialogue and the Question of Jerusalem" was published by the Institute of the World Jewish Congress. He has also been a lecturer in the Department of the History of Religion at the Università della Terza Età in Velletri, near Rome.[6] [7]
      In 1998, Palazzi and Dr. Asher Eder (Jerusalem) co-founded the Islam-Israel Fellowship, promoting a positive Muslim attitude towards Jews and Israel based on what Prof. Palazzi believes are the authentic teachings of Muhammad as expressed in the Qur'an and the Hadith. Prof. Palazzi serves as Muslim Co-Chairman of the Fellowship. Dr. Eder serves as the Jewish Co-Chairman. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Hadi_Palazzi

      "The forced Wahabization of al-Harmayn (Mecca and Medina) and the oil wealth of the world's only Wahabi state, Saudi Arabia, has completely changed the face of the Islamic world and the way Islam is perceived by non-Muslims and even by some Muslims. Although the Saudi funded propaganda has failed to convert the majority of Sunnis to Wahabism, yet it has succeeded in creating small Wahabi oriented sectarian groups, like Ikhwan al-Muslimin, the so called Ahl-e-Hadith, and the pseudo Salafis. Some contents of that propaganda have strongly influenced the non-Wahabi Muslim perceptions of modernity and of the Judeo-Christian West, " said Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, the Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Assembly , the Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, Rome, and the Co-Founder & Co-Chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, Jerusalem, while delivering a lecture on "The Misinterpretation of Islam by Non-Muslims as well as Muslims", at the Persian Department of the University of Lucknow, under the joint auspices of the department and Open Space, on 28th July, 2009. With a doctorate in Islamic Sciences from the Institute for Islamic Studies and Research in Naples (by the authorization of the former Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia), and ijazzah, authorization to teach, both the Qur'anic exegesis and the Islamic Law, from the prestigious Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Prof. Palazzi backed his somewhat surprising positions with citations from the Qur'an and the traditional Muslim sources.

      Tevet 8, 5770, 12/25/2009

      Rabbi Meir Chai's funeral in Jerusalem - photos

      Meir Chai - three sons reciting Kaddish

      Ministers Eli Yishai and Ya'akov Neeman and MK Nissim Zeev
      Rabbi Meir Chai taught two of Neeman's grandchildren Torah.

      Rabbi Yehoshua Shmidt

      Rabbi Chaim Druckman

      Minister Eli Yishai

      Mayor Gershon Mesika

      Minister Yaakov Neeman

      MK Nissim Zeev

      Danny Dayan

      MK Yaakov Katz - Ketzeleh

      Eliyahu Chai

      Tevet 7, 5770, 12/24/2009

      A light extinguished, peace violated, a life lost

      What my interrogators rarely discuss is the right of Israelis, of Jews, to live. To live, period!
      Many years ago, when my oldest son, now 28, was in his first year of high school, he woke up one morning only to hear that one of his teachers had been murdered the night before in a terrorist attack. He never forgot that teacher, and named his first son in his memory.

      An hour ago my youngest son, now in his first year of high school, called us and said that one of the other boys in his class had just been notified that his father was killed in a terrorist attack near his home in the Shomron.

      The terror victim, Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, 45 years old, father of seven, had been a neighbor of my oldest son, when he lived in that community, Shavei Shomron.

      It’s been quite some time since I experienced the sensations I presently feel, but as they return, so do the black memories of years of killing and bloodshed. It’s a horrible feeling, and it’s hard to shake the premonition that ‘it’s starting again.’ But if, as may very well happen, 1,000 terrorists are released for Gilad Shalit in the next few weeks, may G-d have mercy on all of us. We’ve been through it before, after other terrorist swaps, and it is far from being pleasant. To the contrary, it’s a recipe for major warfare against Jews in Israel, be they in Tel Aviv, Hebron, or Haifa. 

      I work with many different kinds of groups, and spend hours answering questions about ‘human rights for palestinians’ in Hebron and other places in Israel. What my interrogators rarely discuss is the right of Israelis, of Jews, to live. To live, period! They tend to ignore the Arab terror, or equate it to graffiti, rock-throwing, or security measures implemented to protect Jewish lives, to prevent killing.  But the right of Jews to simply live, to raise their families, to watch their kids get married, to play with their grandchildren, that is all mundane, of no significance or importance.

      Yesterday a young woman, a Jewish woman from New York, tried to convince me of the supremacy of non-violence. Even someone attacked shouldn’t hit back – all the world’s problems can and should be dealt with and solved passively.

      Tell that to my son’s classmate.

      It’s difficult for me now even to write. Here I am, sitting at home, enjoying my children and my new grandchildren, knowing that a family has just been destroyed, that those seven kids won’t ever celebrate the joy of a birthday, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a wedding or any other event, with their father; that this man, taken so abruptly and barbarically, will never have the ‘nachas’ the pleasure, of playing with his grandchildren – only because he was a Jew, living in his land, doing his best for his family, for his people, for his G-d.

      I only hope that where he is now, he will stand before the L-rd, praying for his children and his widow, for his people, for his land, that they should be comforted. Meir means to radiate light, AvShalom, means the father of peace, Chai means life. This man radiated light, peace and life. He not only radiated – he taught, as does a Rabbi. Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai – a light extinguished,  a peace violated, a life lost. So sad, so tragic, so unnecessary. 

      It is our job to ensure that his light is rekindled, that his life never forgotten and that the goals he set for himself, his family and his people, be fulfilled. And so we will. May his memory be a blessing, HaShem Yikom Damo - may G-d avenge his blood. 

      Tevet 4, 5770, 12/21/2009

      Ma'arat HaMachpela: Audio levels don't top legal limits

      Hebron police today requested that the Environmental Protection Ministry perform noise measurements in the vicinity of  Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

      When the ministry inspectors arrived, Ofer Ochana was asked to begin broadcasting music over loudspeakers from the roof of the Gutnick Center in order to perform the tests. It should be remembered that only a few days ago he was warned that he would be immediately arrested should he broadcast the music, defined as 'public noise.'

      The examination concluded that the audio levels do not exceed the legal limitations.

      On the other hand, the intensity of the sound produced by speakers of the Arab muezzin, also tested by the Environment Ministry, was found to exceed the limits permitted by law.

      As a result it is expected that the Hebron police will reach two important decisions:

      1. The Arab muezzin should be immediately detained, commencing a criminal investigation against him

      2. The Jewish songs will be allowed to continue playing, as has been customary for many years.

      Today, Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem sent a letter to Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch on this matter:

      MK Amsalem's letter stated:

      For years Jews have complained about the unreasonably loud audio sound from the mosque loudspeakers directed straight into the area allocated to Jews at Ma'arat HaMachpela.

      Two years ago a professional examination to measure the noise level was carried out, and found that the speakers exceed permissible levels by a very large rate. To this day nothing was done to stop the phenomenon, although the High Court recognized the right of prayer as one the foremost human rights (HCJ 466/06, 10356/02 , 10497/02)].

      In light of this, the police action to stop the Jewish prayer melodies, broadcast from speakers of the Gutnick Center, within the Jewish area of the Ma'ara courtyard, thereby enforcing the law only against Jews, is a very serious.

      The steps taken by the police against Mr. Ofer Ochana represent selective law enforcement, and is a serious breach of freedom of expression and freedom of worship.

      I request that you order the police to immediately annul this unfair decision.