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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)

      Tishrei 7, 5770, 9/25/2009

      The Avraham Avinu Synagogue: Miracle past and present

      This place, where previously there had been a goat shed, which had symbolized our disgrace and humiliation, was magnificently renovated and the ancient synagogue was at its center
      (A short Hebron selichot video appears at the end of this blog entry)

      On one of the pillars inside the Avraham Avinu synagogue is a plaque, with the cover page and introduction of a holy book, titled Emek HaMelech, meaning the Valley of the King. This book was authored by Rabbi Naftali Hertz Bachrach and published in 1648. It's subject matter is Kabbalah, known popularly as "Jewish mysticism."

      Towards the end of Chapter nine of the author's introduction is a short paragraph, short in quantity, but quantitatively, immeasurable.

      The story is well known. Exactly 490 years ago, the year 1619, in Hebron:

      The paragraph, as it is written, in Emek HaMelach:

      A wondrous event on Yom Kippur, know that in Hebron there aren't always ten for public prayer, only on Shabbat and holy days, when villagers gather there and pray with ten and more. But all the residents of Hebron are pious.

      And it was on the eve of Yom Kippur, and there were only nine men, and they waited for the villagers to arrive, but not even one came, because they had all gone to Jerusalem, which is a quarter of a day's walk. And they were greatly saddened that on Yom Kippur they would pray individually and they wept much, and the sun was setting and daylight was disappearing. And they lifted their eyes and here was an elderly man, in the distance, and they were overjoyed to see him. And when he arrived they offered him a final meal, but he blessed them and said that he had eaten on the way. And they worshipped on the holy day and honored him greatly. And the next night they began discussions, because all of them wanted to host the guest in his home. And they compromised and conducted a draw, and the prayer leader (Chazan) was selected, he was a holy man who had wondrous dreams and night visions. And the Chazan led the guest to his home, with the guest walking behind him. And when he arrived at his home, the Chazan turned to honor the guest, that he should enter first, and he saw that the guest was gone. And they searched the entire courtyard, but didn't find him, and all were greatly saddened, thinking that the guest had left already that night, and did not want to enjoy anything from them. And that night the old man appeared before the Chazan in a dream and told him that he was Avraham Avinu, who had come to complete the minyon because he had seen that they were so upset about having to pray individually. And they were very happy and blessed the Great G-d, who had done wondrous things, Amen, May it be His Will:

      From then on, the synagogue was known as the Avraham Avinu synagogue.


      When Jews returned to Hebron following the 1967 Six day war, the ancient shul was gone. A sheep sty and public bathroom occupied the place where the shul had stood for over 400 years.

      Due to the dedication and determination of one man, Professor BenTzion Tavgar, zt"l, the area was eventually cleaned out and the shul rebuilt.

      This year, as every year, Yom Kippur prayers will be heard from this beautiful holy place.

      Prof. Tavgar, prior to his death, wrote a book called "My Hebron" which was published a few years ago in Hebrew. It was recently translated into English and is now available. The following paragraphs, dealing with the rededication of the Shul and its ancient Torah scrolls, are from the book.

      While I was in the Synagogue, waiting for the Torah Scroll to be brought in, I looked around once again at the walls of the building. The Synagogue was now splendidly built, more or less approximating its original form, before the Arabs had destroyed it in the 1950s. There might have been a few minimal changes here or there, and perhaps not everything had been completed and it was still necessary to fix something or other, but on the whole, the Synagogue now looked beautiful, it appeared splendid. One could even say that it was impressive, though not very modern.

      I let my eyes wander around the interior of the synagogue. I had time to think and recall its previous state, five or six years ago, and thought of the sequence of events that had transpired. When I first came here, the place had indeed gone by the name of “Avraham Avinu Synagogue”, but its name had seemed completely disconnected from its essence. Nothing about it had indicated that it was a synagogue. It had been used as a goat shed. On its eastern side there had been a familiar, or rather, a notorious structure – the public latrine – which had been erected for the use of those who frequented the adjacent Arab wholesale market, and the rest of the site was used as a garbage dump.

      This place, where previously there had been a goat shed, which had symbolized our disgrace and humiliation, was magnificently renovated and the ancient synagogue was at its center. We can pray in it! This is not something insignificant! It is a great thing, but it is not the conclusive thing, at least not from my point of view. When I had begun to dig here I had not set a goal for myself only to renovate the synagogue and not even the entire Jewish Quarter. My aim had been to change the atmosphere that had enabled the entrenchment of a state of affairs wherein on the site where a synagogue had once been standing in full glory, suddenly three “magnificent” establishments are standing: a goat-shed, a public toilet facility and a garbage dump. According to documents, the functioning of the goat shed within the synagogue had been approved by the Israeli authorities. Someone had signed the leasing contract with the Arab who was using the structure to house his goats. Someone had signed and others had agreed to it, or had turned a blind eye, while on the other hand, there were Jews whose soul had desired to clean the Synagogue, to prepare it and restore its original function, and to turn it once again into a place of prayer.

      How had this happened? How had such a disgraceful process come about? The Military Administration had been assigned to guard there. The goat-shed, the public toilet and the garbage dump were being guarded by soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. The government had assigned guards to attack me, with the aim of perpetuating this terrible disgrace. Another thing, possibly even worse, because I find it hard to imagine anything worse, was the judicial persecution, the utilization of the force of the law against me and against others. How many times had they submitted indictments against me?! They had trumped up those indictments. And what were the charges? I am ashamed to say... Sometimes, the “facts” written in the indictment had actually been libelous and impertinent lies completely divorced from reality. Jews had lied with barefaced audacity in order to keep the goats in place of the Synagogue. Many times the trials had been held in military courts. There is no greater shame than to see a scene where the judges, the prosecutor and the witnesses are all wearing the uniform of the Israel Defense Forces, all joining hands to convict you in a field court, without your even having the right to appeal.

      In any case, I felt very festive during the ceremony and was completely overcome by joy.

      More can be seen at: http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=581#syn  
      For more information about purchasing My Hebron: myhebron@gmail.com

      Short version of Hebron selichot activities.
      See www.hebron.com for more video and photos



      Tishrei 5, 5770, 9/23/2009

      Thousands of people are arriving in Hebron

      The Arabs shouldn't fool themselves that Jews won't live in Hebron. Jews will always live in Hebron

      Among those visiting this week was Education Minister Gideon Saar. (See photos and video (Hebrew) at: {http://www.hebron.com/english/gallery.php?id=286])

      He spent the entire morning in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. He conducted a class in 'citizenship' at the Kiryat Arba Ulpana women's high school, met with the school's teachers and staff, visited at Ma'arat HaMachpela, and the Hebron, Jewish community, and concluded the morning with a meeting of Hebron-Kiryat Arba leaders in the office of Kiryat Arba mayor Malachi Levinger.
      During his visit at the Ma'ara, Saar said the following:

      "I am particularly happy to be at Ma'arat HaMachpela and in general in Kiryat Arba and Hebron.
      Hebron is the place of our roots, a place that speaks to all Jews.

      I've always said, and I'll say also today: The Arabs shouldn't fool themselves that Jews won't live in Hebron. Jews will always live in Hebron. Throughout the generations, Jews lived in Hebron, with a very few brief exceptions, such as after the 1929 massacre and Jews will always live in Hebron and Kiryat Arba."

      The minister mentioned the masses arriving at Ma'arat HaMachpela, which he witnessed: "Look at how many Jews are arriving here, at Ma'arat HaMachpela, on a regular weekday, and many more will be here during the holidays. This proves the connection of the Jewish people to this place, and our guarantee to this continued bond is settlement. From our awareness of this bond to such places like Ma'arat HaMachpela we understand the value of settlement."

      In response to a question about building schools and kindergartens here, the minister said, "Of course, I've had conversations about this with the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, and this has been clarified also to the Americans. We will continue to build schools and kindergartens and nursery schools. I believe that within a very short period of time a number of projects will commence, construction of classes, nursery schools and schools in Judea and Samaria."
      Others visiting Hebron include: (see photos and video)


      See also photos of Caparot in Hebron

      Good news!
      The annual Hebron music festival will take place again this year!
      Monday of Chol HaMoed, beginning at 12:00, with Udi Davidi, Chaim Yisrael and others. Details to follow!

      Tishrei 3, 5770, 9/21/2009

      J Street: Pro-Israel or Pro-Palestinian? by Mort Klein

      J Street continues to relentlessly display its support for the Palestinian cause
      Is J Street a pro-Israel group? It never tires of claiming that it is. Yet, what pro-Israel group would invite a man to speak at its forthcoming conference who has called for Israel’s destruction, stating that “the establishment by force, violence and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948” was “unjust” and “a crime” and vowed to “work to overturn the injustice.”[1][1]

      The man who signed this statement is Salaam al Marayati, director of Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) who will be speaking next month at J Street’s conference.

      Marayati and MPAC have made other numerous, hateful anti-Israel and anti-U.S. statements. These included his stating that “we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list” of possible 9/11 perpetrators;[2][2] that Jews murdered by Palestinians are “the expected bitter result of [Israel’s] reckless policy”;[3][3] condemning American strikes against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Sudan following the bombings of the U.S. East Africa embassies as “illegal, immoral and illogical,”[4][4] comparing Israel’s supporters to Hitler;[5][5] and displaying a campus exhibit stating that “Zionism is Nazism.”[6][6]

      Furthermore, Marayati even condemned France’s fining Roger Garaudy for Holocaust denial as “persecution of his right to express an opinion.”[7][7] In 1997, Marayati gave a chilling, anticipatory justification for anti-U.S. terror saying, “Where Israel goes, our government follows ...What is important is whether the American people are aware of and ready for the consequences.”[8][8] Some of these statements caused Marayati’s 1999 appointment to a U.S. congressional committee on terrorism to be rescinded.

      J Street’s inviting Marayati makes one wonder whose side is J Street on.

      While J Street also pressures Israel to make concessions, yet says virtually nothing about the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority’s 16-year failure to dismantle terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in its speeches, media, mosques and schools. It said nothing about Fatah’s recent conference, which proclaimed the legitimacy of terrorism against Israel and honored, by name, killers of Jews as heroes. 

      Additionally, J Street showed its animus toward Israel by citing polls inaccurately to bolster its claim that Israelis and American Jews want greater Israeli concessions and agree with President Obama’s pressure on Israel to stop Jews building in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

      Thus, in June, J Street’s Campaign Director, Isaac Luria, misleadingly claimed that “Israelis want the President to stand up to the [Jewish] settlers … A poll recently showed that 52% of Israelis want a freeze on settlement construction and 56% want Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to President Obama’s call for an end to settlement construction.”

      In fact, the Dahaf Institute poll Luria referred to actually showed that Israelis favor continued natural growth of Jewish communities by 54% to 42%; that they believe 53% to 26% that President Obama’s policies are not good for Israel. Yet J Street simply buried the evidence of actual support for natural growth and cited only a contradictory, general finding of support for a construction freeze. More damning still, the only other partial truth in J Street’s claim – that 56% wanted Netanyahu to agree to Obama’s demands – left out the major point that they favored this only if the alternative meant U.S. sanctions.

      J Street misrepresents polling data and ignores other polls that show majority Israeli and American Jewish opposition to Obama’s demands. For instance, recent Smith Research Institute polls show that Israelis, by a decisive 69% to 27% margin, opposefreezing construction within large Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and that only 4% of Israelis favor Obama’s policies.

      Also, a July Global Marketing Services poll of American Jews who are Democrats shows 55% believe that Obama is naïve in thinking Palestinians want peace, only 27% support Obama’s promoting a Palestinian state, 52% believe that Israel should be allowed to build in existing settlements.

      Most disturbingly, despite virtually unanimous support by Israeli and American Jews of Israel’s Gaza campaign to stop Hamas rockets, J Street opposed it. It also challenged even sanctions against Iran. All these issues have enhanced relevance in view of a report in the Jerusalem Post (Aug. 14) about J Street being the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars in donations from dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as from individuals connected to Palestinian and pro-Teheran-advocacy groups.

      J Street continues to relentlessly display its support for the Palestinian cause. We urge it to start doing the right thing by rescinding its invitation to Salaam Al Marayati, ceasing to accept donations from those hostile to Israel.

      Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America.

      Elul 27, 5769, 9/16/2009

      Tit for Tat

      At times we are forced to pay for our misdeeds; G-d takes account of our sins and, sometimes, treats us accordingly.

      At first glance, it seems ironic that the author of the scathing report dealing with Israeli 'war crimes' during the Gaza war, is a Jew. And not just any Jew. According to Goldstone's daughter, in an interview published by the Jerusalem Post, Richard Goldstone "is a Zionist and loves Israel."

      As the proverbial saying goes, 'with friends like that, who needs enemies?!'

      Goldstone reportedly slept during accounts of rocket attacks on Sderot, in south Israel. So related Sderot resident and media expert Noam Bedein on Israel radio this morning. However such accounts are totally irrelevant. When it comes to Jews, only one truth is viable. Jews may be attacked in any manner as the attacker deems fit; however, Jews may not dare to defend themselves, be it preemptive, during or post attack. Why? Because that's why Jews exist; for the world to blame for all problems, and later to take their frustrations out on them.

      This simple truth has existed for at least two thousand years, if we prefer to ignore Biblical accounts of the Egyptian slavery over 3,300 years ago. Certainly since the advent of Christianity Jews have been a worthy scapegoat and have paid a price continuing thru the present: expulsions, forced conversions, mass murder, and more. Who today remembers the slaughters perpetrated by the crusaders, or the inquisition, pogroms in Eastern Europe? Of course, today, talking about the holocaust is almost considered to be trite or redundant. After all, how much can you keep saying about it, bringing it up at every opportunity, enough!

      The state of Israel serves as a wonderful target for continued Jew-bashing. Perhaps one of the best examples, today so relevant, was Israel's attack against Saddam Hussein's mass killing machine, destroying his nuclear missile facilities in June, 1981. The United States blasted Israel for this attack. The United Nations Security council unanimously passed UN Resolution 487 which “strongly condemns the military attack by Israel in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct.”

      This rule is playing out in front of our eyes, as international policy concerning the Iranian nuclear threat demands 'negotiations' and 'sanctions' prior to any attempts to physically destroy Ahmadinejad's weapons of mass destruction before they are activated and live. By that time, of course, it may be too late, but again, who cares? After all, it's only Israel's existence that seems to be at stake!

      The Goldstone Report is only a continuation of an international principle which allows Israel to be attacked, and refuses to accept Israel's right to self defense.


      And here is a BIG BUT.

      I believe that the drama unfolding before our eyes, such as the Goldstone report, is not the fault of the international community. It is, quite clearly and simply, our fault, the direct responsibility of the state of Israel and a direct result of Israeli policies.

      How so?

      Exactly nine years ago, tomorrow night, what is known as the '2nd Intifada' aka the Oslo War began, here in Hebron. Just after midnight Arab terrorists started shooting at the Jewish neighborhoods in the city. The source of the gunfire were the hills surrounding these neighborhoods, hills 'transferred'/abandoned to the Palestinian authority in January, 1997 with implementation of the 'Hebron Accords.'

      The shooting also started in other areas of Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem's southern neighborhood, Gilo, came under attack from Bethlehem and Beit Jala.

      The shooting continued for over two years, with the Barak/Sharon administrations refusing to properly defend its citizens against sustained, incessant attacks. Had the government ordered the army back into the areas and cities handed over to the PA the attacks would have ended immediately. Instead, the state's leaders watched as almost 1,500 Jews were murdered in cold blood by Arab terrorists. And the shooting continued.

      But it should be remembered that, prior to this war, Gush Katif communities came under mortar fire day and night, for years. Thousands of mortars were shot at civilian and military populations. With virtually no effective answer from those who were elected to keep Israelis safe, wherever they were.

      It also should not be forgotten the missile attacks against Kiryat Shmona and cities in the Israeli north, attacks which remained unanswered for years at a time.

      And finally, how many rockets were shot into Sderot before the abandonment of Gush Katif, and how many following catastrophic expulsion and destruction of those communities. Thousands and thousands and thousands.

      And let it not be said that the government didn't know, that they weren't warned. Only last week, at the lecture in Netanya: "A secret IDF Intelligence (AMAN) assessment warned as early as 1993 that the Oslo Accords would likely end with rocket attacks on Ashkelon, according to former AMAN Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror. The politicians, however, were not interested.  According to Amidror, who headed the IDF's Research and Assessment Division responsible for preparing the National Intelligence Assessment, the decision to go ahead with the Oslo agreements between Israel and the PLO terrorist organization was made without taking into account the military implications. The Rabin government "completely ignored" IDF assessments, Amidror claimed" .

      Writers, myself included, warned, year after year, of the deadly implications of Oslo, Hebron, Wye, Gush Katif. To no avail. But they knew, and did nothing.

      In other words, Israel allowed itself to be attacked, without offering any real defense, any true attempt to stop the terror. That being the case, when, at long last, much too late, Israel finally decided to take action, our enemies, enemies from without and enemies from within, raised a red flag imprinted with a huge question mark: What happened – why now? What happened to you Jews? You know you're not allowed to defend yourselves. You know better. Don't you dare start now!

      The state of Israel had withheld for so long, had restrained itself, had decided strategically not to protect itself, its citizens, and its cities, that any such action was viewed as bizarre and uncharacteristic. And with this, a great international outcry, coming on the heels of thousands of years of defenselessness. How dare you!!!

      Approaching the holy days of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur we try to take stock of the events of the past year, to determine how to correct our errors in the future. At times we are forced to pay for our misdeeds; G-d takes account of our sins and, sometimes, treats us accordingly.

      We are taught that one of the ways G-d deals with us human beings is, in Hebrew, 'mida c'neged mida.' Translated this means something like tit for tat. You get back the same as you gave. Ehud Barak, presently Defense Minister, nine years ago Prime Minister, fled from Lebanon and offered Arafat almost all of Judea and Samaria, including Jerusalem. He claims that the Goldstone report encourages terror. Tit for tat Mr. Barak. You did nothing to stop terror. To the contrary, you encouraged it by doing nothing about it, you let Jews die and tried to appease the terrorists by offering to abandon more of Eretz Yisrael.  Now you're getting it back in the face in the form of another Jew, blaming you for trying (and, by the way, not succeeding) to stop the terror, much too little, much too late. Mida c'neged mida.