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Ask the Rabbi
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 33 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 14 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Links to sites David recommends:
(others to be added)
Sivan 10, 5768, 6/13/2008
If there was light in Hebron, there was light in Jerusalem.
As printed in this week's Jewish Press:
Last week we celebrated not only Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. We also marked the return to Hebron, 41 years ago, during the 1967 Six Day War. It’s no coincidence that these two festive days come one after the other.
Hebron and Jerusalem have been connected for thousands of years. The Kingdom of Israel was initiated by King David in Hebron over 3,000 years ago. David lived in Hebron for seven and a half years, immersed in the spirit of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, before moving up to Jerusalem, establishing it as the eternal capital of the Jewish People.
Later we read in the Talmud that every day, early in the morning, a Cohen would ask, prior to beginning the day’s work, ‘has the sun yet risen, even as far east as Hebron?’ If the answer was ‘Barkai,’ yes, then work could commence. If the response was negative, they would have to wait. Why was Hebron so much a part of work at Beit HaMikdash? It was in order to awaken ‘Zechut Avot,’ the merit of the Forefathers.
In other words, if it was dark in Hebron, it was still considered to be dark in Jerusalem. If there was light in Hebron, there was light in Jerusalem. This has more than just a literal meaning. In 1929, following the riots and massacre, Hebron’s surviving Jews were expelled from their homes. The few Jews who were able to return in 1931 were again expelled in 1936. Twelve years later Jerusalem fell, and just as Ma’arat HaMachpela was off-limits, so too was Temple Mount.
On the 28th of Iyar in 1967 we returned to Jerusalem. It was only logical that the next day the Jewish people would return to the first Jewish city in Israel, Hebron. Finally, after a 700-year exile, Jews could again worship at the second holiest site to the Jewish people in the entire world, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Ma’arat HaMachpela, in Hebron.
The magnificent building atop the caves of Machpela was constructed by Herod, King of Judea, some 2,000 years ago. It is the only 2,000-year-old building in the world which still exists in its entirety and is still used for the identical purposes for which it was built − to pray at the entrance to Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, at the site of the tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Lea.
Entrance to Jews was declared off-limits by a Marmaluke emperor named Bibers, who a short time earlier had also closed off Temple Mount to anyone and everyone not Muslim. The closing of Ma’arat HaMachpela was, it seems, an afterthought, which continued for 700 years. Presently our Muslim neighbors tell us that should they again ever control this holy site, no one not Muslim will be able to worship there because “it is a mosque and only Muslims and pray in a Mosque” − this, despite the fact that the building was built by Herod about 600 years before Mohammed was born. When asked why Jews live today in Hebron, one of the central reasons is, of course, Ma’arat HaMachpela. It is crystal clear that only a Jewish community in Hebron preserves Jewish access to this site. If, G-d forbid, there weren’t any Jews in Hebron, Jews would have no access to Ma’arat HaMachpela.
Many times I’m asked how we can celebrate, with the many issues that cloud our presence in Hebron. Over half a million people visit Ma’arat HaMachpela annually. This past Pesach over 50,000 Jews visited Hebron. Hebron’s tours attract hundreds and thousands of tourists each year. This is a reason to celebrate.
When the Oslo Accords, followed by the Hebron Accords 11 years ago, abandoned over 80 percent of the city to the Arabs, many people voiced their skepticism as to the possibility that Hebron’s Jewish community could survive. When the Oslo War (second intifada) began on the eve of Rosh Hashanah in 2000, and the community came under daily shooting attacks from the surrounding hills, there were many who wrote the community off as “finished”. Who could survive such murderous attacks?
But despite the problems from the Arabs, the media, the Israeli and international left, and many Israeli politicians, Hebron’s Jewish community still exists. Not only does it exist. It thrives. It grows and expands. My wife and I have two daughters and seven grandchildren living in Hebron, with a son and his family a few miles away in the southern Hebron Hills community of Beit Haggai. Many of Hebron’s children have stayed, wanting to bring up their children in the shadow of Abraham and Sarah, just as they grew up. What could be more heartening and encouraging than to see “the younger generation” following in the footsteps of their parents, both their immediate parents and their ‘grandma and grandpa,’ the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, King David, and all the other illustrious residents Hebron has been home to. How could one not celebrate these fantastic facts?!
True, Hebron has faced many struggles, and we have no illusions about the immediate future. However, one of Hebron’s most important inhabitants taught us an unforgettable lesson. Kalev ben Yefune, when arriving in Eretz Yisrael to spy the land for Moshe Rabbenu, knew he would need some special spiritual guidance to escape the slanderous exclamations of of the other ten spies. His solution was to come to Hebron and pray at Ma’arat HaMachpela, to ask Hashem to give him strength to overcome the evil intentions of his comrades. His prayer was answered, and he was able declare: “Eretz Yisrael is very, very good.”
As was then, so too today. In Hebron, we are able to maintain our spiritual strength and faith, just as Kalev, being privileged to live next to Ma’arat HaMachpela. The same spirituality that emanated then still radiates today and gives us the ability to carry on, as shalichim for all Am Yisrael.
Recently a reporter, interviewing me, asked me about 'this problem and that problem and this issue and that issue.' Concluding, he stated/asked: "I guess you don't have too much to celebrate this year." I quickly responded, "To the contrary, we have much to celebrate. The fact that we are here is reason for celebration. True, there are problems, but those we will overcome. We overcame 2,000 years of galut (diaspora). The most important factor today is that we are here in Eretz Yisrael, we are here in Hebron, we are back home. For these reasons, of course we celebrate." [Added to the original article]
This is the essence of Hebron Day. For this we thank G-d for the privilege to live in the city of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and pray that the merit of our Forefathers will rain down upon on all our people, wherever they may be, and that just as light in Hebron brought light to Jerusalem, so too, today’s light from Hebron will shine brightly and bring spiritual strength and faith to Jews around the world.
A belated Happy Hebron Day.
Sivan 1, 5768, 6/4/2008
My name is Tehila Shimoni. I'm 27 years old, the wife of Yosef Chaim Shimoni 28 years old, and mother of Itai, two and a half years old. I would like to tell you about my young family.
As it is written "whoever saves one life, it is as if he saved an entire world."
My husband and I both were born in Kiryat Arba. He went to the army, to a special unit, "Egoz"- that fights terrorists in Judea and Samaria and against" Hizballah" in Lebanon.
When we married 5 years ago we chose to live in "Giva't Harel"-in the Binyamin Settlements. This settlement is named after our loved brother in law, Harel Ben Noon, who was murdered by an Arab terrorist on the same hills.
My husband Yosef works in a company that ensures that the Arabs will not take over more lands in our holy land.
A few weeks ago Yosef wasn't feeling well. We went from doctor to doctor and then from one hospital to another, and they told us that it's just an infection. On Israel's Independence Day he was accepted for emergency surgery and unfortunately diagnosed with a very violent cancer that spread in his stomach.
After counseling with doctors, we were told that the treatments in Israel are limited.
My husband and I were raised on the laps of our ancestors: Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivka, and Ya'akov and Leah, all of whom refused to give up hope.
After searching all over the world we found a clinic in Germany that treats successfully such cases They combine chemotherapy treatment with other unique treatments. We sent a family member to Germany to examine those clinics and we understand that we have to be quick and arrive as soon as possible in order to improve our chances of success.
The estimates of the expenses are 150,000 Euro (almost $250,000) which we don't have, even after opening all our savings.
My uncle, Ofer Ochana, who some of you many know from the Gutnick Center Restaurant in Hebron, suggested that I write and tell you my story. Therefore I ask any of you that can help me save my husband's and the father of my children's (I'm two months pregnant) life!
As it is written "whoever saves one life, it is as if he saved an entire world."
Funds can be donated via the Hebron Fund in NYC, at 1760 Ocean Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11230 or via internet at www.hebrontruma.com. Please note on the check or web donation that the funds are for the Yossi Shimoni Fund.
In Israel checks can be deposited in Bank HaPoalim, Branch 695, Account number 595954. Please fax the deposit slip to 02-9944521. More information can be received from Efrat at 050-628-5603 or Moshe at
Also, your prayers are very much needed for: Yosef Chaim ben Mazal Tov.
Thank you very much.
Iyar 25, 5768, 5/30/2008
In an article published by the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) called "About TIPH [http://xrl.in/5hl]," it is stated: The two parties [Israel and the Arabs] agreed that TIPH should be the neutral witness on the ground who monitors and reports on the situation. TIPH's neutrality might be weighed against the following TIPH statements:
In a TIPH information pamphlet [http://xrl.in/5hm] they state: Typical TIPH reports concern violence and harassment around settlements, shooting incidents and misconduct by police or soldiers, house searches, prolonged ID-checks and restrictions of freedom of movement.
In an article titled "A Brief History, [http://xrl.in/5hk ]" TIPH refrains from stating that Ma'arat HaMachpela was closed to Jews and Christians for 700 years, despite the fact that it is a " holy city for the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths."
They also state "After the war of 1948, Hebron came under Jordanian rule which lasted until the war of 1967 when Hebron was occupied by the Israeli army."
Note that Hebron came under Jordanian rule but was occupied by the Israeli army."
Also note that "since then (2002) the Israeli army operates over the entire area in violation of the agreements." However no violation of agreements or obligations of the Arabs is mentioned.
An article headlined "Six years since two TIPH observers were shot dead in Hebron" [http://xrl.in/5hf] refrains from mentioning that the observers were killed by an Arab terrorist. It was also noted that members of TIPH and representatives of the Palestinian authority were present at a memorial for the two TIPH officers. It is not clear whether any Israelis were invited to participate.
In an article headlined "Israeli settlers occupy Palestinian building in Hebron" [http://xrl.in/5hg] "TIPH urges the IDF to evacuate the settlers from the building to avoid that new facts of the ground are being established, TIPH Head of Mission Karl-Henrik Sjursen says. This action of the settlers can be seen by the Palestinians as an unnecessary provocation in an already tense environment. It might have serious consequences for the security situation in the city, TIPH Head of Mission Karl-Henrik Sjursen adds.
In an article headlined "Increased violence around newly occupied house in Hebron" [http://xrl.in/5hh] TIPH states, "The occupation of the house has not only led to increased violence but also further destabilized the situation in Hebron as a whole. In this respect TIPH again urges the Israeli authorities on all levels to take necessary measures to evict the occupants."
In an article headlined, TIPH welcomes the eviction of illegal occupants from the wholesale market in Hebron [http://xrl.in/5hi],TIPH states, TIPH is concerned about the recent development in the city of Hebron and urges the Israeli authorities to uphold law and order and protect all people living in the area.
- In the light of the ongoing violence and the continuing violation of both Israeli and international law we also encourage the Israeli authorities to evict the settlers occupying the house on Patriarchs’ Hill with no further delay, TIPH head of Mission Karl-Henrik Sjursen also says.
A map sold in Hebron, distributed by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, donated by and under the auspices of TIPH, contains the symbol of Palmap – the entire state of Israel. The map labels all Israeli sites in the city as 'palestinian:' The Avraham Avinu neighborhood is called Al Hisbeh settlement; Beit Romano is Madraset Qsamah; Beit Hadassah is Al Dabboya; the Gutnick Center is called Al-Isterahah settlement; and of course Ma'arat HaMachpela is called Al Haram al Ibrahimi. The map also describes Hebron as an "Arab Islamic City."
In a TIPH public opinion poll [http://xrl.in/5hj] they ask:
Table 11: Knowledge about some of activities implemented by TIPH according to place of residence
One of the possible replies is: Physical protection of houses against settler harassment.
Is TIPH responsible for 'physically protecting" Arabs from 'settler harassment?'
Does TIPH act to 'physically protect' Jews from 'Arab harassment?'
Figure 26: One of the choices given when asked about about how long they think that the organization should stay, was: that TIPH should stay until the end of occupation.
Why does TIPH relate to a Jewish presence in Hebron as 'occupation?' Why does TIPH take for granted that the Jewish presence (occupation) will come to an end?
Figure 30: TIPH is currently holding a campaign to raise the awareness of the citizen on their legal rights under occupation. Did you hear about this campaign and the activities?
Again, TIPH relates to Jewish presence in Hebron as 'occupation.'
The Public Opinion Poll [http://xrl.in/5hj]
Some interesting responses:
Figure 2:Only 9% of the population is unemployed.
Figure 4: 69% are optimistic – 21% are pessimistic
65% of those living in H2 are optimistic
Issue of concern:
Economic hardship: In H1 – 21% - In h2 – 25%
Not concerned at all: In H2 – 24%
Figure 8 – Table 9
62% feel less secure since inception of TIPH
H1- 61% H2 – 69%
Only 22% feel more secure
Figure 9 – 10
Household needs: 29% answered employment – 40% answered security
Community needs: 31% answered employment – 69% answered security
The report states: "The need for employment is higher among respondents living in H1. So is the need for education and security."
Table 11: Have you heard about TIPH implementing…
Physical protection of houses against settler harassment - 90% no
Figure 16:30% - TIPH is working to fulfill its mandate
Figure 17: What is TIPH doing in Hebron:
12% Physical protection of houses against settler harassment
65% TIPH doesn’t really see what is happening in the city or don't know
58% never met TIPH member
86% never reported incident to TIPH
49% reporting incident doesn't improve situation
83% haven't benefited from TIPH
34% satisfied with TIPH work in community
Question of duration of mandate:
35% - TIPH shouldn't be here
58% - TIPH should stay until end of occupation
Support of TIPH presence
54% - not support/indifferent
Support sending more TIPH observers:
From the above statistics we can learn:
1. TIPH is far from being a "neutral observer." To the contrary, TIPH is clearly biased towards the Arabs in Hebron, and shows absolutely no concern or sympathy for the Jewish community in Hebron.TIPH relates to an Israeli presence in Hebron as 'occupation' and seem to be working to end this 'occupation.' They also assume the the 'settlers' harass Arabs. However no mention is made of Arab terror against Jews.
2. The TIPH presence in Hebron has little, if any influence, on the Arab population of Hebron. They see little, if any need for TIPH, with many of those asked rejecting any positive TIPH influence and rejecting their necessity in the city.
3. According to the poll, only 9% of Hebron's residents are unemployed; this compared to reports of between 25-27% in all of 'the west bank.' Economic hardship concerns only a quarter of the population. In other words, the claims of 'Israeli repression' due to closed shops in the H2 region of Hebron are false. Some 65% of H2 residents are classified as 'optimistic' concerning the future.
Clearly, from the above facts and statistics, Israel, in allowing TIPH to remain in Hebron, is supporting an overtly enemy organization, which actively works against Israel, has no cares for Jewish rights or security, and is totally ineffective in working the Hebron's Arab population. Israel must end the TIPH mandate in Hebron and demand that they immediately leave the country.
Iyar 22, 5768, 5/27/2008
A military appeals panel today publicized its decision concerning "Beit Ezra" – the Ezra house, in Hebron.
Iyar 18, 5768, 5/23/2008