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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)

      Adar 5, 5768, 2/11/2008

      A Wilder Welcome

      Communication - that's what this is all about.
      Well, I guess this is it. There's a first time for everything.

      No, in truth I have a couple of blogs floating around the web - but writing for Arutz 7 - IsraelNationalNews is special.

      I've labeled this as an all-around blog - Hebron, Eretz Yisrael, and other assorted subjects. I'm davka not going to start with politics, even though there's a lot to write about. I'm going to begin with something personal - perhaps for those of you who don't know me, or aren't familiar with my past writing, a kind of 'getting to know you' blog.
      Let's start two weeks ago. It snowed here in Hebron. I like the snow - so very white - it cheers me up. I also like snow because the snowy scenery is great to photograph. I've been playing around with photography for the past 10 or eleven years, after discovering the wonders of a digital camera and real-time web photo posting. This time around I got some great photos. Here are a few of my favorites from this time around:

      Beit HaShalom (The Peace House)

      Ma'arat HaMachpela

      The Tomb of Yishai and Rut (Jesse and Ruth)

      This time though, the snow gave us some stomach flutters. One of my daughters, Ophira, was getting married and the thought of snow on a wedding day is problematic. The roads are closed, it is impossible to get anywhere, and this is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of.

      But, a week later, that is a exactly a week ago tomorrow night, the weather was great. And so was the wedding.

      Ophira at Ma'arat HaMachpela 

      Ophira and Nachshon under the Chupa

      I consider my wife and I to be a "mixed marriage." She's a pure Sepharadi and I'm a pure
      Ashkenazi.  So my kids are a 50-50 mix. Ophira married a 'Temani' - that is a Yemenite. Actually only half a Yemenite. Nachshon's mother is from Morocco.  But the wedding had a definite Yemenite flavor.  The Yemenite Rabbi who married the couple, Rabbi Eden, followed Yemenite customs, and there was much Yemenite dancing during the wedding celebration. I told a few friends that now I feel like a real Israeli - finally having some Yemenite blood in the family.

      It was a great wedding. Ophira is named for the Jewish city on the Red Sea, better known as 'Sharm El-Shech. When many people were flocking to Yamit way back in 1981-82 to protest the withdrawal from Sinai, my wife and I went to Ophira, where we participated with a few other families and a large group of yeshiva high school 11th and 12th graders, starting a Yeshiva, Yishivat Gvul Yisrael (the Yeshiva on the border of Israel). We lived there for a few months before being expelled a week before Purim. A year later, when we had a baby daughter, we named her after the destroyed Jewish city.

      Today, some 25 years later, Ophira is a charming young woman, finishing her BA and working part time in Jerusalem. She and her new husband, Nachshon, are living in the Shomron community of Tapuach, where his family lived for many years before moving to Elkana. They have a small home, fine for a brand new young couple.

      This past Shabbat we hosted almost 60 people for Shabbat, celebrating the wedding here in Hebron. (The wedding was in Jerusalem.) Our guests, many of them from my new 'hatan's (son-in-law's) family, stayed at the Hebron Guest House, Beit Beitar, in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. We davened at Ma'arat HaMachpela on Friday night and Saturday morning. The evening prayers are particularly joyous, as we sing and dance to famous "Carlebach" Shabbat tunes.

      On Saturday afternoon I led a tour of Hebron to those who had strength to walk around and didn't want to go to sleep. We made it all the way up the hill to Tel Rumeida, and then back to Beit Hadassah (where I live). I think everyone had a good time. Some of Nachshon's family hadn't been in Hebron in almost 40 years so it mus
      writing for Arutz 7 - IsraelNationalNews is special.
      t have been quite an eye-opener for them. Things have changed here quite a bit in the past four decades.

      In any case, the wedding is over, as is the festive Shabbat, and now life is getting back to normal. But I thought this a good way to introduce myself in this new setting - an Arutz 7 Blog.

      Of course, not all blogs will necessarily be personal - there's much going on in Israel that needs discussing. I'll look forward to your thoughts and comments. Communication - that's what this is all about.

      So, that's it for now -
      With blessings from Hebron.