The Magen David Adom first aid organization has announced that it plans, for the first time, to set up a medical tent for visitors who come to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron for “Shabbat Hevron” this weekend.
The Shabbat on which the parasha (Torah portion) Chayei Sarah is read is known as “Shabbat Hevron” since its tells of the purchase of burial land in Hevron by the first Jew, Abraham. He did this to keep the peace, despite the fact that G-d had promised the land to his children, say the commentators, much as Jews returning to their land have attempted to do. Sadly, this is one of the most contested areas of Israel, with the Arabs denying Jewish connections to the holy city and calling the Tomb of the Patriarchs solely their heritage site.
Sarah lived 127 years and died in Hevron, some commentators saying that it was from hearing the news of the Akeidah (binding of Isaac). Abraham asked the Hittites to intercede for him with Ephron son of Zohar as he wanted to buy from him the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat HaMachpela) at full price in order to bury Sarah there. Abraham paid Ephron 400 shekels of silver for the land, and later buried Sarah in the cave. For more on the city of Hevron and the mother of the Jewish people, click here.
The three Patriarchs and three of the Matriarchs were subsequently buried there, with only Rachel buried on the road to Efrata. The site is considered the second holiest site to Jews after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
It has become a tradition for Jews from Israel and around the world to spend Shabbat Chayei Sarah in Hevron. Everyone gathers together for prayer services in the Cave of the Patriarchs. Tours of the towns and projects in the area also take place.
Magen David Adom’s tent will have medical equipment and dozens of volunteers, medics and paramedics who will be on call should it be necessary to provide medical services to the visitors.
The decision was made to establish the tent following consultations held between MDA Director General Eli Bin and his management team. The decision was based on an assessment of the situation in the area, taking into account the stormy winter weather expected in Israel over the weekend.
“Following our assessment we decided to place a large medical team that will be able to respond to any medical problem that might arise,” Bin said on Thursday. “This activity is in addition to all of MDA’s activities in saving lives and providing medical services to the Jewish community in Hevron and to the entire country.”
Meanwhile, the Jewish residents in Kiryat Arba and Hevron are getting ready to host the thousands of people who are expected to take part in Shabbat Hevron this year.
The visitors are expected to arrive from many countries around the world, particularly from the United States. Guests from abroad will be given tours in English, French, Russian and even Farsi.
The special Shabbat includes tours, organized meals, meetings with VIP’s, classes, lectures and more.
A special guest this year will be Information and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein.