Hevron, a Jewish City From Time Immemorial - and Forever
In honor of "Shabbat Hevron", when Abrahams's purchase of Mearat Hamachpela [Tomb of the Patriarchs] is in the Torah reading, thousands will make their way to the second holiest city in Judaism to spend an uplifting and spiritual Shabbat praying at the Meara and learning about the city. Arutz Sheva brings you the city's history, written by the tireless spokesman of the Jewish Community of Hevron.
Hevron is the first Jewish city in the
King David ruled from
Jews have lived in
Our community offices are in a neighborhood founded in 1540 by Jews exiled from Spain in 1492.
When returned to Hebron in 1967, Jews did not occupy a foreign city; rather, they came back home.
Jewish presence in
Following the riots, massacre and exile in
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Jews again had access to the first Jewish city in . It must be clearly understood: when returned to
In 1968 Jews officially came back to
Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense, arrived in
Dayan must have expected that the young families, including women and babies, would soon throw up their arms in frustration at the poor living conditions and leave of their own accord.
Dayan was partially correct. The group did eventually leave. But first they lived in the military headquarters for two and half years, until the first neighborhood of the newly founded
There was, however, a yearning to return to
Only in 1979, when Menachem Begin was Prime Minister, did a group of 10 women and 40 children succeed in setting up house in the basement of the old medical center, Beit Hadassah, in the middle of the city. Living in adverse conditions for close to a year, these women and childen became the nucleus of
In 1980, following the murder of six young men outside Beit Hadassah, the Israeli government finally gave official recognition and authorization of
The present Jewish Community of Hevron numbers more than 1,000 people, including almost 100 families, hundreds of children, and some 250 post-high school yeshiva students studying at Yeshivat Shavei Hevron in Beit Romano. The reason there aren't more people living in
That is, perhaps, a misnomer. There are apartments available that we are presently unable to utilize. We have been unjustifiably expelled from 12 apartments that we lived in. Clearly, were there more room in
However, in spite of the small size of the community, according to the statistics received from the IDF and Civil Administration, hundreds of thousands of people visit
Why do we choose to live in
Following a short visit on the Jewish side of the city, they crossed the 'border' and met with
This was reiterated by Natsche's deputy, Kamal Dweck. In an interview he also stated that Jews and Christians may not pray in the Tomb of the Patriarchs 'because it is not a church or a synagogue; it is a mosque and only Moslems can worship in a mosque.'
This lie was raised again by the Arab world when Israel put Hevron on its list of Heritage Sites.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs was off-limits to Jews for 700 years. During that time Jews, (as well as Christians), were not allowed inside the 2,000 year old Herodian structure atop the Caves of Machpela. Today we are told by
There are those who are skeptical. How then, can one explain what happened to Joseph's Tomb in Shechem. According to the Olso Accords this holy site was to remain accessible to Jews. However, following the killing of an Israeli soldier at the tomb, was forced to abandon it. The result was the total destruction of the building which was burned to the ground. And if the Arabs had their way, Kever Rachel would have long ago been turned over to the Palestinian Authority. They claim that her tomb, too, is only a Muslim site.
The only reason that Ma'arat HaMachpela is still accessible to Jews is because there is a permanent Jewish presence in the city. The disappearance of the Jewish Community of Hevron would be tantamount to abandoning our Patriarchs and Matriarchs.
Could any Jew, be they religious or secular, dream of abandoning the Fathers and Mothers of our people?
What is our goal, living in
However, we demand that our Arab neighbors accept the fact that the Jews have an eternal, legitimate right to live in the first Jewish city in the
Our goal is to ensure that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to live in
Our goal is to make sure that all Jews will have access to Ma'arat HaMachpela, that Jews will never again be told that this holy site is 'off-limits' because 'you are Jews.'
Others ask: how can you stay in
It was May 2001, about eight months after the Oslo War — otherwise known as the second intifada — began. Daily,
At 11 one night I was still in the office, five minutes from our home. Again, the sound of gunfire could be heard from the Abu Sneneh and Harat al-Shech hills The phone on my desk rang. It was one of my daughters, Aderet, then 16. Breathless, she exclaimed, "Dad, they're shooting again." I answered lackadaisically, "Yeah, I hear it." In other words, "What's new — it's the same, every day."
"But they shot into our apartment. And I was standing there," my daughter cried.
Arriving home, I discovered five holes in a wall opposite the window in the children's room. Aderet and Ruti had been standing not more than three feet from where the bullets hit. Miraculously, they weren't injured.
Today, Aderet is married with two children of her own. And she too lives here in
Jewish people in and around the world support a strong, vibrant Jewish presence in
Besides which, why should the state of be forced to chop off its roots to appease Arab terror? We know the result of eradicating the roots of a tree. God forbid that should happen!
Present Defense Minister and Former Prime Minister Barak once blessed
Hevron 's Jewish Community could not agree more with this statement. The time has come for our Arab neighbors to stop shooting at us, to stop trying to kill us for no other reason than because we are Jews living in
This is a simple truth that everyone should not only understand, but also agree with. We truly hope and pray for the day when true peace will prevail, both in
Final note from our archives: "On the occasion of the thirty second anniversary of the renewal of the Jewish Community of Hevron, I am happy to convey to the entire community blessings of success and shalom. The right of Jews to live tranquilly in the city of the Forefathers securely, protected from all danger, is not disputed." So began Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's letter of good wishes to The Jewish Community of Hebron on Jerusalem Day 1999. (Ehud Barak is not a part of the Israeli right.)
David Wilder is spokesman for the Jewish community of Hevron. This article appears on the Jewish community's website.