A crowd of 2,000 people, from all stripes of Israeli society, prayed at Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) Monday night on the eve of the new month of Shevat, which begins Tuesday night.
Jews who do not define themselves as religious joined national and hareidi religious Jews, along with rabbis and leaders of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council, which has campaigned to restore Oslo Accord guarantees that Israel would retain control of the holy site in Shechem.
The Palestinian Authority burned and desecrated Joseph’s Tomb 11 years ago after its terrorists rampaged nearby and killed one man.
Monday night’s prayer celebration was also attended by relatives of Yosef Ben Livnat, who was murdered last year by Palestinian Authority soldiers as he left the holy site after praying there.
The IDF supervised a special new entrance the site Monday night to safeguard the throng. A child read from a Torah scroll, and the crowd joined in singing and dancing.
“Joseph’s Tomb, the Temple Mount, and the Patriarchs' Cave [in Hevron] are the most important Jewish holy sites from which Jews get their strength,” said Samaria regional Council chairman Gershon Mesika.
He said that the crowd reflects the image of the Biblical Joseph, known as Joseph the Righteous.
“We see here tonight citizens from all parts of the country, religious and traditional, national religious and those who do not share their views, “ he said. “They are all together here in unity and love of Israel. This is the message of Joseph the Righteous.”
He called on the government to restore a Jewish presence at Joseph’s Tomb, where a yeshiva was located until the Israeli government surrendered to the Palestinian Authority and withdrew its presence.
Entrance now is forbidden unless coordinated with the IDF.