For the first time in eleven years, there is now a mezuzah at the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem, courtesy of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who put it up Wednesday night. Katz was one of thousands of people who visited the site, accompanied by IDF troops. The last mezuzah at the site was torn down in 2000, when marauding Arabs torched the Tomb building.
Assisting Katz was Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, and among the 2,000-plus people who attended the event were IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz. The entry to the Tomb was arranged by the Shechem Echad organization and the Samaria Regional Council.
Katz is one of the most senior government officials to visit the Tomb in recent years. Last year, nine government officials and ten Knesset members visited the site in a special daytime visit. Nearly all the entries of Jews into the site over the past few years have been late at night. The site has been completely refurbished in recent years, and the mezuzah affixing Wednesday night represented a completion of the current round of refurbishing.
Katz recited the blessing on affixing a mezuzah, and added the blessing of “Shehechiyanu,” to commemorate the return of an important Jewish symbol to the site. Katz, considered a senior figure in Israel's political establishment, was visibly moved at the event. “I had the great fortune to have the merit to affix a mezuzah at the Tomb of Joseph,” he told attendees at the event. “It is time we return to the Tomb and impose our sovereignty on it. Samaria is the true 'homefront' and real strategic depth of Israel. The residents of Samaria are truly the 'inheritance of Joseph,' following his ways of settling and working the land.”
Katz added that his office was working to expand the transportation infrastructure in Samaria. “We will continue working with Gershon Mesika and the heads of the local authorities to develop settlement in this area,” he said. Mesika thanked Katz for putting up the mezuzah, and the security forces for ensuring the safety of the thousands who came to pray at the site.
“Unfortunately we remember the actions of the terrorists in Palestinian Authority police uniforms in desecrating this site. I call on the government to fulfill what is clearly written in the Oslo Accords, the imposition of full Israeli sovereignty on the Tomb of Joseph, one of the holiest sites of the Jewish people.”