'America's Doctor' and 'America's Rabbi' Visit Hevron
As part of an ongoing journey through the Holy Land, Dr Mehmet Oz and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach visited the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron and the ancient city of David in Jerusalem on Monday.
Dr. Oz is a Turkish-American and one of the world's most respected doctors and professor of Surgery at NY Presbyterian/Colombia University. He hosts "The Dr. Oz Show" that airs in 118 countries, including Israel. In June 2013, his show won its third consecutive "Best Show" Emmy.
The celebrity doctor expressed his excitement at visiting the Judean city of Hevron, King David's first capital city, which included a trip to Judaism's second holiest site, the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Describing Hevron as the place "where it all began", he continued: “I’m told that Hevron means “connected” in Hebrew; being here connects us to the roots of our shared beliefs, the very spot were Abraham, the father of monotheism is buried.”
The group prayed for peace together from the book of psalms, and then lit candles at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Following the short prayer, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - an American "celebrity" in his own right - commented: “The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron is one of the only places on earth where one can see both Jews and Muslims praying together at the same site. We pray they that for the day when we will all pray together as brothers, just as Dr. Oz and I have done today.”
On exiting the cave Rabbi Boteach and Dr. Oz’s group joined an impromptu "Hora" dance circle with the local residents and took photographs with some the Israeli soldiers stationed there.
Dr. Oz also visited the Jewish community of Psagot, in the Binyamin Region (north of Jerusalem), site of one of Israel's finest wineries.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and This World: The Jewish Values Network, is hosting Dr. Mehmet Oz and his family on their first visit to Israel from July 28th - August 4th. The trip is co-sponsored by American entrepreneur Sheldon G. Adelson and the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies.
The trip was initiated by "celebrity rabbi" Shmuley Boteach, who recently awarded America's most famous medical practitioner and his wife as "Champions of Jewish Values," together with Elie Wiesel and Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson at the annual This World: The Jewish Values Network gala dinner in New York.
The two American media personalities had originally met as colleagues during their time together as radio hosts on "Oprah and Friends."
Earlier this week, Dr. Oz and Rabbi Boteach were joined by Jewish Agency Chairman, Natan Sharansky, as they addressed a packed house at the Jerusalem Press Club. The men discussed an array of issues - from human right and Jewish values, to regional politics.
During that talk, Dr. Oz - who is himself of Turkish origin - shared his sadness at the rift between Israel and Turkey, and urged the Turkish government to respond positively to Israel's overtures to mend relations between the two countries.
"They are both democracies," he said, "and rely on each other in the region. They have to be close allies."
Referring to the Israel's government's apology to Turkey over the deaths of radical Turkish Islamists aboard the infamous "Mavi Marmara" flotilla in 2010, he expressed the hope that the Turkish government would respond in kind.
"I feel very optimistic and admire the Jewish people for taking the first step. The apology helped. It needs a response from Turkey."
Israeli-Turkish relations soured in 2009 when Turkey's Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a joint, televised interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres, after expressing his opposition to Israeli counter-terrorism operations in Gaza.
Having visited two of Judaism's holiest cities (Jerusalem and Hevron), other highlights of Dr. Oz's trip include the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, the Dead Sea, the two other Jewish holy cities of Tsfat (Safed) and Tiveria (Tiberias), and the ancient Jewish fortress at Masada.
In addition, he will be making a personal pilgrimage to the tomb of Maimonides (known in Hebrew as the "Rambam"), one of the most important codifiers of Jewish law, and the personal physician to the Muslim leader Saladin. Dr. Oz has also been invited to meet Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.