For the first time ever, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has sent a special letter of support to Hevron's Jewish community, in honor of "Shabbat Hevron," during which thousands of people are expected to visit Hevron.
The gesture may be politically meaningful, and could be construed as a message of steadfastness connected to ongoing "peace talks" with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA wants Israel to uproot its communities in Judea and Samaria – of which the Hevron community was the first harbinger.
Shabbat Hevron is a relatively new tradition, which takes place on the Sabbath in which the Torah portion Chayei Sarah is read in synagogues. The Torah portion tells the story of Abraham's purchase of the Machpela Cave, for burying his wife, Sarah.
"The roots of the existence of the Nation of Israel are planted in the stories of the nation's Forefathers, about whom we read in the Torah in these weeks," Netanyahu wrote in his missive.
"In Hevron, one of the most ancient cities in the Land of Israel, our Forefather Abraham planted his stake and purchased the Cave of Machpela and its environs. On this plot of land, the eternal connection between our nation and its homeland began, and it is also where the Forefathers and Foremothers were buried. That is where David established his kingdom before moving it to Jerusalem. And that is where Jews have been holding fast for generations, at the time in which the land was occupied by foreigners."
Netanyahu went on to note that the Jewish connection to Hevron has never been broken, and that although an Arab pogrom forced the Jews out in 1929, the renewal of Jewish settlement there after the Six Day War "cast a new link in the long chain of generations."
For generations, when the Cave was under Muslim rule, Jews were prevented from ascending past the seventh step in the stairs that lead up to it, the Prime Minister noted. "The steadfastness of the sons to the city of the forefathers stood the test of the Diaspora, and the renewed and flourishing community in Hevron attests to that."