Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom on Wednesday visited Hevron for the inauguration of a new pathway along “Worshipper's Way,” the walkway between Kiryat Arba and the Machpelah Cave area. Work has been completed on the project, which was funded in part by the Prime Minister's Office, and it will be inaugurated next week in a ceremony to be led by government Minister Silvan Shalom.
The pathway was built in order to ensure easy access to the Jewish holy sites in Hevron, enabling worshipers to reach the Machpelah Cave and other sites in a safe and secure manner.
The Machpela Cave (also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs) is one of the holiest sites in Judaism, and the burial spot of the Biblical Jewish patriarchs and Matriarchs (apart from Rachel, who is buried in Bethlehem).
During the visit, Shalom visited the “Yitchak Hall,” the largest prayer area in the Machpelah Cave. The hall is usually reserved for Muslim prayer, with Jews admitted only on Jewish holy days. Shalom visited the hall together with Hevron community leaders Rabbi Moshe Levinger and Noam Arnon.
“I wish to strengthen the Jewish presence in Hevron,” said Shalom.
“Those who live here are carrying out a most important and holy mission for the benefit of the Jewish people. This is where everything began, the building blocks of the Jewish people,” he continued, referring to Hevron's status as the first capital city of the Davidic Dynasty, before King David united the Israelite tribes and moved the seat of his kingdom to Jerusalem.
“From here we issue a call to strengthen the Jewish presence in all of the Land of Israel. We are constantly fighting for our rights in the Land of Israel. We must constantly remind the nations of the world that we were here first,” declared Shalom.
Shalom also participated in the setting of a mezuzah at the entranceway of a new school in the neighboring town of Kiryat Arba.
Addressing Shalom at that event, Rabbi Levinger said that the community “was not just symbolic of settlement of the Land, but of the coalescing of communities and groups. Kiryat Arba-Hevron boasts residents of all backgrounds, including religious, non-religious, native and immigrant. You,” he told Shalom, “are a true friend of this community. Without your help, the massive development we have seen here would not have taken place."