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Daily Israel Report

This Sabbath: "Most Jews Ever in Hevron"

The Jewish community in Hevron is expecting more guests this Sabbath than any previous Sabbath in the history of the renewed Jewish presence in the City of the Patriarchs.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 11/25/2005, 10:43 AM / Last Update: 11/25/2005, 9:42 AM


Thousands descend upon Hevron each year on the Sabbath corresponding with Parshat Chayei Sarah, the Torah portion dealing with Abraham's purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs as a burial-place for his beloved wife Sarah.

Though often described as "contested" in the international press, the purchase of the Tomb of the Patriarchs is documented, in detail, in Genesis 23, which will be read Saturday morning by Jewish worshippers.

Abraham was offered the cave at no charge by the local Hittite population in Hevron 3,000 years ago, but insisted on paying for it to ensure that the ownership of the property would not be contested in future generations.

According to Moshe Ben-Zimra, a Hevron resident busy with logistical preparations for the coming Sabbath, there has been an unprecedented interest in attending this year's Shabbat Hevron. "I estimate that that this Sabbath in Hevron will be the largest ever known since the time of Abraham," he said.

Visitors will be housed in school dormitories and in every room of families' homes in the adjacent city of Kiryat Arba.

"Families can be heard on the streets discussing how many people they are hosting for Shabbat – usually around 15 or twenty," Kiryat Arba resident Michael Pollack told Arutz-7. "The stores are all packed and Shabbat supplies are on sale in a show of appreciation to the visitors. Tents are also popping up all around town."

The Egged bus company is providing extended service to Hevron from both Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva throughout Friday and after the Sabbath ends Saturday evening.

All areas of the Tomb of the Patriarchs will be open to Jewish worshippers during the course of the Sabbath. Usually, the Hall of Isaac and Rebecca is used as a mosque by local Arabs, but it is open to Jews seven days a year. Tours of Hevron's various Jewish neighborhoods and historic sites will be provided as well.