A Shabbat in Hebron on the Shabbat during which the Torah portion Chayei Sarah is read has become, in recent generations, a tradition that unites thousands of the people of Israel. The Torah portion contains the story of Abraham buying the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me'arat Hamachpelah) as a burial plot.
On this traditional Shabbat, the residents of Hebron open their homes and host thousands and thousands of guests who come to mark the occasion at the Cave of the Patriarchs itself.
Hundreds of trailers are parked all over the city, and thousands of tents are erected. In the square of the Cave of the Patriarchs, huge tents are set up where thousands of Jews eat the Shabbat meals together.
This year, such a massive event cannot take place due to the wartime directives of the Home Front Command, so alternative plans have been prepared to allow would-be visitors and others to connect to the Cave of the Patriarchs remotely. First, a website was established, where various materials, articles, films, presentations, photos, and much more are uploaded, allowing each and every person to feel a connection to Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs in preparation for Shabbat.
In addition, there will be a special prayer service on Thursday at 6.00 p.m. in the square near the Cave of the Patriarchs, during which a special prayer will be said for the people of Israel, the victory of the IDF soldiers, and the rescue and return of the kidnapped. The prayer service will be attended by rabbis, members of the public, and the families of the fallen and abducted locals. The families of fallen soldiers Uri Shani and Yochai Dochan will participate in the saying of Kaddish, the traditional prayer for the deceased.
At the same time, a special artistic presentation will be projected on the walls of the Cave of the Patriarchs, which will include the pictures of the abductees, Jewish symbols and symbols of the IDF and the State of Israel, prayers, chapters of the Psalms, an artistic combination of recent images, and more. During the prayer, it will be possible to send names for prayer on the graves of ancestors.
The prayer will be attended by guest rabbis, among them Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, rabbi of Tzfat; the rabbis of Kiryat Arba and Hebron; the heads of yeshivas; and the leaders and activists of the Jewish community in Hebron. Rabbi Doron Peretz, chairman of the Global Mizrahi, whose son Daniel is an IDF officer who was kidnapped by the enemy, will likewise attend. A special hotline will also be activated to provide names for prayer from abroad as well.
"The residents of Hebron - Kiryat Arba, custodians of the city of the Patriarchs and the Cave all year round, who maintain the connection and attachment to the most ancient roots of the people of Israel, work even in these challenging times to connect with the people of Israel and strengthen the spiritual power that stems from the graves of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs," a statement read. It added that the group holds "the expectation and belief that next year tens of thousands of Israelis, together with all the captives and abductees who will return to their homes for life and peace, will be able to visit Hebron and connect in a living, active, happy and creative way with the heritage of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs to inspire future generations."