MK Ben-Dahan: Connect Rachel's Tomb to Jerusalem

Jerusalem Municipality should be put in charge of services to popular site, says Dep. Religious Services Minister.

Gil Ronen ,

Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan
Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan
David Hochberg, B'Sheva

Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the Deputy Minister for Religious Services, called to place Rachel's Tomb, which is located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, under the aegis of the Municipality of Jerusalem.

Speaking Monday at the Ramle Conference, Ben Dahan explained that “Rachel's Tomb, surprisingly, is an ex-territorial place. It is not under the control of any municipal authority. It is connected to the military Civil Administration, but it is not under any municipal authority. And I am telling you – Rachel's Tomb needs to be connected to Jerusalem... Certainly now that Bethlehem is a city under Palestinian Authority control, there is no reason why Rachel's Tomb should not be connected to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Municipality should be in charge of the water, electricity, cleaning and maintenance of a place like Rachel's Tomb. It is a place where hundreds of people visit every year and it should look better.”

Ben Dahan also responded to the tirade by leftist artist Yair Garbuz against the right wing “kissers of amulets who prostrate themselves on graves of holy people,” at a Tel Aviv rally. He noted that “when Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l was asked which holy people's graves he prays at, he said that he goes to Har Herzl to the graves of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of God.”

He said that Garbuz's statement can only come from people who disconnected themselves from Jewish culture, as well as the Torah. Ben Dahan said that the educational system needs to change so that Israeli children learn the basics of Judaism, and are all able to recite the first words of the Shema Yisrael prayer. 

Hundreds gathered at the tomb of Biblical matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem in early November, to mark the anniversary of her death on the 11th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. 

Women, especially, come to pray to the matriarch whose life mirrors many of their problems.

Rachel died in childbirth on the road to Israel, traveling with her husband Jacob, his wives and sons and her first son Joseph, born after years of childlessness. It is said that she remained buried in Bethlehem, at the side of the road to Jerusalem, instead of in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron, in order to be a sign of hope for the Jewish people after they were expelled from Israel during the destruction of the first Temple, as they were brought to Babylon.