"Hevron Sabbath" has ended, and the 25,000 visitors and guests are making their way home after spending Shabbat in the City of the Patriarchs.
The annual event attracts guests even from abroad. Among those who took part this year were Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Tzfat's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, and MKs Uri Ariel, Ze'ev Elkin, Tzipi Hotobeli, and Gila Gamliel.
The event is held each year on the Sabbath of Parashat Chaye Sarah (Genesis 24 and 25), when the story of the Patriarch Abraham's purchase of the Machpelah Field and Cave is recounted. The three Patriarchs, as well as three of the Matriarchs - Sarah, Leah, and Rebecca - are buried there; the Matriarch Rachel died near Bethlehem, and was buried along the way in what is now Rachel's Tomb.
This year's "Hevron Sabbath" was marked, for the first time in 12 years, by the official opening of the streets of the Kasba – the old city marketplace and former Jewish quarter – to crowds of Jewish visitors. The guests saw 19th-century Jewish homes and institutions, now occupied by Arabs.
"We thank the myriads of visitors," a statement by the Jewish Community of Hevron said, "as well as the security forces and the residents of Hevron and Kiryat Arba who opened their homes and their hearts. We await the day when 25,000 Jews will live in Hevron, and will not be just visitors."