Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron
Cave of the Patriarchs in HevronFlash 90

Thousands of people have begun the yearly pilgrimage to Hevron Friday, in honor of the Shabbat in which the Torah portion of "Chayei Sarah" (lit. "The Life of Sarah") is read, discussing the Biblical matriarch. 

Crowds typically gather in the city to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs for the Shabbat, and many Torah academies - both high schools and higher education institutions - arrange group trips to the site for this week. Due to overflow, hundreds will also stay in nearby Kiryat Arba to be close to the site. 

To ensure security over the packed weekend, extra IDF and police forces have been stationed in Hevron, especially near the biggest prayer gatherings.

Amid the excitement this year, due to the fact that this is the twentieth year of the undeclared tradition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a personal greeting to Hevron's tiny Jewish community hailing the Jewish presence at the site.

"The Israeli government includes the Cave of Patriarchs in its list of national heritage sites," he stated. "Hevron reflects the strength of the connection and the unity among us."

"I wish this Shabbat in Hevron, which will be attended by thousands, to strengthen and deepen the foundations of our existence in this country - for present and future generations," he continued. 

Meanwhile, Jewish community leaders in Hevron say preparations are well underway. 

"All residents are mobilized and we are preparing to host tens of thousands of Jews to come here," a community leader stated to Arutz Sheva. "We have organized accommodations." 

Guests will enjoy a rich and varied program which includes discussions with MKs Zeev Elkin (Likud), Gila Gamliel (Likud), Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika and more.

Hevron community leaders have also decided to show their solidarity with Israelis across the country.

Therefore, the Sabbath will be held around the central theme "Four Holy Cities," and the Chief Rabbis from the four traditional holy cities - Tzfat (Safed), Tiberias, and Jerusalem - will participate in the Hevron Shabbaton.