Rabbi Sam Shor, Program Director of the OU Israel Center and Shalom Lerner ,executive director of the ICCH announced a joint project encouraging the general public to tour the Mount of Olives (Har HaZeitim) in Jerusalem.
The program will feature periodic tours of the Mount, with each tour emphasizing a different theme or period of time in Jewish history, and honoring the more than 158,000 Jews for whom the Mount is their eternal resting place.
The initial pilot tour was a great success according to Rabbi Shor, and was a special outing of OU Israel's The Bais-Men's Bet Midrash program with emphasis on visiting and praying at some of the most revered rabbi's burial sites - amongst them the resting place of Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook and Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, better known as the Ohr Hachaim HaKadosh.
The next tour to be scheduled in the coming weeks, will be titled In the footsteps of Jewish Heroes, and will introduce participants to the stories of many of the great Jewish and Zionist leaders who are interred on the Mount of Olives.
Rabbi Sam Shor remarked: 'We are very proud to partner with Shalom Lerner and the dedicated team at the International Committee (ICHH) for Har Hazeitim and be able to offer opportunities for Jews from across the world to connect to our roots and literally walk in the footsteps of generations of the Jewish people, to connect with our greatest rabbis, leaders and heroes, and to encourage and support all those working to restore and maintain this sacred heritage site. This pilot trip will hopefully serve as a model of many subsequent group visits and form the basis for individuals to feel comfortable to visit as well.
Shalom Lerner said the foremost priority of the ICCH is that Jews should be able to visit, pray and tour this holy site without fear.
'We are in constant contact with the police and government officials to ensure that the roads to the mountain and the mountain itself is secured at all times. We are putting special emphasis on bringing as many people as possible to the Mountain. In addition to the group tours , we will be facilitating visits for families and individuals. We are very grateful to Rabbi Shor and the OU for partnering with us and together Bez"h we will bring Har Hazeitim to the holy status it deserves".