Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the city of Hebron Sunday evening to mark the start of the Hanukkah festival.
Herzog was honored by the Jewish community in Hebron, lighting the candles for the menorah at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The visit was hosted by Hebron Jewish community head Rabbi Hillel Horowitz and Kiryat Arba local council leader Eliyahu Liebman, and included local rabbis, IDF and Israel Police commanders, local residents, and yeshiva and ulpana students
The president was accompanied by Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the Israel Defense Forces, who took part in the candle-lighting ceremony Sunday evening.
“I am glad to light the first Chanukah candle with you here, in this holy place, the tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. My connection and my family's connection to this place stretches back many generations.”
“Forty-five years ago to the month, Israel's ambassador at the United Nations, my late father Chaim Herzog, later the Sixth President of the State of Israel, recited the verses from the ‘Chayyei Sarah’ Torah portion that we read in synagogues just a few weeks ago on Shabbat. The verses in which the Torah presents, quite atypically, the story of the purchase of the field of Machpelah in intricate detail. And thus, United Nations ambassadors sat there and heard the whole story.”
“They heard how our Patriarch Abraham purchased the field from Ephron the Hittite at full price. In a break from common practice, it was agreed that these verses would be circulated as an official document of the United Nations—a document that proves and exemplifies our connection to the Cave of the Patriarchs. And thus, the title deed for this holy site became an official document of the United Nations Security Council.”
“Brothers and sisters,” President Herzog said during the ceremony, “even today, with all of the difficulties – and won’t ignore the complexities for a second – the Jewish historical connection to Hebron, to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, to the legacy of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, is beyond a doubt.”
“Recognition of this connection should be above debate.”
“When we are united around the wonderful light of the Hanukkah candles, it is important to respect Israeli statehood and its principles, and to listen to the ‘other’, to respect those who are different, to build bridges and to maintain our togetherness, of course without infringing on the rights of any individual or community, in terms of their beliefs or ideals.”
“We won’t agree about everything, but we must always remember that ‘We are all the sons of one man,’” Herzog continued, quoting from the weekly Torah section in Genesis.