Connecting past, present and future of the people of Israel
Connecting past, present and future of the people of Israel Shlomi Cohen

Members of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives), led by brothers Avraham and Menachem Lubinsky, landed in Israel to participate in a ceremony for the signing of a historic agreement to build a visitor center and information center on the Mount of Olives.

The signing of the agreement was made possible after a decade of intensive activity that included discussions in the national and district committees and the advancement of plans in order to carry out the construction of the center.

Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage Ze'ev Elkin and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion “pushed” for the construction of the visitor center project on the Mount of Olives and saw it as an important value for Jerusalem in general and in particular for the Mount of Olives, where for the first time there will be organized and accessible information about the 150,000 Jews who are buried in the Mount of Olives, the largest Jewish cemetery in the world.

The center, which will be built after a decade of activity by the International Committee for Har Hazeitim, will include an information center about the thousands of Jews who have been buried on the mountain over thousands of years of Jewish history. The center to be built will also include a synagogue, a training center, libraries, souvenir shops, a presentation center about the cemetery, an auditorium, a mapping and cemetery research institute, an observation post and more.

The heads and members of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim, Avraham and Menachem Lubinsky, did not stop for one moment and pushed the promotion of the project in every possible way until the signing the agreement and the start of construction of the center.

In recent months, teams from the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem Foundation have been working to formulate an agreement to establish the visitor center. At the same time, the teams from the International Committee for Har Hazeitim were in action as well, headed by the director of the committee in Israel, Shalom Lerner, and Attorney Asher Drach, who represents the committee.

Minister of Jerusalem and Minister of Heritage Ze'ev Elkin said at the signing of the agreement, "The connection to Jerusalem begins here on the Mount of Olives. My profession is the history of the Jewish people. 1,000 years ago, here on the Mount of Olives, every year, one of the most important ceremonies of the Jewish people took place. The Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, under my leadership, is investing significant resources in the development of the Mount of Olives, both as a tourist anchor as well as to improve security and preservation of the place."

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said at the signing of the agreement, "We now have the opportunity to realize your dream. You mobilized the government and yourselves and set off, together with the municipality. The city of Jerusalem is in a period of development that it has never seen before. The city is developing in the east and west but there is something that always bothers me - the security on the Mount of Olives. And I must tell you that the security in the area is getting stronger and stronger. There is no doubt that the visitor center project will add to security, and we will finally know all the names of the Jews buried there, all of which together will bring more people and, of course, more security."

Photo: Shlomi Cohen

Avraham Lubinsky, head of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim, said, "We gather here together to remember the 150,000 Jews buried on the Mount of Olives. Together with all of you, we are going to build the visitor center and we look forward to working with the government in order to complete the construction as quickly as possible."

Menachem Lubinsky, head of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim, said at the signing of the agreement, "We were like dreamers. Who would have thought that such a center would be built for us on the Mount of Olives. I wish that thousands of Jews will come to the Mount of Olives, and know and be familiar with this great historic property. About 10 years ago, the idea began to build a structure on the Mount of Olives to stop the Arab invasion inside the mountain. Together with Mayor Lion, who for years, even before he entered office, worked hard for the Mount of Olives."

Attorney Shalom Wasserteil was also invited to speak and said, "We are involved in establishing a visitor center that has great meanings, the most important of which is the security significance. In this place are buried both the great men of the nation as well as common people from the days of King David to the present day. The Mount of Olives, the only place that connects all generations throughout history."

Also speaking at the signing of the agreement was Shalom Lerner, head of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim in Israel, who said, among other things, that "Thank God we are privileged to return the Mount of Olives to its proper and honorable status and thanks to this we will also be privileged to see the resurrection of the dead that is known to begin on the Mount of Olives."

Dov Fishoff, a member of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim, who worked tirelessly on the fundraising efforts for the visitor center project, said at the signing of the agreement, "Following our family tragedy, our granddaughter is buried here on the Mount of Olives. In each visit we discovered the destruction - shattered graves near her burial site. We took on the important task - to fight against vandalism and maintain the safety of the Mount of Olives, for the sake of the many visitors and the honor of the dead who are buried in this holy cemetery."

The last speaker, Dr. Paul Rosenstock, a member of the International Committee for Har Hazeitim, said in his remarks that "this project is historic, connecting the past, present and future of the people of Israel. These are the great men of Israel who, with the help of God in the days of Messiah, will return to life."