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Record-breaking visitors for Shabbat Chayei Sarah

Record-breaking visitors for Shabbat Chayei Sarah

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Approximately 35,000 people visited Hebron on Shabbat for the annual reading of Parshat Chayei Sarah, breaking records for all previous years. The Cave of Machpela was open in its entirety for the day, as the Torah portion describing the ancient site was read.

The Hebron Fund rented a dormitory, apartments and other spaces for their guests. Thousands of tents and hundreds of trailers dotted the city in a festival atmosphere and about 4,000 people dined at huge hospitality tents sponsored by Chabad of Hebron.

Among the guests were Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, Environmental Protection Minister Ze'ev Elkin, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Member of Knesset Moti Yogev, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Beersheba Yehuda Deri, radio talk show host and noted lawyer Yoram Sheftel, and popular musicians such as Dudu Fisher, Sruli Hersh, Dov Heller, Hezki Sofer, Sinai Tor and others.

Uri Karzen, director of the Jewish Community of Hebron stated that the number of participants was at an "all-time high" and "a special day for Hebron and for Jewish people around the world." he added, "in the near future we will host people in the new buildings which are being planned for the Hezekiyah Quarter."

The community also thanked the Israel Defense Forces and police who were responsible for security, crowd control and logistics. Many top commanders joined the community for a Friday night Shabbat meal and spoke to a group of tourists about their sense of pride in helping assist for such an event.

The Hebron Fund, the official sponsor of The Jewish Community of Hebron, hosted a VIP Chayei Sarah Program featuring catered meals, hot kiddush, tours, onegs, speakers, great accommodations and round-trip coach bus transportation. Over 250 people attended their program this year.

Rabbi Daniel Rosenstein, Executive Director of The Hebron Fund said ‘the Israelis, especially the soldiers, are amazed that Jews would fly in just for the weekend. The Americans shrug it off and express appreciation for the residents of Hebron who live there all year."

Fortunately, hosting the Members of Knesset and IDF Commanders allows us to have a top-notch program and everyone feels connected. The prayer services, led by Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum and Chazzan Sruli Hersh inspire people's souls in ways they haven't felt before. "Our success is due to a team effort of our extraordinary staff and donors. It's just an amazing Shabbat and we make it easy to attend” said Rabbi Rosenstein.

The Hebron Fund also hosted Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI) led by Helen Freedman, Judy Freedman Kadish and Ken Abramowitz. Some alumni from the Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC), who are learning in Israel this year, were there to enjoy the festivities as well.

The Jewish Community of Hebron, celebrated two recent successes in the past several months. The first was official status as a separate municipality by the Israeli government. This enables the local community to take care of municipal services such as garbage pick up and other maintenance that previously was neglected by the Hebron municipality run by the Palestinian Authority.

The second big news item was the announcement of 31 new housing units to be built in the Hezekiyah neighborhood. The project which was on hold for years finally achieved approval and will help ease the demand for housing. The new apartment complex will be build next to the Beit Romano building, which as built in 1876. It was here that Rabbi Haim Hezekiyah Medini, lived and worked on his talmudic encyclopedia the Sde Hemed.

The picnic-like atmosphere filled the streets as people shared food, sang Shabbat songs, and toured the historic buildings such as Beit hadassah, built in 1893, the Avraham Avinu synagogue, built in 1540 by refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and the Tomb of Jesse and Ruth, located in the Tel Hevron archaeological park.

One site that was difficult to visit was the Tomb of Otniel Ben Knaz, the first Judge as listed in the Bible. Located in the Palestinian Authority controlled zone of Hebron, this year, only a small group was allowed in due to security reasons.

On Thursday night, 250 people visited the Elonei Mamre archaeological site, also within the Palestinian Authority area. Organized by the Midreshet Hevron college, the trip included lectures about its historic significance as a structure built by King Herod the Great, a site of pagan worship, and for a time, a Byzantine church. As it's name indicates, some researchers believe it to be the location of Biblical Mamre where Abraham and Sarah lived.

The main attraction of course that the towering Tomb of Machpela complex, built by King Herod about 2,000 years ago. The structure houses the underground burial caves where the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of the Jewish people were buried as recorded in the Book of Genesis. The Hall of Isaac and Rebecca the largest in the building was open to the public, an occurrence which takes place only 10 times throughout the year due to a rotation agreement with the Muslim Waqf.

In a scene reminiscent of the Lag BaOmer festival in Meron, and other mass Jewish gatherings, the thousands that prayed, sang, ate and rejoiced on the Sabbath day seemed to appreciate significance of the day.  After Shabbat, a generous donor to the Hebron Fund sponsored a massive barbecue for the security services including steaks and loud music. Attendees walked away physically and spiritually complete.

The Hebron Fund is now accepting inquiries into next year’s program and can be reached at (718) 677-6886. They have been challenged with an online matching grant opportunity. Details will be available at the beginning of December.

Chayei Sarah Weekend 2017 Registration

Chayei Sarah Weekend. Register today!
Thursday Nov 9 - Sun Nov 12

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Save the Date - Chayei Sarah 2017

Save the Date Chayei Sarah 2017

Register Here

New Chayei sarah 2017 save the date

Extended Weekend: Thursday November 9 - Sunday November 12
Shabbat in Hebron: November 10/11

 

Save the Date - Sukkot in Hebron!

Will you be in Israel on Sukkot? Join us for the holiday celebrations in Hebron!

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Contact The Hebron Fund for more information and to RSVP

VIP and Public tour options available.