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


30,000 Attend Shabbat Hebron - Parshat Chayei Sarah

30,000 Attend Shabbat Hebron - Parshat Chayei Sarah
Giant tent hosted the largest Shabbat meal ever.

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More than 30,000 people visited Hebron for Shabbat Chayei Sarah including 3,000 people who dined together at the world's largest Shabbat meal at a huge tent sponsored by Chabad of Hebron near the Tomb of Machpela. Rabbis, Members of Knesset, and public figures spoke at a series of lectures, discussions, and classes in neighboring Kiryat Arba and Hebron. Record-breaking numbers of inquiries were received this year as space ran out with 5,000 more people contacting the Jewish Community of Hebron for accommodations. Guests stayed in residents' homes, schools, hostels, yeshivot and seminaries. Countless of tents and trailers were set up throughout the communities.

On Saturday morning, a huge kiddush was held with noted local residents, important Chabad emissaries from Israel and abroad, including Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan who came from Russia. Elected officials in attendance included Minister Zeev Elkin, Minister David Azoulay, Minister Gila Gamliel, Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, Member of Knesset Moti Yogev, MK Bezalel Smotrich, former MK Orit Struk, chairman of Bnei Akiva Rabbi Haim Druckman, Prof. Elisha Hess, attorney Yoram Sheftel, singer Dudu Fisher, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Hagit Moshe and thousands of guests from around the world, especially from the United States.  The tent and meals were provided by a generous anonymous donor featuring a 5-star banquet. The entire project was a collaboration of the Jewish Community of Hebron, Chabad of Hebron, Hebron Hospitality and other entities in the region.

Director General of the Jewish Community of Hebron Uri Karzen stated, "how exciting that after 50 years since the liberation of Hebron, we see the masses who came to connect to the city and the ancestral homeland.

"Rabbi Danny Cohen, head of Chabad of Hebron spoke at the entrance to the tent calling it a great privilege and drew a parallel to Abraham's tent in Biblical days which was in the same city and offered the same traditional hospitality. "I can only hope that we will increase every year in hosting this important event," he said.

Tour of the H2 section of the city were conducted by Midreshet Hevron - Hebron College, including newly discovered archeological remains. A lecture series in honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the liberation of Hebron from the Kingdom of Jordan were held.


The Hebron Fund USA program attracted over 300 people who participated in exclusive tours, VIP meals and housing.  Registration for all programs closed out a week before the event. Past participants of the Hebron Fund program said "this was the best Chayei Sarah ever."  A new attendee said it "was the best Shabbat of my life" and several excited people asked - "how am I going to go a whole year after this incredible Shabbat"?

The schedule on this year's mission was jam-packed.  On Thursday the Hebron Fund toured the Arbel date factory (complete with a delicious tasting), Casa el Yehud Jordan crossing, and a daytime/nighttime ATV adventure. On Friday the group jeeped from the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, through the beautiful Judean desert, all the way to Hebron. Shabbat in Hebron was the highlight. The group prayed and dined together along with rabbis, Members of Knesset, and top IDF brass. The Hebron Fund toured new projects across Hebron, and had quiet time in the massive Tomb of Machpela complex. Rabbi Daniel Rosenstein, executive director, of the Hebron Fund stated, "I was honored to present to the Brigadier General and the Commander of the Hebron Brigade, handwritten notes from students of the Hillel Torah Day School of Skokie, Illinois. We danced together and mutual appreciation was felt both by donors, commanders and soldiers. This year we added a Saturday night BBQ event in honor of the soldiers that was a truly awe inspiring." On Sunday, the last day of the mission, the group participated in a 5-hour counter-terrorism training program at Caliber-3 followed by dinner at the Roza restaurant in at Gush Etzion junction.

To learn more about the Hebron Fund tours visit Pre-registration for Shabbat Hebron - Chayei Sarah 2017 is now taking place.

The Jewish Community of Hebron would like to thank the many people who make the event a success including the Hebron Fund , Chabad of Hebron, the Tomb of Machpela Heritage Foundation, Hebron Hospitality, and the religious council of Kiryat Arba and Amichai and Rina Ariel, parents of Hallel Ariel. Logistics were arranged by Ashi Horowitz and Shirel Bleicher.

The organizers thank the security forces of the Judea Brigade headed by Col. Itzik Cohen, the Hebron division of the Israeli Police headed by Commander Maurice Chen, the Border Police Superintendent at the Tomb of Machpela led by Aviad Chetfi, Magen David Adom emergency medical services headed by Shlomo Petrover and the rest of the security and medical personnel who ensures that tens of thousands of visitors could enjoy the weekend in peace and protect residents and visitors throughout the year.

Thousands to Attend Hebron Women's Selichot Conference

Thousands to Attend Hebron Women's Selichot Conference

Singer Sarit Hadad, educator Yemima Mizrachi and more to participate in free event.

sarit hadad in hebron 2015

The Hebron Women's Selichot Conference will take place during the Ten Days of Repentance. 
Sunday October 9, 2016
8:00 p.m.

* Sarit Hadad, known as best female singer of the 2000s and a judge onThe Voice Israel
* Rebbetzin  Yemima Mizrahi

* Singer and performer Ricka Razel
* Dance performance in memory of Hillel Yaffa Ariel

The event is free but space is limited.

To register:

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