kosher bookworm

Hebron: Fifty years since its liberation


This week not only marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, Yom Yerushalayim, but, the next day, the 29th of Iyar, marked the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Hebron, site of the Me’orat Hamachpela.

In an informative essay, entitled “Discovering the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land” ( Rabbi Moshe Goodman of Hebron’s famed Kollel Ohr Shlomo wrote the following:

“There is a difference between Jerusalem and Hebron in regard to the specific days of this last week of the Omer. Jerusalem’s Liberation Day is attributed to the hessed (kindness) of this last week of the Omer (malchut), while Hebron’s Liberation Day corresponds to the gevura (just mightiness) of this last week of the Omer (malchut). We may say that Jerusalem represents in this context the attribute of Divine kindness as Jerusalem is the Holiest Divine City and special Divine aid and kindness from above is befitting her.

“On the other hand, in this context Hebron represents the attribute of ‘mightiness’ which calls for ‘justly earning’ the Land though human effort. Indeed, Hebron was the first city within the lands liberated during the Six Day War to be settled under considerable human effort despite all the odds.

“ ‘Covenant’ is a major concept in regard to the Holy Land, as we say in the ‘blessing on the Land’ in the Blessing After Meals. This means that a major part of our ability to connect to this Land, and the Holy Presence therein, lies with keeping our ‘covenant’ with G-d. This also means that an important part of G-d’s covenant to us, through our Patriarchs of Hebron, lies with the granting of the Holy Land to us.

“In other words, there is a dual covenant in regard to the Holy land — our part of the covenant, and G-d’s part of the covenant.

“One Chamber of Me’arat Hamachpela is called the ‘Chamber of the Covenants’ (Ulam HaBritot). This name, in the plural, can remind us of the dual covenant between G-d and our people through the Patriarchs who lie here at Me’arat Hamachpela. This name may also remind us of both the covenant of the Patriarchs and also of the covenant formed in Hebron with David, the archetype of Messiah and builder of Jerusalem.

“Today, especially on Jerusalem Day and Hebron Day, and especially on this Jubilee Year of Liberation, we are called to contemplate on these matters and also see how they may touch on our spiritual endeavors and actions as well.

“One possible conclusion is working on the synthesis between the special Divine inspiration of Jerusalem and the holy human initiative and courage of Hebron toward our final redemption.”

Eight years ago I penned an essay-review of “Hebron Jews” by Jerold Auerbach, in which I quoted the author’s telling words that ring as true today as they did then:

“Once Jews relinquish their right to live in Hebron, they implicitly undermine their claim to live anywhere in their biblical homeland. To abandon Hebron is to surrender the claims of memory that bind Jews to each other, to their ancient homeland, and to their shared past and future.” (Kosher Bookworm: A Graphic History Lesson of the Jews of Hebron, Nov. 18, 2009)

My personal observations at that time of the historical events experienced by Hebron’s Jews were as follows:

“No other Jewish community in Israel has ever been treated in such a manner. This book, whatever the original intent of its author, places these Jews at the center of the action; placing their rightful claims in their proper historical as well as political perspective.”

I still proudly stand by these sentiments. Kindly please read on to learn why.

I conclude this week’s essay with the following sad observations:

This past week the majority Arab population of Hebron elected a new mayor. His name is Tayseer Abu Shneineh. If this name is not familiar to you, please take note of the following biographical data concerning this ‘’honorable’’ mayor as noted in the Times of Israel on May 14, 2017:

“Abu Shneineh was one of four Palestinian terrorists who on May 2, 1980, attacked a group of Israelis and Jews in a Hebron alley, firing and hurling grenades at them. The attack killed U.S. citizens Tzvi Glatt and Eli HaZe’ev, Canadian Shmuel Marmelstein, and Israelis Hanan Krauthammer, Gershon Klein and Ya’akov Zimmerman. The four terrorists were all sentenced to life in prison, but were released in prisoner exchanges later in the decade.”

All six of the targeted boys were unarmed yeshiva students. 

Fatah, the party that ran this new mayor, described the terror attack as ‘’one of the most important battles and acts of bravery of the Fatah movement’’ and ‘’one of the most courageous self-sacrifice operations.’’ Fatah furthermore praised the killers as ‘’heroes’’ and men ‘’of delicate emotions.’’ (United With Israel, May 14, 2017)

This election and the subsequent popular acclaim that the killer mayor received from the population of Hebron, should further our support for the brave Jewish community of Hebron and Kiryat Arba who will have to contend with this man and his newly invigorated supporters.

With all this said, may I take this opportunity to wish you all, my dear readers, a meaningful Shavu’ot and Chag Samei’ach.