Friday, November 6, 2015

Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs Will Be Packed This Weekend. Photographs from the Cave 100 Years Ago - Draiman

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron (All pictures are from the Library of Congress, circa 1900)

Republishing an earlier posting.
In synagogues around the world this Sabbath, congregations will read the Torah portion describing Sarah's death and burial.  Abraham purchased the Mearat HaMachpela [literally the "double cave" -- so named either because it had two chambers or it would eventually contain pairs of husbands and their wives].

Genesis 23:  And these were the days of Sarah, 127 years. Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba which is Hebron....Abraham spoke to the Sons of Heth: grant me legal possession of land for a burial site... for its price in full ... 400 shekels of silver.... Thus it was established, the field and the cave that was in it, for Abraham as legally possessed for a burial site from the Sons of Heth."

"Inner entrance to
Machpelah showing mammoth
 stones in Herodian wall"
In Israel, despite the recent terror knifings in Hebron, tens of thousands of Jews will converge on Hebron to pray in the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs during the Sabbath. Security will be tight.

The massive building surrounding the gravesite was built by King Herod two thousand years ago.  The actual graves are located in subterranean caverns beneath.  Their locations are marked above ground by cenotaphs -- empty tombs that serve as monuments.

Cenotaph above the Tomb of Sarah (circa 1900)

In the 11th and 12th century Jewish travelers documented visiting the caves.  One of them, Binyamin of Tudela, described "two empty caves, and in the third ... six tombs, on which the names of the three Patriarchs and their wives are inscribed in Hebrew characters. The cave is filled with barrels containing bones of people, which are taken there as to a sacred place."  


The great Jewish scholar Maimonides visited the tombs in 1116 and declared it a personal holy day.   

From the 14th century, however, Jews were not permitted to pray at the shrine.  The Mamluks (an Islamic army of slave soldiers) forbade Jews from visiting the site other than standing on stairs outside.  The practice continued until 1948 when all Jews were banned from the Jordanian-occupied West Bank.
Tomb of Abraham
"Cenotaph of Isaac showing distinctive
features of Crusader Church"

Hebron today, where school boys from near
 Jerusalem recently celebrated
completion of the book of Genesis

When Israel captured the area in 1967 Jews were allowed to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs, but Israel allowed the Islamic Waqf authorities to maintain control of large portions of the site. 

Many Jewish families in Israel celebrate weddings, bar mitzvas and circumcisions at the shrine.

Click on pictures to enlarge.
Click on captions to view original picture. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Where Is Hebron, and What Is Its Religious Significance to Jews and Muslims? - Draiman

Where Is Hebron, and What Is Its Religious Significance to Jews and Muslims?

General Reference 
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, published an Oct. 28, 1996 article, titled "Hebron: Historical Background and Statistics," on its website that stated:
"Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) is located 32 km. south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills, and sits between 870 and 1,020 meters above sea level...

The Hebrew word 'Hebron' is (inter alia) explained as being derived from the Hebrew word for 'friend' ('haver'), a description for the Patriarch Abraham, who was considered to be the friend of God. The Arabic 'Al- Khalil' -- literally 'the friend' -- has a nearly identical derivation, and also refers to the Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim), whom Muslims similarly describe as the friend of God.

Hebron has approximately 120,000 (Sunni Muslim) Arab residents [According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) this number reached 166,003 for mid-year 2006]. Hebron's Jewish population, comprised of 45 Jewish families and around 150 yeshiva students, is about 500. Hebron's three Christian residents are the custodians of the city's Russian church. An additional 6,000 Jews [7,000 as of 2007 according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS)] live in the adjacent community of Kiryat Arba."

Oct. 28, 1996 - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

The Columbia Encyclopedia online (sixth edition), in an entry for "Hebron," accessed on Apr. 10, 2008, contained the following description:

Tomb of Abraham
undated photo
(accessed online Apr. 25, 2008)

Tomb of Isaac
undated photo
(accessed online Apr. 25, 2008)
"Hebron has usually had a significant Jewish population, although following Arab riots in 1929 most Jews left and did not return until after the Israeli occupation following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when numerous Jewish settlements were established outside Hebron. One of Judaism's four holy cities, Hebron is also a sacred place for Muslims.

The site of ancient Hebron, which antedates the biblical record, has not been precisely determined. The Bible first mentions Hebron in connection with Abraham. The cave of Machpelah (also called the Cave of the Patriarchs; now enclosed by the Mosque of Ibrahim) is the traditional burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. David ruled the Hebrews from Hebron for seven years before moving his capital to Jerusalem, and Absalom began his revolt in Hebron.

The city has figured in many wars in Palestine. It was taken (2d cent. b.c.) by Judas Maccabeus (see Maccabees) and temporarily destroyed by the Romans. In 636 it was conquered by the Arabs and made an important place of pilgrimage, later to be seized (1099) by the Crusaders and renamed St. Abraham, and retaken (1187) by Saladin. It later became (16th cent.) part of the Ottoman Empire.

In the 20th cent., Hebron was incorporated (1922–48) in the League of Nations Palestine mandate, and in 1948 it was absorbed by Jordan. As one of the major towns in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the city became a focus of Jewish-Arab tensions. The emergence of the Intifada in the 1980s was accompanied by an escalation of violence, and in 1994 the Mosque of Ibrahim was the site of the murder of Muslim worshipers by an extremist Israeli settler. Under the agreement establishing Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank, the Israeli occupation of Hebron was scheduled to end by Mar., 1996. After setbacks and delays, most of the town of Hebron was handed over to Palestinian control in Jan., 1997."

Apr. 10, 2008 - Columbia Encyclopedia (6th edition) 

Fuad Sultan Tamimi, an engineer in charge of the Visually Impaired Training Centre of Al-Quds Open University in Hebron, wrote in a Dec. 2006 article posted on the news website titled "Hebron: Heritage of Palestine":

The city of Hebron
Image by David Rabkin (accessed online Apr. 25, 2008)
"Hebron is one of the most important and oldest cities in Palestine’s history, dating back more than 6,000 years. It is called ‘Al-Khalil’, or ‘Khalil Al-Rahman’, abbreviated from ‘The City of the Friend of God’, the friend of God being the prophet Abraham or, as he is referred to by the Arabs, ‘Abuna Ibrahim Al-Khalil’-‘Our Father Abraham, the Friend’. Thus Hebron is regarded as holy by Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike... 

Hebron is considered to be one of the holiest places in Palestine and welcomes many religious visitors, most of whom are Muslim. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is said to have given the area of Hebron to one of his companions, Tamim Ibn Aus Al-Dari. The descendants of Tamim still exist in large numbers in Hebron, Nablus, and Jordan. Moreover, Hebron is familiar to most of Palestine’s inhabitants, who refer to the gate from Jerusalem that leads to Hebron as ‘Bab Al-Khalil’, or ‘the Gate of Hebron’, rather than other names often used by tourists, such as Jaffa Gate...

The Russian Orthodox Church, considered to be the only Christian site in the city, was built near the oak of Abraham. This site commemorates the promise made to Abraham that he would become the father of a son, Isaac. Until recently, visiting pilgrims would often cut small pieces of the oak trunk for good luck."

Dec. 2006 - Fuad Sultan Tamimi 

The Jewish Virtual Library, an online Jewish encyclopedia, in an entry for "Hebron," accessed on Apr. 25, 2008, contained the following description:

Hebron's Ibrahim Mosque - Cave of Machpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs)
Image by David Rabkin (accessed online Apr. 25, 2008)
"Hebron is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, which dates back to Biblical times. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah are buried in the Tomb.

Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history. It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan. King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods...

Hebron contains many sites of Jewish religious and historical significance, in addition to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. These include the Tombs of Othniel Ben Kenaz (the first Judge of Israel) and Avner Ben Ner (general and confidante to Kings Saul and David), and Ruth and Jesse (great-grandmother and father, respectively, of King David)...

Numbers 13:22 states that (Canaanite) Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian town of Zoan, i.e. around 1720 BCE, and the ancient (Canaanite and Israelite) city of Hebron was situated at Tel Rumeida. The city's history has been inseparably linked with the Cave of Machpelah, which the Patriarch Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels (Genesis 23), as a family tomb. As recorded in Genesis, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, are buried there, and — according to a Jewish tradition — Adam and Eve are also buried there.

Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible, and is the world's oldest Jewish community. Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb from the tribe of Judah (Joshua 14:13-14), who subsequently led his tribe in conquering the city and its environs (Judges 1:1-20). As Joshua 14:15 notes, 'the former name of Hebron was Kiryat Arba...'

Following the death of King Saul, God instructed David to go to Hebron, where he was anointed King of Judah (II Samuel 2:1-4). A little more than 7.5 years later, David was anointed King over all Israel, in Hebron (II Samuel 5:1-3).

The city was part of the united kingdom and — later — the southern Kingdom of Judah, until the latter fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Despite the loss of Jewish independence, Jews continued to live in Hebron (Nehemiah 11:25), and the city was later incorporated into the (Jewish) Hasmonean kingdom by John Hyrcanus. King Herod (reigned 37-4 BCE) built the base of the present structure — the 12 meter high wall — over the Tomb the Patriarchs." 

Apr. 25, 2008 - Jewish Virtual Library  

Anita Vitullo, a Jerusalem-based researcher and writer, wrote in article published in the Fall 2003 edition of the Journal of Palestine Studies titled "People Tied to Place: Strengthening Cultural Identity in Hebron's Old City":
"Settlement of the ancient site of Hebron has been traced to before 3500 B.C. and is attributed mainly to its elevated location at a crossing point between continents. However, the town would not have held much importance beyond its immediate region were it not for its reputation as a religious site. The double cave, which according to legend was purchased by Abraham as a family burial site, has been duly preserved for millennia. The shrine began as a monument built over the tomb by Herod, and in later centuries was rebuilt of mammoth, finely cut stone set without mortar, expanded into a cemetery, and then walled.
It was in the early Islamic period that Hebron's residential center shifted southeast from Tel Rumeida to the area around Ibrahimi [Ibrahim Mosque], where guesthouses were built to accommodate pilgrims, and later families began to build houses. Many of these structures were destroyed during the Crusades, and rebuilt by Salah al-Din, including Ibrahimi Mosque, where Salah al-Din relocated a magnificent Fatimid-era minbar, which remains in the main prayer hall today. As of 1266, the shrine - which had been remodeled from church to mosque twice over - became exclusively a Muslim holy site, and Jews and Christians were no longer permitted to enter the sanctuary. It remained so for seven hundred years until, under Israeli occupation, a section was taken for a synagogue. From earliest Islam, the sanctuaries of Hebron and Jerusalem [al-Haram al-Ibrahimi and al-Haram al-Sharif] were holy places outranked only by Mecca and Medina; the Ibrahimi Mosque was regarded by many as Islam's fourth holiest site. Muslims believe that the Hebron sanctuary was visited by the Prophet Muhammad on his mystical nocturnal journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. An atmosphere of 'miracles and mysticism' surrounded the tomb and attracted worshippers who came seeking Ibrahim's intercession. Under the Ayyubids and Mamluks, the town became a center of Islamic scholarship and home to several dozen active Sufi orders."

Hebron: what happened there - Draiman

Hebron: The Tomb of the Patriarchs as it is today

Hebron: what happened there
  • Abraham bought the Field of Machpelah as a burial plot for his family. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are all buried there
  • David was anointed at Hebron as King of Israel. It was his capital for the first seven years of his reign
  • Joab killed Abner here, and Absalom raised the banner of revolt against his father David
  • King Herod built a lavish tomb over the Cave of Machpelah.
According to the Bible, Hebron is the burial place of Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 23:17-21 tells the story of Abraham's purchase of a cave, the Cave of Machpelah, for a tomb in which he and his descendents could be buried. He paid an exorbitant amount, so that his descendants would have the right of burial there forever. And indeed Abraham, Isaac andJacob were laid there to rest; so were the matriarch Rebecca and Jacob’s wife Leah
Hebron: Painting of the burial of Sarah
The Burial of Sarah
Recent excavations have uncovered a 9ft-thick city wall and fortified tower that dates to the Middle Bronze period, circa 1700 BC. Scholars say this is about the time when, according to the biblical story, Abraham came to the city.
Between the tower and the city wall, archaeologists have unearthed two stone-walled rooms that they believe date back to the period of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose 12 sons became the founders of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel. Artifacts found in the rooms include silver jewelry, bronze axe heads, two scarabs and the handle of a dagger.
Hebron: 1937 photograph of the Upper Pool of David at Hebron
The Upper Pool of David, from a 1937 photograph. This may be the site of
the  'pool of Hebron' over which David hanged the assassins of Ishbosheth
Hebron was King David's first capital city of Judah - see David's story at  Bible People: David. It was also the site of David's anointing as King of all Israel (11 Samuel 5:1-3). The city reached its zenith in the early part of David's reign, serving as his capital for the first seven and a half years of his rule over Judea (II Samuel 2:1-4).
But some years after he came to power he established his new capital at Jerusalem, which was more centrally located and easier to defend. But Hebron was still important. It was stillregarded as a political and religious centre throughout the period of the monarchy. It became a Levitical city, that is a city for priests and Levites, as well as a haven of refuge.
It was at Hebron that the fearsome army general Joab killed Abner ben-Ner, and Absalom raised the banner of revolt against his father (11 Sam. 15:7-10). Rehoboam fortified Hebron, as well as many other places in the Judean mountains (II Ch. I I :10). It also served as an important administrative centre in the later period of the monarchy. Seals bearing the inscription ImIk hbrn  (to the king of Hebron) have been found stamped on jars in many sites in Judah.
Hebron: The Tomb of the Patriarchs as it is today
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hebron
Hebron: Pilgrims pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs
The lower sections of the Tomb date from the time of Herod the Great
Jews settled in Hebron after their return from the Babylonian Exile (Nehemiah 11:25). In the early period of the Second Temple, the Edomites occupied the southern part of Judea, including Hebron. The Hasmoneans later wrested it from them, destroyed it, and burned down its walls (Ant. Bk. 12, 8:6). Herod erected many buildings in Hebron, including an imposing structure over the Cave of Machpelah with an outer wall modelled on that of the Temple Mount. It was made of huge blocks of stone, characteristic of the best Herodian masonry. 
A prominent church and monastery were later built in Hebron and the site became a centre of pilgrimage for Christians. The Arabic name of Hebron, "al-Khalil", meaning "the friend of God", is a significant indication of the reverence in which Abraham's name is held by Moslems. Abraham is revered as the original founder of the three great religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
Hebron: Early photograph of Hebron
Early 20th century photograph of Hebron
Hebron: Topographical map showing the location of Hebron in relation to other major cities and land formations

King David and Hebron (extra information)
The Second Book of Samuel opens with David's lament over Saul and Jonathan and David's move to Hebron, the tribal and cultic centre of Judah and close to Bethlehem, David's birthplace.
At Hebron, David was anointed king over Judah (II Sam. 2:4). In the interim, Saul's commander Abner had crowned Saul's son Ishbaal (Ishbosheth) king of northern Israel at Mahanaim (II K. 2:8-10). After Saul's defeat and death, the Philistines appear to have recognized two separate vassal kingdoms in western Palestine: the area which David ruled from Hebron and the northern territory which acknowledged Ishbaal (2:9). After some desultory fighting, David defeated Ishbaal, apparently without any intervention by the Philistines. With Ishbaal dead, the northern tribes of Israel accepted David's leadership and, by the eighth year of his reign, he felt himself strong enough to make a bid for independence and the unity of his kingdom.
Ground plan of the Jerusalem area as it was at the time of King David
The citadel of Jebus (Jerusalem) at the time of King David
Between Judea and the larger part of the kingdom of Saul, lay the mountain enclave of Jerusalem still occupiedby the Canaanite clan of the Jebusites. While this remained, political and military control of a united Palestine was impossible. David attackedJerusalem, the hero of the battle being his commander, Joab. By creating a diversion within the city he enabled David and his men to break through its defences and capture the stronghold.
Jerusalem became the personal territory of the king, held by right of conquest by David and his personal army. It was outside the general political organization of the country and was, quite literally, "the City of David", an urban city-state, in direct succession to the Jebusite regime. As such, it was not identified with the southern tribes like Hebron, nor with the northern state of Israel. Instead it was neutral ground from which David could reign over a united "People of Israel".
Judean and Israelite settlers joined the original inhabitants of Jerusalem, all of them acknowledging David as king and accepting his retinue of courtiers and mercenary soldiers. To put the seal on his position, David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem in a great ceremony (II Sam. 6:1-19), thereby establishing his royal residence as the religious as well as the political and military capital of the new integrated state of Judah and Israel.

The foundation of this important and ancient city of Palestine is mentioned in the Old Testament in a unique manner: "And Hebron was built seven years before Zoan of Egypt" (Nu. 13:22). The date of the foundation of Zoan, which served as the capital of the Hyksos, can be calculated from extra-biblical sources as circa 1720 BC. It may therefore be assumed that Hebron was built at the beginning of the Middle Bronze (Canaanite) Age 11, which coincides with the Hyksos period. This estimate is also borne out by the frequent mention of Hebron in the Patriarchal Epics (Genesis 13:18; 35:27, and elsewhere), as the Patriarchal period also coincides with that of the Hyksos.
The Canaanite Period
Indications of Canaanite occupation of Hebron occur several times in the Old Testament. One such tradition is the account of Abraham's purchase of the Field of Machpelah in Hebron from Ephron the Hittite (Gn. 23:17-20). The Cave of Machpelah later became the burial-place of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.
The Old Testament also notes that Arba, father of the Anak clan, lived in Hebron and that the whole family was destroyed by Joshua when he conquered the Judean mountains (Jos. 11 :21-22). Kiryat Arba, the other name of Hebron, is thought to be derived from the name of the father of the Anakites. Talmudic tradition, however, attributes the name to the four patriarchal couples who were buried at Hebron, while modern research leans towards the view that "Arba" refers to the four separate quarters that make up Hebron. One of the quarters, Mamre, is mentioned in the Old Testament (Gn. 13:18; 35:27).
During the Conquest, King Hoham of Hebron joined the Southern Canaanite coalition led by Adoni-Zedek, King of Jerusalem. The coalition was defeated by Joshua at Gibeon, and Hebron was later awarded to Caleb ben Jephuneh (Jos. 10:3; 15:13; Jud. 1:20). In I Ch. 2:43, the names of four clans claiming descent from Caleb, 'father' of Hebron, are mentioned. Prof. B. Mazar favours the view that each of these clans lived in one of the quarters of Kiryat Arba.
During the Monarchy
Hebron reached its zenith in the early part of David's reign, serving as his capital for the first seven and a half years of his rule over Judea (II Sam. 2:1-4). Subsequently, Jerusalem was made the capital of the united kingdom. Hebron was also the site of David's anointing as King of all Israel (II Sam. 5:1-3). In deference to the tombs of the Patriarchs within its boundaries, Hebron continued to be regarded as a political and religious centre throughout the period of the monarchy. It became a Levitical city, i.e. a city for priests and Levites, as well as a haven of refuge.
It was at Hebron that Joab killed Abner ben-Ner, and Absalom raised the banner of revolt against his father (II Sam. 15:7-10). Rehoboam fortified Hebron, as well as many other places in the Judean mountains (II Ch. 11 :10). It also served as an important administrative centre in the later period of the monarchy, as can be gathered from the seals bearing the inscription "lmlk hbrn" = (to the king of Hebron) found stamped on jars in many sites in Judah.
Post-Exilic and Roman Period
Jews settled in Hebron after their return from the Babylonian Exile (Nehemiah 11:25). In the early period of the Second Temple, the Edomites occupied the southern part of Judea, including Hebron. The Hasmoneans later wrested it from them, destroyed it, and burned down its walls (Antiquities Book 12, 8:6). Herod erected many buildings in Hebron, including an imposing structure over the Cave of Machpelah with an outer wall modelled on that of the Temple Mount. It was made of huge blocks of stone, characteristic of the best Herodian masonry. Herod also erected other buildings in the Mamre quarter.
The remaining section of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, showing the huge blocks of stone
Huge blocks of stone formed the base of the Temple Mount, built by Herod the Great.
Similar stones were used at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

Though Hebron's position in the Great War with Rome was insignificant, it continued to be revered because of the Patriarchal Tombs (Josephus, War of the Jews, Book 4, 9:7). It was occupied in 68 AD by Shimon Bar Giora, leader of the Zealots, and later razed by the Romans (War of the Jews, Bk. 4, 9:9).
Scant Archaeological Evidence
The present site of Hebron is on four hills: At Muhawer, Nimrah, Jabal al Ja'barah, and Jabal ar-Rumaidah. As yet (this was written in 1964) no systematic excavations of the town have been carried out; there is no unanimity as to the location of Hebron and its quarters in Old Testament times. Nevertheless, there is a strong presumption, based on a number of potsherds from the Iron Age, that the town first stood on Jabal ar-Rumaidah. Among the sites uncovered on that hill was one of a tomb containing pottery dating from the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1700 BC), which seems to fit in with the literary materials bearing on the age of Hebron.
The Cave of Machpelah
According to tradition, the site of the Cave is at Haram el-Khalil in the eastern part of modern Hebron. The Cave, which is sacred to Moslems, is surrounded by an enclosure or "Haram" measuring sixty by thirty-three metres, and a building whose foundations date to the time of Herod. After the Arab conquest, the Cave of Machpelah was covered by a synagogue. Following the Crusades, the Arabs banned the entry of non-Moslems. Those few who have entered report the presence of a blocked cave under the sealed enclosure.
Mamre and Abraham's Tent
The place where Abraham pitched his tent (Gn. 13 :18; 18:1) is near Hebron. Apparently the location has been shifted a number of times because of its association with an ancient oak tree. During Herod's reign and for a long time thereafter, one such tree existed north of Hebron at Ramat-el-Khalil. The site of the tent at Mamre was probably fixed during this period, as Herod built a rectangular enclosure of magnificent masonry there at the same time that he erected the "Haram". The site was rebuilt as a pagan centre with a great market-place during the Hadrianic era. It was chiefly remembered by Jews as the place where, after the Bar Kochba War, thousands of their co-religionists were sold into slavery for less than the price of cattle.
A prominent church and monastery were later built in Hebron and the site became a centre of pilgrimage for Christians. The Arabic name of Hebron, "al-Khalil", meaning "the friend of God", is a significant indication of the reverence in which Abraham's name is held by Moslems. Abraham is revered as the original founder of the three great religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
See other fascinating links between
Archaeology and the Bible

The Intensity of Hebron, in Palestine

By Rick Steves
This worshiper has a view of Abraham's burial site from the Jewish side of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. (photo credit: Rick Steves)
The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is holy to all three monotheistic religions. (photo credit: Rick Steves)
Walking through the Hebron market, I dodged the head of a camel dangling from a chain. I love traveling through Palestine. It’s filled with vivid memories and startling moments. I had no idea the people of Hebron had a taste for camel. But I was told that people here appreciate a nice fresh camel steak because of their Bedouin heritage. And the butcher shops seem to follow that Bedouin tradition: They butcher whatever they have to sell and it hangs on their front porch until it’s all gone.
Today, with about 250,000 people, Hebron is the largest Palestinian city and the commercial capital of the West Bank. It’s a commotion of ramshackle commerce as its population generates about 30 percent of the West Bank’s economy. Just about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, it’s a rewarding place to visit.
Hebron is an ancient city with archeological finds going back some 5,000 years. And for thousands of years it’s been a city of great religious importance. In the hierarchy of holy religious cities, Hebron makes the top four for both Jews and Muslims.
While the old town thrives with commerce, there is a palpable unease that makes just being here stressful. That’s because Hebron is the site of the Tomb of Abraham — the great prophet and the epic father of both the Arab and Jewish people. Hebron is holy for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. And that’s why sharing it peaceably is a challenge.
Hebron feels like a thoroughly Arab town, except for a small community of a few hundred determined Zionist Jews who live mostly on the high ground in the town center. While it’s not an easy place to live, they’re driven by their faith, believing it’s important not to abandon the burial site of their patriarch. And they’re protected by a couple thousand Israeli troops posted here for their security.
Sightseeing here was joyful and sad at the same time. The Arab market was a festival of commerce, but checkpoints, security fences, and industrial-strength turnstiles are a way of life here. Walking down Hebron’s boarded-up “ghost street” was not enjoyable. Meeting Jewish settlers, so vastly outnumbered, I felt a sense of embattlement on their part. A no man’s land (with pro-Israel political art decorating shuttered buildings) divides the two communities. Being here with our TV crew was tense.
The tomb of Abraham sits on a holy spot under a Crusader church. Its foundation wall — which dates back at least 2,000 years — is made of “Herod Stones,” quarried and cut during King Herod’s reign. Each stone — like the Western Wall so beloved by Jews back in Jerusalem — has a distinctive and decorative carved border.
Today, the building — called the Tomb of the Patriarchs because it houses Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob as well as Abraham — is divided to serve both Jewish and Muslim worshipers.
The site, tragic as well as holy, is split because of its bloody history. In 1994, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a Jewish settler gunned down 29 Muslim worshipers here and wounded another 125 people. Since then, the holy spot has been divided — half mosque and half synagogue — with each community getting a chance to pray at the tomb of Abraham separated by bulletproof glass.
That horrific massacre wasn’t the first. In 1929, local Arabs went on a rampage, killing 67 Hebron Jews and destroying Jewish homes and synagogues. More than 400 Jews survived the bloodbath because they were hidden by their Arab neighbors.
I visited both sides. On the synagogue side, devout Jews gathered to study, sing, and pray among the tombs. When I was there, a group of soldiers, mostly recent immigrants, were visiting with a teacher to learn about their Jewish heritage. According to their faith, the Tomb of the Patriarchs marks the first Jewish possession in the land of Israel. Abraham purchased the burial plot almost 4,000 years ago as explained in Genesis 23. Each soldier took turns bobbing in prayer at the foot of Abraham’s tomb, just a few feet and a bulletproof pane of glass away from another window where Muslims gathered to pray as well.
On the mosque side stands a venerable “mimber” — a staircase from which the imam gives sermons. A standard feature in mosques, the mimber represents how teachers, spreading the word of the Prophet Muhammad to a growing number of followers, had to stand ever higher on a staircase to be heard. This one is a rare original from the 11th century made of inlaid wood with no nails, one of the oldest Islamic wooden pulpits in the world. And above the Muslim worshipers was the silent but very present Israeli security camera keeping a wary eye on things.
Leaving Hebron, I wondered what Abraham would think about the inability of his feuding descendants to live together. In this land — so treasured by Jews, Muslims, and Christians — I’m reminded that the prophets of each of these religions taught us to love our neighbors. Here’s hoping the lessons learned while traveling in the Holy Land can inspire us all to strive for that ideal.
Shalom. Salaam. Peace.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jews this week will be marking the 80th anniversary of the Hebron massacre that began on August 23, 1929.

Jews this week will be marking the 80th anniversary of the Hebron massacre that began on August 23, 1929. It is one of the most horrible pogroms in all of history. With a new American administration seeking to portray Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as obstacles to peace, one wonders what would happen—what would be the reaction—were such an attack to be perpetrated against the Jews of Hebron today.
The slaughter that took place in 1929 was part of a series of attacks on Jews. On August 17 in Jerusalem, in what was later seen as a portent, a Jewish boy had been stabbed to death. The killings in Hebron were particularly barbaric, with Arabs wielding hatchets against yeshiva students and women and babies. Before the affrays—to use the word the New York Sun used in its editorial of the time—had passed, scores had been slaughtered.
The story is retold in gruesome detail in a just-published book, Hebron Jews, by a professor of history at Wellesley, Jerold Auerbach. I have known Auerbach for years, as our mothers were cousins, and have admired his work on both labor and Jewish subjects. He uses the skills of a long-tenured professor to remind us not only of the importance of the Hebron story, from Abraham’s original contract on a burial site for Sarah to the return of the Hebron Jews of our generation, but also of its ironies.
Back in 1929 the Jews who called themselves “settlers” were the relatively secular Zionists who lived on the Mediterranean coast and in northern Eretz Israel. The Jews of Hebron had dwelled there intermittently for thousands of years and continuously since the expulsion from Spain in 1492. In the 1920s there was an influx of young scholars from a Lithuanian yeshiva, Knessett Israel. Their arrival coincided with rising tensions throughout Palestine. By August, trouble was sensed by the one British police officer in the town, Raymond Cafferata. He was told by both Arabs and Jews in Hebron that “any trouble” was “out of the question.”
Yet that same week a Jewish teacher named Haim Bagayo was warned, “This time we are going to butcher you all.” Earlier that day, there had been clashes in Jerusalem, in which three Arabs and three Jews died. The Jews of Hebron, Auerbach writes, “refused to believe that their Arab neighbors, with whom they had lived in relatively peaceful coexistence for four centuries, meant them harm.” Cafferata noted that in Hebron “everything appeared normal.” But before the day was out, Arabs began to attack Jews with clubs, and Jewish shops were quickly shuttered.
The first to die was a student, Shmuel Rosenhaltz, who was set upon as he studied, alone, in the main yeshiva. The Jews were warned to stay inside their homes. Early the next morning, Arabs, screaming “Allah akbar” and “Itbach al Yahud,” or “kill the Jews,” began surging through the streets. Two Jewish youths were stoned to death outside the house of the Heichel family. Some 70 Jews sought refuge inside a relatively large house, owned by Eliezer Dan Slonim. Almost the whole family of Slonim—his wife, Hannah, and their son, his father-in-law, who was the chief rabbi of Zichron Yaakov, and his wife—were among 22 persons who were clubbed or stabbed to death and, in some cases, disemboweled. The Slonim’s one-year son survived, having been hidden under dying Jews.
Rabbi Hanoch Hasson was murdered, along with his family. A pharmacist, Ben-Zion Gershon, who’d served both Arabs and Jews, “had his eyes gouged out before he was stabbed to death,” Auerbach relates. His wife’s hands were cut off before she and their daughter were killed. Mr. Goldshmidt was tortured, his head held over a kerosene flame, before he, his wife, and one of their daughters were killed. Twenty-three corpses were discovered in the Anglo Palestine Bank, where women were raped on a floor covered with thick pools of congealing blood. Rabbis Meir Kastel and Tzvi Dabkin and five of their students were tortured and castrated before being murdered. The killings went on for two hours, and the final death toll reached 67.
In the aftermath, the left tended to support the Arabs. The Forward, a pro-labor paper, broke sharply with the comrades, siding instead with the religious Jews and praising those, albeit those few, who were reported to have fought back. One American writer, Maurice Samuel, who’d been visiting Eretz Israel at the time, wrote a book about the event titled, What Happened in Palestine? Like a number of other Zionists, he focused blame on the Mandatory authorities, while insisting relations between Jews and Arabs were broadly amicable. The sheik who incited the slaughter served a month in prison. Any moral standing of the Mandate, if it had ever existed, drained away.
In the years after the establishment of the Jewish state, when Jordan ruled Hebron, the vestiges of Jewish presence were obliterated. The ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue were razed and its site given over to an animal pen. Houses of Jewish learning were converted to Arab schools. The ancient Jewish cemetery was torn up. Jews did not return until 1967, when the chief rabbi of the Israeli Army, Shlomo Goren, commandeered a jeep and, carrying a Torah scroll, Israeli flag, and shofar, raced to Machpelah, becoming the first Jew to enter the burial place of the patriarchs and matriarchs in 700 years.

In 1968, a group of Jews, lead by Rabbi Moshe Levinger and his family and animated by Zionist fundamentals and reverence for the patriarchs, moved back to Hebron and have been there ever since, often, it seems, to the consternation not only of the diplomats and the Arabs but even of many Israelis, some of the Jewish institutions, and of the current administration in Washington. The date on which Levinger and his followers mark the anniversary of the massacre is known by the acronym Tarpat, for the Hebrew date, which has just passed. Their community has posted to the internet a group of photos of some of those who perished and of the desecration of religious objects. A lot of things have been said about the Hebron Jews. But one thing that cannot be said is that they are prepared to abandon Hebron in the face of the kinds of danger that overwhelmed their forebears 80 years ago.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Am I Missing Something ? YJ Draiman

Am I Missing Something ?
When you vote for an incumbent, you are perpetuating our government as it is now. Nothing will change. These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

1.) We are advised NOT to judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.
In addition, here is another one worth considering.
2.) Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. Why do we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What is interesting is the first group "worked for" their money, but the second did not.
Think about it..... Last but not least:
3.) Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping payments to illegal aliens such as monthly payments for each child, money for housing, food stamps, free education including college and also the right to vote?
Am I the only one missing something?
YJ Draiman

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The cave of machpelaThe cave of Machpela, Hebron, Israel

The cave of Machpela, Hebron, Israel

The Cave of Machpelah is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave that our forefather Abraham bought from its previous owner, Ephron the Hittite, wishing to establish a family grave-site, after the death of his wife Sarah.
The name Hebron is based on the Hebrew toot h-b-r meaning “connect”, recalling the cave’s connection with the divine realm.

The name ‘Machpelah’ referred to the fact that couples would be buried within it.

First to be buried there were 1- Adam and Eve, afterwards they where joined by 2- our forefather Abraham, and his wife, our fore-mother Sarah.
3- Their son our forefather Isaac and his wife, our fore-mother Rebecca.
4- Their son our forefather Jacob and his wife, our fore-mother Leah.
The only one who is missing is our fore-mother Rachel, the other wife of our forefather Jacob who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth.


Memorial dates:
 Sarah – 1 Elul
Isaac – 15 Nissan
Jacob - 15 Tishri
Enter through Kiryat Arba. Visits must be arranged with the security forces, at special opening times. 
Despite the great importance of the cave throughout the Jewish history; we do not know for certain who built the magnificent structure that rises above it. The accepted explanation is that Herod was responsible for the construction.
The length of the wall surrounding the structure above the cave is 60 meters (197 feet), its width 34 meters (112 feet), and its height reaches 12 meters (39 feet). Each of the hewn stones is more than one meter high (3.3 feet), and one of them is longer than 7.5 meters (25 feet). According to researchers, for dating the wall all evidence points to the Herodian period and he also may have been responsible for thickening the walls and erecting the tombstones on the upper level of the cave. Over 300,000 people visit Ma'arat HaMachpelah annually. The structure is divided into three rooms: Ohel Avraham, Ohel Yitzhak, and Ohel Ya'akov. Presently Jews have no access to Ohel Yitzhak, the largest room, with the exception of 10 days a year.

This Map shows the 450 mile journey Abraham's servant made to find Rebekah and contract with her family for her marriage to Isaac (yellow), her journey to Hebron with the servant (red), and Isaac's journey to Hebron to marry her (violet).
The Mosque of Machpelah in Hebron (below, left) is built over the traditional Cave of Machpelah, which Abraham purchased as a burial site. The traditional Tomb of Abraham (below, right) is contained within the mosque.

View Larger Map


Har Hevron - And afterwards Avraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre, which is Hevron

Har Hevron הר חברון
“…and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were before…I will do more good than before; and you will know I am HaShem.“ Yechezk’el 36:11
In the Hevron Hills you will find the Har Hevron settlement Block. 13 settlements are under the Authority of the Har Hevron regional council but others such as Kiryat Arba are not. The rolling hills of south Judea is among the most beautiful land in the world and the Heart of Ancient Israel. It is here you will find the Holy city of…
Hevron חברון 
“And afterwards Avraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre, which is Hevron, in the land of Cana’an. Thus the field with its cave was confirmed as Avraham’s, as an estate for a burial site, from the children of Het,.." B'resheet(Genesis)23:17,18 
The photo below shows the location of the Tomb in Machpelah where the patriarchs rest. King Herod built a fortification around it that has remained until this day.
This is the city where not only are the Patriarchs buried, but where David HaMelech was anointed King over Y’hudah and also here he was anointed king over Yisrael.
Where there were no men, there were 10 women and 40 children. Although Hevron was liberated in 1967 there was no real Jewish community living in it until just after Pesach in 1979 when 10 brave women with a little help, took charge to correct an unjust situation. They gathered their 40 children like chicks under their wings and in the middle of the night passed from Kiryat Arba through the Palestinian occupied areas to Hevron and entered an empty building known as Beit Hadassah. The photo below shows the building.
The women acting in the spirit of Sarah emanu who once told Avraham to his face, 
“Cast out this slave women with her son, for the son of that slave women shall not inherit with my son!”
Indeed, these women saw the rightful inheritance of Hevron and the Land Purchased for Sarah emanu and were not about to let the children of Hagar the slave women have sole possession of it. It came to pass in the morning the soldiers heard singing from the building and found the women and children. The women refused to leave. The building was put under siege by troops who under the Governing authority ordered no food and water be given them. Later the authorities were shamed into providing them food. After holding out for about a year the authorities gave in and permission was granted to build a Jewish community in Hevron.
Today Jewish life has returned to Hevron. Today 300,000 visit Ma’arat HaMachpelah every year. The place where Avraham, Sarah, Yitzchak, Rivkah, Ya’akov, and Le’ah are buried. In Hevron one can hear again the voice of the Bride and the voice of the bridegroom.
About 530 people live here. Like lions guarding the pray they stand on guard for Hevron. Like Sheep among wolves their faith in G-d gives them strength. In 1983 the Shavei Hevron Yeshiva was established in Hevron. At least 250 students study here.      Hevron is about 1,000 meters above Sea level and is 32 Kilometers south of  Jerusalem.
Every year thousands come here for the Jewish festivals and thousands show up every year for the Shabbot of parsha Chayei Sarah. Many who visit here pray at the Avraham Avinu shul.
Truly Hevron today has became a symbol for those who Love all of Eretz Yisrael.
Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the sanctification of G-d’s Name.
However this town is growing and being built up for a habitation of G-d’s people according to His covenant with Avraham avinu.
When you come here to visit  say hello to the good souls who live here.


Kiryat Arba קרית ארבע
As for the villages and their surrounding fields; some of the people of Y’hudah lived in Kiryat.Arba and its villages.” Nechemyah (Nehemiah) 11:25

The Torah tells us that Hevron was previously named Kiryat Arba. Thus today Hevron is 5 minutes down the road from Kiryat Arba and can be considered today an extension of it.
Modern Kiryat Arba was established in 1971 and is now home to over 6,000 Jews. It is governed by its own local council and has established Schools, modern Medical facilities a bank and good places to shop and zones for industries and commercial businesses.
Kiryat Arba is a nice city. Jews of all types live here. Israelis and Olim, religious and some non-religious. Everyone gets along. Many work in Jerusalem. Like Hevron the town is about 1,000 meters above sea level making the air fresh, clean and not too hot at night.
    The children are taught well in the Talmud Torah School
Our fathers found Kiryat Arba a good enough place to settle. Maybe you would like to join these souls that are walking in our fathers foot steps. On an adjacent hill on the north side of Kiryat Arba is Ramat Mamreh. Below is a photo of its Yeshiva and a street.
Come have a look what G-d is doing.

Carmel    כרמל
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of Y’hudah…Ma’on, Carmel,…” Y’hoshua(Joshua)15:20,55
Carmel today stands on a Beautiful hill in the eastern Har Hebron region, approximately where ancient Carmel stood. The place where King David proposed Marriage to Avigayil.
Carmel is an agricultural Moshav founded in 1981 and now has about 50 families with about 250 little ones.
It is a warm religious community. There are  care centers to look after preschool children and those who are older go to school in a near by town. One can find a clinic for basic medical needs, a room for those practicing Music and an exercise room for kids and adults. Carmel is proof that the prophetic Word of G-d is true about Jews returning to settle His Land. In the evening many attend Torah classes in Carmel. They are Hospitable and even invite people to inquire about joining their community. How about You!
However some of them gave it all for the Love of the Land and the sanctification of G-d’s Name. On October 16, 2005 Kineret Mandel age 23 of Carmel, seen in bottom left photo; the first child born from  the settlement of Carmel and Matat Adler, age 21, seen in bottom right photo; a recent Bride of Carmel had their life taken on a road in the Hills of Judea. However their glory remains. The two were cousins.
And not only them but also Oz Ben-Meir, 15, from the neighboring settlement of Ma’on. A strong young man with leadership qualities. His light still shines. He is seen below with a photo of Ma’on מעון.
The is a hill on the opposite side of the road from Carmel. It has a small forest on it. It is a delightful place where people can go up for picnics or campfires at night. It is great to see how Jews have turned a desert hill top into a green forest.
To have a closer look at the Har Hevron region on the South Judean Hills, see the Map which has Gush Etzion region on the top half and the Har Hevron region on the bottom half.
Have a closer look at beautiful Maon Settlement in the two photos below.
Sheqef     שקף
Lets take the road to Shekef and see another fine community
In Sheqef there is agriculture on beautiful land
Within the gates of Shekef is the gateway to Negohot

Negohot נגוהות
Negohot is a small settlement located opposite Beit Hagai a few kilometers west on the other side of the highway and 3 kilometers inside the green line. These have progressed beyond was is seen in this profile and have had difficult early beginnings. Like most settlements, it stands as a light on top of a hill. Thus the name Negohot that comes from the word in Hebrew called Noga meaning bright light. On a clear day one can sea the Mediterranean Sea.
The families who live here are few but important to Israel, since Negohot stands as a look out for Eretz Yisrael. They wish they had more people. The financial cost of moving into a settlement  like this is very small. The people here still live in trailers however a permanent building has been built which also has a Mikvah. There is a water tower, a shul, and a nursery school with a playground. 
  Are you interested in joining these beloved souls on this little quiet hill top oasis?
Otni’el עתניאל
"Otni'el the son of K'naz, Calev's younger brother, captured it, so he (Calev) gave him Akhsah his daughter as his wife...Calev gave her the Upper Springs and the Lower Springs."Shoftim1:13,15  
Today Otni’el’s tomb still stands as a monument in Hebron.  
Below is a photo of the Otniel Yeshiva.
Otni’el is the largest and most developed towns under the Har Hevron regional council. It is a religious town that shines on top of a hill almost 1,000 meters high containing at least 700 residents. The view from this place is one of Israel’s best. It is about 20 minutes south of Hevron and 30 minutes north of Beer Sheva located next to highway 60. The photo below looks down from Otni’el. It is serviced by Egged Bus Lines.
One could truly describe this place as an Oasis of Holiness. A large steel security fence surrounds it. Looking down from above Hashem must see the fence as a crown on top of a hill and inside the Jewels of the crown. That is the people. Otni’el gives first class education to all its children from a very young age.
The Yeshiva of Otni’el offers both Yeshivat Hesder and Kollel with at least 170 students. Enlist in the Hesder program and combine Torah study with I.D.F. obligations. You must come and see the settlement that is blessed. A man who recently visited Otni’el was awed by the step slops and the drive up to the top of the hill. Almost like a little kingdom unto itself. Thus the meaning of the name Otni’el… ”The.Strength.of.G-d”
There are nursery and kindergarten schools. Elementary schools and places for the study of Torah and Talmud. A Bnei Akiva youth group is located here as well. High school girls attend the Ulpan high school in Kiryat Arba.
The town has a first class community center, a good medical clinic and shopping.  Here is everything from a Library and a swimming pool  to a great synagogue, children’s play area and facilities for sports.
If one does not work in the town, Beer Sheva is not far or even Jerusalem which is less then an hours drive.
To quote the Har Hevron regional council regarding the Yeshiva in Otni’el they say,
  The Yeshiva aims to educate a new generation of Torah scholars with an in-depth understanding of Torah and Halacha, as well as an awareness of the day to day problems and needs of the communities outside the Yeshiva world. These Torah scholars are being trained to spread the light of Torah throughout the land.”
Truly this Yeshiva is a beacon of light, shining through out the Land.

If you are interested in buying or building here consult the Har Hevron regional council. Great discounts on mortgages and even grants can be available to you. Come up here and have a look. And not only here, there are discounts in every settlement.
Penne Hever
A little north of Carmel is the settlement desert oasis of Penne Hever. Have a look at the photo below and have a taste of this delightful place.

Sussya סוסיא
Sussya is southwest from Ma’on down the road. About 70 families live here and every year they grow in number as more move in. Most families have many children and are religious. The people possess a variety of occupations. Most of those who work out side the town go to Beer.Sheva or Arad.  
Sussya stands 850 meters above sea level providing good fresh air for all. There is no pollution and the atmosphere is family like among one another.
 Although it is small, Sussya is note worthy in the area because it contains an elementary school, junior high school and a boy’s high school Yeshiva that specializes in environmental studies. From the beginning boys and girls learn separately. People attend these schools from neighboring settlements. This delightful, Shabbot keeping community of shalom, has a grocery store, a hall and gymnasium. Near by is located an archaeological site. Other children activities include soccer, judo, music lessons, field trips and religious studies. As well for adults there are classes of religious studies and numerous minyans to daven.
Sussya’s pride is in their Yeshiva. In 2004 it received from the government a national prize for excellence in education. The Yeshiva says, “Our mission is to cultivate the best citizens of the state of Israel…. We are planting seeds today for leaders of Israel’s tomorrow. As can be seen, our students are trained in the school of life…. This is how we motivate these teens to become real men, caring about their fellow human being on their road to creating a new reality – a better, improved Land of Israel.”
Here students go on missions to befriend and help the poor and there is a big brother program.
They learn about, and how to better the environment with much out door activity. In other words they are learning to make Israel a better place. Ba’ruch HaShem. Where can you find a school hutz l’aretz (out side the Land) like this? What school do your children go to?
Sussya is a nice place to live.

Sansana סנסנה
The view from Sansana is exquisite. From the settlement one can see the Sansana forest. This is what you see in the above photo. Why would you not want to live here? Only 20 minutes from Beer Sheva you can work in the day and sleep in Paradise at night. There are about 45 families who live here and they want more. Some are English speaking and all are religious.
There is an Oz youth group and a synagogue. This young settlement is under the Har Hevron regional council and has activities for kids and adults. Come be part of a great new thing.
Beit Yatir בית יתיר
Beit Yatir basically is an agricultural Moshav about 20 minutes north of the city of Arad and just south of Sussya. Not all the people of the settlement are Moshav members. 
About 65 families live here.
In Beit Yatir you will find a Hi Tech dairy farm where the cows produce milk at a high volume then in most places in Israel. There is a chicken farm with approximately 200,000 chickens. There is a plant for packing fruit. The Moshav has land just inside the green line where they grow enormous size grapes and also grow apples, nectarines and cherries. There is also a near by reservoir for the Moshav.
There is a Mechina Yeshiva here. It is a predatory school for boys before joining the IDF. The school attempts to build up the young mans Jewish identity, strengthen his character and build in him leadership skills.
Next to Beit Yatir is the Yatir forest.  It is another Jewish miracle of turning the barren land into lush forest.
Eshkolot אשכולות   
Meet the children in the settlement of Eshkolot located on the south western side of the Har Hevron region. A non religious community of a little over 200 souls belonging to Avraham avinu.

Beit Hagai בית חגי
Beit Hagai is a religious community of about 400. It is located just off highway 60 between Otni’el and Kiryat Arba.  

Adora אדורה
Adora is a beautiful hill top settlement located off road 35 upon entering into the Hevron hills region 10 minutes west of Hevron. It is a non-religious settlement of about 200 good souls. The above photo shows a friendly settler standing near the entrance of Adora.
This is one settlement you will surely adore.

As you can see the life in this Har Hevron Region is real and of the highest quality and noble. The land is Beautiful. Even the contours of the Land are Holy.
This is what Hashem says, “…I will bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” Yesha’yahu (Isaiah)43:6  
So When Are You Coming Home?!
“Those who trust in HaShem are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so HaShem surrounds His people, from this time forth and forever.” Tehillim.125:1-2
  הודו ל'' כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו