Sunday, January 7, 1996

Hebron Today

Hebron Today
January 7, 1996

Too many times we have to report the darker side of life
in Hebron. Unfortunately this is part of our everyday
existence. However, I also try to fill in our
readers with the brighter aspects ofHebron. For example this
past Shabbat I had the honor, with nineteen
other families from Hebron-Kiryat Arba, to be in Bat Yam.

The ride from Hebron to Bat Yam is little over an
hour and a half, but in today's topsy-turvey world, that
hour and a half might be considered in terms of light-
years. The chances of being hit by a rock or being
attacked by a fire-bomb, or even by terrorist bullets is
almost nonexistent when we cross the so-called `green
line' separating Judea from the center of the country.
The traffic gets heavier, the air more smoggy, and people
living different kinds of lives. Priorities change.
Not far from Tel Aviv, Bat Yam has a sizable
population supporting the Jewish Community of Hebron.

These people, realizing the colossal differences caused
by the seemingly meager distance, have invited Hebron
residents in the past to stay in touch, to keep track of
what's going on. They decided to do it again.

Hosting us in their homes, Bat Yam's residents
provided the kind of hospitality we learn about from our
Patriarch Avraham. Believe me, it isn't easy to have
guests, people who you've never met, with six or seven of
their children, including a baby that has just learned to
crawl. But Bat Yam's citizens took it right in stride
and welcomed us with open arms.

The main thrust of the Shabbat is three-fold: To
meet new people, face-to-face, on an individual basis, to
speak to groups, usually at synagogues, and to celebrate
a special `Hebron-night' on Saturday evening. We have
the opportunity to meet people at each of the three
Shabbat meals. As much as possible, different families
host individual families for each meal. Twenty families
multiplied by three meals gives us the chance to
establish contact with sixty families in one day. These
meetings are fertile ground for discussion and exchange
of ideas and opinions. Inasmuch as our hosts are
generally supporters of continued Jewish presence in
Judea, Samaria and Gazza, media accounts of events are so
convoluted that very few people really have accurate
updates of current affairs.

For weeks before the target date all the synagogues
in the city were notified of the impending guests. We
made the rounds, speaking in each synagogue for between
10 to 15 minutes. The talks are not politically
inclined. Rather, we try to impart the message of Hebron
via the weekly Torah portion. This week that was not
overly difficult: Ma'arat HaMachpela plays a major role
in the last chapters of Bereshit (Genesis). Yosef
solemnly swore to his father Ya'akov, lying on his
deathbed in Egypt, that he would bring him back to Hebron
to be buried in the tomb of his father and grandfather,
Ma'arat HaMachpela. It is fitting that we leave the book
of creation with this thought, that Ya'akov was so
determined to find eternal rest in the city of Hebron.

On Saturday evening the entire group of families met
at a hall in downtown Bat Yam, under the auspices of the
Bat Yam City Council. Some 700 Bat Yam residents
attended the special `Hebron Night.' A festive gathering,
this evening gave expression to the warmth and respect
people have for Kiryat Arba, Hebron, and all our
citizens. Mayor Yehoshua Segui, a general (ret) in the
IDF and MK Benny Begin were the main speakers. Several
entertainers appeared, including "Pirchai Yerushalaim."

Over the past two years we have organized over 15
Shabbat programs such as this one. The continued contact
between Hebron-Kiryat Arba and people all over the
country has kept open lines of communication that would
otherwise be closed. The importance of this
communication cannot be overstated.

Of course, this is only one way to reach certain
segments of the Israeli population. It is extremely
effective. Others means of communications are utilized
to reach out to others. About that, in future editions
of Hebron Today.

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