Friday, May 6, 2011

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I must confess. Sometimes, because I don't see much of it in the news, I forget about the city of Hevron. It's not that I don't love it, because I do. It's not that I don't want it to be a fully integrated Jewish city, with schools and businesses and where kids can walk freely without fear of attack, I do.

With all of the focus on Yehuda and Shomron regions or in Sderot or Gaza or other "trouble" areas, sometime Hevron gets pushed to the back of a lot of people's minds. This beautiful city, the burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, is an extremely holy place for the Jews. Yet, next to Jerusalem, I feel it is one of the most highly contested cities in history. In 1929, many years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the local Arab population slaughtered 29 people, many of whom belonged to the recently located Hevron Yeshiva from Slobadka. Similar attacks happened in 1834 and further back, so far back similar attacks happened by the hands of Muslims and Christians to the time of the First and Second Temples. There must be something very special here if so many people want to put their hands on it.

As I have been known to do, I was reading an article tonight on Arutz 7. National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau visited Kiryat Arba and Hevron. As he said:

     “My impression is that the true infrastructures of Israel are not water or energy, but rather the city of Hevron,” Landau said during the visit. “It has been this way from the days of our forefathers and it is true today. It is regrettable that the school system does not educate our young generation to this simple truth.”

Honestly, I have no idea what that means. Yes, Hevron is special and Yes, it has been special for many, many years, but what are you talking about? From what I can surmise, he is speaking ideologically, which is fine. I'm all for that, but more must be said. Why is it a true infrastructure? As a Jew, I don't disagree with him, but for us to sell people who don't care about the Torah or those who don't believe in practicing Judaism, these words fall on deaf ears.

 Why is Hevron so important to the State of Israel? Lets take a look:

1) Historical Significance- Just like everywhere else in Israel, Hevron is extremely important to the Jewish people historically. Besides for Ma'araas HaMachpela, the Cave of Our Ancestors, it is believed, by some,  that when there was two Israelite Kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, the capital of Judah was Hevron. Historically, many events took place in Tanach in Hevron. Jews have always tried to settle and establish Yeshivos and communities there as well. In the 18th century, Lubavitch, Karlin and many other Chassidim established communities there and, in 1924, the Slobadka Yeshiva established and ran a Yeshiva there until 1929, when the community was run off and many were murdered.

2) Security - See the Map Below:

If you can't see it so well, do what you can or find another map. Hevron is 19 miles away from Jerusalem. It sits in the Southern part of the "West Bank." If Yesha were to become an "official" PA State, Hevron would be a centerpiece of destruction of the Jewish State, much like Gaza is to Sderot and the South communities of Israel. With a population of roughly 164,000 people, of which 500 are Jews (as of 2007), it just spells disaster for Israel.

3) Economic Factors- As it says on Wikipedia:

"Hebron is a busy hub of West Bank trade, responsible for roughly a third of the area's gross domestic product, largely due to the sale of marble from quarries. It is locally well-known for its grapes, figs, limestone, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories, and is the location of the major dairy product manufacturer, al-Junaidi. The old city of Hebron is characterized by narrow, winding streets, flat-roofed stone houses, and old bazaars.

Economically, what seems to be such a small economically dry city is actually very lively. Marble, Grapes, Figs, Limestone, Glass, Pottery. These types of businesses are the bread and butter of Israel. Granted, now it may not be so busy because of the political tensions, but imagine the type of thriving business that could be based no more than 19 miles away from Jerusalem. Since this website is dedicated to strengthening Israel, finding, developing and growing a community like this should be of main importance, as Mr. Landau said.

I believe there should be a bigger push for this city and that is why I decided to write a piece on it. Mr. Landau is right. It deserves our attention. It deserves our growth and prosperity. It deserves us.

To find more information on Hevron, click here or on the sidebar of Supporting Our Israel under the "Communities in Israel" heading. I hope to give more information at another time on this wonderful community.

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