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Tales of Rachel’s Tomb, a Strange Fire, the Golden Graft, the True Foundation

A Jewish woman prays beside Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.

A Jewish woman prays beside Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.
Photo Credit: Sharon Perry/Flash90

The dreams and goals of my foundation that led us to buy the property in 2001 included: (1) Making a Bayit, a building to fulfill the “Rachel Prophesy” and solidify our borders of Torah, midos, and the Land; (2) Establishing a Museum of Jewish Aliyah and Visitors Center; (3) Establishing an institute for women’s learning; (4) Establishing a men’s yeshiva or kollel that would learn and emulate Derech Eretz; (5) Building a banquet hall for life cycle events and organizational functions; (6) Arranging for shiurim and lectures for large organizations, such as the OU, Emunah, NCSY, JOLT, including lunch and learning sessions in the Reception Center; (7) Arranging for schools to visit in order to impress upon young students the connection of the Kever to the Jewish people, our ancestors, and their lessons for living  and meriting the Land of Israel. In the past, we have been in all of these endeavors. We held Biblical Art exhibits, as well as classes, seminars, and lecture series presenting the history, holy sites, places of aliyah, and midos of our people. The Israeli army, which grants permits for activities in the Kever Rachel area, graciously helped us mount the museum displays.  In the past, RCRF ran two kollels with wonderful rabbis who donated the mechitzas, book cases, shtenders, and even enlarged the doorway and installed the front door to permit  our new fire-proof safe for the Torahs to be installed in the building.

RCRF, my foundation, provided all of the funds to purchase this building, which I believed was the beginning of a true partnership with that group and an investment in this property in order to fulfill the seven goals enumerated above, as a legacy to all of Klal Yisrael in memory of my parents. RCRF agreed to invest in three American corporations that were set up with the sole purpose of purchasing and reclaiming a property adjacent to Kever Rachel and developing it to meet the above goals. In fact, the trustees, who were responsible for purchasing the property in the name of the entities controlled by my organization, failed to live up to their legal obligations and instead registered the property in their own names and have consistently impeded any effort to rectify the problems. To date, these individuals have not delivered the deeds of the property to the corporations that purchased them.

Despite years of legal wrangling and the firing of the trustees for their misuse of the funds for the project, these individuals are now attempting to wrest control of the property from its rightful owners. They have been able to install themselves as rosh yeshiva and director of the property through dubious insider dealings that effectively cut RCRF out of the property. Now they are attempting to physically exclude my organization from the property and stop us from performing the wonderful work that we have been doing at Kever Rachel for years.

Although RCRF has continued to have multiple weekly events at Beit Bnei Rachel, including lectures as well as periodic events such as art exhibits, Bat Mitzvahs, an upshurin, a brit milah and other life cycle events, and donated a Sefer Torah for use in the building, the fulfillment of its goals have been impeded by a group that has been operating in the building without authorization.  This group, led by a former minister of tourism who was involved in the project from the beginning but has recently been working to change the direction of the project and controlling the valuable property, have engaged in a campaign clearly designed to delegitimize me and my claim to majority ownership of the corporation that should rightfully hold the title and ownership to the property.  This group’s hypocritical and illegal acts that have intentionally interfered with the work of my organization include:

A. Taunting and physically intimidating me and the participants at my organization’s activities.

B. Locking away chairs and tables and carting them away from the building when I arranged special events such as a brit milah or upshurin.

C. Locking various portions of the interior of the building to prevent our access to those areas.

D. Repeatedly taking down our organization’s presentations from the interior wall panels

E. Removing the organization’s Biblical Art Display and even the hooks from which they were professionally hung.

F  Making unauthorized building alterations after letters prohibiting any such rights.

G. Removing sinks and a bathroom.

H. Threatening to damage artwork of an exhibiting artist who I retained.

I.   Removing memorial plaques dedicated to the memory of my parents.

J.  Moving the Sefer Torah out of the Beit Medrash. The Sefer Torah was donated in 2005 to my organization in a RCRF-paid for celebration with hundreds of participants, including the former Rosh Yeshiva of Beit Orot, Rabbi Elkanan Bin Nun.

K. Jamming and changing the locks to the entrances of the building in order to deny access to my organization and the participants who attend its events.

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A Jewish woman prays beside Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.

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