web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



The House That Morris Built

Share Button

            By  A professor from Bar Ilan University, an expert on ancient affairs, investigated the value of silver of thousands of years ago. He concluded that the price of 400 silver shekels that our Patriarch Abraham paid for Ma’arat HaMachpela, the caves where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried is worth, in today’s value, some $750,000. That’s just a little less than what Morris Abraham and his father Mickey paid for Beit HaShalom in Hebron.


            Beit HaShalom, (the “Peace house” in English) is a huge, 40,000 square foot structure, just above the main road leading from Hebron to Kiryat Arba. When it became known that the Arab owner of the building, some five years ago, was putting it up for sale, and the Abraham family heard about it, it was a done deal.


            Well, not quite. It took a few years to actually complete the transaction. Jews purchasing property from Arabs in Hebron is not an everyday occurrence, and is not easily accomplished. It is a task that requires, among other things, a tremendous amount of money, fine attorneys, much time, nerves of platinum, and most of all, a huge quantity of Divine assistance.


            Thank G-d, it all came together, and about 20 months ago, having received a green light from the lawyers, residents from Hebron’s Jewish community moved in.


            It wasn’t easy. From literally the moment we moved in, there was someone trying to have us removed. Some claimed that we “stole the building” from the Arab owner. Others said, “We don’t care if they bought it legally. Jews shouldn’t be in Hebron, period. Throw them out!”


            However, we had a lot going for us. First of all, the building was purchased legally. At one point the community released a film of the Arab counting the cash he received.  (When he later denied the sale during a police investigation, and the police showed him the video, he exclaimed, “I later cancelled the deal and gave them the money back!”)


            Hebron’s commanding IDF officer was ecstatic about the purchase, since the building is located at a very strategic position. It’s situated overlooking all of Kiryat Arba just across the road, and most of Hebron.  And an initial police investigation of the documents was positive. The documents were authentic.


            But facts don’t necessarily mean much in Israel. A court ruled that there was enough apparent evidence to prevent us from being evicted, but too many question marks to allow “life as usual.” So a status quo was ordered. We could stay, but without making any major changes in the building. This meant, for example, that windows could not be installed in the empty spaces in the walls. Nor could the building be hooked up to the Hebron electric grid.  So, as winter approached, the people inside were a little cold.


            A small generator was running, providing minimum electricity to power the heaters. But a building without windows in a snowstorm, is quite a bit to weather.  Big sheets of plastic in place of glass don’t really do the trick.


             Finally, in the midst of a snowstorm, and as a result of massive public pressure, cabinet ministers started pounding on Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s desk, demanding that the government allow windows to be installed immediately. The pressure worked, and finally windows were brought in. They refused to allow window shades or shutters; that was too much. But glass windows were okayed. 


            The left refused to give up, however, and they intensified efforts to have the Jewish residents expelled from the building. Police “suddenly decided” that many of the documents of sale were counterfeit, but refused to reveal which ones were “faked.” Finally the court forced them to allow the community an opportunity to defend itself and they had no choice but to divulge which papers were suspect. The community, via a former police officer, an expert on such affairs, was able to easily dispel the doubts as to the authenticity of the documents.


            At a recent Supreme Court hearing, the judges, (two of the most left-wing members of the court together with an Arab judge, hearing the case), accused the community of “taking the building by force” from its Arab owner. In response, the community gave the court new, startling evidence: an audio recording of the Arab owners saying, in plain language, that he sold the place and received full compensation for the building. He also declared that he had come under great pressure from Palestinian authority intelligence forces to “change his story.”


            Last week the Supreme Court announced its decision. They decided to ignore the facts in the case, not letting them get in the way of their own political biases. They announced that they would not get involved in the previous government decision to expel the building’s residents until the question of ownership was decided in a lower court. They gave the people living there 72 hours to leave of their own accord. If they did not voluntarily evict themselves, the government would then have legal permission to expel them.


            As of this writing, new families and many youth are moving into Beit HaShalom, in order to reinforce Jewish presence at that building, which clearly belongs to Hebron’s Jewish community. One family, Nahum and Revital Almagor and their 15-year-old daughter came from Brooklyn to participate in the struggle for the building.


            Last week, a retired judge, Uri Struzman, harshly criticized the Supreme Court ruling, calling it political and a sham. Another retired Supreme Court judge, Ya’akov Turkal, said that the Supreme Court decision did not demand that the families be removed from the building, rather that the government could remove them, if they so desired. In other words, the decision of expulsion is in the hands of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


            At the moment, the building’s many families: men, women and children, are willing to put up with a cold winter; (we expect that the cost to heat Beit HaShalom this winter to be over $150,000 – money which the community does not presently have); but they have no intentions of leaving their beloved home – Beit HaShalom – the building that Morris Abraham gave to the Jewish people of Hebron.


            A representative council of men and women from Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and other activists, has announced that the group will not initiate any violent acts against Israeli security forces, but should those forces attempt to expel them, there will be fierce resistance. However, the level of violence will be determined by the expulsion forces. MK Uri Ariel, speaking at an emergency community meeting last week, with over 1,000 people present, clearly stated that should those in the building be attacked and beaten, that they have a right to defend themselves.


            This past Shabbat close to 25,000 people visited Hebron, hearing the Torah tell how Avraham Avinu purchased the Caves of Machpela some 3,800 years ago. Many of those people also visited Beit HaShalom, showing their support and encouragement. How fitting that a family named Abraham should buy a building for almost the same price Avraham Avinu paid for Ma’arat HaMachpela, a piece of property just five minutes from the first Jewish-owned land in Eretz Israel. 

Share Button

About the Author: David Wilder is the spokesperson for the Hebron Community and a regular contributor to Tazpit News Agency.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “The House That Morris Built”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from David Wilder, Tazpit News Agency
The town of Ma'aleh Adumim as seen from the E1 area, with menorah up front.

Three thousand new apartments should be transformed into 30,000 new apartment buildings.

Hebron Tent City on Shabbat Chaye Sarah

Toward early mid-afternoon the tents start popping up on the lawn in the park across from the Cave of Machpela.

The present Jewish community of Hebron tries to continue walking in the footsteps of our illustrious Forefathers, learning from their deeds, and acting accordingly. Therefore, when Rabbi Shalom Alkobi, then director of the Machpela authority, realized he had an opportunity to seek a blessing from one of our generation’s most righteous people, he did so, without thinking twice.

Last year Minister Saar initiated a new program whereby Israeli schoolchildren would visit Hebron and Ma’arat HaMachpela, the roots of the Jewish people. Since the inception of this program, hundreds of children have visited Hebron.

Muhammad Abu Shahala, a former intelligence agent for the Palestinian Authority, has been sentenced to death, following a hurried trial. His crime: selling property to Jews in Hebron. What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews?

When the storm-troopers crashed the party early Wednesday afternoon, very few people were home. Most were at their “other homes,” getting ready for Passover. It only took a few minutes for the hundreds of police, border police, soldiers and riot squad to round up a few women and kids, and see them to the door. Quiet, peaceful, almost pastoral. Almost. But not quite.

USAID continues to offer funding to Arab ‘development and humanitarian projects’ in Hebron despite Abu Mazen’s attempt to unilaterally declare a ‘Palestinian state’ at the UN in September 2011.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/the-house-that-morris-built/2008/11/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: