Yosef Ezra carefully examining an ancient Sefer Torah in the Avraham Avinu Shul. Written in the 1100’s, it was brought to Hebron by his ancestors.
Yossi Ezra comes into the Avraham Avinu neighborhood like a long lost child coming home. Looking around behind the destroyed Jewish homes in the old “Arab shuk,” he declares, “All this was an olive grove that my father worked. Twelve dunam (1,000 square meters – 10,700 feet) of land – all of it here belonged to my father. Here, you see this mosque? My father built it on his land for the Arabs who worked here, so they’d have a place to pray. All the buildings here are on my family’s property.”
Not too long ago, a group of government representatives visited Hebron. While standing outside Ma’arat HaMachpela discussing various ways to improve conditions at the holy site, one of the young “legal experts” piped up, “But there’s a problem here because Ma’arat HaMachpela is registered as belonging to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust.” One of the Hebron men scratched his head, looked at the lawyer, and reacted. “Gee, I remember reading somewhere that it was registered with someone who preceded Muhammad. Avraham, I think his name was.”
This is the real issue! When Jews in the State of Israel of 2008 can conjure up such a statement as, “Ma’arat HaMachpela belongs to the Arabs” (while keeping in mind that they wouldn’t allow Jews access to this site for 700 years), it’s clear that something in our national and religious psyche is tainted.
This is the recipe to heal such a disease that threatens to destroy our roots: children outside Ma’arat HaMachpela, acting out the purchase of this sacred site. In reality, it’s not only a play. It’s reality! Every day, Jews who visit, pray and identify with this hallowed place are recreating and reinforcing – with their very presence – Jewish ownership of our land. This is our strength, our legacy, and our future.
Yossi Ezra represents where we came from. These children represent where we are going.
About the Author: David Wilder is the spokesperson for the Hebron Community and a regular contributor to Tazpit News Agency.
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