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September 24, 2014 / 29 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Har HaZeitim’

Resurrection of the Dead: New Police Presence on the Mount of Olives

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

A milestone for the safety and security for Mount of Olives residents, tourists, and graves has arrived in the form of a new police station atop the historic peak.

Just below the Rehavam Zeevi Lookout Point next to the Seven Arches Hotel (formerly known as the Intercontinental) two brand new trailer homes have been placed and converted into a facility that will house up to 24 police personnel at any given time.

The view from the station is dramatic as it overlooks the ancient cemetery, the walls of the Old City, and the Golden Dome atop the Temple Mount. But the police, and lobby groups like the Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim, hope that the new police presence will be especially visible to the criminals who have been responsible for the uptick in violence in and around the Mount of Olives.

The new police station on the Mount of Olives facing west, towards the Old City and the Temple Mount.

Captain Dudi Chayun is the commander of the Tachanat Shalem police station across from the the Old City’s Flower Gate. Now, he is also taking charge of the new facility on the Mount of Olives. I met him there as he was dismounting a police horse. He told me that he occasionally tours the region under his command on horseback to get a closer look at what’s going on.

Captain Dudi Chayun, on left, is the head of the Tachanat Shalem police station. On right is Captian Lior, head of mounted police unit in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount can be seen behind them.

According to Chayun the new facility is really a sub-station whose purpose is to create continuity, a regular beat, between Mt. Scopus to the north and the Mt. of Olives to the south. The main artery that connects these two points is ridgeback road atop the Mt. of Olives which passes through the Arab neighborhood of A-Tur.

Of late A-Tur has become violent. Rocks have been thrown at Jewish drivers heading to the Mt. of Olives lookout, and seven cars belonging to the small Jewish community nearby have been burned. Grave desecration, is also part of toxic mix. But Captain Chayun is confident that the added police presence will help reverse the negative trends.

Jewish life is returning the the Mount of Olives. The famous Israeli flag above the Choshen building signifies Jewish presence.

In the last week, a sting operation took place where an undercover officer, dressed as an Orthodox Jew, drove through A-Tur and was pelted with stones by two youths. They were promptly arrested, and admitted the act under interrogation. Captain Chayun hopes they will be prosecuted.

The new station, at a cost of 1.2 million NIS, will have a permanent detective on premises, 3 patrol cars, and is slated to monitor the 137 cameras in and around the Mount of Olives Cemetery. The police have also begun an effort of community outreach: a meeting between the police and the Muchtarim (village elders) of A-Tur is scheduled for later this week. According to Captian Chayun: “The Arab residents will also benefit from the added services the station will provide.”

The new police station on the Mount of Olives, the Rechavam Zeevi Lookout is in the background.

Harvey Schwartz, Chairman of the Israeli Steering Committee of International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim,was pleased with the stronger police presence which the committee has been fighting for. Harvey told me: “We have worked very hard for a long time, especially Abe and Menachem Lubinsky of Brooklyn, who have put in endless hours, days, and trips to Israel for the sole purpose of seeing the rehabilitation of Har HaZeitim, so that it should ultimately get the respect and treatment that it deserves. We consider this [Police station] to be an extremely significant development.”

The added police presence will ensure that tourists on the Mount of Olives will be safe. The Seven Arches Hotel atop the Mount of Olives in background.

Jeff Daube, the Israel director of the Zionist Organization of America, and co-chair of the International Committee, told me that erecting a new station took a multifaceted effort, including talking with the American State Department: “My office went over to Congress and the State Department and we let them know there was a significant number of Americans visiting the Mount of Olives cemetery who were subject to violence, stonings and harassment; that Americans were coming here and finding the graves of their loved ones desecrated and vandalized. We emphasized to U.S. leadership that their constituents, American voters, are being affected by this.”

Live Coverage: Rabbi Scheinberg Funeral in Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012


Two US Congressmen Caught in Arab Rock Throwing Near Temple Mount

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Two US congressman were attacked by rock-throwers on Friday in front of a mosque in the Ras Al-Amud neighborhood of Jerusalem. Congressmen Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler from New York State were on a tour of the Mount of Olives Cemetery, along with Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein, and Rabbis Abraham and Menachem Lubinsky, founders of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim. Their tour, which included some 40 Jewish American leaders, was guided by JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher.

Earlier, following Friday prayers, hundreds of worshipers hurled rocks at the Mughrabi Bridge entrance to the Temple Mount, and dozens gathered inside the Al-Aqsa mosque. Israeli police forces entered the plaza and attempted to stop the violent protest. Several policemen were injured.

Jerusalem District chief Nisso Shaham blamed the ongoing Friday riots on a poster announcing a Temple Mount visit by Likud member Moshe Feiglin, which was originally scheduled for ten days ago. The poster itself was a fake.

Muslim leaders have been actively inciting their followers over the past month to “protect Al-Asqa”.

Prior to the attack, Hoenlein announced the launching of a campaign to “retake the Mount of Olives cemetery for the Jewish people.”

The oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in the world, the Mt. of Olives is subjected to non-stop violence against visitors, grave desecrations, an unlawful mosque expansion, illegal building – all part of a concerted Arab effort to assert control over the burial site used by Jews for 3,000 years.

The focused aim of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim (www.saveharhazeitim.org) is the sustained improvement of the current conditions at the Mount of Olives Cemetery. The ICPHH is driven to react to and ameliorate the rampant and systematic violence, destruction, and incitement taking place on the Mount of Olives, as well as the general, widespread neglect and the current illegal expansion of a mosque situated just meters away from the grave of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

JewishPress.com’s Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher, who led the tour, lives with his wife and children in the community of Maale HaZetim on the Mount of Olives, a few steps away from where the attack took place.

Fleisher said, “The attack the congressmen faced is part of the day-in day-out reality of Jewish communities who live in proximity to the ancient Jewish cemetery at the Mount of Olives and that is what we need to fight. However, when people ask me whether we are scared to live here, I tell them that while there is danger, it does not have to translate into fear. The enemies of Jewish rights in Jerusalem use terror as a tactic to keep us away. But we will not bow to the bullying. One day soon, Maale HaZeitim will be a quiet, gentrified, normal Jerusalem neighborhood.”

On Saturday night there will be an emergency meeting to save Har HaZeitim. Details can be found here.

The Answered Prayer

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Every year, prior to the High Holy Days, I visit the graves of four generations of my ancestors buried on Har HaZeitim (the Mount of Olives).

The following story happened last year on Rosh Hashanah eve, after an exhausting day of working as a tour guide. It was getting late, and I decided to forgo my annual pilgrimage to my parents’ graves and go straight home. But as we all know, the mind may make one decision, but the heart leads us otherwise. My heart led me to the Mount of Olives, and I followed it there.

And there, a few rows above my grandmother and grandfather’s graves, facing the Temple Mount, I saw a man, his wife, and their three children holding prayer books and singing. In the hundreds of times I had visited Har HaZeitim, I had never seen anything like this. I approached curiously and listened.

The family was singing Tefillat Chanah (the Prayer of Chanah). I was filled with a desire to unravel the secret of this mysterious sight … but was it polite to ask?

I waited until they finished, and then turned to the man. “I have been visiting this site for 40 years, and I never heard a prayer like yours. May I ask what it is about?”

The man looked at his wife, and she seemed to hesitate, so I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interfere.” But then she seemed to agree to share their story, and so her husband began:

“We were childless for many years. We tried everything: blessings, prayers, medical treatments… and nothing. A few years ago, on Rosh Hashanah eve, I left the house in a state of anguish. I wandered about aimlessly until suddenly I found myself peering into the window of an ancient house in Jerusalem. I saw a very elderly man leaning on the table studying Torah. I was transfixed. His face shone with light. Ten minutes passed, and he continued to be absorbed in his learning. Suddenly he looked up and signalled for me to come in. I entered the door, and the splendor of Torah enveloped me.

“I approached him and without any introduction he instructed me: `Take your wife to the Mount of Olives, opposite the Temple Mount, and pour out your hearts and recite Tefillat Chanah. Hashem will answer your prayers. Return to do this every year after you are blessed with children.’

“I was incredulous. I ran home and recounted this story to my wife. We both cried and went on our way to the Mt. of Olives. And here opposite the Temple Mount we stood and prayed, we cried and recited Tefillat Chanah.”

“And I,” continued the wife, “felt that Hashem was listening and would respond to our prayers…”

She then motioned lovingly to her three children. “And here they are − the answers to our prayers. Their names are Shmuel, Chanah and Elkanah. And since then we come here every year to thank Hashem as that elderly man instructed us.”

“I returned to that elderly sage’s house to thank him,” finished the father, “but I never found him again.”

“Where was the house?” I asked.

“You probably wouldn’t be familiar with the place − it’s a small and old neighborhood in Jerusalem.”

“Well, it just so happens that I am very familiar with Jerusalem.”

“It’s called Beit Yisrael.”

“Which street?”

“Rechov Rappaport.”

Now it was my turn to be filled with emotion. I led the family four rows of graves down the mountain and pointed to a grave:

“Here lies Baruch ben Mordechai Shimon Rappaport.”

They were filled with trembling.

“And now,” I said, “it’s my turn to tell a story. In 1965, I came to learn in Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav. Every Shabbat, I would visit my aunt and uncle, the children of Rav Baruch Rappaport, who lived on that street in Beit Yisrael.

“Once, while on my way to visit them I passed Rappaport Street and through a little window saw a small elderly Jew learning Torah by candlelight. He was studying with deep dveikus longing for Hashem. I was transfixed and couldn’t move. I felt the place was filled with glory and holiness. And suddenly, he signaled for me to enter.

As I stood in the doorway, he said, “You’ve returned! You are the grandson of Rav Baruch Rappaport, the son of Itzik. You are continuing the chain. You will redeem the Land.”

I trembled, and my eyes filled with tears. Then I saw his special cane and realized that he was blind. And I remembered that my father had told me about a blind man on that street that knew all of Tanach and Shas by heart.

“Tell me,” I asked the blind sage. “Why do you have a candle?”

The old man smiled and answered, “There are qustions for which you will not receive

answers.”

I kissed the young father, turned, and walked towards the Day of Judgment.

Era Rapaport, a professional tour guide, is the former mayor of Shiloh and lives in Shiloh with his wife and family.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/the-answered-prayer/2008/12/31/

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