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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Har HaZeitim’

40 Graves in Mount of Olives Cemetery Vandalized During Rosh Hashanah

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

More than 40 graves were vandalized in the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in eastern Jerusalem during the Rosh HaShana holiday.

The vandalism occurred in the Ger Section cemetery, just in front of the “maarah” where the Bais Yisroel and the Lev Simcha, two rebbes of Ger, are interred.

Dozens of masked and hooded Arab youths broke surveillance cameras on Friday afternoon, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, before turning their rampage on the gravestones and graves nearby. Amongst the graves that were desecrated were those of Harav Yitzchok Meir Levine and Harav Shaul Moshe Zilberman zt”l.

Harav Levine was the world Agudah leader who served in the Knesset and was the architect of significant gains by Torah Jewry as the new Israeli state took shape. Harav Zilberman was the great tzaddik and gaon, known as the Vyereshever Rav.

According to Jews who live in the Maale Hazeitim development across the road, a police vehicle deployed nearby did not intervene until reinforcements arrived more than an hour later. When they did show up, the police simply dispersed the Arab youths. Some of the gravestones appeared to be smashed with sledgehammers, while others were turned over in a scene that was reminiscent of some of the worst anti-Semitic acts on a Jewish cemetery.

Dozens of Jewish graves in the Mount of Olives cemetery were desecrated during Rosh HaShana, Sept. 26, 2014.

Dozens of Jewish graves in the Mount of Olives cemetery were desecrated during Rosh HaShana, Sept. 26, 2014.

Avrohom Lubinsky, Chairman of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim (the Mount of Olives), called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who is currently visiting the US “to end the ongoing Intifada in Yerushalyim which has now extended to the kedoshim buried on Har Hazeisim.”

Lubinsky said that the investment of tens of millions of shekalim over the past four years into security cameras and a police station is woefully inadequate at a time when local Arabs continue their lawless behavior in Yerushalayim. He pleaded with the Prime Minister to “allow the kedoshim ‘to rest in peace.’” He added: “Even your ancestors are buried there.”

Meanwhile, plans are being made for a Tefillah gathering at the site of the devastation on Tuesday September 30th at 4 p.m. In New York, the ICPHH is hoping to meet with visiting Israeli officials to register their protest.

Mr. Lubinsky said that the security situation in eastern Jerusalem has deteriorated significantly since the abduction of the three yeshiva boys at the start of the summer. This, after four years of steady improvements including the installation of 137 surveillance cameras, many of which have now been vandalized. A new police substation was established but of late the station is poorly manned and often closed for days. A security detail deployed at the Ras al Amud Square is often pulled for other duty and when it leaves the post, incidents happen, including the stoning of a school bus last week which terrified the young children.

Despite some 700 arrests in recent weeks, few of the hoodlums served any time and most were released the same day as minors. The government and Knesset have been slow to pass legislation mandating stiff sentences, according to Lubinsky. That is contributing to an atmosphere of the Wild West in eastern Yerushalayim, where 40,000 illegal structures have been built and where the chances of even receiving a traffic ticket are slim. Some have begun to wonder whether Israel has given up on eastern Yerushalayim despite the rhetoric of a “united Yerushalyim.”

Jews Attacked in Jerusalem Firebomb Barrage

Monday, April 16th, 2012

On Sunday evening, Jewish homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Maale HaZeitim were attacked with a barrage of Molotov cocktails, causing damage to property.

Miraculously, no injuries were reported, though some neighborhood children who were nearby the attack reported being traumatized by the event.  The attacker managed to throw approximately 10 homemade bombs at apartment buildings belonging to the Jewish neighborhood, before being scared off by a guard who fired his weapon in the air.

Maale HaZeitim is situated on the historic Mount of Olives, just south of the ancient Jewish cemetery containing 150,000 graves, including that of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, the Ohr HaChaim, the prophetess Hulda, Hebrew language luminary Eliezer Ben Yehuda, and Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold.  It is also nestled in the Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud, and has been the site of previous attacks.

Between the buildings of Maale HaZeitim there is a courtyard which is detached from the street. Here children and residents are secure. But the back of the neighborhood is vulnerable to attack.

The six apartment buildings of Maale HaZeitim contain 100 apartments, many of which feature views on the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.  Residents frequently walk to and from the Old City, which is just 15 minutes away by foot, and a few minutes ride on the Egged bus which makes stops at the community throughout the day.

“I was sitting in our living room watching a television show and I saw something I thought was fireworks, but they were so close to our apartment,” Miriam, a 10 year resident of Maale HaZeitim, told the Jewish Press.  “I called the police…. There was a fire below our garden.”  Though Miriam and her family have experienced numerous attacks since moving to the new neighborhood a decade ago – including the throwing of large rocks at her car by neighborhood Arabs as she drove with her children – “I don’t know if you can ever get used to it,” she said.

While attempted violence against Jews in Maale HaZeitim has increased since Operation Cast Lead in late 2008, according to Miriam, she says police vigilance in the area has also risen.  “We’ve had other attacks were I’ve called the police and they didn’t even send a car. Last night, they sent lots of Jerusalem police and border police,” she said.  “But as long as there’s an Arab population next to us and they feel like they’re the bosses… as long as there is growing extremism, we’ll continue to face these things.”

A plaque in the neighborhood reads: "The Maale HaZeitim neighborhood was liberated by Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz with the help of Matityahu Dan of Ateret Kohanim and was built by the Kedumim 3000 company - Mr. Nisan Chakshuri, Yitchak Adiv, and Nachman Zoldan, Eve of Rosh HaShanna 5771

Aryeh King, eastern Jerusalem activist and Director of the Israel Land Fund, decried the attack as the fault of local Israeli authorities.  “The decline in security throughout Jerusalem has not spared Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Shmuel HaNavi and yesterday, a targeted terror attack took place on the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood,” King told the Jewish Press.  “This is the result of the lack of decisiveness and will to come in contact with the terrorists.  This policy is directed by the police chief of Jerusalem.  This policy causes the decline of Israeli sovereignty in the various Jerusalem neighborhoods, and the increase in the last months of attacks against Jews.”

MK Dr. Aryeh Eldad told the Jewish Press: “In the last few months we are seeing a total degradation of the security situation in the Mount of Olives region. There was a case recently of an almost-lynch, where 15 youths ambushed a car by throwing paint on the windows and pelting the car with rocks. In Beit HaChoshen, one resident has had his car burned 4 times. Every day tombs are desecrated at the cemetary. Even in French Hill students are afraid to leave their dorms at night. Last night, an Arab came to the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood with 10 Molotive cocktails in a bag, then he lit a fire so that he could easily ignite his weapons. He then threw 7 cocktails.  The security saw him and shot in the air, but when the police came, and the only thing that bothered the cops is why the security fired! Nisso Shacham, the Jerusalem police chief is afraid of bad media. He wants to be national Police chief one day so he keeps a low profile, although he knows how to deal with the problem.”

Prior to the recent Passover holiday, a new police station was inaugurated on the Mount of Olives.  Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Our Home party) emphasized that the establishment of the station on the Mount of Olives is strategically important, and that it will serve to increase the security of residents and those visiting the area.

Despite the complicated nature of life in eastern Jerusalem, Miriam and her family have never questioned staying on in their neighborhood.  “Nobody ever talks about leaving.  I think the kids feel like they are living in a unique place with a purpose,” Miriam said.  “I see us as a microcosm of Israel – there are people all around us who don’t want us to be here.  We are not talking about leaving.”

 

Yishai Fleisher contributed to this article

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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