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July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kever Rachel’

The Long List of Arab Riots Throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem

Friday, September 27th, 2013

There has been an escalation of Arab attacks all week long, but since early Friday afternoon, Arabs have been violently rioting throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem following Arab calls for violent demonstrations.

Dozens of attacks have been reported today, here is a partial roundup of some of the attacks:

Local Mount of Olive residents were told to bring in their Sukkahs overnight, after they received advance warning that Arabs were planning to burn down their Sukkahs on Friday with firebombs.

Hundred of Arabs were stoning Jews with cinder-blocks and stones on the road leading to the Mount of Olives neighborhoods.

Undercover police officers managed to identify and apprehend the ringleaders of the riot, and dispersed the remaining Arab hooligans.

From Tazpit News Agency:

Approximately 100 Arabs are rioting near Kever Rachel.

Two pipe bombs were thrown near Kever Rachel.

Near Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) in Jerusalem, a policeman was lightly injured by Arab rock throwers.

A soldier was injured near Beit Omar from stone throwing. His teeth were broken when a stone hit him in the face.

Near Assawiyah in Jerusalem, Arabs are throwing stones and burning tires.

Arab are throwing stones at Beit Hadassah in Hebron.

Arabs are burning an agricultural field near Hebron.

Arabs are rioting near Shechem.

Arabs threw stones at cars near Efrat in Gush Etzion.

A firebomb was thrown at IDF troops near Beit Omar.

On road 60, between Gush Etzion and Hebron, Arabs are throwing stones at cars and policemen.

Arabs lit up a tire between Beit Fa’jar and Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion.

Violent riots have been reported near Ne’elin. One person was injured.

Rachel’s Tomb: A Jewish Holy Site Since Ancient Times

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Rachel’s Tomb, located in the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, about 400 yards south of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. For the past 1,700 years, the site has been identified as the burial place of the Jewish matriarch, Rachel, and Jews were known to pray at the site for over the past 3,000 years. Rachel, the beloved wife of the patriarch Ya’akov, died during childbirth as the family was traveling to Hebron.

Rachel’s Tomb in the Hebrew Bible

According to Genesis 35:16-21,

They set out from Bayt-El; but when they were still some distance from Efrat; Rachel went into childbirth, and she had hard labor. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Have no fear, for it’s another boy for you.” But as she breathed her last –as she was dying– she named him Ben-Oni, but his father called him Benyamin. So Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Efrat — now Bethlehem. Over her grave Ya’acov set up a pillar, it is the pillar at Rachel’s grave to this day.

Photo by Rachel Avraham.

Whenever the Jewish people faced sorrows, throughout the generations, they would traditionally pray for Rachel to cry for them at Rachel’s Tomb, believing that her tears to God have special powers. Since she herself was childless for many years, many Jewish women visit her grave in order to pray to have children, although other members of the Jewish community who face troubles also visit her grave. Thus, as the third holiest shrine in Judaism, Jews across the Diaspora maintained a spiritual connection to Rachel’s Tomb over the centuries and paid for the holy sites upkeep.

According to Jewish tradition, the matriarch Rachel has always cried for her people whenever the Jews needed her. Ya’akov reportedly buried Rachel in Bethlehem, instead of in the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron, because he foresaw that his descendants would need her prayers en route to exile in Babylonia. Additionally, Yosef, Rachel’s eldest son, was the first Jew to pray by her grave. According to a Midrash, Yosef broke away from his captors temporarily en route to bondage in Egypt and cried out at her grave,

“Mother, my mother who gave birth to me, wake up, arise and see my suffering.” Rachel replied, “Do not fear. Go with them, and God will be with you.”

As Jeremiah 31:15-17 states,

Rachel, weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children who are gone. Thus said Hashem: “Restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from shedding tears; for there is reward for your labor” declares Hashem. “They shall return from the enemy’s land and there is hope for the future” declares Hashem: “Your children shall return to their own country.”

Islamic Attitude

Photo by Rachel Avraham.

Historically, the Muslim world considered Rachel’s Tomb a site holy to Jews. According to a report written by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the sixteenth century Arab historian Mujir Al Din wrote that Rachel’s Tomb was a Jewish holy place. He recorded that Rachel’s Tomb was built with “eleven stones and covered with a cupola which rests on four pillars, and every Jew passing writes his name on the monument.” The same JCPA report states that in 1830, the Ottoman Turkish authorities decreed that Rachel’s Tomb was a Jewish holy site, proclaiming,

The tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Joseph…they (the Jews) are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them (from doing) this.

Another Ottoman decree, dated 1831, orders that all obstacles be removed that were in place that interfered with members of the Jewish community that sought to visit Rachel’s Tomb.

In 1615, Mohammad, Pasha of Jerusalem, had rebuilt Rachel’s Tomb on behalf of the Jewish people. In 1841, Jewish caretakers were given exclusive ownership of the place. And in 1845, the entire Rachel’s Tomb compound was redone with the permission of the Turkish authorities by Moses Montefiore.

Who Firebombs a Grave?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

It’s an amazing concept. Why would someone firebomb a grave…and an ancient one at that?

I just read a news article that Arabs have thrown 290 firebombs (and or planted explosive devices) at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem in the last six months alone (that doesn’t count hundreds, perhaps thousands, before that).

I actually know the answer as to why – it comes back to that concept of hating all that is different from them and worse, an attempt to erase any one else’s past. Okay, I got that…sick…but I got it.

But seeing that headlines also reminded me of an article I wrote a decade ago. Only, it wasn’t about Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, but her son, Joseph’s tomb in Nablus (Shechem).

In February, 2003, Arabs rioted and burned the grave/tomb of Joseph, son of our patriarch, Jacob and his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph was buried in Shechem after his bones were exhumed by the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt – a promise fulfilled not to leave his bones in a foreign land. His bones were carried through the desert, until they were brought home to rest in the land of his fathers. Only today, his tomb is found inside a Palestinian city. To get there is nearly impossible and only accomplished with an army escort, under strict protection.

Rachel was buried, according to tradition handed down over the centuries, in Bethlehem. You can get to her grave site, but you need to leave your car in Jerusalem and take armored buses – silly…it’s only a few hundred yards. The area around the tomb has been fortified, cement barriers erected to protect those wishing to pray beside her grave.

Back then – in 2003, I wrote an article, “Rachel is Crying.” I thought of that article as I read the news about the firebombs. Then it was Ariel Sharon as prime minister when they attacked and burned Joseph’s tomb and now, as they attack Rachel’s tomb it is Bibi Netanyahu.

Writing in 2003, I asked that Sharon either defend the tomb of Joseph, or go in and remove the body and rebury him near his mother’s grave in Bethlehem. Nothing was done to defend the tomb, to bring his body to Bethlehem. Jews sneak in to visit Joseph’s tomb under heavy guard, usually at night. It’s ironic that some 10 years later, it is Rachel’s grave that has come under attack.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

The Peace Process Obama Won’t See: Firebombs and Sniper Fire

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Rock-throwing Arabs hit a soldier in his eye Monday and then rioted when solders fired back, aiming at the lower parts to minimize injuries in what is the latest of dozens of weekly Arab attacks that have been so routine that they are rarely reported.

The only exception is if someone is serious injured or murdered, which was the unfortunate case last week. In what was a real-life cowboys and Indians scene, Israeli police chased after an Arab vehicle carrying Arab workers without permits to work outside of Judea and Samaria.

The Arab driver tried to escape by reckless driving, and he crossed the white line, crashing into a car driven by a 29-year-old resident of Susiya, located between Be’er Sheva and Hevron.

The young man, Yenon Levanon, was killed instantly, and the Arabs were wounded lightly.

Murderous driving, usually by Arabs, is routine on the roads in the Negev, heavily populated by Bedouin, and throughout highways in Judea and Samaria.

The dangers are two-fold. If a driver is lucky enough to travel in his car without begin hit by an Arab driver who passes another passing car on a curve uphill, he still has to deal with dozens of firebomb and rock-throwing attacks.

This is not the “Third Intifada” that the IDF has been warning about; it is the continuation of the First Intifada from the late 1980s, which took a break during the euphoria of the eve of what was supposed to be the culmination of the Peace Process in the last 1990s, when the so-called “Second Intifada” or Oslo War began.

The State Dept. is careful to relate to President Obama every shack Jews erect in Judea and Samaria.

It is doubtful how much information he gets on Arab terrorist attacks, if the Associated Press is any guide.

Reporting Monday on Arab riots in support of Palestinian Authority prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails, the news agency referred to “demonstrations,” such as one in Bethlehem where  Israeli forces dispersed several dozen activists who blocked a road on Monday.  AP added, “There were no reports of injuries.”

After telling readers that one hunger striker reportedly is in critical condition, AP reported, “Israel is holding some 4,500 Palestinians for charges ranging from throwing stones to undertaking deadly militant attacks. Their incarceration is a sensitive issue for Palestinians, who see them as heroes of the Palestinian liberation struggle.”

That is the end of the report , but it is not the end of the story. AP did not report that in the past week alone, Arabs carried out 29 Molotov firebomb attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, including one on a public bus, another on a Jewish women driving near Kedumim, east of Karnei and Ginot Shomron in Samaria, and two on Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel).

The Palestinian Authority claims Kever Rachel actually is a Muslim holy site, even though Islam was founded more than 2,000 years after Rachel died. The site is not holy enough to dissuade PA Arabs from attacking Jewish worshipers there. Besides firebombs, PA terrorists also hurled two grenades last week.

If Obama were to keep a diary of security incidents in Israel in just one week, he would discover:

— Hevron Arabs threw rocks on children in a playground in the Avraham Aveinu neighborhood of Hevron;

— PA Arabs fired at Kibbutz Migdal Oz on erev Shabbat, apparently careful to wait until the Muslim day of rest was over on Friday;

—  Arab Knesset Members, as part of their public service to the country, joined Palestinian Authority Arabs for Prayers at the Ofer jail, near Jerusalem, to show solidarity for hunger strikers. After prayers, hundreds of Arabs threw rocks at soldiers, two of whom were lightly inured;

— PA Arabs rioted at Efrat, a “settlement” of several thousand families five miles south of Jerusalem, at Beit Haggai, which borders Hevron to the southwest, and at Beit El, another “settlement” of more than 1,500 families in Samaria;

— Rock-throwing Arabs, trying to cause fatal accidents, managed to wound an eight-year-old in the face at Beit El and a driver whose windshield was smashed at one of the terrorists’ favorite locations, the village of Azoon on the road between Kfar Saba, at the northern edge of metropolitan Tel Aviv, and the Jewish communities of Maaleh, Ginot and Karnei Shomron;

A Place To Call Home

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Coming to Kever Rachel one cannot help but recall the traditional domed structure that once stood as a humble memorial to the greatest of women. Unfortunately a fortress like edifice of towering large concrete slabs has now replaced that familiar picture. It was here, at this holy site, that I first met Evelyn Haies, an American mother, grandmother, and globetrotter.

Evelyn spends the better part of each year in Israel working to improve the site. In fact, as soon as we met she invited me to attend a shiur she had arranged in the adjacent previously-owned Arab home.

But first I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what possessed an American mother of five, and grandmother, to leave her family in the U.S. to come to Israel and devote so much time to Kever Rachel.

In lieu of answering, she beckoned, smiling broadly. I followed her into the adjacent structure (the only other building in the complex) where she pointed to a bullet hole in the glass of the window on the second floor. “Arab sniper fire,” she explains.

“I bought this house a number of years ago, in an attempt to increase awareness of the importance of this site, to encourage people to visit, and to learn more about Rachel herself.” She points out the pictures her granddaughter had drawn to hang on the wall.

In a large room on the first floor there is a learning session in progress. A group of avreichim are poring over their sefarim.

In an entirely separate room a shiur for women is about to take place.

“And so what’s a grandmother like you doing here?” I asked, still wondering what it was that first triggered her interest.

And Evelyn, who for years has worked as literature teacher and has published a very popular songbook, took the plunge the year the Twins Towers came down.

“I was part of a group of women from Brooklyn who were looking for ways to help Klal Yisrael, especially our brethren in Israel. We wanted to prove our connection to the land and to our people. We met monthly and I recall one meeting in which we decided to adopt a sister city. Ariel was on our list, as were other cities. And then I had this sudden drive to adopt Kever Rachel. I took the floor and threw my suggestion out to the ladies.

“They loved it and agreed immediately.

“The year was 1995 when the die was cast; thus began my personal lifelong connection with Rachel Imeinu.

“So while I had had this brainwave I wasn’t quite sure how to actualize it. Together we decided that the first way to proceed was to raise public awareness of who Rachel actually was, and her relevance today. To do this we wanted people to research all the relevant sources in Tanach. Thus began the Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation.

“We began with the children first, going around to the Jewish girl schools in Brooklyn and advertising a writing competition on the subject of Rachel Imeinu. The best compositions would receive cash prizes.

“The contest was a massive hit. My mailbox was jammed with hundreds of stories; the creativity was simple astonishing and the feedback overwhelming. Teachers and principals offered their thanks and the girls themselves appreciated their new awareness and connection to Rachel.”

Later that year, Evelyn received an excited phone call from a woman who had decided that in honor of her granddaughter’s bas mitzvah the two of them were going to go to Israel and visit the holy sites, especially Kever Rachel.

Evelyn thought that this was a great idea and decided that she too would do the same.

“But I wanted to do more and more and I didn’t know what or how. So I bought a lottery ticket,” Evelyn laughs heartily. “And guess what? I won!”

Evelyn was the lucky winner of $26,000, which she used to finance the writing of a Sefer Torah for the Kever Rachel complex.

The day Evelyn approached a sofer and commissioned him to write the Sefer Torah was one of the most exciting ever. And when it was finally completed her excitement knew no bounds.

The Sefer Torah merited a double “send off” – one in Brooklyn and another in Israel. The U.S. one was scheduled for a rainy day during the week of Parshas Lech Lecha. Amazingly the rain held off while the dancing and singing crowds escorted the Torah to the shul; the minute it was indoors the rain fell once again. Evelyn’s eyes light up at the memory.

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

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

BREAKING NEWS:  An illegal and unauthorized group tried to forcibly enter Beit Bnei Rachel in the Rachel Tomb walled complex today, reported Dov Shurin, a radio host who serves as the house manager.  The police were forced to respond and prevent the trespass, as the group which has made previous attempts to remove any trace of the rightful owner of the building, Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation (RCRF), continued in their efforts to destroy the foundation. The group accosted one of the women who studies with RCRF for the building key and resorted to trying to break the locks on the back door to enter the building. The group tried to break in again with an axe at  1:30am Israel time and the police have responded again. Damages to doors today are $1000. Damages since their occupation are immeasurable.

The police ultimately denied access to the unauthorized group and instructed them that they must take all of their claims to court.  This sends a strong message to the group that has long evaded the legal process that they cannot continue their strong-arm tactics and invade the property that was purchased by RCRF in 2001.

Despite today’s confrontation, Dov Shurin announced that all RCRF activities will continue as they have for the past decade and encouraged the public to come to Beit Lechem to study, pray, and learn the ancient but timely lessons of Rachel Imeinu.

_________________ Rachel Imeinu, the Jewish Mother par excellence, was – according to Biblical sources – buried “on the way” from Jerusalem to Hebron, in Bethlehem to plead for her children going into exile and to welcome them back upon their return. Bethlehem was the home of Boaz, Ruth, Naomi, and King David. King Solomon exempted the residents of Bethlehem from taxes because of his personal attachment to the place where King David was a shepherd and wrote the Tehillim that we read with passion today when we encounter problems and the need for tikkun. Rachel has always been a symbol of the unity of the Jewish people, whose sacrifice on behalf of her sister has inspired Jewish women to emulate her as a role model.

Helping to protect and reclaim the burial site of Rachel Imeinu became my mission in 1995.  I formed Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation (RCRF), a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation when Rachel’s Tomb was on the Oslo chopping block. Some government officials suggested giving away Rachel’s Tomb (“Kever Rachel”) or even moving it. Klal Yisrael rallied; Rabbi Menachem Porush and Chanan Porat cried. My organization was instrumental in having hundreds of petitions, proclamations from US officials, as well as children’s letters sent daily in support of retaining Rachel’s Tomb for the Jewish people. PM Rabin responded to the outcry by adding an amendment to the September 28, 1995 Oslo Agreement that put Rachel’s Tomb in area C, completely under Israel control as part of the larger designated area which reaches beyond the area where the separation fence was constructed.

On the day of PM Rabin’s Assassination, 50,000 people were visiting Ima Rachel’s kever on her yahrzeit. On that weekend, I chaired a 3-day Conference of the Women’s Branch of the OU in Washington, DC. The theme of the event was “Breaking the Silence” and the theme song, “We are Rachel’s Children” was introduced that day.

From rallying Rachel’s children to reclaim their identity and holy roots, to purchasing and delivering a Sefer Torah to the empty un-walled streets in front of Rachel’s Tomb, to petitioning to have regular scheduled trips of Egged buses eight times daily, RCRF now finds itself in a dilemma: whether to be silent like Rachel or cry like Rachel. I have learned to have savlanut, patience, but during  the last year and a half conditions at the property for which my foundation provided the majority of funds to purchase and establish Beit Bnei Rachel adjacent to Kever Rachel have continually deteriorated. This has required me to deal with one obstacle after another. I have given not just money, but my heart and soul, and my activities are for all Bnei Rachel.  I work five months a year in Israel doing programming, events, and teaching Derech Eretz in the Rachel’s Tomb complex. While in America I work many hours throughout the night coordinating with the staff and officials in Israel. We had the most lofty dreams when we partnered together to build the Rachel’s Tomb complex, and my foundation originally purchased the valuable property next to Kever Rachel to build a Beit Bnei Rachel in partnership with a group that contributed no funds, but was responsible for purchasing, maintaining and improving the property and assisting us in realizing our dream and establishing a proper yeshivah at the site. The leaders of that group have seemingly abandoned those ideals in an attempt to seize title and control of the valuable land adjacent to Kever Rachel.

My Machberes

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The Red Strings Of Kever Rachel

Many question the alleged powers of the red strings from Kever Rachel. Supposedly, one who wears a red string that was wound around Rachel’s tomb is protected from the evil eye as well as other negative influences. Some men carry red strings in their wallets, and women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant sometimes wear red strings around their waists.

Kever Rachel

Dubious peddlers of Kabbalah promise all types of mystical powers for anyone willing to pay exorbitant prices for their red stings guaranteed to have come from Kever Rachel. These same impostors recently organized a “mystical” dance by men and women, Jewish and non-Jewish, together on the rooftop of Kever Shimon bar Yochai (Kever Rashbi) in Meron, where they also recited the Kaddish, making it into a mockery.

Some have likened the red strings of Kever Rachel to superstitious practices resembling idol worship as described in Tosefta Shabbos 7:1, where certain practices, including tying a red string around one’s finger, are prohibited because of “darchei emori.” The practice of having the string wound around Kever Rachel seven times is cited as “traditional,” with out any specifics.

In a responsum published in 1987, Rabbi Moshe Stern, zt”l (1914-1997), Debretziner Rav and author of Beer Moshe, responded to an inquiry regarding tying strings on children to ward of the evil eye. He wrote: “That was the common practice; they were careful to tie a red string on the carriage or the crib of a child because of the evil eye. All of these are the practices of elderly women, regarding which the Rashba wrote that we should not mock their words and practices, for they are certainly founded in the sacred origins, even if we have forgotten the reasons.”

In a letter to the editor of Der Blatt, the popular Satmar Yiddish weekly, a reader, responding to an article on the history of Kever Rachel in which the author stated that the segulah of the red string has no Jewish source and that the practice is a non-Jewish one, claimed to have asked a respected chassidishe rebbe about this and was given a number of citations, among which were the following:

Sefer Yesod Likra, by Rabbi Aryeh Leib Liphshitz and Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Lipshitz-Halberstam, published in Jerusalem in 1927, and republished in 2003 by the Kever Rachel Institute: “The custom of winding red string around Kever Rachel becomes blessed and …it is an established segulah to ward off pains and the evil eye, for fertility, easy birth, and more.”

Sefer V’zeh Shaar Hashamayim by Rabbi Dovid Rozoff: “That it is an old custom to tie the red string around the neck or wrist, as a protection against many dangers, especially for pregnant women. First one should wind the string around the monument at Kever Rachel, thus transforming it to a segulah, proven effective time after time.”

Sefer Shut Meoros Noson by Rabbi Noson Geshtetner, zt”l (1932-2010), rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ponim Me’iros and rav of Kiryas Agudas Yisroel in Bnei Brak: “Red string is wound around the monument of our Mother Rachel and is tied around the wrist for a segulah and for a yeshuah. It is well known that our mothers and grandmothers did so from the earliest times, and that it is a tradition passed down from generation to generation….”

Expanded Simcha Of The Vishnitzer Chassunah

On Wednesday, February 1, Yoel Yesochor Dov Berish Shneibalg married the daughter of Rabbi Meir Teitelbaum, son of Rabbi Yosef Teitelbaum, Neplemitzer Rav in Boro Park. Rabbi Meir is the son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer Fish, Biksader Rebbe; who is a son of Rabbi Nochum Zvi Fish, zt”l (d. 2003), Biksader Rebbe; son of Rabbi Eliezer Fish zt”l Hy”d(1880-1944), Biksader Rebbe and author of Shem Eliezer murdered in the Holocaust. Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer is a son-in-law of Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe

The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rav in Boro Park; son of Rabbi Moshe Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rebbe in Williamsburg; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneibalg, Manchester Rav. Rabbi Moshe is the son-in-law of Rabbi Eliyahu Aryeh Terkeltaub, zt”l, Asho Rav. Rabbi Menachem Mendel is the son of Rabbi Dovid Shneibalg, zt”l (1894-1969), Vishnitzer dayan and rosh yeshiva in Grossverdein. Rabbi Dovid was appointed rosh yeshiva at the yeshiva’s inception in 1918. Surviving the Holocaust, he established Beis Medrash Machzike Hadaas in Manchester, England.

Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg is the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchas Hager, Boro Park Vishnitzer Rav and son of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. Thus both chassan and kallah are great-grandchildren of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/my-machberes/my-machberes-11/2012/02/10/

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