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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Noam Arnon’

On Jerusalem Day, Hebron Residents Recall Historic Return to Ancient City

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Hebron (TPS) – As Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day on Sunday, June 5, residents of Hebron are marking 49 years to the liberation of the Tomb of Patriarchs the following day, and recalling the leaders who led the re-establishment of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron.

Following the Six Day War that reunified Jerusalem and placed Judea, Samaria and Gaza under Israeli control, a newspaper advertisement in 1968 called for families and singles to resettle the ancient city of Hebron. The advertisement directed those interested to contact Rabbi M. Levinger, who later led several families to spend the Passover holiday in the Park Hotel in April 1968.

One of those families was Rabbi Yair Uriel and his wife Yocheved. At age 18, Yocheved, a St. Louis native, made aliyah to Israel, having grown up in a religious Zionistic home in the USA. A few years later she would find herself and her young family living in Hebron, a city that she had learned about as a child during Tanach class.

“To be in Hebron felt out of this world. When I was growing up, Hebron was not in our hands and to suddenly be part of this historical move was a miracle,” she told TPS.

There were 87 people including Rabbi Levinger and the Uriels with their two young children, who celebrated the Passover seder in the Hebron hotel, having paid the hard-up Arab owners with an envelope full of cash. Rabbi Levinger announced to the media two days later that the group would remain in the hotel in order to re-establish the Jewish community of Hebron, whose presence dated back to Biblical times through the Byzantines, Mamelukes, and Ottoman periods.

During Jordan’s rule of Hebron from 1948 – 1967, Jews were not allowed to live in the city or visit at the Jewish holy sites of the city including the Tomb of Patriarchs. The Jordanians razed the Jewish quarter and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue, which had been built in 1540 by Jewish exiles from Spain.

“We were one of the four families that continued to stay at the hotel, after most of the people had left,” continued Uriel, the mother of 12 children. “We thought we could live in co-existence with the Arabs.”

The Labor-led government at the time, Levi Eshkol, decided to temporarily move the group to a nearby IDF compound. “We lived with the army for 3.5 years,” recalled Uriel. The Uriels eventually moved to the community, Kiryat Arba, which was built adjacent to Hebron on a bare hilltop. Hebron’s Jewish community was permanently reestablished in April 1979, when a group of Jewish women led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger’s wife, Miriam, entered Hebron’s Beit Hadassah, a building that had been built by North African Jews in 1893, and where later the Hadassah Organization opened a clinic, providing free medical care for Jews and Arabs.

“Rabbi Moshe Levinger changed history,” said Hebron’s spokesman of 23 years, Noam Arnon who has been living in Beit Hadassah with his family in Hebron and Kiryat Arba for over 40 years, and helped to renovate Hebron’s ancient Avraham Avinu synagogue.

“I remember the Six Day War and the powerful impression it left on me as a child. Hebron was a city beyond our imagination,” said Arnon who grew up outside of Kfar Saba.

“Every time an archeological piece of our history is discovered here, I feel even more firmly rooted in this city. Our history here goes back thousands of years,” said Arnon in reference to the excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authorities in Tel Hebron (Tel Rumeida) which have revealed remains of a home from the First Temple period, a seal inscribed in Hebrew with the word king and Hebron written on it and an ancient stone wall from the Bronze Age, and many other findings. “We cannot be conquerors or occupiers when this is our home.”

The grandson of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, Tzvi Elimelech Sharbaff, a father of four, who grew up in Hebron and today lives in Kiryat Arba, agrees. “Hebron has always been close to the heart of the Jewish people. It is the second holiest city to us.”

“After the Six Day War, my grandfather left everything he was doing, and came to this city. There is a story about my grandfather, how when he was a child, his older brother found him crying. When he asked him what was wrong, my grandfather said he was crying over Hebron.”

“For my grandfather, settling Hebron, and Judea and Samaria was his life mission. He saw it a great responsibility to watch over the Tomb of Patriarchs. He would always go there every morning and evening.”

Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Hebron, passed away last year at the age of 80. Today, there are about 800 Jews who live in Hebron, including 75 families. The city has seven synagogues and several kindergartens, while residents do their grocery shopping, and get medical, bank, and postal services in Kiryat Arba.

As a father of four, Sharbaff said that he and his wife are educating their children to continue to live their grandfather’s legacy. “I see our children continuing to live in Hebron and Kiryat Arba even when they are grown up,” he told TPS.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Abraham’s Legacy Still without Boundaries in Hebron

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Abraham’s legacy, still alive and well, is the crux of our existence, not only in Hebron, but as a people, in Israel and around the world.

A few years ago, following one of his last visits to Me’arat Hamachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, as Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu entered his car, the other door opened and two people literally pushed their way into the vehicle, one civilian, the other in uniform.

The civilian, a senior employee at the holy site, said, “Rabbi, I’m sorry to do this, but this man, a border police officer, works here very hard and greatly helps the Jewish people. He has a problem. He and his wife have been married many years and have yet to be blessed with children.”

Rabbi Eliyahu looked at the man and responded, “He should continue to help the Jewish people and next year he will be witness to salvation.”

A year later his daughter Miriam was born. The border police officer’s name is Shuchralla Morav.

Much has been written about Hebron’s relationship with security forces, be it police or IDF. As much as we say about our good, positive relationships with them, we are unfortunately generally not believed.

The roots of our national essence, in Hebron, begins with Abraham and Sarah. They were known as people of chesed, that is, overwhelming loving-kindness and generosity. Our sages have taught that we must express the attributes of our Creator: as He is kind, so too we must be kind. The primary examples of kindness are Abraham and Sarah.

Abraham’s compassion was not limited to “his own.” Numerous stories are told of his assistance to strangers, many of whom worshiped idols, the very antithesis of his life and ideology. Yet this did not prevent him from offering them food, drink and a place to sleep.

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.

And the rabbi’s blessing was received and came to pass.

Morav, as he is called, served at Me’arat Hamachpela for 17 years. Living in the north, several hours from Hebron, he wasn’t able to spend enough time with his wife and young daughter. Recently he was transferred to a position much closer to his home, allowing him to enjoy his blessings.

But, after 17 years of service, we couldn’t allow him to leave without a proper parting. So a few days ago, a large group from Hebron, as well as a few of his former commanders, surprised Morav at his home for a farewell party. All facets of Hebron’s community were represented: Rabbi Hillel Horowitz and Noam Arnon, Baruch Marzel, Rabbi Shalom Alkobi, and others.

The celebration began with a number of speeches recognizing Morav’s contribution to dozens of Hebron events, including mass gatherings of tens of thousands of visitors. Everyone present articulated words of gratitude, which was expressed also in several gifts presented to him: an original painting of Me’arat Hamachpela by Hebron artist Shmuel Mushnik, and a certificate of appreciation, signed by all present as well as Hebron’s mayor, Avraham Ben-Yosef, Hebron’s director-general Uri Karzen, and the director of the regional religious council, Yosef Dayan.

How did Morav relate to his years in Hebron? In his words, “It was an honor… the sanctity of the site was above any and all other considerations.”

Shuchralla Morav is not the first and only officer honored by Hebron’s Jewish community. A long list of police , IDF soldiers and officers and commanders are among those who are tangibly appreciated as a result of their tireless efforts to maintain a safe and secure Hebron, allowing hundreds of thousands of people, of all races and religions, to visit Israel’s first Jewish city and holy sites.

Surely, we do not always see eye to eye, but then again, neither do husband and wife always agree. You learn to agree to disagree. However that doesn’t prevent mutual care, respect and love. So too with the courageous men and women whose presence, hard work and shared esteem lead to positive, fruitful relationships which can last for many years.

David Wilder, Tazpit News Agency

Darchei Noam

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Many years ago, an Arab called a friend of his. “They’re after me, they want to kill me and my family. No one will help us. What can we do?” His friend, realizing the seriousness of the situation, quickly answered. “Come to my house. I’ll keep you here until it’s safe for you elsewhere.” The Arab and his family lived with his friend for quite a while.

 

He had been cooperating with the Israeli security forces, feeding them information over an extended time.  When he was ‘discovered,’ the security forces abandoned him. The ‘friend’ who refused to leave him to his fate, and instead saved his life was Noam Arnon, and the place was Hebron.

 

 Sitting in an office next to a person for almost 15 years, and living upstairs from him for almost 11 years, provides you with a perspective about that someone which other people don’t normally have.

 

            There are several traits that stand out when thinking about Noam. The first is a habit that most people (at least most that I know) don’t have. He listens. He hears what other people have to say. And many times what he hears influences what he does, even if it means changing his mind.

 

 Our Sages teach that it is supremely important to have a lev tov, a good heart. Noam Arnon certainly qualifies for this distinctly positive attribute. It is written that a lev tov encompasses several different qualities: A “good eye” – through which a person sees most everything through a positive looking glass. This is vintage Noam. Despite his extremely high standards and ideals, he almost always observes events, including personal affronts, from an optimistic and constructive viewpoint.

 

 This can be, for people like me, working with him, very frustrating, as I do not always see people and events with that same “good eye.”

 

 The same above-mentioned teaching also speaks of being a “good friend and neighbor.” I can attest to Noam’s adherence to both of these attributes. There are few people I know who are as loyal as he is to his friends, sticking up for them whatever the situation may be. And as a neighbor, I think he would bend over backwards and give the shirt off his back, should the situation so demand.

 

 The fourth trait mentioned is a person who knows how to ‘plan for the future,’ and understand ‘what’s coming next.’ Advanced planning is always recommended, but not always easy to do. Planning ahead doesn’t just mean setting up next week’s schedule. Rather it entails vision; it necessitates thinking not only about tomorrow, but also about next year, a decade from now, and even further into the future.

 

 Perhaps one of the best examples of Noam’s vision was his founding of Midreshet Hevron. Initiated some 30 years ago, this organization has utilized tours and lectures to reach out to thousands and thousands of people, children and adults, teachers and tour guides, tourists and Sabras, introducing them not only to Hebron, but to the wonders of the Judean Desert, the southern Hebron Hills, and many other sites. When the Midrasha was founded, it would have been impossible to foresee its influence on so many thousands of people. But it has left an indelible mark on all those it has educated.

 

 Lastly the teaching speaks of the most complementary trait, that of a “good heart.” Probably the best example of Noam’s “good heart” is related in the first paragraph of this article. Another instance I remember is when a group of gentiles visited Ma’arat HaMachpela. Some of the Jewish people present at the Ma’ara began acting in a repulsive manner. Noam reacted quickly, rebuking them, asking, “Is it not written that Abraham is the father of many nations? Why shouldn’t others have the privilege to visit here too?”

 

 Noam Arnon is a man of many talents. He has toiled as a leader within Yesha for decades. For many years he was the official spokesperson for Gush Emunim and continued as spokesman for Hebron’s Jewish community. He is a superb tour guide, whose tours of Hebron have international prominence. A more recent project has included taking hundreds of Israelis serving in the IDF, on historical tours – from privates, to fighter pilots, to high-ranking officers. Many of the people had never before been to Hebron and their opinion of the city was based solely on what they read and saw in the media. Following their tour of Hebron, a visit which includes absolutely no politics, just history, many of them than begin to comprehend the significance of Hebron to the Jewish people. This is due to Noam’s extraordinary efforts, showing them Hebron as the roots of the Jewish people.

 

 On one hand, Noam has a poetic neshama, and is the regular leader of the Shabbat Carlebach services Friday nights at Ma’arat HaMachpela. It is not an exaggeration to say that Noam is spiritually bonded to Judaism’s 2nd holiest site.

 

Very rarely does he miss praying at the Ma’ara, almost three times a day, seven days a week.

 

 On the other hand, Noam Arnon is an authentic intellectual, a man who continues his formal education to this very day; a man who is well-read, and whose dream it is to write. He has already authored a number of books and pamphlets about Hebron, including a short history of Hebron and Ma’arat HaMachpela, the relationship between Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook and Hebron, and a compilation of Jewish sources dealing with Ma’arat HaMachpela. This is surely only the beginning. The future will definitely see major publications pumped out of his printer. Frequently he tells friends, “let me just sit and write, that’s all I really want to do.”

 

 Anyone who knows Noam and his abilities is not about to allow him to “just” sit back and write. His leadership, which has included participation on the Hebron Jewish community’s local council for many years, is still vital. Perhaps when one day he retires, he’ll be allowed the luxury to “just sit and write.” But not yet.

 

 It is quite fitting that Noam Arnon was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. The Moskowitzes, Dr. Irving and Cherna, are paradigm Zionists, who will be remembered in the annals of Jewish history, as are the Rothchilds and Montefiores.   There are many people in the world who are willing to express opinions and mouth support for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. There are very few who are willing and able to bestow the type of support the Moskowitzes have provided over the years. The decision to award the Moskowitz Prize to Noam Arnon is doubly important. Of course, it recognizes his life’s work for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Hebron. But it also recognizes the fundamental importance of Hebron to the Jewish people. Nothing could be more natural than Noam Arnon, Hebron, and the Moskowitzes coming together as one, binding them as links in a chain, giving honor to all three: the bestower, the bestowed and our common roots: Hebron.

 

 Many times I’m asked what Noam’s like. My answer is very short and simple; Noam is, as his name implies. In English, I guess the best translation of noam is pleasant, conveying relaxation and quiet, or perhaps best put, peace of mind. This best describes Noam and his personality. Personally it is an honor to call him a friend and colleague. On behalf of the Hebron Jewish Community, it is a pleasure to wish him a hearty Mazal Tov on reception of this worthy distinction.

 

 He should be privileged to continue working “his way”- “the way of noam” or in Hebrew, darchei noam.

David Wilder, Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/darchei-noam/2009/06/03/

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