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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Tomb’

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;

What Happened at Rachel’s Tomb?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

I read this at the blog, “Occupied Palestine”:

Thousands of Jewish settlers stormed Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, known by Jews as “Rachel’s Tomb” on Sunday night, and performed Talmudic rituals on the anniversary of “Rachel’s death.

Do you think that’s the truth?

Oops, I just realized sarcasm doesn’t go over the Internet well.

Here‘s the actual story from Arutz Sheva:

About 13,000 people had arrived at the compound from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon. A total of about 70 thousand people are expected by Sunday.

This year the anniversary of the matriarch Rachel’s passing fell on the Sabbath, when observant Jews do not travel. Those marking the anniversary compensated by moving celebrations of her life to the days immediately before and after.

As part of the preparations for the celebrations, volunteers from the Ichud Hatzalah organization, including doctors and paramedics, were deployed starting on Thursday afternoon at Rachel’s Tomb. As of Saturday night they treated 13 people, including three who were evacuated to hospital. Most of the casualties suffered bruises and injuries as a result of the crowding in the area.

The Egged bus company, which had been providing transportation to the compound, could not handle the large number of visitors, and, as can be seen in the following video, on Saturday night tens of thousands of people began marching on foot from Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood to the compound.

Visit My Right Word.

Rabbi Porush’s Noble Legacy

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The passing of Rabbi Menachem Porush in Jerusalem on Sunday night brought to mind many memories of my childhood. He was a close friend and working colleague of my father, Simcha Unsdorfer, z”l, who served as secretary general of British Agudah.

Always impeccably dressed in kapota and cufflinks, Rabbi Porush had an almost regal bearing and was a frequent visitor to our London home.

I particularly remember him being with us in the week before the start of the Six-Day War in 1967. I recall him sitting with my father watching the somber news bulletins on our black and white TV. A map with three thick black arrows was on the screen, each arrow representing a massive Arab army pointed toward the tiny sliver of Eretz Yisrael.

I watched as my father, an Auschwitz survivor, became ever more stressed with each bulletin. In contrast, Rabbi Porush’s measured tones and kindly features exuded a reassuring calm that was rooted in a belief system greater and stronger than is the case for most people.

The sad news of his petirah also reminded me of a piece I had written for The Jewish Press some years ago. Titled “Joseph – The Second Betrayal,” it was about the preservation of Jewish rights of access to our patriarchal burial sites. The following extract is particularly apt to reprint as a tribute to the life and work of Reb Menachem of blessed memory:

It was during the summer of 1995 that a fateful encounter took place in the Knesset, outside the office of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Rabin’s government was putting the final touches on the second Oslo agreement that was to hand over a further tranche of West Bank towns to the new Palestinian Authority. This included Bethlehem, site of Rachel’s Tomb, at which Jews have prayed for thousands of years. National Religious Party member Hanan Porat realized that the tomb was slated to fall into “Area A,” that is, under full Arab civil and military control. He decided he must speak with Rabin and try to change his mind.

Another MK, Jewish Press columnist Rabbi Menachem Porush, happened to walk by and saw his friend standing outside the prime minister’s office carrying a large aerial photograph of the tomb compound and the Bethlehem-Gilo border.

“What are you doing here?” asked Porush.

“I have come to lobby for Rachel’s Tomb,” Porat responded.

Porush asked if he could join him at the meeting and Porat agreed.

For the greater part of the meeting, Porush sat in silence. He listened to Porat, who drew lines on the aerial photograph and illustrated how short was the distance and shooting range between Gilo and Bethlehem. Porat also asked Rabin if he would be willing to give the Palestinians the grave of Ben Gurion or that of his Palmach commander, Yigal Allon.

Rabin was preparing to respond when Porush stood up and embraced him. Addressing him as “Reb Yitzchak,” Porush tearfully beseeched him not to give up Rachel’s Tomb.

“It was beyond words,” Porat recalled in a later interview. “Reb Menachem sobbed, crying real tears onto the prime minister’s shirt. Rabin begged him, ‘Reb Menachem, please calm down.’ Reb Menachem retorted: ‘How can I calm down? You are planning to give away Mama Ruchi’s grave. The Jewish people will never forgive you if you abandon Mama’s tomb.’ ”

Rabin relented and promised the two Knesset members that he would re-examine the issue. Just a few days later, the 463 meters separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem were restored to their “Area C” status under complete Israel security and civil control. The Palestinians agreed to be compensated with other territories.

On the last morning of Reb Menachem’s life, the usual Sunday cabinet meeting took place in Jerusalem. On the agenda: a discussion and vote on a proposal to provide government funding to specially designated sites of Jewish heritage. Reb Menachem would have been delighted and touched to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu add Kever Rachel to the list.

Some would call it a happy coincidence; others an irony. But sooner or later most Jews come to realize there are no coincidences in the Land of Israel. This was a parting gift to a remarkable human being – a rabbi who devoted his life to the defense of Torah and the upholding of a plethora of educational institutions and charitable causes.

In The Embrace Of Mama Rachel

Friday, November 7th, 2008

“Mama Rachel, I missed you!” I half-sob. “Mama Rachel . . . how could I have waited so long to visit you?!”  Tenderly, I stroke the navy-velvet covered Tomb of Rachel – the Mother of Jews through history.

Women, from all walks of life, fill the anteroom. They converge around Rachel’s resting place, to weep . . . to plead . . . to unburden their hearts . . . on Mama.

The low wailing and whimpering of the worshippers punctuates the feeling of comfort and awe, which hovers over the room.

In the men’s section, a group of boys loudly chant Psalms in sweet, youthful voices while the members of Kollel Kever Rachel sway over their Gemaras.

For years, my friend had been trying to persuade me to visit Rachel’s Tomb. “There’s an ar-mored bus,” she cajoled. “It takes you right to the site.” Fifteen years I put off visiting the holy tomb. Armored buses made me nervous. I was fearful about the intifada. Hundreds of people flocked to the tomb daily. I couldn’t push myself.

But I was ecstatic when I heard that security permitted private vehicles access to Rachel Imeinu’s Tomb during the auspicious period be-fore Rosh Hashanah and until Yom Kippur, when Jews flock to graves of tzaddikim, entreating for a blessed, sweet year.Now was my opportunity.

Our car wound its way towards Beit Lechem through Jerusalem’s glorious view, where grassy hillocks meet the skyline, roads awash with the history of our people. We saluted the soldiers at the checkpoint and in a matter of minutes pulled up in the designated parking lot.

Even though I was aware that the tomb’s original fa?ade had been changed due to security reasons, I couldn’t help but search for that familiar oblong-shaped building with the domed roof that Sir Moses Montefiore had built in 1841.

That building is now encased in another modern brick building. A long hallway brings us right up to the rooms preceding the tomb. The original main entrance is now the entrance to the men’s section where the domed roof begins and stretches over the women’s side.

 

Rachel’s Sacrifice

Of all our righteous Patriarchs and Matriarchs, why did Rachel merit G d’s acceptance of her plea that the Jews be returned to Israel after the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed?

It was sisterly love. Rachel refused to shame her sister Leah, at great personal sacri-fice. She revealed the signs that Yaakov had pre-arranged with her to Leah. Yaakov, who was to marry Rachel, suspected that Lavan would switch his daughters and have Yaakov marry Leah, so he gave Rachel signs. To not let Leah get embarrassed, Rachel gave her the signs.Hashem listened to Rachel’s prayers. And they continue to be heard until this day.

Yaakov buried Rachel in a roadside grave between Efrat and Beit Lechem and not in the family burial plot – the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. He foresaw that his descendants would pass Rachel’s Tomb while being driven in captivity to Babylon and the tomb would be a place of comfort for them.

 

The Return

The rise of the intifada decreased the flow of visitors to the tomb. The only Jews there were our soldiers who devotedly guarded the site. For years Mama Rachel lay desolate, aching for the return of her children. Until a young Torah scholar, Rabbi Moshe Menachem Kluger, couldn’t bear Rachel’s solitude. He initiated the Kever Rachel Institution and inspired friends and rela-tives to join him at the site.

He arranged for scholars to learn and pray at Kever Rachel, and paid for armored buses to bring worshippers back and forth.

“Doesn’t it get overwhelming?” I asked Mrs. Kluger, who mans the Kever Rachel yeshuos hotline.

“Of course,” Mrs. Kluger chuckles. “My fam-ily is roped into answering the phone. My chil-dren are updated on all information concerning Kever Rachel.

I feel Mama Rachel’s strength behind me, helping me.”

 The Kever Rachel Institution ensures 24-hour Torah study at the tomb, daily minyanim, and that Sefer Tehillim is completed each day. It also maintains the on-site mikveh, and ensures that armored buses bring hundreds of people each day, and many thousands on the 11th of Cheshvan, Rachel Imeinu’s Yahrzeit.

At her last Yahrzeit, an estimated 50,000 Jews visited the kever, and a live web cam was set up.

 

The Miracles

According to the story, once the phone rang at Kever Rachel hotline. “How much is a chicken?” a voice inquired.

“Ehh, you have the wrong number, this is not a butcher shop,” answered a puzzled Mrs. Kluger.

“I know; it’s Kever Rachel,” insisted the woman. “How much is a chicken? I want to pay for a Yahrzeit meal.”

This woman’s son had a physical disability and thus was having difficulty in finding his shidduch. A friend suggested praying at Kever Rachel. At the site, this woman met an acquaint-ance who related that she was helped after she prayed at Rachel’s Tomb and promised to sponsor a meal for the Yahrzeit.

“If my son is helped,” prayed this woman, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I will also donate money to Kever Rachel.” Two weeks later, her son met his bashert.

Now that woman was calling to fulfill her promise.

*   *   *

 “I desperately need a salvation,” Zahava said in a choked voice. “My mother is sick with cancer. As for me, I’m in my 40′s and childless. My husband and I are only children of Holocaust survivors. If not for us, there’ll be no continuation.”

She requested that people learn Torah for her and her mother’s sake, at Rachel’s Tomb at chatzos – midnight.

Two months later, Zahava called again. “There’s news!” she whispered excitedly. I just received the test results. I’m pregnant!” Within the year, Zahava called to relate the joyous news of the birth of her healthy baby boy, and that her mother was in remission.

*   *   *

 Rachel’s Tomb is desolate no longer. Mama Rachel has been reunited with her children.The website is keverrachel.com. The num-ber for the hotline is 02-580-0863 in Israel, and 888-2-ROCHEL in the U.S.

First Bat Mitzvah Held At Rachel’s Tomb Complex

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Nearly 100 people from Israel and the U.S. gathered at Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb) on the outskirts of Bethlehem earlier this month for what is being described as the first ever Bat Mitzvah celebration held in the kever and the recently acquired adjacent building. The celebration was organized by the Rachel Imeinu Foundation (www.rachelimeinu.org), which aims to strengthen the Jewish presence in and around the complex housing the tomb, revered as the traditional burial site of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel.

Festive music and dancing greeted Tamar Klein, 12, as she marked her passage into adulthood. While she gave a short drashah, her proud parents, Penina and David Klein of Cedarhurst, New York, and other invited guests, looked on.

The Bat Mitzvah festivities took place in the building known as Beit Bnei Rachel, which lies immediately adjacent to the structure housing the tomb, both of which are enclosed within a loop in the separation wall constructed by Israel.

Tamar and her parents signed up with the Rachel Imeinu Foundation’s Bat Mitzvah program months ago, and planned it in coordination with the president of the Rachel Imeinu Foundation, Chaim Silberstein. The preparation for the big event took place under the guidance of the Israeli Bat Mitzvah coordinator, Tsipi Egert, both by phone and email, enabling the family to arrange the event, from the comfort of its own home, down to the smallest detail.

 
Tamar Klein and guests celebrate her Bat Mitzvah at Rachel’s Tomb.
 

The Bat Mitzvah girl was sent worksheets, relating to Rachel Imeinu, which she learned with her mother on a weekly basis. Other components of the Bat Mitzvah program included a chesed project, a unique scrapbook, treasure hunt, volunteering for Israeli soldiers, and arts and crafts connected to Kever Rachel. Catering was supplied by the Beit Orot Yeshiva, also a part owner of the complex.

“This is an historic event,” said Silberstein. “It is the first time that a full-fledged Bat Mitzvah celebration, including catering, music, photographers and dancing, took place in the center adjoining the tomb.”

“Our goal is to establish a World Bat Mitzvah Center in the building that will provide young Jewish women with a special venue to celebrate their Bat Mitzvahs, just as young Jewish men mark their Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall.”

The site, designated to be the Rachel Imeinu Educational Campus, consists of one acre of land and a 9,000 square-foot building. It was purchased from its Arab owners several years ago by a consortium of Jews, who felt very strongly about securing Kever Rachel, the success of which revolved around bringing a permanent Jewish presence to the area.

By expanding the site of the Tomb (which is surrounded on three sides by a Muslim cemetery) and building educational and ultimately residential facilities, it is hoped that Rachel’s Tomb will not befall the fate of Rachel’s son Yosef’s Tomb in Shechem, which was deserted by the IDF in late 2000 and destroyed by Muslims soon thereafter.

The IDF had occupied Beit Bnei Rachel for four years until the security barrier/separation wall was constructed surrounding Kever Rachel and the new property. After the wall was completed in August 2006, the IDF handed over security responsibility to the Israeli Border Police who agreed to return the building to its owners. This process has been going on for the past year, with the Police determining security measures in the compound, making visiting the area safer than ever.

The process has been very challenging both during the acquisition itself (whose details are confidential) and post acquisition, due to the bureaucratic, security and political obstacles concerning Judaism’s third holiest site.
 
 
Recent aerial of Kever Rachel, the security fence and Beit Bnei Rachel.
 

For example, just weeks ago, Malky Grunwald, granddaughter of one of the major donors toward the acquisition, Evelyn Haies of Brooklyn, planned to have her Bat Mitzvah in the building her grandmother helped purchase. The very day before the planned simcha, the new chief of Jerusalem police, Aaron Franko decided to place a restriction on access to the building as he wanted to “learn the situation” before implementing his predecessor’s permit.

Nevertheless, the Bat Mitzvah celebration still continued in the kever itself with the proud grandmother surrounded by her family and friends. Malky had celebrated her first birthday at Kever Rachel, so it was very appropriate to have her Bat Mitzvah there too.

Now that the complex is accessible by regular buses (since August 1, the IDF dropped the bullet- proof requirement, although private vehicles are still not allowed into the complex) the number of visitors is on the rise, so much so that Egged is sending in double-buses, which are full on almost every trip. The added security, coupled with the completion of the Rachel Imeinu Educational Center (which will include the World Bat Mitzvah Center, a museum, visitors center and learning institutions), will encourage even greater numbers of Jewish girls and women (and of course, men), to visit  Kever Rachel. The building is expected to undergo a full makeover to a beautiful and modern educational and simcha facility.

This is expected to attract a wide spectrum of Jewish visitors, including those who do not normally have Kever Rachel included in their touring itinerary. Through experiencing a meaningful Bat Mitzvah, or visiting the center and museum, they will strengthen their ties to their country and heritage.

The Rachel Imeinu Foundation is accepting reservations for Bat Mitzvahs, even though the new building has not been completed. “Because of the high demand from both Israel and the Diaspora, we will still have events in the building as long as construction constraints permit. If not, we have alternate venues available for the festive meal, while the ceremony is still held at the kever. Tamar Klein’s Bat Mitzvah was a great step toward adulthood for her, and a large leap toward the blossoming and expansion of Rachel’s Tomb for Am Yisrael,” Silberstein said.

“This,” he added, “is the first of what I hope will be many more meaningful and joyous celebrations at the compound.”

For more information, to take a tour to Kever Rachel, or to arrange for a Bat Mitzvah celebration at Rachel’s Tomb, log on to www.rachelimeinu.org or contact chaim@rachelimeinu.org.

Kever Rachel In Our Hands?

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

        Those of us who made it to Kever Rachel Imeinu in the last six months found it almost unrecognizable. I have watched how hundreds of Jews have visited this Holy site despite difficulties in accessing it, spilling out their hearts to Ema Rochel and praying for her intervention with the Holy One in all areas of life. Rachel’s Tomb has been a place that pilgrims have visited for millennia and is dear to our people today as then. We must make sure that Kever Rachel is secured and thrives as it continues to be a place of  spiritual and strategic importance.
 
         In 1998 the Israeli government completed a fortified corridor that totally hides the original building we all remember so fondly, and now they have built a 25 foot high wall that encloses the complex. A special road, for Jewish use only, lined by the security wall on either side has been constructed from the Jerusalem border all the way to the Kever. The area outside the Kever has been tarred and prepared for vehicular access and new bathrooms have been built where the small army base used to be. This area is also surrounded by the wall. There are about seven watchtowers in the area manned 24/7 by border police guards.
 
         So Kever Rachel has been placed in a fortified enclave, with private road access and an unprecedented level of security.
 
         The question I ask is:
 
         Is it ours, but not in our hands, or is it in our hands, but not ours?
 
         There is no doubt in my mind that the answer is a combination of both. Kever Rachel is certainly ours and has been since Rochel died while giving birth to Binyamin as described in the book of Bereishis. But being ‘imprisoned’ in a walled enclave, that can be cut off or closed in an instant (as the IDF did on several occasions during the Oslo intifada) does not make it totally secure in our hands. On the other hand, we have full control of the complex, no Arabs can access it and there is strong security – so it is in our hands.
 
         Kever Rachel is Judaism’s third holiest site, has been visited by pilgrims for thousands of years, yet today you need a bullet proof vehicle to access it. Right now only a small minority of Jews visit this important site because of its cumbersome access, security concerns and because many Jews are simply unaware of the segula and importance of Kever Rachel. So can we really say it is ours?
 
         We can either accept the present situation, or we can turn Kever Rachel into the Holy Site it deserves to be with thousands of people visiting our Ema Rochel daily.
 
         How to change the reality?
 
         There is a solution!
 
         I have had the privilege of facilitating a group of motivated Jews in buying the property adjacent to Kever Rachel from its Arab owners. Details of this deal remain classified, but Jews now own an acre of land, including a 10,000 square foot building just footsteps away from Kever Rachel and well within the security wall surrounding the complex. Evelyn Haies, President of Rachel’s Children’s Reclamation Foundation has been a major force in helping make this a reality.
 
         We now have an opportunity to make an historic revolutionary change at Rachel’s Tomb – the establishment (on our property) of an educational campus, consisting of a visitors center and museum, a world bat mitzvah center and a yeshiva as well as a unique place to celebrate simchas in the building and it’s spacious yard.
 
         This will bring thousands of visitors to the site on a daily basis and give Rachel Imeinu some of the consolation for which she has been crying for centuries.
 
         By significantly increasing the number of people visiting the complex on a regular basis and by bringing a permanent Jewish presence to the area – we will be able to bring about a reality where Kever Rachel Imeinu will both be ours and in our hands!
 
         How to make this a reality:
 
         ·  We renovate and makeover the building on the property, it needs to be converted into a beautiful building serving the Jewish people. We are in advanced stages of negotiations with the IDF to finalize starting the work.
 
         ·  We raise sufficient funds to renovate the building and furnish it with the materials, staff and exhibits needed to facilitate the programs.
 
         ·  We carry out a major marketing and publicity campaign, both in Israel and the Diaspora, bringing this new message of hope and success and the incredible educational and spiritual opportunities available at Rachel’s Tomb.
 
         How you can help:
 
         ·  Come and visit Kever Rachel with us when you visit Israel. Join one of our tours, see details on our website. As Evelyn says: A visit to Israel without visiting Kever Rachel Imeinu is like going home and not visiting your mother. Encourage your friends and family to visit too.
 
         ·  Give financial support and encourage others to do so.
 
         ·  Be in contact with the Rachel Imeinu Foundation and tell us how you can help.
 
         Our Mother Rachel gave up being buried in Hebron so that she could return us to our borders in Eretz Yisrael – let us do what we can to return, with honor, to hers.
 

         For more information go to chaim@rachelimeinu.org  or www.rachelimeinu.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/jewish-community/kever-rachel-in-our-hands/2007/04/02/

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