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
Rabbi Eliyahu looked at the man and responded, “He should
continue to help the Jewish people and next year he will be witness to
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
For example, Colonel Guy Hazut, speaking recently after having
concluded two years as commander of the Judea-Hebron brigade, said, “Many people
think that people in the Jewish community of Hebron have horns and tails. These
are amazing people. There is a tiny, negligible group which give them a bad
Abraham’s legacy is a lesson well learned, and still practiced.
That 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.
Shabbat, Chayei Sarah, we read of Abraham’s initial transaction, purchase of the
Caves of Machpela in Hebron, as a final resting place for Sarah, and later
himself, Isaac and Rebeccah, and Jacob and Leah. Together with tens of thousands
in Hebron, and multitudes elsewhere, we continue, as best we can, the heritage
bequeathed to us, some four thousand years ago.
The writer is spokesman
for the Jewish Community of Hebron.