Chabad mobilizes support for Hebron evacuees

Over 100 Chabad emissaries visited the city on Sunday to raise the morale of settlers.

In a show of support for Hebron's nine families slated for evacuation, more than 100 Chabad emissaries visited the City of the Patriarchs on Sunday. Close to 7,000 police and soldiers have been brought to the city in preparation for Tuesday's planned evacuation. "Nobody is trying to break the IDF or the police," said Rabbi Menachem Brod, the official Chabad spokesman in Israel. "But we are hopeful the government will rescind its decision." Rabbi Dani Cohen, the head Chabad emissary in Hebron, said the purpose of the visit by the emissaries, who head Beit Chabads across Israel, was to lift the Hebron settlers' morale. "The emissaries are here to identify with the settlers, not to grapple with police and soldiers," he said. "These guys are used to spiritual struggles, not physical ones." Before the evacuation from the Gaza Strip, Chabad's official institutions were uncharacteristically passive in their opposition. The Hassidic sect, known for its organizational skills, refrained from mobilizing en masse against the pullout. "Chabad's role is to bring Jews closer to Judaism and to offer spiritual support and guidance, not to fight with police and soldiers," Brod said about Hebron, reiterating what he had said regarding the disengagement plan. From its inception at the end of the 17th century, Chabad-Lubavitch had a strong connection with the small Jewish community in Hebron, said Rabbi Yossi Nachshon, a Chabad rabbi from Kiryat Arba. Chabad's founder, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, known as the Alter Rebbe, helped raise funds to support Hebron's Jews. The author of Tanya, Chabad's most central text, also purchased land in Hebron, including plots near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood and the site where Yeshivat Shavei Hevron is located. The Alter Rebbe's granddaughter, Rebbetzin Menucha Rachel Slonim, is buried there. "We hope world pressure will prevent the Israeli government from going through with the evacuation of the innocent," Nachshon said. "Chabad will try to use its influence both in Israel and abroad to fight the decision." The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, spoke out strongly against any land compromises. He said even talking about ceding land to the Palestinians endangered Jewish lives.