Education minister says program will expose students to "the Jewish heritage in the city of their forefathers.”
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced a new program on Tuesday through which thousands of school pupils would visit the West Bank city of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs every year.A pilot for the program would start next year, he told Jewish residents of Hebron and the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba during a visit to both places on Tuesday.The program, to be called “Let’s Go Up to Hebron,” would be run and funded by his ministry and is similar to one that already exists for Jerusalem, he said.Sa’ar recalled how, when he was cabinet secretary under Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister had said the state had to ensure that every pupil, soldier and ambassador visited the Cave of the Patriarchs so they would “recognize the roots from which it all began.”Kiryat Arba Council head Malachi Levinger said, “We’re talking about a historic decision that will expose, for the first time, thousands of students to the Jewish heritage in the city of their forefathers.”Sa’ar also promised to advocate for funds to renovate the holy site so worshipers could comfortably pray there. At present, there is no permanent roof over the prayer area, which is protected from the elements only by a plastic covering that lets in the rain and the wind.“The situation is intolerable,” Sa’ar said.AdvertisementDuring his West Bank tour, he also visited the settlement of Efrat.He called for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to lift his “silent freeze” of the larger West Bank Jewish communities and to authorize new construction in Efrat, Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Betar Illit.All four communities have no permits and cannot continue to build without new authorization from the government.Sa’ar said it was “absurd” that new homes could be built in small settlements, but not in these larger ones. Ben Hartman contributed to this report.
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