Jewish Hebron Hard Hit by COVID-19 but Moving Forward

Even heroes need heroes. The pioneering Jewish community of Hebron looks toward future projects while dealing with today’s challenges.

The Jewish community of Hebron is moving forward with several projects that will see tremendous growth for the ‘City of Abraham’.

The disabled access project will see an elevator erected outside the Tomb of the Forefather & Mothers. The handicapped access will include a wheelchair ramp enabling Jews, Arabs and people of all faiths to visit the historic burial site of the Biblical founding fathers and mothers without climbing the steep steps.

Last month the IDF Civil Administration rejected a petition objecting to the project which was submitted by the Palestinian Authority-run Hebron Municipality and the Left-wing Emek Shaveh organization.

Member of Knesset Keti Shitrit praised the move on Twitter stating "I congratulate the Civil Administration for rejecting the appeals against making the Tomb of the Patriarchs accessible. Making the place accessible is a Jewish and humanitarian step alike. The connection between the Jewish people and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is inseparable."

Hebron’s Jewish community is also moving forward with two long-overdue housing projects, the first to be built since 2002.

The Hezekiyah quarter project has already been green-lit after years of bureaucratic hurdles. Named after Rabbi Haim Hezekiyah Medini, the famed Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the city and author of the Sdei Hemed, the apartments will be located near the Beit Romano building where his study was located. 

In 2018, the Defense Ministry approved the plan to create 31 housing units. In October of 2020, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Civil Administration was set to issue a decision to allow the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria to push forward the project. 

The other Hebron building project is for what is today called the Wholesale Market. Purchased in 1807 by Hebron's Magen Avot organization led by Rabbi Haim Bejayo, the land was once home to Jewish families and a synagogue. The buildings were razed and a fruit and vegetable market built in its place during the Jordanian period of 1948 - 1967.

Now, planning permits have been issued for the project and the modern Jewish community has hope that closure can come to a tragic past.

Though Jewish Hebron is planning on future growth, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken their toll. While 2019 saw a record number of tourism, it came to a standstill due to coronavirus fears, hurting businesses and families.

This week, the Hebron Fund is running an urgent campaign to help relieve some of the difficulties brought about by the disease. Every dollar that is donated is tripled by matching donors for maximum impact. 

The Hebron Fund works to strengthen Hebron’s families and to beautify and maintain the Tomb of the Ancestors. Israel Defense Force soldiers stationed in the city also benefit from the Hebron Fund which provides extra love and care for the men and women defending the Jewish community, surrounding areas and ensures Hebron is free and open to the entire Israeli public and international visitors.

International Spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron, Yishai Fleisher, told the JPost: “Hebron’s Jewish community are heroes who stand on the front lines ensuring a Jewish presence in the ancient city and keep the Tomb of the Ancestors open to all. But even heroes need help.”  

The director of Hebron Fund Rabbi Dan Rosenstein also urged the public to get involved: “This cause is so important, that a group of donors has challenged The Hebron Fund to raise $1,000,000 in one day. To help with that cause, they have agreed to triple every dollar donated to the Hebron Fund by Thursday December 3rd at 6:00pm EST. Please step up and donate today. We don't have a moment to lose.”

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