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  • Writer's pictureKrista

Israel Journey — Day 7

We started out in Hebron, an old Canaanite city, driving into the West Bank and through a very small Jewish settlement in a predominantly Palestinian area. Our goal was to get to the tombs of Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Leah.

To see them was a fascinating experience — we started out on the Jewish side to get the general history of the place and better overall shots of the location.

I had dropped the still camera earlier (because I think I had been getting a little dehydrated, forgetting to drink water in the sun), so I started covering up when I was outside. It worked great to keep sun off the viewfinder, as well, so I stayed under my improvised umbrella. I suppose a highly charged political religious site isn’t really a bad place to wear too many items of clothing.

After we were finished with that segment, we left the Jewish section and headed over to the Muslim side. That involved a security screening, guards, leaving the tripods with them, and vowing that we had no weapons.

Then, leaving our shoes and changing clothes…

…where we could peek into a window and see the tomb of Abraham…

and Leah.

Jews aren’t allowed to enter the mosque and Muslims aren’t allowed to enter the synagogue, so it was unique to get to go to both.

After putting our shoes back on and leaving our hoodies at the mosque, we went back through security, picked up the tripods, and walked around the fence to the Jewish side (nevermind that it was all a paneling-width away from where we were just standing), up the steps, through Jewish security (where we were told to leave the tripods again), vowed we had no weapons, and entered the synagogue.

Confused? I was (again, too much taping, not enough listening, I think), so I looked it up on the never-wrong Wikipedia:

Until June 1967 Jews were forbidden from entering the site, and were not allowed past the seventh step leading up to the tombs. Following the Israeli victory over the Jordanians in the Six Day War, the area came back under Jewish control for the first time in 2,000 years and the 1,400-year-long restriction limiting Jews to the seventh step was lifted. Israelis immediately began settling in the city after the Six Day War. The first subsequent Jewish wedding ceremony took place on 7 August 1968.[8]In 1968, a special arrangement was made to accommodate Jewish services on the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. This led to a hand-grenade being thrown on the stairway leading to the tomb on October 9 in which 47 Israelis were injured, 8 seriously.[9][10] On November 4, a large explosion went off near the gate to the compound and 6 people, Jews and Arabs, were wounded.[10]On Yom Kippur eve, October 3, 1976, an Arab mob destroyed several Torah scrolls and prayer books at the tomb.[11] In May 1980, an attack on Jewish worshippers returning from prayers at the tomb left 6 dead and 17 wounded.[12]Tensions would later increase as the Israeli government signed the Oslo Accords in September 1993, which gave limited autonomy to the PLO in the West Bank city of Jericho and the Gaza Strip. The city of Hebron and the rest of the major Palestinian population centers in the West Bank were not included in the initial agreement.[13] A shooting spree committed by an Israeli-American settler in February 1994, left 29 Palestinian Muslims dead and scores injured. The resulting riots resulted in a further 35 deaths.The increased sensitivity of the site meant that in 1996 the Wye River Accords, part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, included a temporary status agreement for the site restricting access for both Jews and Muslims. As part of this agreement, the waqf controls 81% of the building. This includes the whole of the southeastern section, which lies above the only known entrance to the caves and possibly over the entirety of the caves themselves. In consequence, Jews are not permitted to visit the Cenotaphs of Isaac or Rebecca, which lie entirely within the southeastern section, except for 10 days a year which hold special significance in Judaism. One of these days is the Shabbat Chayei Sarah, when the Torah portion concerning the deaths of Abraham and Sarah and the purchase by Abraham of the land in which the caves are situated, is read.The Israeli authorities do not allow Jewish religious authorities the right to maintain the site and only allow the waqf to do so. Tourists are permitted to enter the site. Security at the site has increased since the Intifada; the Israel Defense Forces surround the site with soldiers and control access to the shrines.On February 21, 2010, Israel announced that it would include the site in a national heritage site protection and rehabilitation plan. The announcement sparked protests from the UN, Arab governments and the United States.[14][15] A subsequent UNESCO vote in October aimed to affirm that the “al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron” was “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories.”[16]

This is where the Torah is kept. The man was so excited to open it and show us the scrolls. (Sorry, that’s on the video.)

Sarah’s (?) tomb on the Jewish side. (If you know, please let me know!)

Remember the command God gave His people to keep His word on their doorposts? These were on doorposts, even in hotels.

They’ve taken that literally, but, to me, it seems like it’s almost become a superstition. Some of the ones for sale that I saw had no Scripture on them but had symbols of eyes and hands to ward off spirits instead.

Joel has been leading communion in our local church and we always scramble on the morning of the service to find a suitable cup or bowl and a plate to use, so my goal was to find a platter for the bread and a goblet to dip it in. Hebron is known for their glass and pottery, so we made our first souvenir purchases (because glassware is so practical for us to get back home, and light, too!).

Souvenirs aside, we were off to the Herodium.

Herod the Great became known for his massive building projects. Here, Dr. Varner discusses that legacy. He created the hill (below) on which he built his fortress and then got water there to store in cisterns. Here, Joel shoots a segment in front of the swimming pools. (Personally, I think it would help tourism if they would fill them. I know I would have appreciated it more about that time in the day.)

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