Despite Danger, Thousands Gather in Hebron this Sabbath to Honor Abraham’s Purchase of Sarah’s Burial Place

“Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 23:19)

Defying the threat of terror and the stormy weather, thousands of Jews are planning to take part in the annual Shabbat Chayei Sarah festivities in Hebron, a celebration of the purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat Ha’Machpela) by Abraham which is recounted in the weekly Torah portion named after Abraham’s wife who was buried there 3,691 years ago, according to Jewish tradition.

Shabbat Chayei Sarah Tent City for Guests, 2010 (Photo credit: hebron.com)
Shabbat Chayei Sarah Tent City for Guests, 2010 (Photo credit: hebron.com)

This Shabbat, November 6-7, the Jewish community of Hebron and neighboring Kiryat Arba will open their homes to guests from throughout Israel and around the world who will come to Hebron to read the Torah portion recalling the passing of the Biblical matriarch Sarah and her husband Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs as a burial plot. The cave subsequently became the final resting place of Abraham himself, as well as his son Isaac and his wife Rivkah, and their son Jacob and his wife Leah.

“The city of Hebron is proud and eager to host the myriad guests who will be joining us in celebration this Shabbat,” Yishai Fleisher, International Spokesman for the City of Hebron, said in a statement. “Israel has been hit by a plague of jihad, yet it continues to operate everyday with optimism and resilience. We look forward to a fun and festive experience for all the good people, government ministers, rabbis and educators, Jews and non-Jews who will come to pay tribute and join us in solidarity.”

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Since Hebron’s liberation in 1967 and the subsequent effort to revitalize the community that had flourished for hundreds of years before the pogroms of 1929, the Machpela Cave has been a site of pilgrimage to millions of Jews and gentiles who come to honor the principal heroes of the Bible and the founders of monotheistic civilization.

Fleisher pointed out that while international bodies like UNESCO are trying to minimize the Biblical and Jewish significance of this world heritage site, and terrorists try keep pilgrims from arriving, by sowing fear and oppression, Israelis and lovers of the Bible worldwide defy those efforts by coming to Hebron on Shabbat Chayei Sarah and proclaiming the eternal connection between Hebron, the Bible, and the Jewish people.

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