70,000 celebrate Sukkot in Hebron
October 10, 2012 | Atara Beck - Israel Correspondent
HEBRON - David Wilder, spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron, was “very pleased” that during the Sukkot break, at least 70,000 people came over a three-day period to visit the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world.
The holy city of Hebron, located south of Jerusalem in the Judean Hills, is rich in Jewish history, both ancient and modern, and includes several meaningful sites. The most famous is the Cave of the Patriarchs – in Hebrew, Ma’arat Hamachpelah – which, according to the bible, Abraham had purchased for his wife Sarah. It is known as the burial spot for all of the patriarchs and matriarchs except for Rachel, who was interred on the Bethlehem road.
The large number of visitors during Chol Hamo’ed – the interim days of the eight-day festival of Sukkot, when observant Jews are permitted to travel – shows how deeply Jews relate to the site, Wilder told the Jewish Tribune. “Ma’arat Hamachpelah is like a magnet; it just pulls people in.”
Last Tuesday, on the first day of Chol Hamo’ed in Israel, more than 20,000 visitors flocked to the city, Wilder said. “The second day, there were more than 40,000, and yesterday [Thursday], close to 10,000. I hope that this continues.”
The especially large number on Wednesday was due to a concert given by several performers well-known in the orthodox world. It was headed by American Chassidic singer and songwriter Mordechai Ben David, who is often referred to as the “king of Jewish music.”
However, the tourists who came from around the country were not limited to the orthodox Jewish community, Wilder said.
In fact, prominent visitors included Minister of Strategic Affairs and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ayalon, who stated after his visit on Wednesday:
“It is uplifting to see the development of Jewish settlement in Hebron as well as the people of Israel who are visiting during Sukkot. Our return to Hebron is not temporary, but forever, and we are working to increase our presence here.”