Nov 30, 2008

Adventures in Eretz Yisrael: Shabbos in Hebron: Morris Abraham: Gunshots!

Sorry, no pictures. We got to Kiryat Arba/Hebron too close to shabbos to be able to get around and take pictures... maybe next time.

A friend living in Kiryat Arba went to the US for a few weeks, and said we could use his apartment while he is away. We took him up on the offer and went this shabbos (THANK YOU!!).. The opportunity to spend a shabbos in Kiryat Arba/Hebron does not come too frequently, so we had to jump when it did..

After we got ourselves set up in the apartment for shabbos, we headed out to Hebron to daven in the Me'aras Ha'Machpelah. We walked down the road, through the gate, across the road linking the two, and down through Hebron to the Me'arah. Davening in the Me'arah was great and invigorating. The kids all had a good time, and my little one even took a white kipa from the Me'arah that he became very attached to (we returned it Shabbos morning). My 5 year old daughter kept threatening him that if he would not behave, she would tell the aravim on him. I asked her what they would do if she told them about him, and she said they would take him and kill him.

At Maariv, I met Aharon Granovitz-Granot. Granot is a journalist for the Mishpacha magazine. He lives in Kiryat Arba.

Being in no rush, we took our time walking back, up through Simtat Erez, and back across the road to Kiryat Arba. We were making plans for Shabbos day. Plans that included a visit to Beit Ha'Shalom, a possible visit to the destroyed Federman Farm, possible visit with relatives we just found out about, a possible visit with some other friends spending shabbos in Kiryat Arba, and a visit to the Kasbah.

The Kasbah is the arab shuk in Hebron. It used to be open, but eventually became too dangerous, so the army closed it off to jews. They allow Jews in on a shabbos afternoon "tour". They used to not limit it, but now they limit it to something like 30 people. And then only sometimes - sometimes they say "no access". In our previous visits, we were not successful in getting in. This time we calle din advance to find out if it was going to be open to Jews, and the lady in charge gave us tips to get in, and we were all set to go.

Dinner and bed.

In the morning, I woke up a little too late to make it to the vasikin minyan I usually try to daven in when in Hebron, so we davened with the 8am minyan. My wife and the rest of the kids met us at the end of davening, and after hanging around a bit (I met Itamar Ben-Gvir during this time), we headed up to see Beit Hashalom, before we would head home for lunch.

This actually would have been the highlight of the day, if not for events that transpired later...

We head up to Beit Ha'Shalom. The building is a large apartment complex, 4 floors high. I don't know how many apartments it could hold, but it is a much larger building than my apartment building that has 15 apartments. This is much bigger (it is wide and long, even though it si only 4 floors).

Beit Hashalom overlooks a valley with a few Arab houses, and directly across on the other side of the valley is Kiryat Arba. As we get to Beit Hashalom, crowds are starting to form at the edges of the road. Soldiers are running down into the valley. Some Arab kids had thrown rocks at people walking on the path home to Kiryat Arba. That means excitement, so the crowds, many of them teenagers and younger kids, congregate, hoping to see some action and perhaps the soldiers will bash a few heads...
Nothing happened other than the soldiers chasing the Arab kids into the houses, so we went into Beit Hashalom.

As soon as we walked in, a nice lady greeted us on her way out and pointed us inwards. She then offered to give us a tour of the building, so we took her up on it. She did not live there, but was also visiting. She lives in Kiryat Arba, but visits Beit Hashalom often and was just a very nice person - she gave us, total strangers, a lot of her time, showing us around, explaining, etc.

Right then, Morris Abraham walked by. Abraham is the buyer of Beit Hashalom. She introduced us, and he is a very nice guy. 40 years old from NY. He told me his connection - how his greatgrandfather had lived in Hebron, how his mother and sister had nearly been killed in a terrorist attack in Hebron a few years ago, how often he comes to Hebron, how he came to buying the building, etc. He is a very nice guy, and very open and forthcoming.

We went into the Beis Midrash. Bnei Akiva was having a shabbat irgun, so they were setting up for a kiddush and a speech. As we were walking in, she introduced us to another person who had just come in - the newly elected mayor of Kiryat Arba (not really mayor, but Rosh Moatza - head of city council - it is the title for councils in smaller cities), Malachi Levinger (son of the famous Rabbi Moshe Levinger).

We went upstairs, and she took us into one of the apartments. This one was occupied by a family with 7 kids, and her parents were over for shabbos. She told us that her apartment is luxurious compared to the other apartments, because they have been there for a long time already. She told us they try when they can to put up more walls and add apartments so more people can move in, but they work with very strict restrictions by the government and army. She told us new people moving in, when places become available, is generally one room with no electricity (use a shared bathroom and kitchen), which eventually might expand to another room, etc.). her luxurious apartment was all of 3 room with electricity, so she had a fridge and running water in her apartment.

While we were talking with the lady of the house, a couple of women came in looking for a child that had wandered off. When they went on their way, one said to the other that that was Tzipi Livni's daughter. I was a bit shocked to hear that Tzipi Livni had a hard-core settler daughter that I had not heard of. I said "Tzipi Livni's daughter???". They laughed and said it is not that Tzipi Livni, but somebody from Kiryat Arba with the same name...

We continued touring the building, including seeing the view from the roof. From there we could see the activity outside with the Arab kids was still going on.

We went back down. On the way out we stopped in the Beit midrash again. I schmoozed some more with Morris Abraham. Then Rav Moshe Levinger came in and spoke to the kids from the Shabbat Irgun. I could not hear everything he said, as he is old, weak and frail, and spoke very quietly, but he was praising the return to Hebron and the buying of property.

then Morris asked to say a few words. He spoke briefly saying that while he bought the house, and it is his name on all the paperwork, the house really belongs to the people living in it, and to all of Israel. Whenhe finished, Malachi Levinger told the kids to sing a song, and they started singing "Ashreinu, Ashreinu, Ashreinu, she'yesh lanu Morris ka'zeh". It was clearly spontaneous, because Morris was surprised by it and laughed when he realized that they had replaced Rebbe Nachman's name with his name.

Eventually we got on our way, after spending about 1.5 hours in beit Ha'Shalom. The lady who gave us the tour walked with us to Kiryat Arba. On the way Itamar Ben-Gvir passed us by walking home to a different neighborhood in Hebron a bit further up, and he passed a few words with us.

After lunch we rested for a bit. When we got going to head out back to Hebron for our expected tour of the kasbah and visit with relatives, we found some excitement. We walked down to the road to go to Hebron, and found crowds of people congregating by the fence. The fighting with the Arabs had increased during the afternoon, with more rocks thrown and a few people injured.

Some kids were throwing rocks back, but mostly just into the bushes, as we were too far away for anyone near us to throw anything to the place of the conflict in the valley below. The soldiers also let out a couple of warning shots to scare the Arabs back into their houses. (Haaretz says 4 injured - 2 settler kids and 2 Palestinian kids, while Ynet says 11 injured). Rocks thrown and guns shot clearly make the highlight of the day. Especially for the kids (who now want to move there).

After a while spent watching, we decided to try to go down. They had locked the gate, and blocked of the road to Hebron, because they considered it too dangerous..

So we missed the kasbah tour (if it even happened - with the high tensions, it might have been canceled at the last minute), and missed the visit to the relatives.

I went to a local shul for minchah, and my family went to a park. the shul I went to is a chabad shul. What is unique about it is that it is a shul in the house of Rabbi Baruch Nachshon - the artist/painter.

Nachshon has a lot of his original paintings hanging in his living room, along with much other funky artistic stuff hanging all over the place, making it a very unusual living room.

After shaleshudos, I went back to Nachshon's house for maariv, and Aharon Granot was there as well. He had brought somebody along whom he wanted to introduce to Nachshon and show the artwork to. Unfortunately, Nachson himself was away for shabbos, so he, nor I, got to meet him.

Then we had to pack up and leave, ending our exciting Shabbos in Kiryat Arba/Hebron...


  1. ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh THATS granot!!!!!!!

    Its so weird!! Because I recognize him in person and from mishpacha but never connected the 2!!!!

    hahaha that is sooo funny!!

    I stam was wondering why a chasidish guy lives in kiryat arba!

    You should have asked menachem to show you nachshon's paintings in the room and his studio. He has over 100 paintings in a guest room its AMAZING!!!

    You need to understand as a chabadbik, you see nachshon's art work everywhere espcialy calander's, so after recognizing his art work for over 15 years it's wild to scan the original's!

    He is VERY VERY good artist even without the mystical parts, he drew some very good scenery stuff like forests and all.

    BH I am VERY glad you used and enjoyed my apartment, living in chevron, the "chesed l'avraham" rubs off on you and hachnasas orchim is our great midah!

  2. Menachem was not there for shabbos.... he had left the key for me somewhere else...
    I went in to Nachshons work room to see, but it was too dark....

  3. that certainly was an adventure. glad ya'll enjoyed


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