Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trip to Hebron (lots of pictures)

Back in August, Naomi and I took a trip to Hebron in the middle of the night. It was awful for pictures, so when my school (finally) took a trip there I went wild with pictures.

This is my favorite:

It says "Hebron City of the Fathers". This is the city where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah are buried as well as the first place that King David was King over. It's a water tower though you can see an Arab neighborhood on the right hand side.

Hebron as a city has a mixed history, and we were able to tour parts of it. The city is divided greatly since the Oslo accords, Jews are only allowed in about 3% of the total city, which is strange due to that 80 years ago 10% of the population of the city was Jewish. In 1929 there were infamous and deadly Arab riots and due to them the British government forcibly removed all Jews from Hebron (60 people were killed in Hebron alone), and until 1967 no Jew lived there.

Now there is a growing community outside Hebron called Kiryat Arba (which is a name that comes directly from the Torah) and a very small community within Hebron itself. Kiryat Arba is a thriving city built on desolate mountain tops 30 years ago and now has about 6,000 residents.

Next to Kiryat Arba is the "Beit HaShalom" (House of Peace) which is a new Jewish apartment building in Hebron. The Beit HaShalom is very different from the beautiful houses within Kiryat Arba; as you can see from the pictures below it's a house that is still in the building stages, yet people are still living there.

We met with the mother (originally from Baltimore) of one of my Rabbis who actually lives there. She showed us around the apartment building.

Yes that is their stair-well (it's a work-in-progress).

We also toured other areas of Hebron, the Jewish community is spread out between four smaller communities. The areas we were in are old communities, most of which were hundreds of years old but had been destroyed in 1929 and were re-established in the 70's and 80's.

These are Torah Scrolls that are hundreds of years old, the one on the left being 500-years old rescued from Spain from the Inquisition, and were also rescued from the 1929 riots and are now replaced in the synagoge in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood.

It was a great trip, Hebron is a very interesting place, at points it can feel like a whole other world. Due to the close proximity of the Jews and Arabs they live with this tangible fear of renewed violence, yet at the same time there are good relations between the communities. I guess it really depends who you're talking about. Hebron, unlike Gaza, is normally a relatively calm place despite the tension it is very rare that there is any serious activity.