Hebron Prepares for Shabbat Chayei Sarah
Cave of the Patriarchs, Parshat Chayei Sarah in Hebron 5779 / 2018. (Photo Credit: courtesy, Israel Border Guard Police at Cave of the Patriarchs (photographed by a non-Jew))

At least 30,000 Jews from around the country are preparing to arrive in the ancient city of Hebron this weekend (Oct. 29-30) to celebrate the reading of the Torah portion "Chayei Sarah" documenting the first Jewish purchase of property in the Land of Israel.

Genesis Chapter 23, the Torah portion for this Shabbat, describes the purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpela) by the Biblical patriarch Abraham from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site for his beloved wife, the Matriarch Sarah.

Hebron, the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, is one of the four holy cities of Judaism.

The Cave of the Patriarchs, which is also the burial place of the Biblical Isaac, his wife Rebecca (Rivka), Jacob and Leah, still exists under the walls built by King Herod nearly 2,000 years ago. Jewish tradition holds that the Cave of Machpela is also the burial place of Adam and Eve and leads to the Garden of Eden.

The Hall of Isaac and Rivka, usually reserved for Muslim prayers, will instead be open to the Jewish public on Shabbat (Saturday) Oct. 30.

In 2019, a new record was set with 45,000 people gathering for the festivities, which included a massive tent for Shabbat dinner guests — one of the largest Shabbat meals of all time.

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to cancel the event.

This weekend, however, the event is expected to take place, with Shabbat services and meals with Chazzan Sruli Hersh and Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum. All participants must be fully vaccinated, with the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine having been received within a six-month window.

International spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron Yishai Fleisher urged Jews around the world to celebrate along with the tens of thousands of our brethren celebrating at the Cave itself:

"Shabbat "Chayei Sarah" Shalom!

"If you are not in Hebron this Shabbat, please do me one favor: This Friday night, raise your glass in LECHAIM to our Forefathers and Mothers, to the protectors of their heritage and their tomb, and to all those who yearn to walk the path of the Abrahamic faith in the One God!

"Blessings from Hebron!"

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