Why is Hebron in my heart?

Two years ago my husband told me, the next time you and the children come with me.

No way.

Yes you are.

Every Jew should go to Hebron at least once, and if you go to Parashat Chayei Sarah’s Shabbat, even better.

He was correct. As always.

Hebron is magical, although it is one of the ugliest cities in Israel.

Hebron is history, it is mystical, spiritual, terrifying and intense.

“Let him sell me the cave of Macpela that belongs to him, which is on the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at full price, for a burial place among you ”(Genesis 23: 9). About 3,800 years ago, Abraham purchased the cave to bury his wife Sarah and as an eternal inheritance for his children. The Bible tells the story of this purchase in detail, the first Jewish acquisition of land in the Land of Israel.

Once this was done, Abraham officially bought Hebron.

End of story.


As we head to Hebron for Shabbat, children sitting in the back nervously, we have entered a forbidden area that Waze announces to us, thank you for letting me know.

All we see are Palestinian license plates on super luxurious cars, BMW, Jeep, Range rovers … all Israeli cars are plain white Dacia and Hyundai models.

Let me understand that, if I think my Italian friends comment on how Palestinians suffer and starve … not those in Hebron, my friends.

We entered Hebron with our own simple Duster, no guns or bulletproof windows, just candy nailed to the window by my 5 year old son who now salutes the soldiers on every corner.

We head to our destination which is a girls dorm in Kiryat Arba, turned into a mini “Hilton hotel” over the weekend for all the lucky guests like us who got the VIP treatment via Chabad Hebron and got a room Real beds for all family members to sleep on.

In Hebron, on Shabbat Chayei Sarah, you are lucky if you find space to pitch a tent on the street!

When we see our room with bunk beds and private bathroom we consider ourselves lucky. We changed into Shabbat clothes and sneakers, because we were told that from our location to Ma’arat Hamachpela (Cave of the Patriarchs) there is a 27 minute walk, downhill (and then uphill).

When we start walking, we find ourselves as part of what appears to be a great march of people of different origins, colors, nationalities and ages, all walking in the same direction.

On both sides of the road, every few meters, there is a soldier armed to the teeth, beckoning us and saying “Shabbat shalom.”

Some of us salute, some of us shout “Tzadikim”, or the righteous, some give them food or drink.

They smile at all of us and accept our gifts.

The children are super excited when the sun goes down and the loud sirens from the nearby mosque begin to play with their prayers at full volume.

It is time for the Arabs to go pray, while we go to the synagogue.

Finally, we reach the large square at the foot of the Cave of the Patriarchs.

There is an ocean of people in front of us, my husband and I have to part now; He will enter through the men’s section, and I will go through the women’s section with the children. Finally, we reach the main entrance, my children cling to me in terror, there are so many people around us.

We passed through Abraham, our first ancestor.

Abraham, the man who was larger than life, faced all the idol worshipers alone and believed in only one God, Hashem. His love for others was incredible, his passion, his goodness, his wisdom.

He started it all.

FINALLY, WE ENTER the huge room where Yitzhak, or Isaac, is buried. This space, which is generally closed to Jews, and only Arabs have access to it, is now open for us to pray on Shabbat Chayei Sarah.

The room looks like a mosque, with Arabic writing everywhere, the air has an interesting smell, hot and cold at the same time.

When I finally manage to open my siddur to begin praying, an incredible chorus of beautiful voices begins and my heart is pounding. Loud and clear, the men begin to sing the Kabbalat Shabbat. An angelic chorus of voices resounds, and it feels like it can be heard throughout Israel, women also begin to sing with their eyes closed.

I start to cry, I don’t even realize it, but I can’t stop myself, the tears run down my cheeks, my heart melts, my soul trembles. My son, sitting on my lap, looks at me and whispers in my ear worried: “Mom, why are you crying, you don’t feel well?” I respond with “No amore, I feel great, I feel amazing.”

Yitzhak Avinu is there with us, finally enjoying our company once a year as we sing with him at the parsha where he meets his wife Rivkah.

Love is in the air.


I let myself be carried away by the songs and the holy words, I close my eyes and feel the energy, the incredible power in that room. I have never felt so much a part of my history.

I see men singing and I think of generations of Jews who died at the hands of enemies, the Holocaust, the gas chambers, the pain and the tragedy.

How do we get to what we are now?

We do not give up.

As the sentences come to an end, the room looks like it’s going to explode; my children are crying and want to leave; I don’t listen, I don’t feel, I’m smiling like crazy, women push me, move me, but I don’t feel anything.

Let me here

We left the Cave of the Patriarchs and I am totally drunk on spirituality. I am neither tired nor hungry.

By some miracle, I find my husband in the crowd.

We head to Abraham and Sarah’s big tent arranged by Chabad of Hebron.

The organization is impressive; You don’t go in if you don’t have a pass. The tent is huge, there must be 3,000 people inside; There are chandeliers and pictures on the sides of the tent. The tables are richly set with napkins and elegant cups. Our seats are in a VIP area. We meet so many friends and people I haven’t seen in a long time who managed to fly in from America for this special Shabbat.

It feels like we are at a big wedding but there are no bride and groom. The Rabbi of Chabad Hebron, Danny Cohen, is sitting next to his wife Batsheva, surrounded by friends and soldiers who come to hug them, because they are the mother and father of many who serve here in Hebron.

The air is electric, the food is amazing, the kids have a great time, the men sing.

As we return to our beautiful “Hilton / dorm” rooms, we are back on that long uphill road now, and it looks like it will be when the Messiah comes. Everyone is saying “Shabbat shalom” to everyone, the soldiers are smiling, the children are laughing in all directions; It’s like we all know each other Many say that it is impossible to explain the existence of the Tomb of the Patriarchs without believing in miracles.

It is said that in a very deep spiritual dimension, although asleep, dead and buried, the ancestors plead for their children.

I do not understand why Hebron does not become a privileged point for all Jews. Hebron contains all the essential elements of our nation.

I feel like I was immersed in history. I am part of a chain, I am part of a promise.

You too.


The writer is from Italy, lives in Jerusalem and runs HadassahChen Productions. Director and interpreter, she also directs the Keren Navah Ruth Foundation, in memory of her daughter, to help families with sick children. [email protected]


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