Culture

Parshat Chayei Sarah to Attract Masses to Hebron on Shabbat

A picnic-like atmosphere prevails each year as thousands visit the city discussed in the Torah portion.

30.10.16, 21:02
Every year thousands of people visit Hebron for the annual Shabbat Hebron on the weekend of Parshat Chayei Sarah. The weekly Torah reading of the traditional Jewish synagogue service will be the portion referred to as Chayei Sarah [the Life of Sarah].
 
These chapters include the story of how the Biblical patriarch Abraham purchases the Cave of Machpela to bury his beloved wife. The Torah describes how Abraham insists on paying full price for the cave and the surrounding field despite the generous offer to obtain it for free.  (Genesis Chapter 23.)
 
Because of the tie-in with the weekly Torah portion, Hebron is a prime destination for those wishing to be in the city mentioned in the Shabbat reading. 
 
Every year the Jewish Community of Hebron prepares for this mass of people with logistics such as food, security, home hospitality. The Hall of Rebecca & Isaac, the largest in the Tomb of Machpela, is open for Jewish services, one of the ten days out of the year that the space is accessible. 
 
In the monumental structure built by King Herod the Great some 2,000 years ago, people read about the dramatic purchase of the underground double cave, in the very location described in the Torah. 
 
Outside the Herodian edifice, tents cover the grass, like a picnic or festival, with young people camping out and enjoying the atmosphere.
 
Shabbat Hebron became an organized happening in 1994 and has grown over the years.  
 
Since then other cities in Israel have followed suit by inviting masses on the Torah parsha in which their town is mentioned.
 
This year Shabbat Hebron will occur on November 25-26, 2016. It will be the first time since 2005 that the Shabbat of Parsha Chayei Sarah will coincide with the American holiday of Thanksgiving. This will not occur again until the year 2027.
 
The Hebron Fund will be organizing a special Chayei Sarah mission for English speaker from abroad. This will include tours and other activities.
 
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