How Shimon Peres Helped Restore Hebron

Shimon Peres was instrumental in re-establishing the historic Avraham Avinu synagogue and neighborhood in Hebron.

28.9.16, 09:45
(Photo: Defense Minister Shimon Peres (right) and Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (center) looking at the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue in Hebron, Oct. 15, 1976. Credit: Yaacov Saar, Government Press Office.)
Former President Shimon Peres was a key part in shaping Israel's history. He designed security policy, economic policy, and contributed immensely to the State of Israel in all that entails.
(Photo: Shimon Peres, Yitzchak Rabin and IDF generals look at the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue in Hebron, which was turned into a sheep pen by the Jordanians. Credit: Yaacov Saar, Government Press Office.)
One thing he will be remembered for is designing the settlement map in the hills of Judea and Samaria. As Defense Minister from 1974 - 1977, he granted the license to dig out the ruined Avraham Avinu synagogue in Hebron.
This historic synagogue was built in 1540 and became a spiritual center for the Jewish Community, especially for the exiles from the Spanish Inquisition. It was a major center for the study of Kabbalah and served generations until the massacre of 1929.
After the Jordanian conquest in 1948, the synagogue was ruined, along with other historic buildings, and turned into a sheep pen. The adjacent Jewish building was turned into a latrine.
By arranging the building permits, Shimon Peres allowed the Avraham Avinu neighborhood to be excavated and rebuilt. Today, the synagogue is fully functioning and many families live, work, go to school and raise their children in this historic location. 
His legacy is not error-free, notably the misguided trust in helping establish the Palestinian Authority. However, now is the time to remember the good deeds and contribution to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Let us mourn him together with all of Israel, and strive to continue the vision of building the country and bring real peace to all its inhabitants.
Noam Arnon 
Spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron,
September 28, 2016
Except from: Choosing which Peres to Remember
by Michael Freund
Jerusalem Post, September 28, 2016
The Jewish presence in the holy city of Hebron also owes a debt of gratitude to Peres.

In an interview last year with the Israeli news site Walla, Hebron Jewish community spokesman Noam Arnon told a remarkable story about a meeting with Peres that took place toward the end of 1975, when he was part of a delegation of Jews headed by Rabbi Moshe Levinger who went to see the defense minister.

At the time, the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, was already in existence, but no Jews yet resided in the heart of the ancient city itself.

Speaking with Peres, Rabbi Levinger raised the subject of the Avraham Avinu synagogue, which was built in 1540 in Hebron’s Jewish Quarter but had stood empty after the 1929 Arab massacre of Hebron’s Jews. When Jordan seized control over the area in 1948, they turned the site of the synagogue into a goat and donkey pen.

According to Arnon’s account, when Rabbi Levinger began to explain the sanctity of the site and its importance, Peres cut him off and said, “Do you think I am a goy and that I don’t know what a synagogue is?” Shortly thereafter, Peres granted permission to rehabilitate and refurbish the synagogue, thereby laying the groundwork for the ultimate reestablishment of Hebron’s Jewish community.

“Not that there weren’t further struggles over the matter,” Arnon recalled, “but the greatest and most important breakthrough was the meeting with Peres.”
For full article click here.
See also:
* Memorial to Rabbi Levinger - contains Shimon Peres story (Hebrew)

To arrange a visit to Hebron: 
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Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in Hebron. Credit: Yaakov Saar, Government Press Office 1976 | 10 Images