Tourism Minister Visits Hebron for Inauguration of Guest House

Tourism Ministry wowed by improvements to Hebron and pledge to increase visits.

15.6.23, 16:55
Minister of Tourism Haim Katz visited Hebron for the inauguration of the new Hebron guest house and the elevator at the Cave of the Patriarchs & Matriarchs.
Katz said he wanted to make an official visit as a government minister “precisely to Hebron, the city of the ancestors. The residents of Hebron are doing holy work, and I will use all means to strengthen tourism in the area."
He made the remarks at the opening of Eshel Avraham, a guest house in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. The old event hall was in need of remodeling and the refurbished building has been named Eshel Avraham, which means Oak of Abraham. The name is taken from the original Eshel Avraham guest house which existed in the 1920s until the 1929 Hebron massacre.
Uri Karzen, director of the Jewish community of Hebron explained to Minister Katz about the history of the site and the significance of opening a renovated facility for the numerous guests that visit the city. "The minister was impressed by the high standard of the guest house," Karzen stated. "He promised that the Ministry of Tourism will help promote Hebron as well as other sites in Judea and Samaria."

The minister was also updated by city council head Eyal Gelman about the promotion of tourism and proposals for projects and events that will attract people from Israel and around the world. Staff members of the Tourism Ministry also participated in the tour to examine the practical possibilities of implementing plans to increase tourism to the Judea and Samaria regions and turn it into Israel’s "Tuscany" similar to the historic art and culture region in Italy.

The tour opened with a visit to Alon Park in Kiryat Arba, a suburb of Hebron which contains a unique oak grove. The Tourism Ministry hopes to enrich visits to the historical sites with nature areas and recreation sites, as well as an archaeological museum to display findings from local excavations. The head of the Kiryat Arba council, Eliyahu Liebman, expressed his appreciation and hope that the Ministry of Tourism will find possibilities for the development and promotion of the sites.

Uri Arnon, Kiryat Arba's tourism coordinator, presented the minister with an ancient Jewish coin from the days of the Bar Kochba revolt, over 2,000 years ago, that was discovered in the area, as well as a bottle of Kerem Hallel wine from the nearby ‘Ariel in Yehuda Winery’ which cultivates grapes based on ancient vineyards.

The delegation also visited the Touching Eternity museum in the historic Beit Hadassah building in Hebron. The minister and his entourage saw the exhibitions about the history of the Jewish community from Biblical days to the present. They also viewed the 4D short film dramatizing Hebron’s history. Katz and his staff expressed admiration for the museum and praised director Haim Bish and tourism coordinator Yaela Briner. The minister wrote in the guest book, "keep building and settling, you are doing sacred work"!

After the visit to the museum, the minister was treated to a panoramic view of Hebron from the roof of the Shavei Hevron yeshiva in the historic Beit Romano building. The minister met with Gilad Matana, director of the yeshiva who pointed out the sites visible from the rooftop.

The minister also heard from Hebron's international spokesperson Yishai Fleisher who recently returned from a lecture tour in the United States, as well as from Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, Hebron's director of international tourism who overseas the coordination of tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world.

The delegation ended their tour at the towering Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs (Tomb of Machpela) where he had the privilege to be the first minister to use the new elevator.

The minister recited the traditional Shechehiyahu blessing before entering the elevator. It took decades of lawsuits and planning to create handicapped access for the ancient holy site. Before the elevator, those with mobility issues would have to climb many steps and those in wheelchairs would have to be carried. Government law mandates the creation of disabled access for public sites and an elevator is currently being built at the plaza of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Long-time spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron Dr. Noam Arnon led the tour. Dr. Arnon, the author of several books on the history of the site is one of the few to have actually entered the underground caverns inside the Cave of Machpela. The giant stone walls were erected 2,000 years ago by King Herod the Great to house the underground burial chambers of the Biblical forefathers and mothers.

The minister praised the construction of the elevator and noted that his office allocated a considerable budget for its construction, but insisted on the need to improve the appearance of the tower and its adaptation to the ancient aesthetic. Dr. Arnon, who along with other Hebron community leaders spearheaded the efforts to push governmnet ministries to build the elevator, expressed dismay for the metal structure. He said the elevator was “necessary” for the disabled and elderly to be able to pray at the site but lamented what he called the “brutal contrast to the ancient architecture.”

The community and the ministry agreed to review future proposals to improve the elevator and it was agreed that the issue would be examined as soon as possible by professionals.

To book accommodation and events at the Eshel Avraham guest house call Bracha at 052-554-3907.

Minister of Tourism Haim Katz inaugurates guest house in Hebron | 11 Images
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