Eddie Dribben - The Cowboy of Hebron: A Tribute

The cowboy from the prairies of Wyoming was a true pioneer in helping repopulate the ancient Jewish homeland.

8.9.16, 13:57
(Photo: Eddie Dribben at his workshop. Credit: Rebecca Kowalsky, Images Through Time.)
The Jewish Community of Hebron mourns the loss of Eddie Dribben, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 85. Eddie was a pioneer in Sde Boker, Hebron and Kiryat Arba. He helped repopulate historic Jewish locations in Hebron such as the Avraham Avinu Synagogue, Beit Hadassah, and the Admot Yishai neighborhood.
The mayor of Kiryat Arba, Malachi Levinger declared:
"He was a man of great devotion, who poured life into the industry of the city of our forefathers, even in the face of daily harassment, and continued his work even after his son Dov Dribben’s murder nearly 20 years ago.” Eddie was a legend. We send condolences to his wife Sarah and the rest of his family. May his memory be blessed."
The following excerpts from the writings of Dr. Chaim Simons, another veteran Hebron resident.
The American Cowboy
In the summer of 1969 - I think it was the day before Tisha B’Av - we were suddenly joined by a man aged about 40 called Eddy Dribben. He had come to Hebron with his wife... and accompanied by his horse. When he first came to the Memshal [the Israeli army base where the Hebron residents were sent to live], he was given the nick-name “the cowboy.” This was because he had lived rather a wild life in America... Eddy was a very staunch believer in settling the liberated areas and for this reason he had come to Hebron.
Eddy made valuable contributions to our settlement. He was in charge of guard duty and he also open the first “factory” - a carpentry shop. To each of these subjects is devoted a chapter on their own.
For the full text click here.

Other details about his earlier life in the Negev can be found in the book Memories and Reflections: The Life, Work and Observations of an Agricultural and Environmental Scientist by Daniel Hillel 
"Another unusual character who appeared in Sdeh Boqer without prior notice, just three years after its establishment, was an American soldier named Eddie Dribben... he had been raised on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. In the early 1950s, he was drafted into the U. S. military service. 

...his was the first wedding in Sde Boqer, officiating alongside the rabbi were David and Paula Ben-Gurion. For a couple of months, Eddie made the rounds among the Bedouin tribes in the northern Negev, selecting and purchasing horses... it seemed that the cowboy from the prairies of Wyoming and the Bedouins from the savannas of the Negev shared a spirit..."
For more click here.
(Photo: Eddie Dribben (center), Michael Elman (left) and Rabbi Dan Rosenstein (right) at the 2014 Sukkot tour.)
(Photo: Eddie Dribben (left) at a celebration at the Tomb of Machpela.)

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In Israel contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:

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