Every year on Chol HaMoed Pesach and Sukkot the Jewish community in Hevron, the City of our Forefathers, has a special two day festival. It is only during this time of year that the entire compound of the Ma’arat HaMachpela (The Cave of the Forefathers) is open to Jewish visitors. The rest of the year only a small portion is open. Since we came to Israel we had not visited Hevron, so we thought this would be a really nice opporunity to visit, hear some good music (they have all day concerts both days) and learn more about the community. We arrived by shuttle bus from Kiryat Arba (a five minute ride) and were met by a colorful array of booths and high-energy music. We took the lay of the land, finally figured out that they were conducting walking tours of the various communities and embarked on a tour of ‘Jewish Hevron’. The hearty souls of Hevron, certainly live a difficult existence, being surrounded by a largely hostile Arab population, however, they are there as guardians of the Jewish heritage of Hevron. The land of Hevron was originally purchased by Avraham as a burial place for Sara (later to also be the burial place of Avraham himself along with Yitzach and Yaacov (Isaac and Jacob) and had an almost continuous Jewish population until the Arab riots of 1929 which saw 67 Jews slaughtered and hundreds wounded. It was not until the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, that saw the reestablishment of the Jewish community in Hevron. We visited the Avraham Avinu Synagogue (established in the 16th century), the community at Beit Haddassah and the small, newer community established in memory of Shalhevet Pass (who was the 10 month old who was murdered by an Arab sniper while sitting in her stroller 4+ years ago). We bumped into a number of friends, grabbed some very good lunch from the street vendors, ate in the huge sukkah and headed home for our next adventure.
After returning home from Hevron the three oldest boys (Daddy, Matan and Yehuda) headed out for a camping trip in the North with the Frankls and Itay Zeman and his kids. After a two hour drive we set-up camp in the Carmel Forest about 15 kilometers south of Haifa, with a beautiful view of the Mediteranean. We had a great time, ate smores in the sukkah that we built and did a nice 5 km hike in the morning and headed home. We all, at least the Sussmans, slept well…ate enough and had a nice time with friends.