A Guide to Israel
and its Holy sites
In Ancient Times
The city of Chevron - also once called Elonei
Mamrei and Kiryat Arba - is known as one of Eretz Yisroel's four holy cities. (The others are
Yerushalayim, Tzfas and Teverya.) It is located approximately 20 miles southwest of
Yerushalayim and lies about 3,000 feet above sea level. It was here that our
for many years and it was here that Avraham's wife Sara died. It was also the city in
which the great four giants Shesai, Talmai, Achiman and their father
Arba (or Anak) lived.
It was here that Dovid was proclaimed king and ruled for 7 1/2 years before going on
to Yerushalayim and turned it into his capital. This city also served as one of the three
Orei Miklot - cities in which those who killed someone inadvertently
(b'shogeg) could find
refuge. The other two cities of refuge were Kadaish up north and Shechem. It was also here
that his son Avshalom rebelled against him and had himself proclaimed king. While
the city belonged to Shevet Yehuda, it was actually given to the Leviim (the
was the city captured by Kolev ben Yefuna and the fields of the city and its villages were
granted to him by Yehoshua in accordance with Moshe's instructions .
As one drives through her outskirts, one can see the fields filled with
fig trees, olive trees and grape vines; three of the fruits that Eretz Yisroel is noted
The Jewish Quarter
When the Jews were exiled from Spain during the sixteenth century, they
established an area here which became known as the Jewish Quarter. Here they lived for
more than 450 years. Here they built a shul which they named the Avraham
Avinu Shul, one
of the most beautiful and renowned shuls in the country.
Many great and noted rabbis lived here. Amongst them were Rabbi
Adani (author of Meleches Shlomo), Eliyahu Di Vidash (Reishis Chochmo),
(Chesed L'Avraham) and his grandson Chaim Yosef Dovid Azoulai (the
During the eighteenth century many Lubavitcher Chasidim moved here as
well. In 1879, Avraham Romano, a wealthy Jew from Turkey built a beautiful house known as
Beit Romano. In the 1900's an additional floor was added and a medical clinic by the name
Beit Hadassah was opened.
In 1925, the Yeshiva of Slobodka moved from Lithuania to
1929 the Jewish community numbered about 1,500 persons.
The Riots of 1929
In 1929, the Arabs broke into the Chevron Yeshiva and massacred more
then 50 people in cold blood. Because of the constant Arab violence, the Jews of the city
were forced to leave. The riots were instigated by Haj Amin al-Husseini who had been
appointed by the British as Mufti of Jerusalem. The riots started on Friday afternoon,
August 23rd. Hordes of marauders attacked every Jew they saw. The next Shabbos, Aug. 24th,
thousands of Arabs armed with knives, axes and pitchforks launched an attack on Jewish
homes. The bloodthirsty mob killed, wounded and tortured the Jews in a most barbarous
manner. Three days later, the British loaded the remaining Jews on trucks and evacuated
them from the city. The old Avraham Avinu Shul was torn down and replaced by an animal
stable. The ancient Jewish cemetery was completely destroyed.
In 1948, the U.N. gave this city to the Arabs and no Jew was allowed to
enter it. It was only in June of '67 (the Six-Day War) that the Arabs fearing revenge,
surrendered to the Israeli Army without a single shot being fired and Jews could once
again pray at the Meoras Ha'Machpelah.
Jews have always lived in this holy city except when they were banned
to live there by their foreign rulers. In 1971, religious Jews built a beautiful town in
the outskirts of Chevron and named it Kiryat Arba. By 1996,
Kiryat Arba had a population
of about 7,000 people.
Settlement of Beit Hadassah
In 1979, a group of ten women and 40 children succeeded in entering the
building in the middle of the night and remained in the demolished building for more than
a year under very harsh conditions. They had no water and electricity and were cut off
from their families. The government had put up a closure around the building. One Friday
night in 1980, a group of yeshiva boys were attacked on their way there by terrorists who
killed six of them. Only then did the government finally decide to allow restoration of
the Jewish community of Chevron.
The Jewish quarter
The ancient Jewish Quarter was now reconstructed and the Avraham Avinu Shul was
restored into an exquisite architectural masterpiece. Beautiful new homes were built. The
wholesale produce market, built on the ruins of the old Jewish quarter was closed off.
Beit Hadassah was renovated and rebuilt.