Special tefilos planned by many to acknowledge the liberation of Yerushalayim on Yom Yerushalayim will not take place in the Ma’aras HaMachpelah this year as planned.
This Shabbos, parshas Bechukosai, the Machpelah will be closed to Jews in observance of a Muslim holiday that marks Mohammed’s ascent to heaven. The closure for Jews begins Shabbos morning and continues until motzei Shabbos. Yom Yerushalayim begins on motzei Shabbos. Officials in charge of the holy site have announced that Shabbos tefilos and the special motzei Shabbos Yom Yerushalayim tefilla planned will have to be on the seventh step outside, not inside as planned.
The ‘seventh step’ is the location that was permitted to Jews when the Machpelah was Muslim-occupied for hundreds of year since non-Muslims were not permitted to enter. After the June 1967 war, Jews were permitted to daven inside two hours daily and an hour at night. This arrangement was expanded over the years.
Then IDF Central District Commander Rechavam Ze’evi HY”D ordered the destruction of the seventh step in a symbolic act to show Israeli sovereignty over the holy site.
Needless to say there is anger and disappointment among residents who wished to daven there, davka on the day marking the liberation of Yerushalayim during that same Six Day War in 1967.
Hebron spokesman Noam Arnon released a statement “There are many things in the State of Israel that are an disgrace to the Jewish People, a disgrace to Eretz Yisrael and a Disgrace to Zionism and this is one of them”.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)