September 13th 2010
The holy city of Hebron, located 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem, is known most for the Cave of the Patriarchs (Ma’arat Hamachpela), resting place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. Established in ancient times, Hebron has been home to a continual Jewish presence, from Joshua’s conquest of the Land of Israel all the way until the 1930s, and it was here that the young David was anointed king.
After the Six Day War of 1967, Hebron saw the reestablishment of a Jewish community by idealistic nationalists, committed to renewing a Jewish presence here. The tiny enclave that they established is currently found in the old Avraham Avinu neighborhood at the heart of Hebron’s Old City. Neighboring Kiryat Arba is a more modern town, and it houses the bulk of the area’s Jewish community, as well as greater infrastructure (schools, medical clinics, and the like), although Hebron itself is fairly developed as well. Hebron is also home to more than 150,000 Palestinians.
Hebron has seen more than its fair share of conflict, even back in Roman times, as described by Josephus. In the virtually countless generations since then, a history of pogroms and terrorist attacks have shaped the determination of many to support the Zionists dedicated to making their home in the city.
The sites to visit begin with the Tomb of the Patriarchs, but they end here. Consider also Tel Rumeida, archeological excavations that are particularly exciting for many discoveries that remain largely intact. King David’s Pool is just down the road from the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and other significant graves include the Tomb of Othniel ben Kenaz and that of Ruth and Jesse, father of King David.
The largest city in southern Judea, Hebron is a hub for the region’s trade. The main industries revolve around the local quarried marble, but grapes and figs are prominent as well. Tourists will be pleased to encounter craftsmanship at Hebron’s pottery workshops and glassblowing factories, as well as indulge at the Hevron Heights winery in neighboring Kiryat Arba.